As of right now, we’re facing a world without live events. And how long it will last is still uncertain. Because this is an unprecedented situation in modern days, the industry is confused. Where to go from here? And what does a world without live events mean for event profs? Many are choosing to turn to virtual events as a way to keep things moving. But there are many other things worth discussing regarding the reality we’re living right now.
This is why the Brew Crew prepared this episode. Nick Borelli and Thuy Diep got together with a very special guest, Amber Leeb, representing Canada. And this week, they’re discussing ideas about how to deal with the present situation. What is their take on virtual events? And what are the skills event profs can harness to use in other industries? All of this and more on today’s edition of Event Brew. So grab your favorite drink, press play, and join the conversation!
A World Without Live Events: What Now?
Amber chooses to look on the bright side of things. “I see it as more of an opportunity for extra lead time. So a bunch of your annual conferences just got canceled, now you have an additional 12 months to start planning them. I’m trying to keep my mental state in that. Yes, I worked on some really great shows. All of them just got canceled in the last couple of weeks. So how can I make those plans even better for next year?”.
Planning From A Different Perspective
“And I’m really looking at it as 2020 is a write-off”, she adds. “What’s 2021 going to be like and how can I make those events better knowing the new environment that we’re going to be in? How people might be more restrictive in their traveling coming back out from this time of being closed-off time. So how can we approach that? But, I’m still as busy as ever, just planning from a different perspective and just planning my timelines and having projects that are allowing me to work that way”.
“So it is a silver lining if it is all that is. But if that’s all the win that we can take, let’s take that win. Extra time is always positive to have, especially in the planning side of things. And then also just having the free time to, how do I improve myself? Taking an online course, or just improving your skills. So that when the function is back and running 100%, you’re right there, ready to go with a new skill set, with more expertise on something. And so you’re able to market yourself when the world is back to hiring. So that’s the approach that I’m going with it. But again, it’s one of those things, we kind of have to take it as it is”.
“If there is help out there that is needed, and you’re in a position to give that help, then the rest of it is just some kind of process to make that profitable over time”, says Nick. “For me, as a marketer, I would probably spend my year looking at opportunities to work with people on virtual summits and virtual events. I believe face-to-face is superior to virtual. I also believe that things can’t halt and progress needs to happen and information needs to be exchanged. So I don’t think that information exchange is the end-all-be-all of what a live experience offers. But it’s an aspect and it can be covered in a virtual event. And as a marketer, I can market that to people, and the scale that I’m used to”.
The Shift To Virtual Events
Many event planners are now learning how to convert their in-person events into virtual ones. Thuy wonders if that’s just a temporary fix or if it will have permanent effects. “I feel like this is the pivotal moment where the landscape changes”, says Amber. “And I don’t know if it will go full virtual right away, but certainly this is now providing the opportunity for those events that were supposed to be in person, for a backup they’re going virtual as a test. So 2020 is the testing ground. See what hits, see what doesn’t. See how then it can be improved”.
The Shift Isn’t New
“But before all this was even going down, the landscape was already changing with the cost of travel”, she adds. “Just the amount of people not wanting to be away from their home base. This is just now catapulting it to the next level at a much quicker rate. So I do worry about it. The purpose of events is not just only educational. There are other aspects to why people attend, and go, and gather in these large groups”.
“So, yeah, I think it’s going to be a very interesting time as to how people recover from it. But then also what kind of content is now developed and putting out there to allow for the gathering aspect to still occur while getting the education. But virtual versus real is completely different. I think everybody will remember 2020 as the year when the switch was turned on virtual”.
A World Without Live Events: Repurposing Skills
Nick got to thinking about how event profs can thrive in a world without live events. “One of the things I across when it came to designers and planners, was two different lines I was thinking. One, you’re all probably good at logistics. And there’s a lot of industries that benefit from a strong logistical mind and probably don’t have as many stressful variables that you’ve encountered to put you on lists of the highest stress jobs in the world. So I think that you have a lot to offer organizations that are founded and surrounded by logistical concerns”.
“And then there’s goal-based creative design skills. So I’m thinking anybody who is in a position to sell things and has a physical space, you have the ability, potentially as a consultant, to go to them and say, let’s say it’s a law firm. You go in, and your pitch would be this: “I’m going to help you design your office in a way that is conducive to increasing your closing rate for sales. I’m going to look at the environment and I’m going to help you put things here that will queue stories that you will tell and utilize audio/visual lighting, scents, etc. A combination of emotional triggers, as well as sensory triggers, that help you with your goals”.
“And I think that the number of potential clients that you would have could be endless. You could design a bar that would maybe instill a feeling of belonging, or a likelihood for retention, or have some upsell potential. Or you could start thinking along those lines to help other types of businesses through design”, he adds.
Break Out Of Your Comfort Zone
In a world without live events, it’s time for planners to think outside the box. “I just think event professionals all wear so many more hats than other professions anyway, that if we were to look at just one of those hats, there are enough skills in that bucket to probably be able to do different things”, says Nick. “I’m a Jack of all trades. Well, pick one to be really good at this quarter. Spend more time on education. There are always things coming at you all the time, you never have the time or the focus to be able to be great at anything. You’re really good at a lot of things. But find something or some angle on this that you think has longevity and is maybe disruption-proof, and then really double down on being better than the rest”.
“Because once this is done, not everybody is going to be still on this ride. And things are going to change. And people are going to think about things differently. If you’re in this for the long-haul, what you need to do now is hunker down. Hunker down and prepare for emerging out of this better than you were going into it. Better marketing. Better credits on your CV or resume, depending on what country you’re in. Build yourself up”, he adds.
Supporting Each Other
Nick also touches upon the topic of supporting each other right now. “I think it’s really important because your network is in peril as much as you are. The network is your net worth stuff. If you can help your network in any way, now’s the time to do it. Because as this progresses, and life outside of this, you’re going to need them, and they’re going to need you. So this is a really good time for you to touch base with a lot of people”.
“Even at the very bare minimum of being able to contact them, empathize with them. See if anyone’s in dire straights. There’s a lot of just flew egos and a lot of other things keeping from reaching out. I think you need to make yourself vulnerable first. But I think there’s a lot of good to be done with investing in your network and investing in yourself”, he adds.
“We are literally all in this together“, says Amber. “Everyone in some shape, way, or form is affected. So it’s not just one person going through it. We’re all going through it. So I think to that point, absolutely now, more than ever, we should be leaning on our community, leaning on people in our rounds to fight through it. It’s like we’re all kind of going into a cocoon. We’re all cocooning. There’s nothing really to go on right now. So let’s utilize that time, and come out like butterflies”.
And that’s a wrap on this week’s Event Brew! We know this is a scary time. And a complicated time. But just because we’re facing a world without live events, it doesn’t mean everything is over. Event profs are some of the most capable, creative, and resilient people out there. So let’s harness all of our incredible talents and make diamonds out of coal. We’ll see you next week for yet another episode!