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Interview with Jens Oliver Mayer, Managing Director of Jack Morton Worldwide’s German Offices. Jens has built his career helping brands build strong relationships with the people that matter most to them, through live and digital marketing. He leads Jack Morton Worldwide’s (JMW) offices for the German-speaking market. With more than 20 years of experience in the brand experience industry, the JMW German offices are showing significant growth while following Jack Morton’s Worldwide ‘employee engagement’ mantra.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that virtual experiences are less expensive”

Q: What do you desire the most at the moment?

I miss travelling. For work or pleasure! I would also really like to go out for dinner. That would be nice.

Q: Why do you love organising events?

I like organising brand experiences because there is never a dull moment. Every event is so different. There is always something new to learn and add to make it fresh. I also really love watching, listening and learning from people interacting with each other, seeing their reactions. That is what makes events exciting. Our founder, Jack Morton himself, used to say he liked to watch the audience’s reactions versus the main stage. I’m really missing that at the moment.

Q: Can you present the tool or app you use the most during the corona crisis?

Microsoft Teams. It’s been my primary communications tool. I spend a lot of my day watching the green light of my camera, as I spend a lot of time these days on video calls. A lot.

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Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

Q: How would you explain to a client why organising events is essential?

People crave human connection. It’s critical to our survival to interact with one another. Experiences give us a platform to do that, and they allow brands to connect with the people that matter most to them. Events will always be important, regardless of whether they are digital or live. Because making direct, personal connections – something that other forms of marketing struggle to do – fuels businesses.

Q: Is it easier to organise digital or live events?

One is not easier or harder than the other. Risks and challenges exist with both. They are just different. For example, with a digital experience, you may face more technical challenges, with a live experience you might deal with more physical obstacles. The key is being prepared for a variety of challenges – no matter the environment.

Q: Is organising digital events cheaper than organising classic events?

One of the biggest misconceptions is that virtual experiences are less expensive. Quality, size and scale are still factors you need to consider. You need to invest the same amount of money if you want to have the same outcome. With a virtual experience, you might not have venue costs or food and beverage but you will have high-quality video production expenses or more extensive set builds. Quality content creation for virtual experiences is key, and you need to make an investment in it if you want results.

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Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

“even with all of the bumps in the road along the way, you always get to your destination”

Q: If the future of the meetings industry will be green, where do we start?

Sustainability is key and will continue to be a priority for our industry. COVID has accelerated that to some level. People will go back to travelling but some may not and will choose to attend events virtually which will impact sustainability. It’s important to aim for zero-emission events. In fact, at Jack Morton we have a program called “aiming for zero’ and it’s something we think will become more important once live returns. We expect to see more sustainable experiences in the coming year too. For example, the work we did for HERE at CES last year is a good example of this. We designed an experience with minimal environmental impact, with materials that can be recycled year after year.

Q: What will be the key trait of a great event organiser after the corona crisis?

Flexibility. The industry has been forever changed. We won’t go back to the way things were. People are calling the new trend in experiences that mix physical and digital ‘hybrid’ but it’s really going to be ‘electric’ – powered from an entirely new energy source. More digital extensions, more reusable content, etc. We will need to come up with concepts that address the audience’s needs and how they have changed. We have to be flexible enough to give people – whether they are in person or remote – an equally engaging experience.

Q: What is your view of the future? Where is the meetings industry headed?

The future is a mix of digital and physical, what many are calling ‘hybrid’. There will always be a need for physical meetings, and we don’t expect that to go away, but there will be more consideration for digital. And that also means larger audiences, more people to engage with, and the opportunity to create more content that can be used on a variety of different channels.

Q: What is the most surprising fact about organising events?

That even with all of the bumps in the road along the way, you always get to your destination. The event eventually happens, and it goes well.

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Photo Credit: Marko Delbello Ocepek

EXTRA QUESTION FOR JENS

Q: High Tech or High Touch?

It’s not an either-or, it’s a combination of both! The sweet spot is in the middle.