We recently spoke to Aileen London, Lead Category Manager, Meeting and Event Services JAPAC, for Oracle, and PCMA APAC Advisory Board Member based in New Zealand. We asked Aileen about her DES Certification and her thoughts on digital and hybrid events, here’s what she had to share.
Congratulations on graduating from the Digital Event Strategist (DES) course! How are you using the content you’ve learnt in your day-to-day work? What was one of your most memorable snippets of content you learnt during the course?
I really enjoyed learning more about the technical side of the business and digital events, they are so much more complex than people realise. I now feel more comfortable with some of the jargon, which even after many years in events, I was not so familiar with. I also loved some of the tips and tricks offered by the experts.
As event attendees are no longer battling jetlag, how are you ensuring they aren’t experiencing virtual meeting fatigue?
The secret to holding everyone’s interest is to keep things punchy and upbeat, and choose great speakers; the same tips for in-person events. I do not believe there is anyone who is not experiencing virtual meeting fatigue, however I am lucky to be in the Asia Pacific region, where some countries are already hosting face-to-face events (with a lot of precautions obviously).
Do you think hybrid events are a long-term trend for the events industry?
Yes, definitely. We will continue to see hybrid events in the mix, however I believe people still want to meet face-to-face where possible. Hybrid events are very costly to do well and are challenging from a time zone perspective, if a large geographical area is being covered. If budgets permit, Hybrid events will create a very real opportunity to connect with wider audiences, which may justify the cost and create the ROI organisations have been dreaming of for years!
What are some of the cultural practices you introduced during the height of COVID to keep the teams motivated and what will you be keeping going forward?
Most of our teams held virtual catch ups, where time zones permitted, and virtual team building exercises, for example, cooking classes, which I thought were a great idea. I do think generally people will be less frightened of virtual events moving forward after effectively been forced into meeting this way during COVID.
What is one piece of advice that has stuck with you throughout your career in the events industry?
There are many little gems, I have been lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented event specialists, however the one that springs to my mind is “Always make sure they leave energised and wanting more.”
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the PCMA audience?
I think the DES is a great course, and no matter how experienced we are, there is always something new we can learn.