Rethinking Eventful Opportunities: Akshay Chawla, Founder & Managing Director, ThinkXQ Marcom Pvt. Ltd
We will emerge stronger and better in the face of this adversity, and realign ourselves with a unified voice and force, to reinstate the scale and scope for events writes Akshay Chawla.
India is a proud contributor to the global events industry which represents over 26 million professionals. Like the world over, the industry here builds community and drives innovation, ensures workforce development and spreads learning. Putting together all of these attributes and more, it’s sure to play a pivotal role in the nation’s economic recovery, from the remaining crisis of the pandemic.
Events and congregations are but a part of the natural human calling to connect face-to-face. We, as humans, love to share our stories and our journeys to create welcoming environments and meaningful experiences. This makes us resilient indeed to overcome obstacles, and seek to create the right setting for people to come together. We will emerge stronger and better in the face of this adversity, and realign ourselves with a unified voice and force, to reinstate the scale and scope for events.
The Pandemic Effect
Everything was so sudden. No footsteps at the corridor. No knocks at the door. It just stalled our designs overnight. The problem is, in the beginning, we didn’t know how to react because this is an entirely new situation. Even after months, event organisations and stakeholders in the industry are still absorbing the shockwave of the economic devastation. At the same time, I reiterate as I said: We are resilient, now is the time to prove that. Step by step, little by little, we are leaving no stones unturned to move towards the light at the end of the tunnel: Some countries are already easing lockdowns, and even the first events and conferences are going to be live very soon.
However, will it be business as usual for event organisers? Unfortunately not, but we are more than capable of readjusting and adapting to the situation. In this time of uncertainty, we are encouraging ourselves and our clients for a new reality in events.
Disruption: The New Normal
Yes, disruption! Both on the negative aspects and the positive as well, disruption is the going to be the new normal. With many countries following a staggered relaxation, it’s hard to assume the return to normalcy anytime soon. That means a big disruption is already in place: Locked-down cities, airports, hotels, offices, mass transit, and above all, permission for congregations. These disruptions have gone beyond manpower, finances, revenues and the industry as a whole. On the contrary, the positives are peeping for sure with new ways to reach out. ‘Virtual’ has come to the rescue in a big and vibrant way. It’s something that has opened up a multitude of options for organisations, brands, marketers and of course, for the event and experiential industry. Now, that’s also a form of human resilience to the barbs and barriers set by time. Hence, the new thumb rule is to ‘disrupt disruptions’, to thrive in the new normal.
Going Hybrid and Virtual
As of now and over the next few months, I expect a surge in the popularity of virtual and the hybrid. Therefore, we need to make virtual as good as real, just with the differential experience of the medium and location. Many organisers are acquiring resources to boost attendance and quality of their virtual events. Also, engagement is the key to virtual event success, hence new and innovative forms of audience engagement would strengthen the core of the virtual commitment. Industry sources suggests that a whopping 90% of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events moving forward, while less than a quarter have historically invested in virtual events.
As virtual events and meetings are already becoming the norm across the globe, it is hard to imagine a simple backtrack to business as usual in a post-Covid world. Instead, it is likely that there will be a larger focus on remote and secure event attendance, and increased use of virtual / live-streamed events alongside traditional live events.
Looking at the future, I would like to see the live event space in a whole new light. Though what is important will remain to be so: The need to connect and build meaningful connections. This can only happen in-person. As we seek the future, we must expect virtual events to be in focus, in an organisation’s event strategy, but I am confident about the power of in-person events, and hope to see it return with all its glitz and grace. We all understand how mass gatherings can multiply the spread of the virus. However, with the right measures and guidelines in place, we will be able to organize live events. For an industry that thrives in human interactions, physical distancing will be a concern for event planners; they will have to book a large venue to host a small number of invitees. The design will also have to adopt a new seating arrangement. For example, planners might be forced to rethink seating, like forgoing the theatre style and go for a U-style, which allows for more distance while sessions are on. If the venue does not offer a big space, organisers will require cameras in various rooms so that the speaker can reach a broader audience.
The road to recovery is undoubtedly going to be a long one. At the same time I believe, with our passion, ingenuity and optimism, the light at the end of the tunnel will stun us again.
Around The World