When I’m writing this, it’s Labour Day. A time of year when we typically think about the changing of the seasons, a new start for kids going back to school, and the last stretch of the year before the holidays.
I had an opportunity recently to drive through downtown Toronto. It’s been 17 months since I have spent a substantial amount of time in the city which I live. It struck me that the landscape is entirely different from when I left it in March 2020. Buildings that once existed are gone and brand-new buildings have been built in their place. Parks have sprung up, streets have been closed and redirected, walking and biking paths have been opened. Most notably, the CaféTO program has changed the landscape of some of the major arteries and the city feels more like a European walking city than it does the old City of Toronto.
Like the city, so too has the face of the live event industry evolved in the past 17 months. In a matter of days, the landscape of live events changed, the tools we had at our disposal changed and we were forced to rethink what live events meant. Like other businesses we found new ways of being creative, new ways of finding connections when we couldn’t be together; we had to open our minds to the possibilities that technology would allow. It was now possible to have hundreds of people come together in one place, break down into small groups to talk, ideate, collaborate, all from the comfort and safety of their own homes. We could now have hundreds of people feed into whiteboard discussions that would have otherwise been inaccessible. We could now attend a conference with someone from the other side of the world; we can have the benefit of that person’s experience and perspective without having to travel to the other side of the world to get it. We can now produce more content than ever before and share that content live and on demand. We can now see entertainment and artists from all around the world in the comfort of our homes. All this innovation and creativity was made accessible by the pandemic, and, like the cityscape, our industry will be forever changed.
“In a matter of days, the landscape of live events changed, the tools we had at our disposal changed and we were forced to rethink what live events meant.”
Like many other disruptions in the history, as leaders we must have the courage to recognize the opportunity. In the coming weeks, months, and years we will be faced with a choice, to hold out for the return of our businesses as we knew them or to innovate, to cannibalize a portion of our old business in search of innovation. It may sound like an impossible choice for businesses that have invested millions of dollars in research, ideation, and capital expenditures. But I choose innovation and in doing so I believe that we have created a more wholesome service offering for our clients. As we integrate remote and in-person audiences and as we continue to build out our engagement tools we will provide our clients with an improved experience.
“But I choose innovation and in doing so I believe that we have created a more wholesome service offering for our clients.”
While both the city and the event industry may have changed the way they look and the way we navigate them, at their essence they have not changed. They are still both booming, creative, artistic, economic juggernauts. At Bespoke we do live event production and while the tools may have changed, our business has not.