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.

Jan-Jaap in der Maur, Masters in Moderation

If we stick together, we all will survive … litterally and economically.

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

It obviously is devastating to our industry, but let’s leave the judgement to governments and virus-experts.

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

For now: concentrate on fighting this pandemic. Everything else for now is futile.
In future, there’s many industries that are affected and will need help. Let’s try not to fight each other (like I already see happening online) about the question who’s industry needs help the most. If we stick together, we all will survive … literally and economically.

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

It is a great option; as alternative or as added value. In these times, virtual may take over the role of live in some cases, just until the crisis is over.

Overall, I hope we can avoid the biggest pitfall with virtual: returning to sending only. In my opinion, virtual meetings can be just as interactive and engaging as live events. I see a lot of people only concentrating on the online technology and business model. Let’s not forget that any good meeting starts with clear objectives and an according meeting design.

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

We are in full lockdown.

Back to normal will take at least a year

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

Back to normal will take at least a year (if we ever can go back to normal, that is). But I hope I’m wrong… There might be some events before summer, but they will be mostly online. In the fall we might turn to hybrid, with an occasional full-live event. As for all the big events (Olympics, EC soccer, Eurovision Song Contest), I think it would be wise to simply skip them all for the rest of the year. This is not a pleasant message to the events industry, but we need our efforts elsewhere.

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

Hardly …
And if you do, be aware of the thin line: I see many suppliers reach out to help. That sympathetic. And there’s a number of companies just doing hard selling; I hate them.

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

Right now, I couldn’t care less. I’m concentrating on the important stuff: family, friends and #flatteningthecurve

I hope everyone does.

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

Yes, I am. And yes, a little bit. But mainly, we talk about personal stuff.

How concerned are you about COVID-19?