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Are online experiences here to stay?

Geoffrey Dixon, managing director of Vivid Interface, says the firm's latest report suggests the boom in virtual content is far from over

07 Jul 2020

Geoffrey Dixon, Vivid Interface

For many cultural organisations, such as live music venues, museums, theatres and arts venues, Covid-19 has meant a pivot to an online presence. But as attractions move through a phased period of reopening we have to ask: Are online experiences here to stay?

Over the last three months, Vivid Interface has put a variety of research projects in the field to track consumer sentiment, the mood of organisations and their online intentions. This has revealed an extraordinary growth in online consumption in terms of cultural experiences, media viewing and health and wellbeing. Add to that last week’s Ofcom report revealing that the average Briton has been spending 25% of their day online while in lockdown, and we know that this is an area we all need to pay attention to.

Vivid Interface, in association with Panelbase, conducted an e-survey with over 1,000 visitors to attractions and cultural venues in early June. The report, which can be read here, looks at what visitors have been watching and participating in online while venues and attractions have been closed. While taking a yoga class or watching a new release film are right up there, so are live music performances and stand-up comedy.

The report explores what they say they will continue to watch and also what they feel they may continue to watch online in preference to going out. It makes interesting reading:

  • 64% of people say they will continue to watch or participate in online experiences even after the reopening of attractions
  • 48% say that they will continue to watch or participate in at least one of the listed online activities in preference to going out after lockdowns are lifted
  • 21% said they paid to watch or participate in online experiences during lockdown

What sort of unique experiences the visitor attraction sectors can come up with next is an exciting space to watch

These are significant stats that can’t be ignored.

The report highlights significant variances in age, gender and life stage, too, which are important in understanding online engagement opportunities for programmers and marketers.

The cultural sector was already well set up to pivot to online experiences, but the sheer explosion of content and audience reaction tells us that there’s plenty more to come.

Just looking at this week’s news we see the Royal Opera House building on its success of live streaming from Covent Garden with a programme of paid for online experiences (at £4.99 a performance). And the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, managed by English Heritage, received over 3.6 million views for its first-ever live stream of the event. It normally attracts around 10,000.

Are online experiences here to stay? Yes, they are. But what sort of unique experiences the visitor attraction sectors can come up with next is an exciting space to watch.

 


Geoffrey Dixon is managing director of Vivid Interface, a full-service market research agency serving the events, festivals and attractions industries.

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