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INTERVIEW BEYOND20


Thefutureof liveevents: quality over quantity


THE QUESTEX CEO PREDICTS A FLIGHT TO QUALITY AND TELLS JONATHAN WILDSMITH THAT EVERYTHING IS UP FOR GRABS


US business. We ended up shutting down about 90% of that revenue stream, whichmadeup 70% of our revenues, so we were back to just our digi- tal revenue streams. The impact financially was pretty enormous, we really had to scramble for survival. In some ways we were a little lucky in that we had a digital business to fall back on and we pivoted very quickly to virtual events. These two things together enabled us to keep alive and indeed in some cases thrive in that our digital revenues grewby35%last year.


Do you believe that technology will substitute for face-to-facemeetings in the future?


Q A


began wreaking havoc in the first half of 2020. Events producers had to cancel hundreds of events and figure out ways to stay afloat in the midst of the global pandemic. The threat soon turned into an opportunity


T


as companies active in the sector quickly piv- oted to digital events. It was a moment of reck- oning for the whole industry as digital events showed they had potential way beyond being a temporary fix while the pandemic runs its course. This has forced a rethink of the indus- try’s business model, one in which live and digital events come together in hybrid forms to improve reach and delivery. As countries across the globe ease their lockdown restrictions, “there’s probably going to be a flight to quality on live events”, says Paul Miller, the CEO of US-based events company Questex.


period where our team was telling us that we were unable to put on live events. That spread veryquicklytoEuropeandtheneventuallytoour


Q A


44


What were the impacts of the coronavi- rus pandemic on MICE professionals like


yourself?


We started to see some impacts early on in Singapore in the January-February 2020


he meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions (MICE) sector stared into the abyss as soon as the Covid-19 crisis


Even before the pandemic, it was our belief that just relying on live events was a little


bit antiquated.Wehave to engage withthe com- munities 24/7, 365 days per year and then use the data from those engagements, the content consumption habits, tomake a better event. The issues with live events are that they do


take a lot of planning, they do take a lot of time, there is a sort of cycle to them that can be months long. Whereas in the digital world you are working on tomorrow; so those cadences are different. I see this [digitisation] as an opportunity to bring more of an audience together around a live event. There are lots of community advantages to


being live and to networking and the fun aspect of it. There are also a lot of advantages to sitting in your home office or indeed your workplace and dialling in without the issue of travelling. There’s probably going tobeaflight toqualityon live events, I think people will probably go to fewer [live events], although if they offer the hybridoptionthatmightbetheoppositebecause people might attend more events overall, live or hybrid. I see it as an opportunity to broaden the size and the reach of the event. I don’t think travel is going away but in some areas it’s going to be slower to come back. Once technology gets its hands into an industry it tends to disrupt it, but I don’t see it as the total threat that probably some ofmycolleagues in the industry see it as.


Q A


Howhas this digital disruption impacted businessmodels in the industry?


The business model in some ways has turned upside down and it’s up for grabs now. The answer to that really is to innovate, to


www.fDiIntelligence.com June/July 2021


Thepandemic has forcedmanycompanies to accelerate their digitisation strategies.


Artwork by Sam Kerr


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