Kate Kassar takes a look at the future of events in a COVID-19 world
The world is almost standing still with COVID-19. Many event organisers – and assistants – are left with few or no events to organise. But on the basis that at some point the whole world will go back to ‘normal’, what will that ‘new normal’ look like? What shape are events going to take?
There is absolutely no doubt that post-pandemic there will be an overwhelming appetite for social activity. By the same token, companies will be keen to develop business quickly, to woo clients and to cement those former relationships; events make up a significant portion of that marketing spend. But social and corporate appetite aside, we may find ourselves in a vastly different ‘normal’ in terms of regulation.
Right now, no-one has the answers to the following economic questions:
When will the entire workforce return to work?
When will travel bans be lifted?
When will the global economy be back on its feet?
You may not have answers to the colossal global dilemmas, but as always, the Assistant will be relied on to be a source of information on the future of events post-COVID-19. The more you can research now, the more valuable a resource you will be for your business further down the line. Here are some questions to think about:
1.What will corporate restrictions look like? Will there be legislation restricting numbers on conferences or the number of conferences per year? Will there be restrictions on corporate entertaining? How long will social distancing last?
2. What restrictions will there be in terms of corporate travel? Will there be a responsibility to prioritise Zoom or Skype over travel and face to face meetings?
3. What restrictions will be put in place from an individual perspective? What will be deemed as ‘necessary’ travel? What will be deemed as necessary to the economy?
4. Where does your own company fit into this new normal? Think about the implications of global legislation on your own company policies and guidelines, both from an internal and a client-facing perspective.
5. How will technology facilitate new events? Undoubtedly, many events previously held face to face will move to online platforms. By becoming tech savvy now, you will be invaluable to the events side of your business.
6. And a question for yourself, what percentage of your role was previously spent organising events? If events within your company take a significant downturn, are you left with enough ‘role’ to satisfy your position or will you end up taking on more work or executives in order for your role to survive?
We have proven throughout COVID-19 that the show must and can go on in a virtual setting. While shops, offices, and airlines have shut across the world, colleagues and friends have continued to communicate and work through online platforms. But how effective is this platform at strengthening relationships? Can it be sustained long-term?
From a brand and culture perspective, is ‘social’ an integral part of your company’s DNA? From a client-facing perspective, how important is corporate entertaining and on what level does this take place? Think about what other ways there are to achieve the same goal. The Assistant may be integral in putting together a very different events calendar to previous years and the more you know about new and alternative ways to keep relationships healthy and well-fed, the better.
But it’s not all about COVID-19
Equally, let’s not forget the other hot topics in the events industry. The news has been dominated (and rightly so) by COVID-19 these last few months but let’s remain fully aware of the other challenges facing events – namely, sustainability and the holistic wider view of looking after our planet. A significant silver lining of the colossal pandemic cloud has been the breath of clean, fresh air that our planet has finally been granted. Let’s not let that argument fade into the background as our appetite for face to face takes over.
Future events will look different. There will be further need for justification – of spend as well as of getting together. But as getting together is a true human need as well as a way to boost companies’ business, let’s plan a well-thought out calendar of conferences and relationship-building events to reignite people’s passions about their businesses and their working relationships.