In the words of The Parking Lot Social; ‘Crazy times call for crazy solutions’. XL Event Lab promoters have adapted their offering to create an interactive drive-in experience which is touring the UK this December.

We chat to one of the Company Directors Grahame Ferguson about logistics through to ticketing….

There are over 10 locations for The Parking Lot Social – what are your top tips for finding a great outdoor space that is COVID-19 restriction friendly?

Scouting venues is something we’ve become good at over the past 4 years. Last year we produced outdoor events in 57 cities across the US, Canada and Australia, all of them with very specific and complex requirements. So finding 10 empty car parks in the UK at a time when people are being encouraged to stay at home was a walk in the park. 

You were previously touring the world with a big inflatable theme park. We’ve seen you’re using some of the inflatables at the drive in events but what’s been the most creative or inventive use for them at The Parking Lot Social so far?

Early on in the development of this project we decided that we wanted to put our knowledge and experience with inflatables to good use. A car park isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing of environments and parking a big screen at one end of it doesnt really improve that. Essentially we just wanted to create something that looked amazing and I think we’ve achieved that.

The smile on people’s faces when they see the 50ft tall fire hydrant shooting out rainbows suggests the public like it too.

The programme is extremely varied with activities – what would you say has been the most popular in terms of energy and participation, and has is varied by demographics such as location or age?

Again, it was important for us to create something that wasn’t just showing old movies on a screen in a car park. To that end, we made sure that over 50% of the entertainment we programmed was non-movie related. Anyone can rent a screen and show a movie. The barriers to market are minimal and the opportunity to differentiate yourself from all the other drive-in operators popping up are limited. It was important to us to offer something more. And of the various programs we created to work within The Parking Lot Social, our ‘Big Weekender’ event has been by far the most successful. It was conceived as a modern take on an old school variety show. It’s highly interactive, features some amazing hosts and talent and has really connected with our audience. 

You’ve added Panto to your drive-in schedule this December, what will you be directing the audience to do to replace those panto heckles we know and love?

In our production meetings we’ve been discussing various ways to keep the audience engaged given the very unique dynamic of having everyone sat in their car. We’ve got more than a few tricks up our sleeves that we’ve learned from previous events. Watch this space!

You’re selling tickets via Universe; what would you say has been the most useful feature of the system for The Parking Lot Social events?

With any ticketing partner, reporting is crucial and that’s something that I feel Universe has been particularly good at. With multiple events happening at the same time it’s important that we can access key data quickly and that it’s presented in a clear and easy to follow way. In that regard Universe ticks all the boxes.