What if this crisis is an opportunity to truly transform events?

published on June 2, 2020
Industry News and Leaders

This article was written by guest writer Stéphane Martel, founder of Yulism

Our lives, both personal and professional, have been deeply affected by the crisis we’ve all been experiencing since mid-March. As the first stages of deconfinement take place, the resilience of event organizers has been put to the test and it’s clear that the recovery will still require a lot of patience as well as a monumental amount of effort.

The essential need to gather

There has been a huge increase in the number of online events. And after almost three months, it has become clear that technology still has a bright future ahead, but that it will not replace the essential need to get together in person (hello Zoom fatigue!).

Event organizers have had no choice but to turn to virtual adaptations of their events, since it’s the only way to successfully maintain a semblance of activity in the short term. But already, thoughts are shifting to hybrid formats with a balance of online and in-person activities.

The challenges of the future of events: seizing opportunities for transformation

Whatever the format, it’s clear that future events face many challenges. New sanitary measures will have to be put in place to guarantee the safety of participants, employees, and suppliers. Levels of attendance may be lower, and many additional costs will have to be absorbed since, for example, it will take many more square feet to accommodate the same number of attendees. In short, this “new normal” will undoubtedly shape the future production of events.

On the other hand, it won’t always be possible to charge the same price for online events as for in-person events, so how do we determine a fair price for each type? The same reflection also applies to sponsors and partners: how can they take advantage of new online (visibility) opportunities? The potential for monetization is a key issue that should not be overlooked, and, in the end, many innovations will emerge, and new business models will be revealed.

It’s also possible that we will see a multiplication of smaller events and big annual gatherings may have less appeal in the future. In other words, we could be seeing a transition from a “low frequency / high intensity” model to a “high frequency / low intensity” model.

If the hybrid model becomes the norm, how will business events go about creating differentiating experiences that generate value for all types of participation, whether online or face-to-face? Ultimately, organizers of business events will have to reflect on meeting design and the crafting of the user experience not only to capture attention but to also generate engagement before, during and after each event.

It won’t be easy for business events to adapt and remain relevant, both in current reality and in the new normal, post COVID-19. Given this context, it is time to question the raison d’être, the promise of each event. Too many events seem to exist simply to exist and have such long histories and traditions that they have great difficulty adapting to the changing needs of their communities. If you’re not ready right now to reflect upon the “why” of your event and its impact – then when?

Now or never

In other words, let's stop dreaming of the magical return to the good old days and take the opportunity to truly challenge the status quo, and accelerate the deep transformation of our business events on a large scale. Beyond the necessary government support required to help the industry weather the storm in the short term, let’s once again tap into our reserves of creativity, take responsibility and take charge of our future here and now. Let’s make events more meaningful and generate real value because yes, dear friends and colleagues, we will indeed meet again.

The Yulism team

This article was adapted from a longer one published on Medium.


About Stéphane Martel

To spark unexpected encounters, to create one-off experiences and to bring together talents to turn ideas into action: this is what guides me every morning since the very beginning of my professional journey and marked my career as a partner at Robichaud Conseil (PwC) and vice president at C2 Montréal. I like to share, I love the excitement of my city (Montréal) and I believe that an event or a trip is first and foremost a human encounter. That's why I founded Yulism


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