After almost 24 months of panic, helplessness, resignation, acceptance, hope, disappointment, frustration and then resolving to dominate COVID 19 and its countless relatives, all of us in the event industry again have cautious optimism, that we will yet get the chance to go back to doing the business that we love, thrive and depend on.  However, what can we expect?  Will it be business as usual? What are the changes that we should expect? What will determine our success in this post COVID world?

The almost total annihilation of the event industry caused by the virus, forced each of as individuals, and business owners to re-evaluate our lives and our priorities. We have been down possibly the worst road of our lives, our future unknown and for some of us, literally fighting for our lives. On the other hand, the critical thinking that the situation has forced us to do, makes us realise that we might have been sitting too comfortably in mediocre success and that we now have to change the game plan and always be ready for whatever the Universe may throw at us.

Now, as we look forward to new beginnings in the industry, we have to make sure that this evolution puts us firmly on the path of growth and continued success in the future. It has become imperative for us to re-imagine our businesses and realign strategies to make our industry more bullet-proof and agile in the face of dangers such as COVID 19.


“Partnerships and alliances will become more important in moving into the new norm”

Forming Alliances

One lesson we learnt throughout the pandemic is that it was the relationships that we built over time, that helped to keep us going. This suggests to me that partnerships and alliances will become more important in moving into the new norm.   Diminished resources added to increased input costs that resulted from the shutdown, will make it difficult for event industry practitioners to easily re-launch.  The need to re-tool and re-engineer our businesses to provide the solutions required to safely accommodate our customers, may become prohibitive when trying to go it alone. We can’t try to be all things to all people, but rather it may be necessary to bring a team together, each bringing their specialty to the table in order to create the larger picture for the mutual good of all.

Reconnecting with Customers

Growth will be a key priority for event practitioners, as basically everyone will be starting fresh. Re-acquainting with old customers and acquiring new ones will be the major driver of this growth. Based on changes that may be required in order to operate in the event arena, reduced spending capacity, and the operational challenges that might exist for both organizers and customers, the strategy for successful customer re-connection and acquisition will need to be well thought out. We will need to understand our customers’ pain points and provide solutions that deliver great value and desirable experiences that are economically viable, and which will also create a competitive advantage.

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Building Loyalty

Creating and delivering value to our customers will be imperative and safety will be high on the list of concerns.  It will be necessary to redefine our planning and execution around this fact. COVID has forced changes in the behaviour of customers especially as it relates to their surroundings, how they are handled, who they come in contact with etc. Having stayed home so long they are very eager to go out on the one hand, but a bit nervous on the other, and so they must feel that the effort it worth it. We therefore have to become very customer-centric, identifying their needs and pressure points, and finding ways to satisfy these needs. Paying keen attention to creating desirable, comfortable experiences for our customers, will create the loyalty that we will need to build a win-win strategy.

 Building New Capabilities

A customer-centric strategy will require that we follow the shift in customer behavior which has resulted from so many months of lockdown, and develop new capabilities to address these changes. For example, this crisis has led to a significant increase in adoption of online delivery methods and well as more integration into the digital world. Additionally, customers may now be more comfortable moving towards more automated processes and self-service systems rather than having to wait for human interaction that may force them into uncomfortable situations. 

We will need to strengthen our knowledge and comfort in the digital world and focus on the use of new technologies and innovations that may be necessary to the accelerate changes that might be required to achieve the outcomes that the customer may be looking for. Of course, it will be necessary to strike a balance between increasing innovations and increasing costs, however in the long term we should see greater efficiencies and reduction in costs.  It will be imperative therefore to innovate, develop and deliver new offerings outside of our current core product. We need to also broaden our target market and operating network. This will aid us in increasing our agility and flexibility that will allow us the sustain our businesses, in the event of another critical situation such as COVID 19.

 

“Data and analytics will be at the core of the new normal…”

 

 

Understanding the Data

COVID has also served to hasten the development of many advanced analytics platforms that will strengthen our ability to predict problems, make effective decisions, and rapidly adapt our responses based on the data we collect. Data and analytics will be at the core of the new normal and with the increased access to data now facilitated by social media and other digital platforms, it is now much easier to understand exactly who our customer are.

Virtual events have demonstrated how we can obtain the data to see who your customers are and track their behavior, and this is a factor that will greatly benefit organizers especially if it can be achieved for in-person events. There are many hidden sources of customer value that can only be found when you gather and examine data relating to their behavioral patterns. Once we make the effort to better collect, analyse and use the data, we will be able to identify the underlying needs of our customers, and use this information to create better value offers which will help to transform customer experience and increase our revenues in the longer term.

 

Our Road to Success?

At Touchstone we aim to remain on the cutting edge, investigating innovative and evolving technology, with a view to providing new solutions and recommendations to our clients. Our mission is to grow through tactical alliances, dedication to our clients, and the consistent effort to explore new trends and adopt winning strategies, all with a view to creating a path to success for all.

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