After a trying year for event professionals. members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2021 have proven resilience is a key skill in their toolkit. Felix Willert, Head of Events & Authorized Officer at innovate! in Osnabrück, Germany, shares his thoughts about how the pandemic is changing the business events industry.
What has this year of disruption taught you about the industry?
This year’s challenges have shown that our industry is made up of many creative individuals who are able to adapt quickly to new situations and support each other. Without the thirst for new knowledge and the many educational programs offered by many organizations, this would not be possible. Our daily business creates communities and the crisis has shown that we already live what we want to achieve with our work: We are a family.
How do you see the industry changing as a result of the pandemic?
The pandemic has shaken up the whole industry, so that everything was called into question. And that’s good, because we are now much more aware of our projects. Nothing is taken for granted anymore and we now check exactly what purpose is being served by our projects. We have experienced many virtual events that have been massively upgraded and this will continue in the future. However, we will take a closer look and consider whether a virtual or a real format is the right one. Topics such as hygiene, sustainability, and travel also will be evaluated differently in the future, as we have now learned that we have viable alternatives with digital solutions.
What new skills has the pandemic led you to pursue?
The pandemic has shown that flexibility and willingness to learn are two important skills. Although a good understanding of event technology has been very important in the past, it is still not enough to be able to learn. The past few months have shown that you need to be able to do more for virtual events than just operate a computer: It is necessary to understand how people interact and consume with each other on the computer. It is necessary to understand how websites are structured, what is technically feasible, and how streams work. And if you want to produce high-quality streams, you need to know at least roughly the technical characteristics of a professional studio. In general, one can say that the necessary skillset has grown considerably.
What creative initiative or innovation have you seen this year that you believe should remain after this crisis passes?
I love the initiative #EventProfsBreakShit, which makes it possible to really test event technology live instead of watching a demo. It’s also great to see that new tools like Wonder have evolved and offer new possibilities for virtual interaction. Also the many community events from different associations and media, like the Event Manager Blog, have created a possibility for orientation and development, which should remain in the future.