Now, you will believe that Change is the only constant event in the world.
An endemic, which started in the city of Wuhan in China in December 2019, has today spread like wildfire, throughout the world, shaking powerful and prosperous nations to their foundations. Unfortunately, over 3 million infections and over 240. 000 deaths have been recorded all over the world. Resultantly, Economies of nations and indeed the world were shut down to prevent the spread of this deadly disease. In return, most economies are nose-diving and gradually sloping into recession. The world will never remain the same again.
Nonetheless, as some economies begin to open up gradually and some countries relax their various stay at home curfew, the way of doing business will never remain the same again; this includes the events management industry in Nigeria West Africa.
Remarkably, the events industry can no more be underrated, as it may be contributing about a 150 billion naira (not yet confirmed) to the gross Domestic Product of Nigeria (GDP). Most importantly, is the rapid development of certain small and medium scale businesses (SMEs) in its value chain; such as the food and beverages, makeup, events planning/ management, photography, videography, Disk Jockey (DJ), equipment rental and logistics etc. What this means is that it will not be business as usual.
The major shifts in the industry may be experienced in the following areas and may be worthy of note to all stakeholders in the industry. Secondly, it is a call to action to think out of the box.
Hybrid events can be described as an event that involves the use of two venues, one is online and the other is real-time. According to angage.com, it is an event that takes place in a physical venue, while also being attended by a live and interactive audience online.
Without any doubts, this will be on the increase, especially for local and international events of high calibre. Amid lean resources, and restriction of movement to the domain of abode, this may be potent until there is an absolute clearance of the COVID-19 in the world. Furthermore, people will buy into it easily because it is embedded with some advantages such as more attendance, the less financial burden of renting bigger halls etc. In slight of this, stakeholders that may be affected should begin to create innovative ways to remain relevant.
After now, the choice of venue for major events will top the priority table more than ever before. Event’s organisers will; now have to redesign all other protocols to suit the demand of the times. Social distancing will now dictate, the choice of venues. So organisers will have to determine if audiences will reduce or increase thus determining the size of the event venue.
Organisers will now be looking out for venues that offer, much more than just hosting meetings, they will be looking out for venues with the best hygienic conditions and facilities recommended for the prevention of the spread of disease.
Venue owners and managers who want to remain in the business must seek resourceful ways of recreating an experience that resonates with the realities of the times.
Before now, observing safety standards during events in Nigeria have not been enshrined and or embraced by many. Only a few top events companies that deal with international clients who demand safety and risk assessment, keep safety standards as a priority.
However, there may be an increase in the demand for safety standards certification for the events industry. Stakeholders may be required to prove that they are capable of hosting and or managing certain events without an outbreak or negative experience. Therefore stakeholders may need to seek the involvement of Insurance companies and or health professionals to be on the top of their game.
Although this has been the usual practise, however, it may become a major aspect of conferences and meetings registration by overriding the on-site registration. Participants may have to just register online in a portal and or event website made available by organisers or not be accredited. It may be a major form of security check and crowd control. Event managers who are into online ticketing now have the opportunity to hop on this to provide these services for organisers.
Already, events’ mobile apps are evolving and may begin to dictate certain terms as regards the digitisation of events in totality.
A little while after the advent of the digital marketing space, event marketing has steadily metamorphosed, embracing digital tools, while also not neglecting the traditional tools; consequently, there has been a cordial combination of both to yield expected results.
Whatever the case may be, things are about to change. Organisers and event marketing agents may now have to think of more digitally inclined strategies to deploy to create a meeting point between brands and the audiences and or customers in another location other than the usual face to face meetings. Whether we like or not, the era of face to face is no more the rule of the game.
Events management/planning and tools
This aspect of the events industry used to be reserved for people with experience and resourcefulness. Unfortunately, it is becoming a matter of ‘man knows man’. The fact that a person can arrange banquet tables, decorate and tidy up glasses may not qualify him or her as an events manager and or planner. Anyway, the tide has changed, as event managers will be expected to prove their mettle.. To stay relevant, they will be expected to bring to the fore, more than ever, their project management capabilities in written and in practice, as well as their expertise and creativity. These times will require flexibility and the ability to adapt quickly to the realities. Those who may be considered, are those who will combine flexibility and creativity to achieve results within the shortest possible time.
Interestingly also, are the evolving event management tools that many have never believed in. It may now become imperative, as the realities of digitisation are now dawning on the industry in Nigeria. Hence, possessing and mastering it may now become more strategic to remaining relevant in the game
Event sitting arrangement/ food service
The demand for social distancing is real and becoming tough by the day. The World Health Organisation (WHO), has recommended social distancing as a veritable measure for preventing the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. In many countries, citizens are penalised if they are found flouting the policy. Given this development, sitting arrangements during events must change to reflect adherence to these policies. Irrespective of whatever table setting style that will be adopted, social distancing must be obeyed. This may remain for a long time to come until the virus is laid to rest world over.
Furthermore, there are hardly any events without a form of refreshment, tea break, food break or whatever it is called. In Nigeria especially, food services form an integral part of our social events. The Nigerian Jollof rice, Ofada rice and so on are amongst the many delicacies readily available on the menu of the day. However, we may begin to see demand for changes in the way these delicacies are presented and served during events to meet up with hygienic conditions that will also be paramount than ever.
Food vendors must now put on their thinking caps and create ways of better presenting and serving food in the most hygienic conditions.
Mfonabasi Udoh Barry