The events industry will never be the same again. David Jamilly looks to the future, as a new era in event management dawns, and shares his 10 must-read tips for every event professional, to help them both survive and thrive in a post-COVID world.
A new era begins
The events industry as we knew it, has been destroyed beyond repair.
After four decades of incremental growth with expansion year after year and layers of sophistication, the bubble has burst rather like a giant Jenga Tower crumbling to the ground.
With memories of so many SWOT analysis meetings over the years (strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats), who would have thought that a pandemic would be the ultimate downfall?
In those heady days, things were far more focused on competition, excellence and market growth. Occasionally subjects like fire, flood, cancellation, terrorism and succession were discussed… but never the word ‘pandemic’
The biggest threat over the years in events was always seen as third-party injury or death because people attending events can behave irresponsibly and unpredictably in the excitement of a live experience. Combined with the potential consumption of alcohol and substances or amateur risk assessment/measures, there were always inherent dangers.
Perhaps more attention should have been placed on those cheesy science fiction films of the 80s and on Bill Gates predictive TED talk in 2015 about viruses.
Socio-economic factors fuelled the last four decades, powered by a huge increase in the world population of 3.6 billion people (from 4.4 billion in 1980 to a staggering 8 billion in 2020), increased leisure time, expendable income and the development of mass social media.
This culminated in tens of thousands of event management university students graduating annually into a marketplace where mega global live events leveraged to millions around the planet and global corporations competed to produce the most extravagant marketing events and parties.
Ten Post-COVID Tips For Event Professionals
Given that the events industry will never be the same again; What sort of skills and mindset will potentially prove the most valuable in a new events arena as it develops?
The following suggestions will perhaps have an important part to play for events professionals in the reality that is now on the horizon.
- Mental concentration, self-discipline and focus.
Much more work will take place from home and diverse settings. The days of huge office spaces are finished as outlay on offices will be relegated to the lowest budget priority. Company associates have seen that it is possible and economic to work more remotely and to pocket the savings
- Advanced Computer and IT skills
What had previously been the domain of experts will become the norm for all event professionals including computer troubleshooting, process and interface. You will not want to fall foul of technology in tomorrow’s marketplace.
Develop the ability to travel light and move fast. This already is a 24/7 industry and planning/prep times will shorten even more. The peaks and troughs of seasonality will exaggerate them even further
- Budget/Financial acumen
Work will be more sporadic and budget pressure will be more intense. You will really need to know your true breakeven and what you honestly and realistically need to exist both personally and business-wise. You cannot do enough budget/spreadsheets or get enough advice on this subject and stick to them!!
- Global mindset
As the world becomes a smaller place in terms of virtuality, with programmes like Zoom, Teams, Remo etc, it is increasingly important to understanding local customs/protocols and traditions. It will be a big advantage to have some language skills as well.
- Creativity and Innovative Inquisitiveness
Virtual events will continue to emerge in all shapes and forms and within a few months, we will be participating in Virtual events worlds that we never dreamt of before.
- Friends you can call on
Working in isolation will become a more frequent occurrence and it will become increasingly important to have colleagues you can call on and share with and get support/knowledge from. This is both for mental health and professional reasons!! Joining online forums like the Event Professionals FB group is a good start.
- Industry Experience
Experience in all the stages of event delivery from conception to completion will be a prerequisite to working with the smaller supply chains that will be the norm of the future
If your heart is not 100% in the joy of working in the events industry and service sector (where you happily enjoy serving event’s needs) you will alas, find it very hard to survive in tomorrow’s event arena.
- Communication skills
Clear, kind and genuine communication ability has always been one of the corner foundation stones of events and never more so than now.
About the author: David Jamilly co-founded benchmark events company Theme Traders in 1990 and has been full time in events ever since welcoming universities for educational days and lecturing on events around the world. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for services to events by Southampton Solent University in 2013