Industry Roundtable: COVID-19 Sparks New Thinking in Experiential

Jun 15 • Event Fabrication and Production • 86 Views • No Comments on Industry Roundtable: COVID-19 Sparks New Thinking in Experiential

Nobody will deny that COVID-19 has adversely affected the event industries and event production companies. But it has also opened up fresh possibilities and inspired alternative forms of thought, according to participants at a recent virtual roundtable organized by Agency EA.

Representatives from Samsung NEXT, Indeed, McDonald’s, Softbank Vision Fund, Twitter, LinkedIn, Molson Coors, Catalyst Inc., and Salesforce came together through their computers to address the obstacles they are facing, and how their event teams are revolving in 2020 and beyond.


Practice Sensitivity

The need to hit pause and re-evaluate communication tactics and business plans emerged as a key theme. Participants said they took a step back to ask themselves: What is needed right now for our audience? Everyone had a different response and a different audience but it’s important to take the time to study and discover the evolving needs.

Mike Reynolds, Senior Manager at Strategic Events at Salesforce said, “Our events are normally very complex. We have so many different partners and clients, so we’re trying to dial down right now and just reflect on what our main message is and how we can bring it out.

It’s not time to sell yourself today, just to lend an ear and some empathy. That’s why Salesforce has taken sales off the table to focus on its customers and build meaningful and relevant content that will help them through these exceptional times.

Practicing sensitivity for many businesses means first caring for its employees. “We do not only work from home. We ‘re at home during a crisis, struggling to work”, acknowledged Charlotte Pedersen, head of Global Event Marketing at Indeed. “It ‘s important to take the opportunity to stop working if you need to be empathetic to people with children or roommates or small environments”.


Embrace Change

Market strategies are changing rapidly. A policy set in stone two months ago is now up in the air and most roundtable participants have a COVID-19 task force leading the charge at their business. For example, Twitter’s task force meets once a week and brings various experts to work through new solutions and opportunities, ranging from data scientists to doctors.

With the pre-pandemic emphasis of Salesforce on in-person events, not virtual experiences, Mike Reynolds likened the current period to building a plane as you fly it. “Through providing leadership advice and support through this crisis, our aim here is to empower, teach, entertain our global audience,” he said. Salesforce has been pivoting through the rapid delivery and collaboration of information every Tuesday to support customers to manage COVID-19 to hold their business open.

While new measurement metrics represent an exciting opportunity, organizations can also find value in other ways. “You can measure some live stream viewers,” said Laura Parkinson, LinkedIn’s Global Head of Events, “but what matters is our initiative, driving community, those targeted conversations … and providing value and encouragement. In this critical moment, building partnerships right now will have a ripple effect for years to come.


Look to the Future

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, while Salesforce is cautiously optimistic about hosting events in 2021, reimagining all physical events throughout the year, while Twitter has canceled all in-person events for 2020. Each brand handles the current climate differently, but there is a general sense of community throughout the industry whereas brands pivot in virtual event variations.

Regardless of their course, several participants predicted that the virtual elements will still have a role as we move to physical activities. They are not a temporary solution but a long-term investment that brands can continue to grow and develop.

At one point, the attendants were unanimous, live events won’t go away. Despite current concerns, brands acknowledge the importance of in-person gatherings, and virtual doubt will always prevail. As Lisa Zimmer from Molson Coors said, “In the beer industry, customers are losing the social aspect of the business and I believe they would be very happy to be back at sporting events and concerts and our in-person meetings”.



We are in a position where we have to operate remotely. We have no options. As a result, people in financial departments are seeing that virtual spending is much less than in-person spending. Yet we will miss human contact. Brands are going to start realizing it. While that may dictate the next year or two, the fears of being around a large group of people will rinse off, and one day we will be back to normal. Now, we can guarantee you that the first products on our load list will be hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes. But, we are sure we are going to return to normal.

Contact us at Create-UAE, an event production company in Dubai to help you organize your upcoming future events… Meanwhile, stay safe and stay healthy!


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