‘Virtual event providers have been opportunistic’

Think carefully about going virtual if your event can be postponed to later in the year, says Shaumik Saha from Stride Plus Events.

Shaumik Saha is events director at Stride Plus Events in Dubai.

Alongside travel, tourism, and hospitality, the events industry was one of the first to be directly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Bans on travel, public gatherings, and more recently complete lockdowns render events an impossibility.

The recent announcement from the Expo 2020 team postponing the Expo - one of the most anticipated events in the Middle East - paints a fair picture of how severe the impact of this situation is on the industry locally and around the world.

There is no mistaking the fact that things have come to a temporary standstill.

However, this does not mean that things will persist this way. Historically speaking, we have braved worse pandemics and more severe economic slowdowns, making a full recovery and progress more than likely in the near future.

Most epicentres and severely affected geographies have undertaken necessary precautionary measures and the next two to six months could spell out very positively in terms of containing the spread and reintroducing normality in business environments.

In the meantime, here are a few ideas to help companies continue planning events, while keeping event managers in work and supporting the broader business community.

Think carefully about switching to virtual

I have mixed opinions about this. While this is definitely the only feasible option for events and meetings that absolutely must be had, I have been quite disappointed by the opportunistic approach of virtual event solution providers. There has been fearmongering and jumping on a dogmatic narrative to force clients into virtualising events that can simply be postponed to later in the year.

That aside, I think virtual events are a fair alternative for the time being, but make no mistake, live events are here to stay and are not even in the same playing field as an online stream or cloud conference. That would be like comparing apples to oranges.

Give those short of work more opportunities

Event managers are short of work and most would be willing to work on projects at very attractive rates. I think businesses and organisers can use this as an opportunity to engage good talent at a great price.

This will keep event managers in work, sustain the industry and in doing so support the broader business community. It is a win-win.

Most large events require four to six months of planning anyway, from ideation to execution. Most events that couldn’t take place due to ongoing quarantines have been postponed rather than cancelled. So, pull up your socks and get right back to planning future events.

Genius is eternal patience

This is one of those situations where you must wait things out. No one can foretell the future. Being patient for business to resume as normal is about the best that we may do for now.

Don’t jump the gun or break any rules. Wait for the local authorities’ green light to continue organising public events. This is a test of patience. You don’t have to make any moves, just wait to make the right one.

This article was written by Shaumik Saha, events director at Stride Plus Events in Dubai. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of C&IT Magazine.

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