Event Industry Lessons After Six Months of the Pandemic 1

Most of us are still here, hoping both for a vaccine and a feeling of collective safety. Some of us are floundering; others have left the business altogether. I am still here, and this is what I have I learned since March:
1) We have had the chance to see how much our customers love us.

If we demonstrate a sense of confidence and previously have taken good care of our customers, we can lead many of those customers into an uncertain future because they TRUST us. I don’t take this trust for granted, it’s actually a gift from our customers.

2) We should know that slow and steady is the way to go, rather than reacting to the latest (bad) news.

As a solutions-oriented person, I had a pre-pandemic desire to solve all problems as soon as possible. In the last six months, I’ve learned to construct plans with multi-step strategies and have the flexibility to alter tactics in response to how the steps are proceeding.

3) We should offer customers more value to retain their business than they could ever expect.

This is a time to reward our customers, instead of doing just what is expected. This will let them 1) see our intent to take care of them and 2) make it easy for them to stay with us (or conversely, hard to go another way.) Offer them a piece of the future to secure their present business. This may be counter-intuitive as it initially was to me. Not maximizing current revenue can slow the growth needed to return to pre-pandemic levels. But if we don’t do the necessary steps now, we may not be around in the future.

4)  We should take vacations.

I took a couple of days off and went to New Hampshire with my family. Despite the hassles with masks, the waiting at restaurants, and other inconveniences, the mental and physical rest – as well as the regained sense of perspective – increased my productivity and my ‘happiness’ tenfold when I returned.

5) We should chill out with our customers and get to know them.

Much of my recent work has been focused on retaining exhibitors for one client by trying to convert them from physical events to digital programs. I’ve invested time during this process in listening and reflecting with many of these folks. I feel truly blessed that they have given me this opportunity. The insight and feedback have been invaluable.

6)  We should be as kind as we can to everyone.

I seem to have more time and with that time have been fortunate to learn many new perspectives (not all with which I agree). What I’ve tried to do as much as possible is to stand in the other person’s shoes. With all the ongoing nastiness, sometimes a kind word is all it takes to change someone’s day for the better. In the past, it was rare that I was ‘that guy’. I am ‘that guy’ now and the rewards of being kind are immeasurable.

7) We should keep a sense of humor.

Our work does not involve saving babies. We are lucky to have what we do even if it’s not everything we had six months ago. Find your sense of humor again and share it with others.

The last six months have been brutal. Jobs, incomes, and businesses are diminished. Events have been postponed or canceled. All of us will be okay, even if we cannot yet see the end. The biggest problems will spark the best innovations, both in events, but also in business in general. It certainly won’t be the same, but these troubles will challenge us and help us build new skills. And we’ll be better for it.
Hang in there.

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One thought on “Event Industry Lessons After Six Months of the Pandemic


    Warwick – good column! I’ve moved on – basically retired and refocused on public service although I never say never but I have complete faith that “there will always be a place for face-to-face” and that the business will come ROARING back, altered to be sure but fundamentally based on the human animals’ trust in people they know.