Mastering New Event Formats: The Journey of the PIRATEx Event Agency
Established shortly before the onset of the significant global challenges in 2020, PIRATEx is an event agency in Cologne that found itself compelled to adjust and grow in tandem with the evolving market. The event industry encountered a myriad of challenges during the preceding years, encompassing shifts in event formats, the imperative integration of technology, and the evolving expectations of the audience as the industry regains stability.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into how the transformation within the event industry prompted our team to swiftly respond to emerging demands and explore how the company adapted to this dynamic and demanding new market.
PIRATEx: Crafting Unforgettable Experiences
Situated in the vibrant city of Cologne, PIRATEx isn’t your typical event agency. Officially established in 2020, our agency aims to transcend the conventional with a dedicated team of event enthusiasts committed to orchestrating extraordinary event experiences. Nurtured in the entrepreneurial spirit of Cologne’s startup culture, PIRATEx not only conceptualizes and organizes events but also cultivates profound connections, sculpting moments that linger in the hearts of participants. What distinguishes us is our solution-oriented ethos – we work closely with our clients to surmount challenges and collectively create a bespoke event experience. Our dynamic and inventive team thrives on unconventional thinking, offering novel perspectives to every project and discovering new event formats. Beyond event planning, we specialize in crafting immersive experiences that forge genuine connections among people.
2020: Transforming into a Cologne-based agency for Digital Events
Just months after the creation of our event agency and gaining traction in the German event market, an unforeseen challenge emerged: the Pandemic. In the blink of an eye, all our meticulously laid business plans for the year were disrupted, as the pandemic brought the event industry to a standstill. Faced with this unprecedented situation, we promptly postponed our events, such as OMClub and PIRATE Summit and devised a strategic action plan. It soon became apparent that some events had to shift from physical to virtual spaces. Recognizing the potential and a golden opportunity to pioneer our own digital events, we dedicated this period to delving deeper into the realm of “remote events.” Our goal was to learn everything we could about those new event formats.
We outlined three pivotal goals before entering the market to attract new clients. First and foremost, we needed to swiftly recalibrate our business model, transitioning from an event agency to an agency for digital events. We brainstormed various ways to adapt and transform existing events slated for physical venues into engaging digital experiences. Simultaneously, we embarked on creating valuable content detailing the ins and outs of planning and executing remote events. Our collective knowledge and insights were encapsulated in a comprehensive guidebook, freely available for anyone seeking to delve into the intricacies of hosting events in a digital landscape. As a third crucial step, we aimed to cultivate a network and directly share our insights with the community. This led to the inception of Deep Dive Webinars and Podcasts, platforms where we elucidated the fundamental principles every digital event organizer should grasp, supplemented by our own experiences.
Armed with newfound expertise, we were ready to enter the market. Thanks to our guidebook and webinar series, we positioned ourselves as thought leaders in the field of virtual event organization, swiftly attracting leads and fostering new business opportunities.
2021: Broadening Horizons and Navigating the Hybrid Landscape
Following our swift transition to digital events, our objective was to not only sustain but to expand our horizons as a digital event agency. In the span of a year, we produced over 150 virtual events, witnessing remarkable growth in our team and gathering lots of learning and experience.
We focused on integrating digital event technology, aiming to leverage eventtech platforms to enhance audience experiences. Since we discovered so many new event platforms, the ever-evolving landscape prompted us to create an Eventtech Directory. This comprehensive directory aims to catalog every eventtech platform and solution available for organizing virtual events. Embraced by our community, the directory now boasts over 450 solutions, with many tech providers reaching out to ensure their innovations were included. Drawing from our hands-on experiences, we’ve tested and implemented various platforms for our own events. This way, we were able to advise our clients on the best solutions that would fit their event concept and their goals.
As 2021 drew to a close, the prospect of a tentative return to in-person events emerged. However, with lingering restrictions, many companies sought the middle ground with hybrid events, combining a small in-person audience with a broader digital reach. Recognizing this shift, numerous eventtech providers adapted their offerings to accommodate hybrid events.
As an event agency, PIRATEx adapted to this evolving demand by organizing several hybrid events in late 2021 across different German cities like Cologne, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt. However, the experience unveiled challenges, primarily the lack of consensus on what “hybrid” truly entailed. Was it a hybrid audience, a hybrid production, or something entirely different? The ambiguity prompted us to once again delve into a learning curve, adapting to the intricacies of this evolving event format.
2022: Unveiling Effective Event Formats
The past couple of years have been a strong learning experience for the PIRATEx team, marked by exploration and experimentation with various event formats, whether in the digital realm or in the hybrid sphere. A key revelation emerged: the success of an event hinges on its conceptual foundation rather than its format. Each event is unique, requiring a fresh start and a tailored technological approach based on the client’s needs and preferences. Striking a balance is crucial—avoid overwhelming attendees with a myriad of features or add-ons they don’t need and instead, focus on meeting their expectations. Moreover, the emphasis should always be on delivering substantial value to participants, transcending the mere act of event organization.
The digital transformation sweeping through the event industry paved the way for novel event formats. Studio and hybrid productions witnessed a surge, wherein events were crafted either in remote studios or on-location, catering to both on-site and digital audiences. This approach not only broadens the event’s reach but also enhances its impact. At the same time, satellite events became more and more interesting for companies. Rather than opting for a singular large-scale gathering, there was a growing demand for smaller, more intimate events, fostering tailored experiences and stronger community connections. We also see a shift towards community-focused event models, expanding the event format to deliver value throughout the year, and creating an ongoing engagement with the audience.
2023: Embracing Phygital and Digital Add-ons for Events
Even as we make a return to primarily in-person events, it’s crucial not to dismiss the digital event technologies developed in recent years. At PIRATEx, we firmly believe that incorporating digital add-ons into your event can significantly enhance its reach, streamline communication with attendees, and generate compelling content for your community. This is where the concept of phygital events comes into play—a fusion of physical events with seamlessly integrated digital elements.
The digital revolution has profoundly reshaped various facets of the event industry. Beyond providing a unique avenue to connect audiences globally and on-demand, digital platforms have introduced innovative ways to measure the value and impact of events. The data capabilities offered by digital add-ons and platforms empower organizers to scrutinize their event design choices, pinpoint areas for improvement, and discover avenues to deliver additional value to attendees. With access to event data, organizers can observe attendee interest and engagement in real-time, leveraging these insights to continually enhance events and provide more value to participants.
PIRATEx has actively contributed to this trend by developing a range of digital add-ons for events, with a particular focus on the Event TV solution. This forward-thinking approach not only aligns with the evolving landscape of events but also underscores our commitment to leveraging digital enhancements to elevate the event experience.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, PIRATEx event agency’s journey through the evolving landscapes of digital and hybrid events highlights the essence of adaptability, innovation, and a steadfast commitment to delivering unparalleled experiences. From navigating the challenges of the global pandemic to pioneering the concept of phygital events, our team, and agency have consistently demonstrated their ability to not only weather industry shifts but also lead in shaping them.
Looking ahead to 2024, the event industry is poised for further transformation. The lessons learned from past years underscore the importance of seamlessly blending physical and digital elements. As technology continues to advance, the integration of digital add-ons, data analytics, and immersive experiences will likely play a pivotal role in event success.
The evolving landscape calls for a delicate balance between in-person and virtual components, allowing for flexibility and inclusivity. Our team stands ready to embrace the opportunities and challenges that 2024 will undoubtedly bring!
PIRATEx Digital Marketing Manager