In our latest COVID-19 business events industry survey, PCMA’s Recovery Dashboard, conducted just last week, we asked planners and suppliers to tell us which new skills they think they need to pursue to professionally prepare for success during the recovery. More than 1,500 — 68 percent of whom are planners; 32 percent suppliers — shared their thoughts.
Not surprisingly, eight out of 10 planners said designing digital event experiences was a skillset they were seeking to develop. Only around half of suppliers said the same. A close second was designing live experiences in post-COVID-19 physical environments with more stringent hygiene standards, identified by nearly three-quarters of planners and 58 percent of suppliers.
Next in line was the need to develop sales and marketing approaches best-suited to a post-COVID-19 market: Slightly more than half of planners said this was a skill they needed to develop and 7 out of 10 suppliers recognized it as important going forward.
The pandemic has created a need to develop business continuity and scenario planning skills, nearly half (47 percent) of planners and 42 percent of suppliers said.
And while the coronavirus crisis most definitely has created emotional stress in everyone’s personal and professional lives, less than one third of respondents — 32 percent of planners and 31 percent of suppliers — said they will be focusing on cultivating soft skills, including resilience. Of equal importance to planners is developing skills around monetizing future events (33 percent), something only around a quarter of supplier respondents were thinking about.
In our first COVID-19 survey, conducted during the first week in April, we asked more than 1,700 respondents for a yes/no answer as to whether they had started developing other skill sets as a result of the crisis. Sixty-two percent of planners and around half of suppliers said yes, and, of those who typed in what they were focusing on, around three out of five planners mentioned digital events. Virtual and hybrid events were also frequent mentions among suppliers, and quite a few said that they weren’t choosing so much as what to pursue as being pressed to learn new skills by covering for colleagues who had been laid off or furloughed.
Reskilling is something “we all need to be thinking about,” one supplier said. “Live events as we know it has changed, indefinitely.”
It seems the pace of change has never been so furious as during this crisis. We’ll be surveying our community next week to see what has changed in their thinking in two weeks’ time. Stay tuned and please continue to participate. When asked in our two previous surveys how PCMA and Convene can help them during this period of uncertainty, many respondents simply said by continuing to take the temperature of our industry and share our findings.
Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.
PCMA has created a COVID-19 resources page to help event professionals find reliable information about the pandemic and to share events industry-related resources to ensure they are prepared now and in the future.