We may be living through times of unprecedented change, but in uncertainty lies the power to influence the future of storytelling.
Now is not the time to despair, but to act and interact! Focus on a digital strategy in troubled times, with Paul Chaîne, Head of Digital at Château de Versailles.
What impact has the health crisis on activity at Château de Versailles?
We have had to deal with a highly substantial loss in revenue, which at first was directly related to the first lockdown period – like everyone else, which continues today. Eighty percent of our visitors to the gardens and château at Versailles are foreign tourists.
The lockdown exit meant we could welcome our visitors back warmly, albeit mainly French visitors. However, even during this period, visitor numbers were not what they used to be. Even now, despite having good results at the weekend, the rest of the week remains calm as French people are at work.
With the lockdown and the lack of foreign tourists, what strategies has the Château de Versailles put in place?
First of all, I would say that we continue to share and create a lot of content, some original and unpublished and other new, through their format. The public now has access to various online content that we’ve made prominent again, such as videos, podcasts, virtual tours, virtual exhibitions, quizz on social media, live…
“Versailles VR : Le Château est à vous”
Apart from your own catalogue, is your online content going to increase in terms of volume?
Without a doubt. We keep carry on creating lots of video content, uploading at a rate of roughly one film per week. We’re focussing our ideas on the different audiences who cannot come to Versailles. This is in a much broader sense than what the term normally covers, as now a great number of foreign tourists can no longer travel. We must therefore design content adapted to and aimed at these audiences who are missing out on Versailles.
We should be able to present some wonderful things at PiXii in June 2021…
Watch the full Meet the Executives session featuring Paul Chaine in replay!
Beyond the video content, what other angles are you exploring?
We will announce several initiatives this winter around digital mediation in different forms that we hope people will find interesting and innovative. Augmented reality is one of the approaches we’re looking into. We’re continuing our collaboration with Google Arts and Culture, of course.
Virtually Versailles is a travelling exhibition which is proving to be popular in these new markets. Where will it be touring over the next few months?
Indeed, Virtually Versailles continues to grow and will go on tour across eight cities in China from this winter. It’s an incredibly innovative device which enables us to show Versailles in a different light, using digital tools and in different locations, like museums, shopping centres or galleries…
“Virtually Versailles” in Singapour
In light of the current faltering economic situation, has your funding and co-production policy for digital and immersive content been revised downwards or even stopped?
No. We have to deal with a loss of revenue but we cannot afford to stop everything and simply wait for better days to come. It would be a mistake. It is clear that we are continuing our developments and remain open to new projects and new ideas – immersive or not, but our strategy is more related to the in situ visit. From production companies to television channels and video game publishers, I think we all must work in this direction, to continue championing our heritage via high added value content.