It’s a confusing situation as an event organizer. On one hand, we must follow the guidelines of public health officials and the directions of our local government to help stop the rapid spread of the COVID-19; on the other hand, we need to come up with different strategies to sustain our event business.
The physical crisis might end in the coming months; thanks to our hardworking folks in the healthcare segment like doctors, nurses working round the clock. But, what about the financial crisis which is awaiting to bite our economy with its mouth wide open?
Most of the brands we work for have been directly impacted and caused for all business to a sudden unplanned cessation, needless to say it is going to have a direct impact on all marketing and advertising efforts and budgets which will directly impact the dependent experiential agencies. What won’t help the experiential agencies cause is the fact that for most brands experiential is an afterthought decided by the left-over budgets after spending on traditional media channels. Add to that nobody has any clarity when the nightmare will be over and what is the maturation period for the consumers to be back into action. It could be anything from 6 months to 18 months for things to regularize.
In such unsettled scenarios the challenge of survival for the small and medium independent (including startups) organization remains pivotal and real. Not just the smaller independent agencies but the future of the experiential SBU’s in bigger group organizations will also be in jeopardy and will definitely attract shrinkage. The threat of role redundancy for the staff, unit, and SBU’s as a whole is as real as it has ever gotten. Clarity on the revised experiential plans from the brand partners for the year are going to be extremely crucial for annual agency prospecting and planning. Price wars to win accounts post the pandemic are a real threat too and can have devastating impact on the industry as a whole. The last but not the least challenge I would want to highlight (like in any other business) is about the rolling of money. Smooth operations especially in our industry depend on healthy rolling of cash flows. Current disruption has also affected the client payouts cycles and monies have been put on hold till offices and businesses resume. Delays in these outstanding payments will further complicate things for the experiential frat.
In the short run after the pandemic- virtual experiences that can be experienced remotely will continue to grow but in the long-term business will be back to usual. As a matter of fact, at this stage no one can predict what the new consumers behavioral patterns will be. Since behavior patterns are a framework to designing experiences and brand engagements, we are all only working on the assumption that people will continue to maintain social-distance but uncertainty is the key word at this stage.
Human beings are social creatures and socializing is a basic human instinct. The more social freedom is curbed the more people will find newer and innovative ways to stay socially relevant with hygienic twist. We, along with our partners are sure to rise above the situation and together ensure the resurgence of events in a new avatar. We call it virtual! And in some time, as the pandemic subsides we will again come together in person, and obviously with more pomp and show.