While the slightly relaxed rules of level 3 lockdown means business events of up to 50 people can take place, the reality is that face-to-face events are not being booked.

“Our pool of clients are predominately in the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) sector, but to be completely frank, they are not ready to go back to live events yet, at least not in 2020,” says Katja Schmidt, the Founder of Potters Hand Activations. “The concerns are mainly around the safety of their employees as well as the attendees, and they don’t want to place anyone’s lives at risk.”

“Our pool of clients… are not ready to go back to live events yet, at least not in 2020.”

Juanita Males, the Operations Director at Scatterlings Conference and Events, says they don’t typically plan small-scale events of 50 people or less – “However, even if larger meetings were allowed, we are of the opinion that our clients would not hold them.”

This is the double challenge that the events industry sits with – to change the rules, so larger events are allowed (with the appropriate safety regulations in place), and to convince clients that it is a good idea to hold them. Until this happens, it seems inevitable that businesses within this space need to adapt to these limitations by taking events online.

“The world has changed. Even though there will always be a hunger for face-to-face meetings, they will be different.”

“The world has changed. Even though there will always be a hunger for face-to-face meetings, they will be different. Travel restrictions, budgetary constraints and convenience will all drive the virtual attendance, so we see conferences in a pure virtual space or a combination in a hybrid solution,” says Males.

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Scatterlings Conference and Events provides virtual conference solutions, which Males stresses are actual conferences and “not simply webinars with ‘talking heads’”. She says, “Our clients are now able to understand how they can convert their face to face conference into a virtual platform, which allows for true conferencing with keynote speakers, parallel sessions, exhibitors, poster sessions, sponsor engagement and delegate networking.” She adds that the platform integrates with their event management software and mobile app, for a seamless and interactive experience for their attendees.

“Virtual eventing is not just a plug and play environment. There is a space for event companies to continue working and adding their valuable strategic and project management experience.”

Schmidt believes that there is still a critical need for event planners in this space. She explains that she and her team started researching virtual events at the beginning of March, and communicated their ideas to their clients; “All loved the various solutions, however we hit a bit of a speed bump, as our client’s found that they could host their own webinars and meetings on Zoom or MS Teams. So we needed another solution.”

Her company now offers a green screen studio environment to professionally broadcast events from, to platforms like Zoom or MS Teams – “which elevates the webinar or meetings experience to a completely new level”.

She adds, “Virtual eventing is not just a plug and play environment. There is a space for event companies to continue working and adding their valuable strategic and project management experience.”

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