Pivot to prosper

Susie Stokes

TEDxSydney was one of the 484,000 business events staged in Australia last year. But cut to 2020 and large scale events were one of the first to stop thanks to COVID-19. But in true TEDxSydney style, we’re “pivoting” – the buzz word for every business in 2020.

The events industry, like the travel industry, has been smashed! With 43.7 million people attending business events in Australia in FY19, it’s hard to imagine a world without the opportunity to gather, connect, share and celebrate in large groups of peoples with shared passions and interests.

“In terms of our business, we haven’t done a single event for 6 months. Our business stopped dead when COVID hit. The events industry has been hit the hardest by far.” – Brendan Sadgrove, Director of Innovative Production Services.

But every business has felt the impact of COVID-19 forcing a hard look at their business model to survive the new world order. This new reality is characterized by shorter value chains, remote work, social distancing, consumer introspection, and enhanced technology use.

But there have been some incredible success stories of pivoting and prospering just look at Airbnb quickly switching to offer “Online Experiences”, which includes things like online cooking classes, meditation and art therapy.

In 2020, instead of our usual pre event “behind the scenes”, we’re now looking “behind the screens” as we look to the future for events and events production.

Innovative Production Services, the proud Technical Partner for TEDxSydney for the last 7 years, had to think fast and smart to ensure their business would still be around after COVID.

“Innovative has been lucky. We had lots of experience in the live stream and broadcast world, so have pivoted into that sector nicely.”

They quickly built a live stream studio in their warehouse and have since moved into a fully-featured TV broadcast studio in a purpose-built sound stage.”

When TEDxSydney 2020 goes online, the event will be broadcast from this custom-built studio.



What’s Different?

To produce the live TEDxSydney event, Innovative would usually have a team of 15 full-time staff, over 40 casual and contractors along with a further 25 technical staff under their direction on the day. This year it will be a team of 25 operating in a covid-safe way to deliver an outstanding and top quality broadcast of some incredible speakers.

“Innovative not only looked after all the production in the main theatre but also the production in the 2 exhibition halls which was named The Hub. We had over 40 screens, audio, and lighting spread across dozens of activations and events in the space. We also provided power for all stands, over 30 coffee machines, and every activation. It was a BIG job!”


Online events: Pros & Cons

As part of pivoting there’s been a massive shift to online events, but that comes with its own set of pros & cons as Innovative can testify to.

Pros – The event production goes ahead, delivering to the best of our ability while confirming to COVID-19 restrictions. Adapting quickly, means you get ahead of the competition, hire new/different sorts of contractors. Reach new diverse audiences, diversify team, learn new skill sets, techniques and offerings into the future, connect with new technicians and people with varying skillsets, keeping hope alive and employing people.

Cons – Online and broadcast events don’t replace real life. As social creatures, people need real life interaction. While we work hard to make the online events as engaging, interactive and inclusive as possible, they don’t replace a physical meeting. Think of the magic in the air you feel at a music concert or the atmosphere at a big conference – it’s just not there. And the flow-on effect to supporting businesses we use is missing from online broadcasting e.g. catering and transport.

The experience of previous live stream events has shown us the attractiveness of  ‘hybrid’ or ‘blended’ events, mixing both in-person audience experiences and online interaction.

It could be a long time before the events industry recovers and it may not look the same. The future of events will likely rely more heavily on existing technology whilst simultaneously creating opportunities for emerging technology and a greater demand for recreating live-experience magic.


We’re very excited to see what the future holds, and for TEDxSydney the future starts on 6 November 2020 as we step into our custom built studio to deliver the first ever TEDxSydney virtual event with the support of Innovative. Have you registered to attend? You can do so here


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