One thing we all know for sure is that there is no return to “the way things used to be” for both event organisers and, equally importantly, those who supply them.
There is going to be some commonality in these outcomes and some, certainly not all, of these could turn out to be a good thing. This may sound a bold claim, but one which I hope will cause both reflection and comment. Every event hosting pound spent will matter more than ever before, and the often heard message “but we have always done it this way” should be a thing of the past.
A bad visitor experience generating a perception about value for money, or misalignment with “values” will be punished as there will be other choices for consumer spend and innovative options will need to be kept under review.
So in short, the events industry will need to take a hard look at how it operates. One of the most often repeated complaints we hear at every summit we run is the missed opportunities, inefficiencies and lack of shared learning through a reluctance to engage with expert suppliers to find budget appropriate, low programme risk and better participant solutions.
Sector or subject-specific workshops will generate options and strengthen collaboration among suppliers, which in turn will drive economies of scale and effective procurement that benefits everyone before a formal process commences. This will require a culture shift and this may be forced on those hosting events as the impact on the delivery capacity of companies will take months and potentially years to fix and they will have choices on which opportunities to focus on and that may not be “yours.”
Sustainability has seen its importance increase over past years, but it could take a long time before the reluctance to travel for non-essential activities is restored, if it will be at all. This can be partly mitigated by showing high levels of awareness of every aspect of sustainability. Trends are likely to extend to integrated transport planning and crowd management, accommodation and catering arrangements innovating in ways not seen before. Virtual reality will allow a reach to a global audience albeit with nothing replacing the live event, but could they be smaller than before?
The final observation is not new but in danger of being forgotten and tragically that is security of crowded places. While we have all been focused on the current crisis it was a matter of months since concerns about how to mitigate the impact of a terrorist incident was a major concern for all planning, and the opportunities presented by the “new norm” offers an opportunity to not view this in isolation as an overhead but integral to all planning.
Good times are ahead but they are going to be different times and will present opportunities and challenges for all of us. We seek, along with our partner Mash Media, to bring the community together to collaborate and share thinking and all of you can be part of this drive to help sustain and improve our outstanding events market.
Be sure to join us at MEI's flagship event the Major Events Virtual Summit - during the week of 6th-12th July.