Digital events allow organisers to reach out to a global audience: Shreyas Shrinivasan, CEO, Paytm Insider

Over the last few months, Paytm Insider has hosted 10,000+ digital events providing technical expertise along with pricing and marketing insights.


Since the pandemic put a halt on all on-ground events, digital or virtual events came to the rescue of audiences and event organisers. 

For ticketing platform Paytm Insider this was an opportunity to actively engage with event organisers and audiences for enhancing experience of digital events and further develop its offerings.

During the past few months, the platform’s capabilities has enabled many artists and creators to go online and showcase their talent. Digital events have also helped them to reach out to a wider and global audience.

In an interview with BW Applause and Everything Experiential, Shreyas Shrinivasan, CEO, Paytm Insider shared the platform’s new offerings, future plans, role of digital events and more.


How has Paytm Insider adapted to the new normal?

The challenge of translating what was earlier a physical experience into an engaging digital format has led us to work closely with organisers to develop new show formats. We'd been quick to move and update our event publishing and ticketing solution, helping organisers take their events online in 3 simple steps. This move, along with our early efforts to develop digital events starting last year, has helped us scale up digital events swiftly. The focus for the events sector is now on further developing the ability to deliver a great experience for fans in new and interactive digital formats.

How has the response been to online events? 

Over the last few months, we have hosted 10,000+ digital events providing technical expertise along with pricing and marketing insights to assist organisers in building these formats. With the understanding that the consumer mindset is one of learning, growth and wellness at this time, we expanded the range of events available to consumers in these categories, even as we have continued to provide new digital experiences in live music and comedy. One will now find a range of digital workshops from yoga and meditation, to financial planning workshops, theatres, dance, and courses on building your own business, marketing and more. 60% of the events we list now are workshops focused.

What are some of the new offerings that you have come up with in the past few months?

There are now over 600+ digital events online each week on Paytm Insider. Digital events that are trending now allow people to upskill, build on a talent/hobby or learn something entirely new. For the last few months, we have delivered theatre experiences digitally with our new initiative - ‘Front & Centre’. It aims to bring home the experience of theatre for all theatre enthusiasts. We have also launched Privates Parties where one can book exclusive performances with a range of artists, delivered virtually in a personal setting for friends and family. For kids, parents can now get a storyteller, a magician, or a puppeteer to entertain virtually in their birthday parties.

Paytm Insider’s event self-publishing platform now supports interactive features that can be used by organisers during their events. These interactive features include polls, fill in the blanks, Q&A, chat, a live leaderboard as well as rewards.

This means if you’re hosting, for example, a quiz, you no longer keep a tally on the side on Excel. Your questions pop-up on the screen while you talk about the subject live. The results are automatically calculated and show up on the screen. You get to share a mix of question types, and at the end of it reward participants if you wish! And it’s not just quizzing that this applies to. These tools are made for all kinds of events - apply this to murder mystery storytelling and build a narrative, or use polls for your class on social media marketing!

For organisers, we have made it easier to publish their events on our platform. With Theatre Mode, an organiser can upload their video content, set up a show and it will auto-stream at the set time and date allowing people to buy a ticket and enjoy the experience of watching it together. All they need is a video file and access to our publisher dashboard to create a show. This allows them to record good quality content and stream it seamlessly across different time zones without worrying about their connectivity issues.

How has online entertainment/digital events evolved during the pandemic?

Digital events is currently a one-time engagement format, similar to a physical experience - a person buys a ticket and heads over to the platform, attends the event, and comes back for another. Given the nature of consumption has changed, the next step is to explore events assisted by new technology and monetisation formats which enable fans and creators to continue to stay engaged over longer periods of time. This could take the form of the erstwhile, “season pass” for physical events changing to subscription to events and communities.

The other opportunity is on the creative side. By its nature, an event is a shared social experience. We believe digital events shouldn’t aim to be a replica of physical events. The experience of a digital event can be richer than it is currently, with more two-way interactions with the audience and between the audience. This gives way for different show formats to experiment and further their experience. A recent example of this is the immersive virtual reality RetroFuture festival with Nucleya, Anish Sood and Ritviz on Paytm Insider. The festival was attended by over 6,000 fans - a one of a kind interactive experience, that opens up possibilities for what music concerts could be like in the lockdown world.

As things are now slowly going back to normal, according to you, what is the future of events?

We think digital events would be the future in the post COVID 19 world as digital events allow a greater number of people to interact with artists and ideas simply by removing the limitation of reaching a set location. This is an opportunity to grow attending audiences from a local to a global scale.

Take us through some of your past on-ground and digital events.

Some of the highlights from last FY include -

1. Arijit Singh One Night Only, in partnership with Oranjuice Entertainment which has been one of the fastest-selling concerts in recent times.

2. Zee Live's Supermoon series bringing back Russell Peters to India - Deported World Tour 2019, as well as Prateek Kuhad's Winter Tour 2019.

3. 'Cigarettes After Sex', ambient pop band, with two shows at the Royal Opera House sold out in minutes.

It's great to also see live properties that Paytm Insider has been working with over several years such as Bacardi NH7 Weekender, The Lil Flea and the annual Brand Factory mega sale grow and draw-in a significant audience each year.

The highlights from digital events include -

1. Dance workshops by Team Naach which have new sessions listed every week.

2. Digital Marketing sessions by Mad Over Marketing. Experiences by Hunger Inc featuring The Bombay Canteen, O Pedro, & Bombay Sweet Shop.

3. Kommune’s sessions ranging from storytelling with Yahya Bootwala, tackling a writer’s block with Megha Rao, to Merchandising 101 with Harshit Manocha, and Songwriting with Hanita Bhambri.

4. Paytm Insider’s theatre IP - Front & Centre has had events like Every Brilliant Thing produced by QTP, which is a live interactive storytelling performance and India Foundation Art’s Story reading by Motely featuring Heeba Shah, Naseeruddin Shah, and Ratna Pathak Shah.

What are some of your learnings of the current situation?

Digital events have opened up borders in a way that any organiser can now approach a global audience with their event. It has made the creators and organisers rethink what an engaging event experience can look like. This opens up a range of possibilities for show formats to go further.

What are the kind of precautions that Paytm Insider is planning to implement for live events?

While live events may take some time to come back, when they do we will work closely with our organisers, following guidelines instituted by authorities to be able to put together a safe event going experience.

What are some of your future plans for Paytm Insider?

We continue to stay focused on truly delivering the full scale and experience of what a digital experience could be. We are further building our platform tools to deliver success for creators and organisers, helping them build more engaging digital formats for their communities.

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