The many restrictions implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic have prevented a large number of events from taking place. Despite this, some organisers have managed to invent concepts that no one had thought of before. Among the remarkable events, our attention was caught by the surprising, fun and attractive parties organised by @lappartchezmoi (L’appartement chez moi, French for ‘The flat at my place’). The events have reached up to 4,000 unique Zoom users at the same time as people party at home – and that’s not including the multiple people behind many screens.
In March 2020, Axel Bonnichon launched this idea for parties with friends, and it soon reached unpredicted popularity. As the manager of an events communication agency, he tells us how everything came about and provides 5 useful tips for event organisers of all kinds.
- Get started without knowing where it will lead
- Let attendees take the initiative
- Set a fair price
- Learn from each experience
- Use an intuitive ticketing solution
Hello, Axel. Can you tell the story of @lappartchezmoi’s parties and how they were created?
It was quite simple, actually. During the March lockdown, some friends and I quickly realised that it would be hard not to be able to party at the weekend. I personally wondered how I could help my friends stay at home to respect the lockdown. I wanted to try something online, but was completely new to this. With my friend Barbara Butch, who’s a professional DJ, we filmed a DJ set that was broadcast live on Facebook. We started without really knowing where we were going. It could only be viewed by our friends, but they gave us great feedback.
Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t allow for easy interaction between spectators at a live performance. Then, one Monday morning, during a Zoom meeting, I had the idea of using this platform rather than Facebook. And that’s how the project took off! At the first party, there weren’t that many people, but the atmosphere was instantly there. The attendees could see one another. They really wanted to party while relaxing at home, sort of protected in their cocoon. And then it got bigger and bigger as the weekends went by.
@lappartchezmoi offers a form of escapism for attendees. We’ve received messages from people telling us just that. We’ve reached up to 4,000 unique users, and there are often several people behind each screen. Since the later lockdown in November, there have been fewer people as we’ve set an entry price and the restrictions are less strict. We have an average of 200 unique users, but with 5 to 10 people behind each screen. We’ve kept only the regulars, which has its advantages.
Your parties, despite being virtual, are really fun, sometimes more so than in-person events. How did you make this possible?
We attracted warm people because we communicated with Barbara’s community, and she’s very open and caring. This immediately created an atmosphere of trust. Then the press quickly reported on it, which attracted a wider variety of people – the old, the young, families, and so on.
The 9 p.m. schedule also made it possible to bring together a large audience and create a funny kind of atmosphere, with some people at the table or washing up while others dance like at a ‘real party’. Not everything that happens at the parties could happen in a nightclub or elsewhere. Then, as time goes by, it looks more like a big party and people let themselves go – and they need to, given the situation.
All of this was a bit overwhelming for us. If we’d been told a few months ago “Party at home through your webcam”, we wouldn’t have believed it. In fact, attendees take over the party by installing lights, dressing up, and so on. They’re the ones who create a ‘virtual family nightclub’ atmosphere. All we do is create the conditions (the music, ‘rules of conduct’, a spirit of freedom, etc.) to make sure everything goes well. They do the rest.
How did the transition from free tickets to paid tickets happen? And why the change?
First, it allowed us to cushion the purchasing of equipment, the Zoom subscription and the design for the communication visuals. And most importantly, Barbara has no more income since the nightclubs closed. It’s important that she sees the fruits of her labour. So, after 3 months of free parties, we decided to opt for paid tickets, and no one complained.
We’ve set a low price and each person can decide to add a certain amount depending on the number of people behind the screen. This is still a new format – we had to attract an audience, which is harder when tickets cost money.
At the same time, the price is a barrier to entry, so we have fewer curious people taking part and fewer press reports. The advantage is that people who continue to attend are much more likely to play the game and leave all their cameras on. Previously we were generally at 50–50. We’ve gone down in numbers but gained in human warmth.
Does this give you ideas for what to do next? Do you want to organise more parties when party venues reopen?
Not necessarily. Since we don’t know when venues will reopen, we’ll continue to organise these virtual parties. And then I think that this situation will come to an end. We all have jobs and these parties are organised in a really specific context. It’s far from being economically viable. The experience is great, and it does some good for everyone, but in the long term it would be hard to sustain.
On the other hand, I think that in the distant future, let’s say several years, it could become a widespread trend again. Event organisers will have every reason to offer online experiences to complement the in-person ones. Why deprive yourself of a potential audience that’s too far away or can’t travel?
You turned to Weezevent in order to sell your tickets. Why?
I made a quick benchmark including the different online ticketing solutions, and the first advantage of working with Weezevent is that you can quickly calculate your revenue and the share of commission taken. Second, the solution is extremely well made. It took me an hour at most to discover everything.
Given the weekly frequency of the parties, I just have to duplicate the events, which can be done in 2 clicks. The solution is totally what we need in terms of simplicity and efficiency. For each event, I use the Weezevent mini-site which I publish on our Instagram page and Barbara’s page. Our subscribers and those who are curious are redirected straight to the box office. It’s as simple for them as it is for me.
The success of @lappartchezmoi’s virtual parties is proof that event organisers are more than capable of reinventing themselves. Want to experience the adventure of online events? Weezevent offers a set of dedicated solutions which are easy to set up. Contact our advisers to choose the configuration that best suits your event: