Embrace the opportunity

Nick Gold explains why, six months on, Covid-19 has brought about new opportunities for event organisers.

‘With travel no longer a problem and individuals having greater control of their diaries than ever before, organisers now have the time to focus on delivering exactly what their audience needs’ 

Change is often referred to as the great leveller because it forces us to think differently, more creatively and challenges businesses and their leaders to take risks and be bold. Change with prolonged uncertainty is another level up. as it means a great step into the unknown without the comfort blanket of returning to what was previously being done.

This is what the events industry is experiencing, where ‘the new normal’ just becomes ‘the normal’. Societal restrictions and changes in behaviour that accompany Covid-19 will ebb and flow. Indeed, the pandemic has accelerated society’s embracing of the virtual world. Businesses have adapted and are looking forward to the future, not just on dealing with effects of the pandemic.

For the events industry, this is our opportunity. We can no longer focus on what has been taken away but rather on the possibilities that have arisen. The ease of creating an event, accompanied by the speed in which it can be set up, means the long lead times have been stripped away. Accessibility to delegates in the virtual world has never been more open, with travel no longer a problem and individuals having greater control of their diaries than ever before, event organisers now have the time and head space to focus on delivering exactly what their audience needs. 

There is no doubt, as time passes and the events industry gains a greater understanding of the possibilities of the virtual event and how it can maximise the opportunity, technology will wrap its tentacles around the industry. New platforms, services and features will ensure the delegate’s experience will become ever more immersive and memorable. In the meantime, the key calling card for an event is the content it provides.

This is where the opportunity for the event organiser really presents itself. With change running through every facet of our lives, every delegate attending an event is now looking for new ideas and improvements. Delegates want to understand how new ways of working and thinking can benefit them and their teams, what their team culture should be, how they need to lead and, of course, how to deliver their service in this new world. We are looking to be educated and to broaden our horizons. 

The event organiser, with the right content, can provide value and an experience that goes far beyond the experience of the moment. An event (whether virtual or physical) that delivers content which helps mould thoughts and ideas, is an experience that can live with the delegate forever.

On a more practical perspective, the virtual event means that from both a delegate and a speaker perspective, location is no longer a sticking point to accessibility. Organisers can appeal to delegates worldwide. Therefore, the marketing potential of an event can piggyback off the broader scope for delegates to interact with delegates who they would usually not see at more localised events. It also means that speakers from across the globe are accessible to audiences like never before.

Embracing the opportunities that society is adapting to will open our industry up to a future where content and the value of the event will have lasting sustained impact on the delegates that attend. Delegates will gain insights and knowledge which help change, shape, and inform themselves and the businesses they work in for years to come. An industry that has always struggled to quantify Return on Investment of the product it delivers can offer something that becomes more easily measurable.

Nick Gold is MD of Speakers Corner and president of the International Accounting Standards Board