Today Virtual – Tomorrow Hybrid

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Today’s blog is slightly different to those of the last few weeks in that I want to use it to simply ask some questions & make a few statements that should get us all thinking about the direction we are heading in, how we are or could be adapting our own businesses to reach those short term objectives we’ve recently been forced to set and what conversations might we be having with our clients & prospects to identify where & how they are going to get the events business back on track post COVID-19.

So here goes:

Is it a given that all future face to face events will have to be amplified with some sort of digital & virtual experience?

From an event perspective when life returns to ‘normal’, will staying at home be the new going out?

Can sponsorship of a virtual event (or elements of a F2F event) give a better ROI for sponsors than a face to face one?

“Today Virtual – Tomorrow Hybrid”

Businesses need to ensure they can survive today before they look long-term – JP Hanson

What is your virtual programme going to be & how will you engage with your sponsors?

Is there a danger that events become to technology & product led and less so about the customer & the experience being offered?

How will airlines adapt both the airport and in-flight customer offering to comply with new COVID-19 guidelines and will this cause many event organisers to put on hold plans to run events involving air travel in the short to mid-term?

“Upheaval breeds innovation, transition provides space and perspective to re-evaluate and reprioritise”

Extensive screen time, accelerated by behaviour changes due to COVID-19, will bring gamification to the fore for many new event planners.

With social distancing guidelines likely to restrict the size of future events, is there, an opportunity for event planners and suppliers to get creative and win new business?

The best marketers will be upping, not cutting, their budget – Mark Ritson

Post lockdown, but with new guidelines in place as to how we all live & go about business how can we help brands to deliver on the entertainment and escapism that experiential used to create at or as events & experiences?

The short to mid-term focus for UK event planners has to be largely on UK venues so do we know enough about what’s on our own doorstep to put forward a compelling and winning proposal to a client?

Will venues be able to adapt effectively enough to attract event business with probable social distancing guidelines in place for some while?

What is normal?

When the world ultimately returns to normal, albeit an as yet unknown “new normal”.   Where does all of this leave live events? Both in the UK and globally.

Much comment has been made about Zoom, especially its exponential growth during the lockdown; that businesses across the globe will realise that face-to-face meetings of any size are redundant; that drab (and not so drab) offices are surplus to requirements as we all embrace a new WFH culture; that AI and automation will bring an end to the need for many to trudge daily onto the factory shop floor. Let’s take a quick look at each of those.

Evolution uses Zoom once a week on a Friday morning for a remote social get-together for the team, to enable us all to say hi and see each other’s happy smiling faces. It can be a bit “clanky” at times with the odd mac glitch preventing somebody from joining, but in the main it works. It’s a purely social thing, no work of any nature comes up as some of the team are in furlough and email and the good old mobile phone works just as well for the rest to communicate (as it always has done).

Zoom is not new, the service launched at the start of 2013, more than 7 years ago – yet how many of us have only just started using it?

There are plenty of fore runners and competitors to Zoom: work-based models such as Cisco Webex that enable colleagues to speak directly to each other across the world. I am no expert, but I would expect these may be much more secure systems and possibly relatively expensive in terms of the kit needed? Microsoft Teams is an alternative option too… we have that included in our software licence package but have never felt the urge to actually use it. And of course, there’s Skype, which launched a full decade before Zoom and enabled everybody to easily and cheaply connect with friends, relatives and associates wherever they may be. Zoom has its plusses I’m sure, its ease of use (even a 0.1 on the IT scale like me can use it) and the fact that it is free to use for limited sessions. Beyond that, i‘m not convinced Zoom is a “Global Gamechanger” in terms of human behaviour any more than its predecessors have proved to be.

What about the office?

Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, most of us have them.

Even Evolution has one, of sorts, buried away in our warehouse complex. Some of the team actually use it too, though the nature of our work and the location of some means that we only very rarely are all there at the same time.

In these days of high-tech communication, we have always functioned well outside of the office. The current lockdown though has forced middle and senior managers who have historically eschewed home working (mistrust perhaps?) to accept, perhaps grudgingly, a WFH culture.

At the start of the lockdown in the UK, many of our key client stakeholders that I spoke with were enjoying (if that’s not too strong a word in the current circumstances) the ability to WFH all week long; no tedious commute; no leaving early and getting back late; saving money on fuel and travel. 4 weeks into the lockdown and that sentiment has changed from many that i speak with; cost savings aside, it turns out for many that the commute actually gave them the opportunity to separate work life from home life. Or to read or watch movies and box sets. Or, most importantly of all, that being at the office enabled them to communicate more effectively and efficiently with colleagues, chat with friends, pop out to the shops, have a work-social life. “I never thought i’d miss the drive to **** each day” “I used to be able to watch the first half of the movie on the train to work, the second half on the way back” “I’ve no one to talk to all day to break up the monotony” “it’s impossible to achieve anything in an online team meeting” are all comments I’ve heard.  

Who’d have thought people would miss the office!

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