At a recent industry event a colleague suggested that I shouldn’t worry about the event business, claiming that it would come back as strong as it was before the pandemic. He further stated that the companies that had done well before would do well again, given that “winners always win.”
I believe that the winners of the past achieved their success because they jumped on opportunities and executed well, but I’d also assert that the belief that ‘winners always win’ represents a hubris that’s STILL present within our industry despite all that’s happened.
Have we not learned anything from the punch in the mouth we’ve received from COVID?
Although we’ve survived – and some of us will thrive – the overall lack of innovation that we’ve fostered in this market segment has been a huge disappointment to me and many of us, even given the twenty month opportunity, haven’t much idea of who their future attendees will be. That doesn’t mean that cool things aren’t happening. They are, on a micro-level. In September, I attended an event that EXCEEDED its attendance targets by trying things that cost little, but made a huge impact. And many of the tactics were things that I would have scoffed at, weeks before. This event will be a big deal soon, if only because many will rush to copy its tactics.
Of course, our events will return. Of that I am confident. Those who have paid the most attention to the shift in attendee demographics, and the attendees themselves, will be the ones who make the return the quickest and thrive the longest. It will not be those who simply think that they will succeed because they did so before. The winners that always win are those who see the need to change with the times – and do so.