The ongoing global pandemic has altered the technosphere. Conferences have turned online, seminars seem like a thing of the past, casual events have turned digital.
Event booking platform Paytm Insider too is riding the storm. It has managed to grow its online event inventory from 0 to 9K in four months (April to August 2020). “we have recovered 75% of our lost traffic year-on-year, including the traffic achieved during IPL 2019 bookings, just by virtual event listing,” says Paytm Insider’s founder Shreyas Srinivasan.
“Surprisingly, the categories selling for digital events seem to be different from those @paytminsider has traditionally been known for. We believe a lot of these categories will be additive to our business in both users and revenue going forward,” Srinivasan tweeted.
With such traction and user interest, the Paytm-owned company has decided to launch a hoard of tools to make the listing experience more impactful. It will now enable users to list live-streamed events, doing away with its Zoom API events requirement. Creators can also publish other interactive features like multi-choice, fill in the blanks and polls synced to both live-streamed and pre-recorded videos, besides capability to host 360 videos.
Subscription-Based ‘Bundle’ Service
Paytm Insider has also gone ahead to make virtual events more affordable for the audience by offering a subscription-based ‘bundle’ service, which will allow the audience to pay a one-time fee to unlock all the creators’ live show. He noted that the average ticket price of a digital event is around INR 300, which is still more expensive than what people pay for streaming services per show.
It’s been a challenging few months for all of us @paytminsider We responded to the lockdown in April by launching a Digital Events section which was built on top of the Zoom API. From 0 events in April, we have been able to grow this category to over 9000 events!
— Shreyas (@sshreyas) August 17, 2020
Online Events Boom, But Ticket Platform Negatively Impacted
Over the past few months, events that seemed impossible to be conducted virtually have moved online too. For instance, Reliance Industries held its first virtual annual general meet last month for nearly 1 Lakh stakeholders. Google I/O developer conference, IBM Think 2020, Collision 2020, Octa’s Oktane Conference and Adobe Summit 2020 were also held virtual.
With this, several incubators and accelerators programmes have also successfully experimented with virtual programmes, including Y Combinator, Sequoia Surge and others. Over the last few months, there has also been an establishment of accelerator programmes like IndiaRath, which claim to be the Indian variant of T Combinator and plan to stay virtual for more representation.
The virtual event market has proven to be successful, bringing $3 Mn investment to platforms like Airmeet that promote such forms of communication. Though the same cannot be said for more personal events like comedy shows, concerts that have turned out to be underwhelming due to its bland experience.
Paytm Insider’s rival BookMyShow rolled out a global online streaming feature which allows consumers to access live entertainment shows from their homes. It offers both paid and free performances across music, comedy and other performing arts to 50K concurrent viewers. CEO Ashish Hemrajani added that BookMyShow had to cut all other expenses and renegotiate with vendors, partners and landlords and after exhausting all other cost-saving measures.
Meanwhile, the event booking market seems promising, but not without its set of struggles. In May 2020, BookMyShow had to lay off and furlough nearly 270 employees, of the total 1450, as it expected the revenues to be “greatly reduced” due to the pandemic and the resultant restrictions. Employees, who were not impacted by the downsizing, had to take voluntary salary deductions between 10% to 50% at leadership levels. These employees also had to give up on their bonuses and increments.