Corporate planners from across Europe came together at the micebook Expo last month to discuss the ‘then, now and future of corporate events’.
The panellists include Dirk Prijs, President GvE (Genootschap voor Eventmanagers) Netherlands; Ans Lardinois, Communications & Events Manager Randstad Holdings Netherlands; Maria Gomez, President EMA (Event Managers Association) Spain & Head of Events, Amadaus; Luis Bajo, Head of Events Nissan Spain; Richard Waddington, Chair EMA (Event Marketing Association) UK; Emma Stoker, Relationship Manager Barclays UK and hosted by Rachael Boraston, London & Partners UK.
With a collective membership of over 2,100 corporate members, here we share some of the key highlights discussed to help the audience and wider industry have some indication as to the views of the majority of their corporate membership…
From early discussions, it was clear that in the first half of the pandemic, corporates were seeing far greater reach from virtual. They were generally well accepted by execs within as an efficient tool through which to engage with both internal and external audiences; attendance was up, costs were down and engagement was deeper and broader.
However this was short lived, during the truce given by the pandemic in Q4 2021, it was becoming clearer that corporations had the desire and need to get back to face to face events, which soared requests to levels forgotten during the pandemic. It is clear that whilst virtual events have kept the lines of communication open, there was something missing. Whilst virtual allowed for ongoing engagement during lockdown, and could be a useful tool for many lines of communication, virtual does not hold the candle to being face to face. These live experiences are key to drive engagement, foster relationships, build trust and to facilitate networking.
Although, the uncertain world in which we are currently operating, coming out of Covid and War in Eastern Europe, our memberships can see how hard it is to plan ahead, ‘put at risk’ the health and safety of both employees and customers, and potential reputational damage and perception of our organisations.
Whilst naturally the supply chain has been calling for businesses to return to live, there is frustration with non-commitment, ongoing cancellations and postponements. It is felt that they needed to gain a greater understanding of the situation, nuances and challenges from the corporate side, such as planning and comms time, individual desire for people to attend, government rules, guidelines & messaging, corporate reputation, plus at times a better understanding of the objectives for the event in order to propose / select the right format. Whilst the desire to return to live events is clear, corporates will be taking a much more quantifiable approach going forward.
As we enter Spring, we see a growing demand for live and whilst we don’t see a return to the levels of pre-pandemic this year, the dial is being turned up. We envisage and are already seeing supply chain bottlenecks, lack of space, people and resource over key dates, the next twelve months are going to be extremely frustrating as we all try to find our way in the new norm, the world was shook by a seismic pandemic that has knocked everything of tilt, it will take time to adjust and adapt.
In the future tech/virtual will remain a key element, how exactly that will look we are all still learning/evolving. We don’t want to lose the level, depth and breadth of engagement we have achieved through virtual, we do need to return to live, to create those human interactions, networks, those cauldrons of energy and creativity. Corporate commitment to sustainability will hold a microscope over live. Is it critical, can we be more sustainable, what can we do differently to achieve our objectives whilst being kinder to the planet?
Major audits are taking place across business, looking at what we’ve done, are doing now and need to do in the future.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jonathan JT Taylor @ Aniseed Photo