Virtual Beerfest is a refreshing live event experiment for Singapore Press Holdings

By Ian Lim

Beerfest Asia, Sphere Exhibits Pte Ltd



The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on unprecedented social and economic disruption, with the live entertainment and events industry hit especially hard. The extended disruption of physical events is crippling the revenue and income of many businesses, employees, and freelancers. Similarly, many in the beer and brewing industry have seen significant revenue declines and a negative impact on their livelihoods.

Driven to innovate to find new ways to survive, Beerfest Asia looked to online and digital solutions as a potential lifeline. It is with this backdrop that we started the initiative of Virtual Beerfest Asia 2020. The event was organised by Sphere Exhibits, a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings.

Going virtual allowed Beerfest Asia 2020 to present "live" music to audiences.
Going virtual allowed Beerfest Asia 2020 to present "live" music to audiences.

In collaboration with Shopee, an e-commerce and livestreaming platform, we held an online festival over two weekends on May 29-30 and June 5-6. Our event partners were Unearthed Productions and Live Productions; Sennheiser was a sponsor and Timbre Group joined as music partner.

The digital festival featured four hours of programming daily, including musical performances by 16 local artists, brewer’s interviews, live auctions, and more.

Virtual experience, real results

Leveraging the online platform, Virtual Beerfest Asia showcased more than 150 beers on offer on the Shopee Beerfest Asia Store. Viewers on the Shopee Live platform could purchase the beers through the livestream shopping experience. The programme is available for continued viewing on Beerfest Asia’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

With Virtual Beerfest Asia, our goal was to deliver compelling content and enticing beverage choices to everyone going through this tough time, while at the same time bringing much needed income and revenue to the employees, freelancers, and businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic.

Virtual Beerfest provided a variety of beverage choices to online attendees.
Virtual Beerfest provided a variety of beverage choices to online attendees.

Our initial foray into live digital events combined with an e-commerce platform was a great learning experience that met the revenue and engagement metrics that we established. The cumulative viewership of the livestream was more than 67,000, and more than 25,000 single servings of beer were sold.

Though the initial Virtual Beerfest Asia can be seen as a success, the revenue driven by digital events still pales in comparison to physical events and cannot realistically replace the real thing either from a visitor/exhibitor or a financial viability perspective. At the end of the day, the physical experience and interaction cannot be fully replicated digitally.

However, we see that this new initiative and digital capability can be a significant new additional revenue stream for the company and a value add and engagement channel for both our exhibitors and visitors. Beerfest Asia will be building further on our digital livestream and e-commerce platforms with future Beerfest Asia productions in a hybrid format that can extend the reach of the traditional live physical event.

The pandemic, though causing hardship and loss, has also driven us to innovate to break the traditional business model and mindset. Once the dark clouds have cleared, the future will be brighter.

About Ian Lim

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