Last week, we hosted a virtual best-practice sharing session for buyers and suppliers, attended by over 100 #eventprofs from across the industry and globe. Chaired by micebook founder Chetan Shah, a panel of agency speakers answered questions and shared the latest on what’s happening with event postponements, staffing, contracts, and the timeline for recovery from the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
The panel members were: Nimi Cooper, Client Services Director, CI Group; David Heron, Co-Head Agency, Black Tomato Agency; Angelee Rathor, Managing Director, SevenEvents and Richard Bridge, CEO & Founder, Top Banana.
Here’s a few key takeaways:
*Agencies have in the most part dealt with their own people situation including making redundancies, furloughing people and reducing hours/pay, and are now adapting to the “new normal” as best they can.
*Most event cancellations and postponements have now also been dealt with, with everything moved to the fourth quarter of this year or first half of next year. Suppliers were applauded for being flexible and supportive over postponements.
*September is the earliest date that the agency panel expect to be able to deliver live events. There is still concern around events postponed till later this year and whether they will be able to go ahead so contingency plans are being put into place and we may yet see further postponements and cancellations.
*It won’t be possible to offer the same programme in some cases – for example an incentive to Iceland that has postponed can’t be recreated exactly at a different time of year so the programme or destination might have to change. Meanwhile, some long-haul trips might have to be rethought due to costs incurred around postponement (eg, flight costs), meaning there is limited budget left.
*One thing we need to take into account is what global travel will look like post this crisis. If the UK comes out of this in 3-6 months – other destinations may not recover as quickly, which makes it difficult to be pro-active in planning from an incentive point of view as its impossible to know which destinations we will be able to travel to and when.
*The panel consensus was that local business will come back quicker. Long haul events and travel are going to take longer to recover.
*Pretty much all industry sectors have been affected by Covid-19. Agencies said that even the stronger industries such as technology, are suffering and having to furlough staff. However, they do expect to recover more quickly post-lockdown than perhaps other sectors will such as automotive.
*Digital briefs are still coming in and Top Banana is now busily delivering virtual events on a weekly basis. “It’s part of what we did anyway but we are definitely doing more of them now,” said Richard Bridge.
*Black Tomato Agency’s David Heron said: “Every one of our clients in all sectors still see the value of events. We don’t see events not having the same appeal as they did before. There will be a blip and boardrooms will be more cautious. It’s more a question to when economy picks up and clients see their revenue streams picking up.”
*CI Group’s Nimi Cooper said: “One of my clients this morning said they are so fed up of virtual meetings now, that they cannot wait to get back out there and meet face to face again. It really made my day.”
*What can supplier community do to keep engaged with agencies and how?
-The agency panel said they have been inundated with webinar invites from the supplier community and with many people now being put on furlough, the existing team members are already stretched so have limited time.
-“I have told my team to engage with suppliers, but sales webinars are probably not the best use of our time. We would rather spend the time getting to know our suppliers better than just learning about their portfolio,” said SevenEvents Angelee Rathor.
-“We’re very happy to receive emails and opportunity to catch up. The ones we are most likely to engage with are those that are critical to our business and our clients at the moment,” said Black Tomato’s Heron.
*We shouldn’t just be sitting back and waiting for the market to come back as it has been. Use the time to think about what we can do differently and how we can disrupt and help the market by developing new opportunities. The more we can work on our own marketing and PR about the value of events, the better.