The Next Big Thing

Back when we launched venue around five years ago a 42-inch screen would set you back $5000+. And I’m not talking about a household name you can trust, I’m talking about a Soney or a Firrips, straight-off-the-back-of-a-Chinese-truck flat panel… probably held together with egg white and sticky tape. Still, we revered the ‘big’ screen like the coming of the second technical messiah. In many pubs, the big screen would hold court, taking pride of place… If you wanted to show off, then you had, gasp, more than one.

Here was a technology beyond most of the public and for many it was reason enough to come to the pub for the big game or to have their senses assaulted by the latest music videos.

Wow, have times changed.

I’ve just returned from Integrate. It’s an annual event that Alchemedia (the publishers of venue) stages in Sydney and it’s jammed with the latest professional audiovisual equipment for venues. And a few things have become obvious.

The Arms Race is Over: You won’t be the ‘next big thing’ by installing the ‘next big thing’. If you have the biggest screen in your suburb, that might win you over a promiscuous crowd for a period, but they’ll be off to ogle some other big screen when it comes along. I might add that Panasonic’s latest enormo-screens are hugely impressive but you’d be kidding yourself if you thought its 152-inch howitzer will rule the roost for more than 12 months.

The lesson? Size isn’t everything, it’s how you use it that counts. And in the world of screens it’s about investing in top quality panels with a great image and positioning it properly. Better still; integrate your screens into the decor rather than bolting them on. Don’t expect your architect or interior designer to be sensitive to this, as a rule they hate screens and speakers. You need to make a point of spelling out your audiovisual hopes/dreams and asking them to get the audiovisual installer involved early in the process. I’ve lost count of how many times a venue has had to compromise on its sound and displays because the AV guys haven’t been called until a week before opening.

Screen Real Estate Sky Rockets: Interestingly, while the price of panels has dropped, the value of the screens is beginning to skyrocket. Huh? Let me explain. Your screens are no longer ‘big tellies’ — they’re way more valuable than that. Screens can make you money; in fact they’re doing just that for many canny operators around the country. You can use your displays for in-house marketing. This may not be earth-shattering news, but it does take a fresh approach to incorporate your own promotions if your screens are currently just rigged up to free-to-air or cable TV. Ask your professional AV guy to tell you how to get your screens working for you.

Brave New World of Digital Signs: If you’re running a pub or club of any significant size then I’m here to tell you, find budget for a digital signage upgrade as soon as you can. Early adopters are going to cash in big-time. By having a network of screens that allows you to control, tailor and schedule your message to the time, place and demographic in which those screens are in, you can make money and sell advertising space. It really is a no-brainer. There are digital signage specialists who can help. Give me a yell if you need pointing in the right direction.

Don’t think of your venue’s audiovisuals as a necessary evil or a barnacle on the butt of your otherwise beautiful interior design, make it work for you and allow it to improve your look, branding and promotions.

Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now. – CH.

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