To say that 2020 has turned the meetings and events industry upside down is an understatement. We've had to rapidly react and readjust course to continue providing important and necessary services to our customers. During a time when the whole world has been required to socially distance, we've had to find safe solutions to continue to strengthen human connection.
And we did. The industry is proving its agility, innovation and resilience, pivoting to virtual experiences and more recently hybrid and event series models. What began as a global halt for meetings and events at the start of the year has progressed to graceful steps forward.
Regional pulse checks from the BCD M&E Team
With various parts of the world now beginning to see new (and some familiar) opportunities, we wanted to answer the question on the minds of many event profs: "What does the industry look like in different regions?" So, we asked our team members around the globe to answer that question and shed light into what their days look like now. Join us as we venture around the world for regional updates from BCD Meetings & Events team members.
Matias Garcia Olmos
Creative Specialist, Argentina
Most requests are currently for virtual experiences, for example beer and wine tastings and music recitals. These are mostly small events rather than big productions. We are really hoping that in the future we will be able to work with live production in this new normal. Right now we have yet to manage a face-to-face event, but are showing clients the necessary protocols to take care of attendees and staff for each service we provide.
Account Manager, Costa Rica
We are working to deliver operational solutions in order to provide different experiences for the participants. For example, we recently managed a product launch in virtual reality which produced terrific comments from our clients. We are looking to continue implementing virtual reality in upcoming projects within different countries in LATAM.
In the near future, we are seeing live event opportunities and are paying close attention to how airline companies, venues and hotels are handling safety protocols to ensure we can minimize risk for client guests, as well as our staff.
Europe, Middle East, and Africa
Celina Schopen de Melo
Project Manager, Germany
Of course, we have started offering digital events to our clients, which is the safest solution. However, we also felt the need and the desire of clients to still do local physical events taking into consideration all COVID precautions depending on the country. For instance, instead of doing large, international events, clients prefer doing local events in order to avoid the traveling and accumulation of big group sizes. As a consequence, they rather extend the event period to allow smaller group sizes per day.
Operations Manager, the Netherlands
We have noticed that the move to virtual congresses results in a higher attendance. For a specific congress where we would normally arrange approximately 1,000 registrations, we are now at 1,600 and counting! Besides congresses, we're also planning virtual team building activities. For example, for a wine tasting the attendees receive a sample package at home and together with a sommelier they have a great virtual experience.
We service several sports clients that travel across Europe for official matches or training camps and continue to organize charter flights for the team and staff. We also currently, have a colleague onsite in Romania with a national football team.
Communication with attendees and staff is crucial. What can they expect and how they can prepare themselves for a safe and secure event. This has always been an important factor, but nowadays even more. These are unexpected times for all of us. Clear and frequent communication is key.
Project Director, London
The impacts of the pandemic on the events industry hit really, really quickly. As events were postponed or turned into virtual meetings, we began to build a portfolio of learnings and best practices, combining all of our experiences to better our knowledge. Our clients were really looking to us to guide them as well to still provide an event, whatever that looked like.
As of today, we've supported virtual congresses and attendee management for these events. Towards the end of this year the team and I are supporting a client for a virtual stand alone event in which we'll have 30 different affiliates attend from all over the globe. I think we're getting close to delivering live events once again, but I believe it's about building the confidence within the clients and that is where BCD M&E comes in!
Customer Experience Manager, London
In venue sourcing, we have continued to provide the excellent client service that we always do. The majority of the work the team have been conducting are for events that have been moved for 2021 and beyond. Our team has supported booking clients on hybrid events within various venues. There's been a large focus on the technology offerings they can support with.
We have also worked on a variety of team building, virtually, to help our clients engage with their teams and their clients. From quizzes to musical bingo, there's been quite a variety. We have been booking live events, but are taking into consideration any government rules or restrictions that happen to be in place for the area we are booking. Working with hotels on providing their safe and secure COVID measures to us so we can relay this back to the client and ultimately support them in feeling confident that they can go ahead with this event.
Asia PacificShreya Nathani
Events Manager, India
Currently, live events have been postponed for this year (2020) as per the government norms. However, we are working on planning and streamlining the local meetings SOP (scope of work) aligned with respective governing bodies to begin our work on future live events in order to keep clients' well-being on top priority by taking all safety measures in place. Also, we are closely working with our associated suppliers such as hotels, to be in sync with their safety SOP to begin operations.
Furthermore, we are also adapting and learning the technologies involved in the new future of virtual and hybrid events to fulfill our clients' forthcoming requirements with an elevated approach. Our team has executed hybrid events in the past and I must say, the success rating was outstanding!
Event Manager, Australia
We've continued working with our client by providing sales conferences, logistics for HCP meetings and successfully delivering the client's very first virtual awards show. There was full production, a live studio and broadcast out to attendees across Australia. Each guest received a cocktail maker kit delivered to their home for pre-event drinks before tuning in to the broadcast. We did have a small team in studio for the awards show, but ensured all social distancing measures were adhered to, food was individually boxed and hand sanitizer was readily available for everyone. Hopefully, when we're ready to organize some face to face meetings in the future we'll of course always ensure there's a COVID safe plan in place.
North America Director of Operations, US
When our customers pivoted to virtual meetings, we had to pivot just as quickly. We support a number of corporate meetings, sales launches, and HCP meetings such as advisory boards and steering committees. Now that elective surgeries have resumed in the US, we're beginning to support hybrid events for medical device teams.
When our customers are ready to resume face to face meetings, we'll be ready! We have developed back to business protocols, which is BCD M&E's approach to supporting meetings in this COVID environment. It outlines a number of safety protocols that we will have in place as we work with hotel partners to ensure the safety of attendees.
Purchasing Manager, Canada
When COVID-19 first hit and meetings started cancelling at mass, we worked quickly to mitigate those cancellation penalties and really fight for force majeure. We have since seen a shift from the cancellations of 2020 meetings, moving into this world of virtual meetings.
Before COVID, we handled any type of event that you can think of from large conferences to small board meetings. Now that all of our programs have moved to a virtual environment, we are adjusting to learn exactly what these programs look like on a digital platform.
We have not begun to work on live meetings, however, we have been very busy preparing resources for how to operate once our clients are ready to do so. When thinking about operating a program, we are keeping in mind social distancing rules, updated food and beverage guidelines, and safety and cleanliness based on industry standards. Ultimately, whatever it takes to keep our clients safe.