Getting the party started!

It’s been a tough year. After a tumultuous 2020 that saw everybody locked up and socially distanced, there’s nothing that a majority of people want to do more than to get together, see our loved ones and have the party of a lifetime. We explore how professional audio is central to bringing back the time of our lives.

1. Audio's Awakening

With India beginning to come back to life after a tough lockdown, confidence in the leisure and entertainment sector is beginning to spark up again, though the process of reopening is likely to be slow. Integrators are returning to work and projects are beginning to happen again, however many remain cautious as the vertical is reliant on customer footfall. Kuldip Kamat, CEO, Allwave AV, said businesses and offices were open but many administrative and back-end functions were being handled remotely.

“Demand in leisure and entertainment sector has definitely fallen down as a lot of entertainment spaces are shut.” he added. On the other hand, some areas of the leisure and entertainment industry which previously neglected a serious audio system are now reconsidering their approach. Santosh Kumar, head of sales, QSC India, explained: “Even though 2020 and 2021 is still affected by Covid-19, the leisure and entertainment vertical is showing good response, especially in tier two cities. We are seeing encouraging growth happening, good projects coming up in tier two cities with respect for audio and that’s promising for QSC.

“From July 2020, we have seen most integrators opening. We have seen more and more cases and projects coming up from the integrators that we used to see before Covid-19. The inquiries are matching the same level that they used to be before Covid-19. Traditionally, tier two cities have shown good response with respect to cinemas because that is one of the favourite social activities for people to do in tier two cities. Often what we have seen is good growth with respect to different types of restaurants, clubs and pubs which was not there earlier. The reopening is showing more growth; All cinemas can now have 100% occupancy and we’ve seen restaurants and clubs being flooded in the bigger cities as it did before Covid-19, that is very promising.”

2. New Demand

The lockdown hit many companies which were unprepared for the changes to come. Today, this means that many venues will be rethinking their spaces, whether due to popular trends or to accommodate the social distancing needs of employees and customers.

Kamat commented: “We are seeing a trend of more hybrid spaces which are both for leisure and entertainment. We feel that tier two is definitely going to pick up this decade, it’s definitely not going to be immediate but with working from home, many companies are having to work remotely and this raises standards of living and entertainment options to tier two living.”

Kumar believes that changes in tier two cities are coming, both driven by popular culture and a need to make up for lost enjoyment in 2020. Kumar said: “Now you have more of the bigger city influences going into the smaller cities. We are doing a number of hotels in tier two cities. After a year of lockdown, people want to step out and have a better experience, there’s good growth in this vertical and that’s what’s driving growth because people want to go out, they want to experience more.”

3. Changing Behaviours

The future is bright, but cautious for many in the industry, with potentially permanent changes to workflows and the continuing need for distancing between customers in retrofitted venues. It is clear that the pandemic will have, at the very least, a significant short-term impact on the way we work, the products we specify and the way live in our lives.

Kamat said: “2021 will be a more cautions year as the world emerges from the Covid-19 lockdowns which are still active in many developed countries. Covid-19 has led to a big acceleration towards adoption for IT and AV tech for many companies who are not at the forefront of digitisation of their workspace but now see a very increasing demand in digitising their workspaces and improving of conference and collaborations.”

Kumar added, “2021 is looking promising for the leisure and entertainment business. We predict that growth is going to be good. Demand for larger open spaces is increasing, people would like to experience but also keep social distancing needs in mind. We are seeing larger spaces that are catering for the same amount of people but with new safety norms. People want to explore new territories. We’ve seen clubrooms or cinemas that are now looking for quality set ups rather than choosing products for their namesake. ”

This demand for retrofitting venues for additional spacing will almost certainly have an effect on the kinds of products that integrators are installing; with new room acoustics and greater space between occupants calling for more powerful speakers with greater coverage and perhaps additional sources of audio. Depending on the reimagined layout of a venue, end users could be looking to cover areas of a restaurant which previously would never have been considered.

This extends to how human interaction is affected, be it short term or long term, by the impact of Covid-19. It’s possible that the psychological impact of minimising contact and only mixing with those that you need to could be a facet of life that remains in place for many years. Staying local and enjoying venues with your local community could become a strong vertical of the future. Kumar said: “One area of growth in India in tier one and tier two cities is apartment complexes that have clubhouse cinemas. There is a complex that has 200 apartments, all of them come together to watch a film in the ‘clubhouse’ cinema so that is another vertical that we are targeting.”

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