Meetings and Events in the Covid19 era.
These are seriously challenging times. There are new developments every hour. A single article or statement can shift the goal posts for individuals, businesses, communities and entire countries. Are we facing a recession? Is it a pandemic? How do I protect my family? Do I have enough toilet paper? Oh, and all this in the post truth era. We are swimming in a myriad of questions and the result is not too removed from actual panic.
The events industry is definitely in uncharted territory.
SXSW2020 has been cancelled for the first time in its 34-year history. The 2020 BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament is cancelled. Champions League football matches are being played ‘behind closed doors’. Salesforce went wholly virtual this year. The chaotic scenes at supermarkets, the nasty conflicts on trains, the threat of lockdowns and forced quarantines affecting millions of people – these are all circumstances creating a new context for events. Some of these incidents are symptoms of the widespread insecurity and alarm people are feeling. Others are just common sense. Governments, companies, all of us are under incredible pressure - to keep people safe, prevent the spread of the virus and maintain business continuity.
At cievents we are very aware that our clients, like us, take the impact of coronavirus very seriously. We have an action plan in place for our people. Its evolution and implementation has been methodical, comprehensive and, we believe, best practice. The result is business continuity without compromise to the safety and well-being of staff, customers and suppliers.
It is at times like these that we need reassurance and clarity. We need calm, measured and well-informed directives from decision makers and leaders who know how to lead.
Technology can provide alternatives. Webinars have been around forever. Teleconferencing, telepresence, Google Hangouts, live streaming, webcasting and the multitudes of platforms that are out there are all ways to keep the information flowing. Virtual trade shows are a thing too. VR, AR, XR technologies are more accessible than ever.
In the light of their cancellation, the SXSW team is working on an online alternative. Salesforce’s online events and their exposure to a wider global audience may have actually made more of a ‘splash’. You could say ‘this is events, just not as we know it’. For the organisation that is wondering what to do with their meetings and events schedule in 2020, virtual conferencing is an option.
Right now, every meeting and events agency in the world is going to have something to say about their technology credentials. While it may be true, it’s very likely that these credentials aren’t new. Context has provoked the statement. The important thing for clients to keep in mind is that the strategy behind the use of virtual conferencing technology is the same as it was before. It must be based on insights, experience and deep knowledge of the client’s challenges.
Some weeks ago when we began to workshop how coronavirus could further affect our industry and our clients, we all agreed on one thing. Strategic and creative expertise informed and augmented by technology is of far greater value than just technology itself. So, for the foreseeable future virtual event technologies have become a critical consideration for business communications. But to be effective, to create connection, the strategic framework has to be in place.
The industry needs a reset.
At this challenging and uncertain time, organisations can’t just stop communicating with their people and customers. In fact, there’s more of a reason to communicate, engage and connect. We’re calling it business as (un)usual. And we’re making sure our clients are aware of the options they have. Now is the perfect time for strategic reviews of your meetings and events plans. Think beyond a technology-based reaction to coronavirus. What if this is the new normal? It’s time to get on the front foot and discover how to navigate through these challenging times.
New strategy is required. New creative approaches must be tabled. Technology can step in and perform the job it needs to, when, where and by whomever it’s needed.
cievents is in the best position to help with this change. Our experience in logistics, content, production and technology puts us in the perfect position to offer real, safe and effective alternatives to your pre-outbreak event plans. We are ready to talk to anyone about the compelling case for cievents’ approach to business as (un)usual - strategy, creative and technology in balance.
Natalie Simmons, Global General Manager