After another year of disruption, members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2022 are proof positive that adaptability is a requisite skill for business events industry professionals. Jennifer Yau, senior association account manager for ICC Belfast, shares what innovations she hopes will remain after the pandemic.
What do you like most about your job?
What I like most about my job is the platform I have to leave a lasting impact on the events industry in Northern Ireland. I enjoy driving sustainable business for the industry through extensive networking —building valuable connections, the development of business in the present and future, creative thinking, and working alongside industry leaders to play a key role in economic recovery and prosperity.
I get to be a positive role model and ambassador for undergraduate students working toward event-related qualifications to show they can make a difference for the people of Northern Ireland through delivering business events that generate positive impacts for our economy, people, and culture, and show the importance of building meaningful connections across the industry and the globe.
As the industry has been hit hard from the pandemic, I believe it is more important than ever to promote it by showing how the business events industry is vital to the success of many organizations and destinations. We need to show those currently worried about graduating or pursuing a career in the events industry that although we have faced an extremely challenging time, the industry is on the rise and is going to bounce back and prosper.
What creative initiative or innovation have you seen this year that you believe should remain in a post-pandemic (or living-with-the-pandemic) world?
It was determined that ICC Belfast would remain at the forefront of our industry despite being mandated to shut down temporarily. I played an integral role in devising and executing a virtual site visit and six-part digital event series to reach our audiences, providing creative solutions to staying connected whilst remaining apart. I believe being innovative through delivering virtual/hybrid solutions is vital to remain competitive in a post-pandemic world. Now that the industry has had a taste of what hybrid can bring to the table, it is going to become an expectation for many. Face-to-face events will always be at the heart of what we do but adding hybrid can create new revenue streams and allow organizers to penetrate previously untapped audiences.
Another initiative I believe is key is to delivering events — whether that be in-person or remotely — is responsible and sustainable business. This year with COP26 being at the forefront of agendas, it is crucial that we continue our commitment to improving green credentials and reviewing policies regularly to ensure we are meeting and exceeding industry standards.
What do you see as key to the industry’s recovery after this time of disruption?
I believe commitment to regular, clear, and transparent communication is key to the industry’s recovery after this time of disruption. In a time of uncertainty, it is important to ensure everyone is working towards a clear, common goal and that new concepts are trialled, and innovation championed at every stage. This can be done at the outset by setting expectations and universal goals that entire project teams are invested in delivering.
At ICC Belfast during the pandemic, I worked with clients to devise bespoke marketing plans, flexible contract terms, multi-year deals, and pivots to hybrid to navigate through the disruption and take the opportunity to do something different.
Instead of fearing the unknown, look to the future and take this time to explore new projects. At ICC Belfast, I have been lucky to be involved in our new project which is to develop our own ticketing system for business events, another innovative solution we look forward to leading the way with and sharing with our clients.