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In these challenging times, Kongres Magazine is trying its best to provide meeting planners with the most relevant and useful information regarding the spread of COVID-19. We also want to share opinions from key members of the meetings industry.

We asked key opinion makers from the meetings industry for their thoughts on the situation and how they are coping with COVID-19.

IVO J. FRANSCHITZ, ENITED Business Events

a cool head and common sense

Q: How do you feel about the restrictions that European governments have implemented to contain the spread of COVID-19?

The principle approach to limit “social contact” with all possible, legal means is currently necessary and correct. Some countries are implementing it smarter than others, some are preventive and other seem to be only reactive. For better or worse, a public health crisis like this one also shows again the wide spectrum of our societies, our different cultural behaviours and our definitions of the daily life within Europe.

Q: What would you compare this situation to?

To none I have experienced during my lifetime, so far. And comparing it to any other major crisis during our human history would be just personal “guessing”.

Q: Economic consequences for the meetings industry have already started to show, what do you expect government institutions to do?

What any functional, democratic system should do. Find ways & means to cushion any negative economic impact or consequences from this health crisis. As we can observe, many national & regional governments all over Europe have already started to provide that guidance & support.

Q: What is your opinion on virtual meetings, as an alternative to live events?

Even nowadays, I remain a firm believer that any current or future techonolgy for virtual/digital encounters will never replace, but only supplement our business events & live communication industry. Of course, in situation like now, the advancement, awareness and usability of those virtual/digital tools will have a special focus, as we all already are experiencing. Alone in my daily email inbox I find an increasing number of “unsolicited” service offerings of this kind.

Q: What precautions/measures are you taking in your company?

In general, with a “lean but mean” company structure, we are well equipped to cope with the current challenges. Of course, we have the flexibility to create home office opportunities for any of our team members, and follow all the current measurements & recommendations from our Austrian government, with a cool head and common sense.

For us in Austria, I believe we will overcome the worst of the crisis by the end of april

Q: When do you think the situation will go back to normal? Are you optimistic about the summer Olympics?

Yes, of course, I am optimistic 😊 any predicition of timelines is really pretty theoretical right now. For us in Austria, I believe we will overcome the worst of the crisis by end of April/beginning of May. On a global scale it could last a bit longer. In a positive, future scenario the summer Olympic games can & will take place. most probably in a certain “limited” version.

Q: Is digital marketing in times of crisis even sensible?

If it is used with for the right positive reason & purpose, yes, of course.

Q: What will happen after we’ve beaten the virus? How will you (re)start your marketing activities?

Our business events & live communication industry has always been driving by the personal relationships & the people-to-people business principles. Hence, any strong relationships we have will weather the current health crisis and will kick-start our recovery and our way forward.

Q: Are you in contact with colleagues from around the world? Have you talked about any potential solutions?

Yes, of course, our industry is global and we live daily within our international network (EMBA, LiveCom Alliance, ICCA, 27Names, etc.). Sharing challenges, experiences and ideas & solutions now is one of the key elements for the successful journey of recovery.

How concerned are you about COVID-19?

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