As devastating as the Covid pandemic was to the corporate and association events industry over two-plus years, one area of the business that has come out the other side with interesting new possibilities is audiovisual production.
In this AV Magazine article on AVinteractive.com, production-company veterans say that an unexpected benefit of the pandemic interruption is event clients are more willing to try different products from a wider range of vendors, rather than simply choosing from the portfolio offered by the largest industry players.
Mark Bishop, president of LynTec, a manufacturer of audiovisual-system controls, told the publication: “Single-vendor or one-stop shop sourcing had become a wonderful solution to an ever-changing product landscape for the hurried consultant, integrator, production house,” and event client. “But ever since the pandemic switched off supply chains from overseas, companies have had to rely on whatever is available to fill the gap. This has allowed customers to try out new brands that they might not otherwise have had a chance to try. Just because one vendor had ‘everything you need’ doesn’t mean these were all the best products. So, customers can now put on a higher-quality show by sourcing equipment from other vendors.”
Another pandemic effect the article documents is a demographic change in those who operate event technology. “Covid created a shift towards smaller, online events that are [hosted] by people whose primary job is not [technical] event production,” says Tony Mastantuono, product manager at production firm Broadcast Pix. Since the pandemic, “we’ve had to make our products more accessible, simpler to install, and as easy to use as possible. The challenge is for us to help these users produce compelling content. We think there’s too much focus on technology, and not enough focus on production values and how to use the technology we’re supplying.”
On the attendee side, expectations are changing too. For instance, in-person attendees want more choice over how they consume information. First, there’s always-improving AR and VR applications. In addition, event hosts must account for the growing number of attendees who expect online access to all sessions even while they are on site.
“They may choose to attend some sessions in person, some as live streams or online panels, and some on demand at their own convenience,” says Jason Larcombe, senior project manager at White Light, a firm that creates immersive live environments. “A connected AV strategy empowers delegates with more autonomy than ever before. It also allows event managers to provide the most up-to-date information to all delegates. AV solutions for wayfinding, point of sale, branding, and advertising can all be controlled centrally and regularly alongside lighting, audio, and video, and all of it can be updated in real time to manage events smoothly.”
Now, the Bad News
On the flip side, the article notes that employee losses during the pandemic have brought about a shortage of on-site AV skills, making advance communication between event organizers and the on-site production staff essential for success. “Many of the skilled, typically freelance AV crew members left the sector,” says Yannic Laleeuwe, segment marketing specialist for live events at Barco. “Many went to broadcast or other jobs with a better work-life balance. These people won’t come back to the live events world, so the biggest challenge is to attract new people, and for the vendors to deliver AV equipment that supports the new workflow of the operators.”