The corona crisis has brought the industry together in a way we could have never imagined before. In the current climate, there are no borders and limits to how we can connect and interact with the industry online.
New online initiatives were born out of the crisis, such as the #eventprofstalk hackathon and #EventProfsTogetherAtHome, and this is just the beginning of a shift we’ll see growing in the coming years.
While there’s a shift happening as I write, on a recent MICE Exchange Instagram Live Episode with Sabrina Meyers from Hot Hospitality Exchange (you can follow us on Instagram @themiceblog and @hothospitalitye), we discussed the event industry’s fragmentation caused by geographic market segmentation.
The event industry consists of agencies, corporate events planners, freelancers, associations and so on. On the supplier side, there are DMCs, hotels, sales representation companies, destinations etc., and those are broken down further geographically. From an eagle-eye perspective, it’s usually agency and corporate, and from the supplier side, it’s hotels vs everything else, or alternatively seen as a stand-alone property or a service provider.
‘There’s going to be a new normal. We’re not going to go back. It’s impossible to return to where we were; we’ve all changed, and the world has also changed.’ Kevin Jackson.
Kevin Jackson is the founder of The Experience is The Marketing and one of the most influential people in the events industry. He was working in the advertising industry during the 1987 crash and in the events industry during the financial crisis of 2007. Having gone through two major crises and established an impressive international career working with top global brands and building businesses, I immediately reached out to him to seek advice on how to navigate through the current uncertainty.
I have known Kevin for a number of years and highly value and respect his fresh and forward-looking perspective. His practical approach to business, which is based on many years of experience in advertising and events, is always spot on and can help businesses of all sizes. This time, the interview also brought a new perspective and a light of positivity during the current pandemic, with many important takeaways for events agencies to action upon. The complete interview from 15 April 2020 is provided below.
I attribute my career progression to the time I was living in London from 2011–2016. I had access to events, education and networking, all of which today also remain fundamental to my business operations. 2011 was the year that I got into events. I was doing an internship at an event agency in Munich when I found out that it is, in fact, possible to study for a full degree in event management. I became aware that Regent’s University London offered a scholarship competition requiring the submission of a research-based study on one of the topics suggested by them. I was awarded with a full scholarship for a BA in International Events Management, and being in London presented further opportunities to create content for my blog and network because the industry in London is highly concentrated, and there is always something going on. So, alongside my studies, I attended many events and covered them on my blog.
Since 2016, I have been based in Heidelberg, Germany. Despite being well connected with public transport to major cities in Germany and Europe, I attend events perhaps once a month rather than the 2–3 times per week I was used to in London. My business lifecycle has changed, and that doesn’t require me anymore to be at the centre of everything. Becoming established and connected in the industry means that a lot of work can be accomplished online, with necessary travel only for essential events and meetings.
Sabrina Meyers from Hot Hospitality Exchange and my co-host of The MICE Exchange, which we host weekly on Instagram, also has an international background and lived and worked in most of the exciting destinations around the world: Singapore, Sydney and London.
The MICE industry is being adaptive to the current situation involving live events not taking place in the next weeks, perhaps months, due to the global coronavirus outbreak. Therefore, event professionals are shifting educational content and networking to online channels.
Sabrina Meyers from Hot Hospitality Exchange and I had a discussion two weeks ago about ways to network and collaborate. Because we are not able to meet face to face right now, we think it’s important to keep in touch with each other and the industry. Out of this discussion, a new idea was born to initiate a weekly Instagram Live series called The MICE Exchange—a combination of our names The MICE Blog and Hot Hospitality Exchange. We’ll aim to do the live streams regularly and touch on current and trending topics or familiar topics from a fresh angle. On these episodes, we’ll be chatting about a new topic every week and invite you to join these discussions on Instagram (with write-ups available here).
To kick start the series, we decided to talk about TikTok for events. Yet unexplored territory for corporate events, both Sabrina and I see the potential and wanted to share our experience.
This year, I was supposed to host the first International MICE Forum at ITB Berlin, but unfortunately, it was cancelled. The announcement came on 28 February 2020, just a few days before the trade show was due to open to international visitors. According to the official statement on the ITB Berlin website, the event was cancelled ‘due to the rapid spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Economics have stated their opinion that ITB Berlin be cancelled.’
When an adverse situation develops, opportunities often arise. Within a few days, ITB Berlin came up with a solution to offer a ‘Virtual Convention’ where planned talks can be recorded (whether live or online) and uploaded onto the new website of the virtual convention.
The MICE programme at ITB Berlin was organised by the Verband der Veranstaltungsorganisatoren e.V., the largest event association in Germany. Following the event cancellation, they reacted rapidly to host a small event on 5 March at the International Club Berlin, which was initially booked for the MICE Night. This session brought together industry leaders to discuss crisis management, share experience and possible solutions.
I was in Berlin to attend this event. One of the International MICE Forum panellists—Han Talbot, Project Manager at Traverse—travelled to Berlin despite the event’s cancellation. Being both in Berlin, we arranged to meet and record this session about ‘Influencer events: from creating instagrammable moments to delivering ROI.’ On 6 March, we met at the highly ‘instagrammable’ hotel niu Hide to record our meeting, and I’m delighted to share with you this insightful interview about influencer marketing.