Why I don’t have a coffee machine at home and what does it have to do with hybrid events
The answer is actually very simple
A friend came to my house. I offered him coffee. He gladly said yes. I asked him whether he’d like an instant coffee or a black coffee.
Suddenly noticed the surprise on his face.
After a slight pause, he said (with a smile) “Instant coffee? How low can you get? I admit I was expecting a monstrous coffee machine, knowing how much you love coffee.”
He was right. Frankly, I shouldn’t have invited him. I rarely invite people to my place anyway. We should have met in a café. Home is for sleeping.
“When I want to drink a good coffee, I go to a café,” I told him. “Actually, I hardly make coffee at home.”
“Is it because home coffee machines don’t have enough steam pressure?” he asked “then I can recommend of a few excellent models…”
“No, it’s not the case,” I revealed. “Sure, coffee is better from an industrial machine, but I go to café to see people, even if I don’t know them personally.”
I can’t say he was shocked. It’s quite known, that people don’t go to restaurants only because they are hungry or to cafés because they are thirsty. They like the (usually) higher quality, they like being served, they like to meet others, and above all — they like to go out.
Classic economists say we are rational creatures. Modern economists say we are predictably irrational. If I was a rational thinker regarding coffee, I would invest in an excellent coffee machine. A rough calculation that takes into account the cost of a coffee cup in a café plus the time spent on going to and form the café minus the cost of the coffee itself (which I still have to buy), leads to a quick conclusion: return on investment (ROI) on the purchase of the machine after less than a year. Quite good, commercially.
But not everything in life in commercial.
I decided not to buy a coffee machine.
Which turns to be pretty much rational, as at least I don’t lie to myself (acknowledging the fact that I prefer to go out).
And if I would have bought such a machine, it would probably stay idle, as I would still go to drink coffee outside. And THAT would certainly be irrational. No ROI whatsoever.
** As you might have guessed already, this post is written in a café.
Now to Hybrid Events
In recents months, I’ve been talking to many people in the cultural sector.
Not only film festival directors, which are the natural audience of Movies Everywhere, but also people who run theaters, dance groups, opera houses, museums and more.
They all express the same fear: if we would have hybrid events (i.e — broadcast live our shows/plays/exhibitions/premieres), people would not arrive to the venue.
“Why do you think that would happen?” I ask them.
“Simple!” I get the instant reply. “Because if I myself had the choice between arriving at a venue or staying at home comfortably, I’d stay home!”
If the analogy is not clear enough, then staying at home to watch the play, dance of a movie is like having coffee at home. At first glance, it’s the wiser choice: consume culture without wasting time and money (transportation, maybe parking, babysitter etc.).
But surprisingly enough (not to me), although coffee machines are way better and cheaper than they used to be, cafés are still full and doing very good business.
Isn’t it (“people still going to cafés despite the large offer of affordable and good machines”) contradicting the theory those people from the cultural sector are trying to attest? (“people will not not arrive to the venue is there’s an online option”).
Yes, it’s a contradiction. There is no reason to be afraid of hybrid events.
The fear is not only irrational , it is based on wrong assumptions.
The Wrong Assumptions
- If people are given the choice, they would rather stay home for any cultural activity.
- If the audience is ‘x’, then ‘x’ is always the same number: The same individual either goes to the venue or stays at home.
- A hybrid event targets the same audience as the in-person event. And that audience is usually local.
#1 was proven wrong just above and I won’t elaborate it again: going to a café against using a coffee machine at home was one example. Others are - going to a football game and not watching the game from home (still, stadiums are full); going to a rock concert and not listening to the same music on Spotify (still, halls are full).
I believe the point is clear. Proofs are all over the place. People like to go out and meet, even if not not the most economical act.
Therefore, the fear from hybrid events is a matter of denying that simple, trivial reality, which is proven anew every day in the sports and music performance sectors.
#2 claims that the audience is the same people: Ms. Smith has to decide whether to go to the theater or stay hone and watch the same event online. And certainly, Ms. Smith might definitely choose the online option!!! Disaster for the dance company, isn’t it? we lost Ms Smith to the online monster. — But wait, what about the thousands of other people who can’t make it to the venue anyway, because they live too far away, don’t have means of transportation, don’t have the time to travel etc.? — It just requires a slight change of mindset:
You’re not losing the audience, you’re extending it.
#3 claims that the target audience is the same with hybrid or in-person events. And that audience is usually local. That’s of course wrong and as with #2, requires a slight change of mindset: Instead of targeting the audience in your neighborhood, city or region, your organization can target the whole country with a hybrid event and if there are no geographic restrictions to the show, make it international!
So, We’re Set?
Most people in cultural institutions I talk to are still not convinced. Personally, I find it pretty shocking (though I shouldn’t really be... that’s human nature): They give up the miraculous opportunity that was given to them from 2020, probably 10 years before it might have happened naturally and instead, choose to stick to the old traditional way. “Back to normal” is a phrase that I keep hearing, whereby “normal” means in-person-only events (and the hell with online).
Therefore, instead of back to normal, I suggest:
Welcome to the New Normal.