The world is getting smaller, technology and other innovations have brought the planet together in so many new ways. For live event organizers, the barriers to entry for taking their events internationally have gone significantly down. The internet especially has helped franchises break into new markets. American Football teams are playing games in the UK, a Spanish production company is throwing parties on five continents, and the one of the US’s largest festivals is hosting events in Abu Dhabi now. All around the world organizations are expanding their reach and growing their communities. While many obstacles have been lessened, it is still no easy task to throw a successful event abroad. Working with local entities, abiding by local laws, and supporting the local culture can be difficult to balance while also maintaining your brand. One brand that has mastered getting international buy in from a global audience is elrow. They have accomplished this by creating an edge over most events by creating a fully immersive, Cirque du Soleil like show. Not only is there great demand, but for any country they expand into, they do not waiver and bring the full experience with them, no matter what it takes.
A Dynasty is Born
What started off as a Sunday morning party, elrow has now grown to host events in 33 countries and 65 cities and in 5 continents.The story of the organization goes all the way back to 1845 when Jose Satorres, known as Josepet, went into military service in Madrid. This is where he discovered social life and the cabarets at the time. In 1870 when he finished service and moved back to his family farm he decided to open his own cafe. Café Josepet over time became a large social club. Unfortunately Mr. Satorres died without a male heir and closed the cafe a year before he passed. Then one year later his daughter’s husband, Antonio Duran reopened it but under the name Bar Victoria. It became so popular that they expanded. Theatre Victoria opened its doors at the start of the twenties and hosted a variety shows. The two businesses were connected via a small staircase that also connected to their residence.
While those business continued to flourish, Juan Arnau was also starting his own dynasty of entertainment. Focusing on dance and music, he founded what the Saloon Florida where orchestras and world class dancers would perform. The two families were joined through marriage and after seeing the Moulin Rouge during their honeymoon in Paris, Juan Arnau, was determined to have shows like that performed in their town. Time progressed and in October 1973 they opened the Florida Discotheque Fraga. Some highs and lows later, a few closings and family members passing away, Juanito Arnau Jr., Pilarin and Juanito’s grandson, started throwing parties from 2am to 7am in Spain with his sister, Cruz Arnau, that would become the modern day elrow. These parties made their way to Ibiza where they became a staple of the islands scene.
“When you succeed in Ibiza with live entertainment and nightlife entertainment, it’s the same thing as being successful in Paris or Milan in the fashion industry,” says Vicenç Marti, president of elrow tells Forbes. “Everyone wants to work with you.”
Immersion Garners Global Buy-In
Explosions of confetti and balloons, giant caricatures on stilts, massive and colorful murals, inflatables of all shapes and sizes, and energetic performers are just some of the madness you will find in addition to DJ’s spinning the best techno in the world at an elrow party. Not only are these events born from a dynasty of entertainment and party connoisseurs, they have separated themselves as a fully immersive event. The focus is less about who is playing or what people are hearing and more about what they are seeing. This means they do not have to spend lots of money on getting the world’s top acts and can invest more in production and promotion.
They were able to take their events internationally because they garnered buy in from a global community. The immersive experience is what truly sets them apart. There is no one else in the electronic music community doing an event quite the way that elrow does. The team works together to come up with elaborate themes like “El Bowsque Encantado” (Enchanted Forest). Complete with an online backstory, attendees are absorbed with the experience from the moment they find out about it all the way until they are engulfed in the production, dancing with their friends as the sun rises.
In House Production Leads to World Class Events
Even though it can take upwards of 500 people to work the shows, elrow supposedly has the capacity to produce up to five shows in five countries all on the same day. Their central offices and a 54,000-square-foot warehouse are located in Barcelona but they also have storage facilities in China and New York. What’s even more impressive is that they are able to produce everything in house. Their headquarters employ over 100 people year round and the company will turn over more than $22.2 million this year. “According to Resident Advisor, in 2017, Elrow [hosted] 132 events in more than 25 countries, reaching an estimated audience of 1.7 million people.” They are able to host so many events around the world by repeating themes but changing them every two years.
“From my grandfather and my father, they always say that you have to be connected with the young generations and you have to listen to them,” Juan Arnau Jr., tells Forbes. “If you want to survive in this business, first you have to love it because usually people get tired because it’s a really tough business. And secondly, you have to understand the new generations. Because if you don’t understand them, and if you don’t change all the time to follow them, you don’t last basically.”
Creating an event that is larger than life in person and across country lines is not an easy task but elrow has somehow discovered how to have an edge in a highly competitive and difficult landscape. By immersing guests in a one of a kind show, they have been able to expand across five continents. Keeping production in house, a nightlife dynasty at the helm, and continuing to push the envelope of production is how they have been able to host so many shows in so many countries. They are just one example of how a live events brand can expand internationally. To learn more about the successes and failures of taking an event global do not miss the session “International Expansion: Growing Your Event's Global Footprint” at this year’s XLIVE Conference. The XLIVE Conference this year is taking place November 17 - 20, 2019 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada get your tickets and more information here.