BY WESLENE ORWOBA
While the value of face-to-face events can never be replaced, the nature of event planning has transformed with time. Various innovations have reduced the need to attend all events. These are:
- Live broadcast: online streamlining or television airing of an event allows others to follow proceedings without physical presence at the event.
- Virtual events: through webinars and hang outs, contributors are invited to participate in an event from their comfort, without convening at a central venue. In addition, this can be downloaded or posted on the internet for reference. This has been a milestone for corporate events planning.
- Social Media: real time interaction with audiences at the event and other audience who are not, has caused event planners to engage influential social media users to drive conversations with a larger audience.
In Kenya, event planners have learnt to use innovations to improve events rather than reduce attendance. Events experiences have been improved, beyond offering the main attraction only. Through communication, the innovations are depicted to target diaspora while those within reach are encouraged to attend for exclusive experiences that cannot be replaced. For instance, having dinner with a key note speaker, hence ensuring lengthy and detailed conversations which cannot be achieved through the internet.
Online ticketing, a breakthrough in technology, is a current craze in Kenya. Popular events like The Color Festival, that, initially, did not have or had minimum media partnership to boost promotion, learnt to promote the events online as an exclusive privilege. The events are created on the social pages where members confirm attendance and buy the tickets online. This way, the organizers are sure of attendance and can plan activities in accordance to registration. Members also have the feeling of exclusive membership especially where the event is for a particular target group. In the case of color festival, the adolescents prefer to host their own events away from preying eyes of the adults.
In Nairobi, hardly does an event pass without an exciting event. Tech mogul and CEO of Verviant , a software development company, realized this opportunity and seized the day as the founder of TicketSasa, an online tickets purchase platform. For Vervient, this was a supporting service as the main offering of the company was Pesa Pal, an online payments platform. However, four years down the line, Tickets purchase have taken the front seat.
This is no wonder as event planners, with the need to plan ahead, have utilized this technology to bid uncertainty goodbye with by selling event tickets exclusively online through this unrivaled ticket purchase platform in Kenya. The website has gone beyond ticket sales to becoming the official go-to website to for finding out what is happening in Nairobi. The phenomenon has grown to exclusive advance ticket sales whereby major Nairobi events such as Koroga Festival and Blankets & Wine only sell advance tickets and none at the venue. Surprisingly, this too has become a promotional tactic for the organizers whereby Sold Out tickets for one event have boosted earlier sales for the next event.
‘Because You Said So’ is a Kenyan comedy stage play/show that is only promoted on line and tickets sold through TicketSasa.
Given that this is an emerging trend, it has mainly been picked up in Nairobi, the capital city, where Kenya is concerned. However, with this speedy uptake, growth beyond the city has been speculated by techies an event planners. Fraud has also been a concern for online ticket purchases whereby Verviant has curbed this by ensuring all purchases are done from a registered account, linked to valid identification. All purchases are therefore traceable. The platform operates on a software that scans all card used for fraud. The chip and pin technology has also aided in curbing this challenge. It is safe for all users.
While many speculated that the digital era will reduce face-to-face interaction, events continue to remain relevant with the industry embracing technology rather than fearing. More opportunities have been created and thanks to technology, events industry in Kenya is only growing and not diminishing.