The global live events market cracked $1 trillion in 2018 and is projected to reach $2.3 trillion by 2026. These 10 companies are inventing new thrills, while making events both more accessible and more sustainable.
1. Meow Wolf
For translating its bonkers, art-centric experience into a three-minute amusement park ride
Since its inception in 2008, Meow Wolf has always created art experiences that immerse visitors in fantastic worlds, encouraging exploration of the unknown. In April 2019, the company opened Kaleidoscape, a thrilling art-driven amusement park ride at Denver’s Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park. The ride is averaging 3,000 riders a day and season-pass sales at Elitch Gardens are up 10%. The company’s staff has grown from 125 to 500 in two years. Half the staff is female, and 19 of the company’s 35 top positions are held by women.
Read more on why Meow Wolf is one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2020.
For displacing millions of disposable cups at concerts
In an effort to cut back on the 4 billion single-use plastic cups used at live events around the world each year, r.Cup worked with social impact consultancy Effect Partners to create a reusable, fully recyclable plastic cup that is branded by the live event attraction. Fans pay a $3 deposit and can keep the cup, which features original art for the event, or return it after use for a deposit refund. r.Cup has worked with many of music’s biggest acts (U2, Dave Matthews, Radiohead) and displaced the use of 500,000 single-use cups in its first year of activation. In 2019, r.Cup began “residency” pilot programs at the First Avenue venue in Minneapolis and other full time programs. Last year, through 70 events, r.Cup and their partners displaced more than 200,000 single-use cups at those venues. The California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco has signed on to begin using r.Cup at its Nightlife events.
3. Secret Cinema
For transforming popular films into increasingly grand theatrical events
In the years since it launched in London, Secret Cinema has done 46 productions, transforming popular films into theatrical experiences that engage and involve the audience. Last year, the company launched Casino Royale, its biggest production yet, re-creating parts of Madagascar, Venice, Miami, Montenegro, MI6, and the Casino Royale in an 80,000-square-foot empty warehouse shell. The company has nearly doubled attendance from 65,000 in 2018 to 117,000 in 2019.
4. Taco Bell
For extending the experiential brand activation trend to its ultimate (absurd) conclusion: the Taco Bell Hotel & Resort in Palm Springs
The Taco Bell Hotel & Resort, which operated over four days in Palm Springs, California, this past summer, took the concept of experiential brand activations to its most absurd conclusion: a fully branded fast-food resort. With help from marketing agencies Edelman and United Entertainment Group—and a lot of influencer power from popular Instagrammers—Taco Bell managed to break through the noise of daily marketing stunts and turn its concept into a true pop-culture phenomenon, one that is likely to be replicated again and again.
For staging the Fortnite World Cup
Tait, which designs and custom-builds temporary performance and permanent installation experiences, staged the Fortnite World Cup at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York. For this esports event, Tait manufactured a two-story platform that invited Fortnite gamers to step into the video game and compete in real life in front of a live and streaming audience. Expanding its penetration into cruise ships, theme parks, sports, and esports venues, the company last year acquired two UK-based live-event companies and experienced exponential growth.
For putting viewers in the trenches with its War Remains interactive VR installation
War Remains, an interactive VR experience presented by Dan Carlin (of Hardcore History fame) and directed by Brandon Oldenburg, was lauded this year for giving users the feeling of being dropped in the middle of a battlefield—in this case, the trenches of World War I. Produced by MWM Interactive with development by Flight School Studio and audio design by Skywalker Sound, the interactive exhibit debuted at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival’s “virtual arcade” and was later showcased as part of an installation in Austin.
For expanding the number of sensory-inclusive venues so people with autism, PTSD, or Down syndrome can enjoy them
Last year, KultureCity was on the top 10 list for making live event venues (especially sports) accessible to people with invisible disabilities like autism or PTSD. This year, they have dramatically expanded the number of venues with sensory-inclusive spaces, working with teams in every one of the major American sports leagues.
For bringing its immersive sound technology to Aerosmith’s Las Vegas residency
For nearly 30 years, L-Acoustics has been innovating sound for live events, most recently with L-ISA, its panoramic, multidimensional sound experience that reconnects the audience to the performance. L-ISA technology has already been deployed by high-profile artists across a variety of musical styles in more than 5,000 shows worldwide. Early adopters include Ennio Morricone and his orchestra, the National Orchestra of Lille, Odesza, BBC Proms, Lorde, Tonhalle Orchestra featuring Yuja Wang, Childish Gambino, Bon Iver, Deadmau5, and Alt-J, among others.
9. Engage & Resonate
For building brand events for Amazon, McDonald’s, and Under Armour
E&R last year did ambitious and innovative activations for Under Armour (Rush’s interactive conductive ink displays) and Amazon (Dormcore mock dorm rooms), following up on its McCafé Sustainable Coffee Journey for McDonald’s in Chicago in late 2018.
For recommending your next favorite event
The platform connects its 50 million active global users with more than 100 million events, offering recommendations based on user interests. The company claims more than 350,000 active daily users and says it is adding about 200,000 new events every day.
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