What can B2B events learn from immersive theatre?
Feb 21, 2020
Recently I headed to the murky world of the Upside Down as I attended the latest Secret Cinema instalment, Stranger Things.
After spending the evening chasing monsters in an 80s American mall, and having been to quite a few of their productions in previous years, the company’s continued success got me wondering about the appeal of immersive theatre. What is the draw that keeps us coming back for more despite the hefty price tag?
The rise of immersive theatre has been almost meteoric. We’ve seen the likes of Punchdrunk enjoying lengthy runs in NYC, The Wolf of Wall Street being transformed into an interactive production in London, and Secret Cinema even signing a multi-title agreement with Disney. As the popularity of this form of entertainment continues to grow, and the lines between immersive and experience continue to blur, it is important to recognise that our industry can learn from its continued prevalence.
Below I’ve outlined five key takeaways from my own experience that I believe can be translated to the world of B2B experience and events.
1. Tailor the experience.
It might sound simple but everyone's experience at Secret Cinema is different – it’s one event with many experiences, and everyone leaves with a sense that they went on a unique journey. In the same sense, personalisation in events is no longer just a buzzword. Tailoring everything from content to networking can help attendees leave with valuable takeouts.
2. Encourage collaboration.
Throughout immersive theatre, you’re often triggered, encouraged or forced to engage in proceedings, meet new people and connect. Sometimes this can be directly translated into the event world (think pre-arranged or prompted meetings through the app) but the sentiment behind it is always important. Collaboration and networking are now an essential part of attendance, and technology that helps facilitate connection and interaction is increasingly beneficial to both attendee and brand.
3. Storytelling is king.
In immersive theatre, the attendee is thrown into the story; they become part of the journey. In the same sense, brand storytelling in events is essential. It can help people understand your brand – you add more value, the attendee feels more engaged and those all important memories are made. Storytelling also helps you communicate key messages for the event, whether it be product messaging or brand messaging, the role of storytelling helps you retain the information and remember it in a more positive way.
4. Make dreams a tangible reality.
We feel emotions physically, and immersive theatre is incredibly good at taking people on a journey simply by recreating different worlds. Secret Cinema gives you that strong sense of discovery and translating a brand from a concept into a tangible experience is essential to creating brand love in your attendees. The creativity and design of an event can therefore elevate an attendees personal experience and deliver that all important future advocacy. People prefer to discover a brand, solution or product rather than being sold to. Therefore B2B brands must learn to allow their customers to discover their solutions through event journeys in a way that will engage them much more than a sales pitch.
5. Be different, be brave.
I believe that the originality of immersive theatre goes a long way to explaining its impact – how else has an event series with a photography ban managed to sign a deal with Disney? The power of word of mouth has pushed Secret Cinema to where it is today. They create that sense of wonder before you even attend the event, building up the anticipation and excitement so much so that you’re already discussing what might be in store without any real idea of what’s coming. It goes without saying in the creative world that bravery and originality should also be up there at the forefront of the design process. That lasting, positive impression could encourage new people and audiences to attend a brand event.
To conclude, creating experiences that give people a story, a connection and a reason to talk goes a long way to creating that all important brand love. Balancing creativity with tangible solutions for clients, Wonder actively seek out the brands with the biggest dreams and work together to create authentic and lasting connections led by experience.