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a great relief for the meetings industry?

The vaccine against coronavirus could be available for the most vulnerable groups at the end of the year, while in March 2021, mass vaccination could already begin. The WHO announced the news a few days ago.

The promising news of the effectiveness of the vaccine, in development by Pfizer and BioNtech, is a great relief for the meetings industry. The financial markets have blown up and the hope that the drastic measurements and closing of borders (since the virus appeared) will end, has been reignited.

Perhaps this is signifying the end to war profiteering in the field of event organisation. Let me elaborate on this with my own experience. We applied for a candidacy to create a strategic online conference for an important Slovenian state institution. The project was awarded to an IT company, who beat us with a significantly lower price and possibly better lobbying. The event that took place this week, was such a flop, that it will most likely never be organised in the online form again. The event was a caricature of everything, us, professional event organisers, strive to achieve. It was a debacle because of the lack of professional skills and knowledge from the IT company. The company saw a possibility to make fast cash. When reading the angry comments of the participants, my comment was simple. Would you allow your neighbour, who is a butcher by profession and an architect in his spare time, to design your house?

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The point is that we finally start to tackle crucial questions: WHY we organise events, WHY people love to meet in person, WHY we miss IMEX and CONVENTA, WHY it is difficult to engage online participants, WHY the online environment cannot recreate emotions found in the real world, WHY concentration dwindles in online events compared to live events, WHY we feel that our freedom is constantly taken away, WHY virtual/online fam trips are not highly-effective and WHY we miss the empathy and excitement of live events so greatly…?

If we paraphrase the legendary Simon Sinek, we will once again begin to question ourselves WHY, HOW, WHAT? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why do we exist? Why do we organise events?

In this context, the meetings industry is just as divided as America after the elections. When analysing the results of several studies investigating the attitude of European meeting planners towards the future, the following pattern and correlation appeared. Around 40% of introverted organisers are amazed by the new virtual reality, while around 20% of event organisers are undecided. The remaining 40% of (most-likely) extroverted event organisers believe in solely live events or hybrid events. This ratio between event organisers is uncannily similar to the theory of innovators and early adopters.

Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

It is evident that after the corona crisis, we will live with one another, and it is best to meet each other as soon as possible and live together. However, this requires dialogue and understanding. Furthermore, it will take some time to clearly define the role and credibility of the developers of various streaming and video platforms and other tools, who apparently can help you to solve each of your problems in five simple steps. A large number of them will vanish from the market overnight when the situation will be back to normal.

I believe and seek to create better, compelling and more importantly, effective events. When striving to achieve this, I use an array of different tools and techniques. In any case, I can assure you the quality of virtual events is inferior compared to live events.

The choice of which tribe you belong to is anyone’s personal choice. Notably, both planets can conceive recipes for success. Yet, this is in my opinion possible only, when you are guided by an honest belief in your story (sometimes bordering insanity) and when you have a clear goal why you are organising an event.

What Wallstreet can tell about the situation:

– The value of Zoom stock before the corona crisis: 68 EUR (31.12.2019)
– The value of Zoom stock at its peak: 568,34 EUR (19.10.2020)
– Current Zoom stock value: 335,98 EUR (14.11.2020)

This article was written by Gorazd Čad, a seasoned meeting planner, who has dedicated 25 years of life to the meetings and events industry. He witnessed the fall of Yugoslavia, the establishment of independent Slovenia, adapted to the internet revolution of the ’90s, overcame the economic crisis of 2008, the 2010 eruption of an Icelandic volcano, and the 2019 meetings industry burnout…