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. Jack Owens, International Association Conferences at Fáilte Ireland in Dublin, shares his thoughts about how the pandemic is changing the business events industry.
What has this year of disruption taught you about the industry?
Business events is a people-based industry and I for one miss face-to-face interactions with clients and colleagues. This past year has taught me how important it is to maintain our relationships with clients and show them that we care even when things come to a halt. I have been in awe of the innovation of our industry, being able to pivot in such a seamless manner to the virtual space, in some cases overnight. Although this new virtual world has made events more accessible than ever before, I have learned that for delegates, the value of live events and experiencing a destination firsthand cannot be replaced.
How do you see the industry changing as a result of the pandemic?
This pandemic has left a huge number of MICE professionals out of work and in some cases isolated. One positive has been the increase in awareness and discussion surrounding the mental health of those who have worked in the industry during this period. I would hope that these conversations are not temporary and that we as an industry can build on this progress and continue this discourse around mental health and stress in a post-COVID world. We likely do not realize the effects this period will have on us even when life returns to normal, but also cannot hide from the fact that our industry was a longstanding hub for stress and burnout even before COVID-19 arrived.
What new skills has the pandemic led you to pursue?
Fáilte Ireland as a team has had to re-adapt our processes and the way in which we can get in front of our clients. I, like many MICE colleagues, acquired new skills in how to not only successfully run virtual events but how to make sure they were engaging and would encapsulate the Irish welcome that our clients expect. Outside of work, apart from the countless jigsaw puzzles done during lockdown, this period has allowed me to not only step back and reflect but also revisit skills such as my languages, and put a plan in place to begin a master’s degree in global business leadership next year.