AS A RESULT of the Covid-19 pandemic, our focus as a communications agency has seen a major shift. At the beginning of the year around 30 per cent of our events were digital events, but between March and the end of May this shifted to almost 90 per cent digital for obvious reasons. With Covid measures slowly being relaxed, we are now experiencing a strong increase in clients requesting a mix of live and online formats, what we call hybrid events.
Irrespective of Covid-19, we are convinced that hybrid events will have a significant impact on the future development of the events industry, as they enable parallel live participation on site and online from anywhere in the world.
At the same time, such formats, just like digital events, require entirely new concepts and methodologies, both in terms of content and technology.
Simply taking a “live” event and producing it online is not enough and will not take advantage of the online communication potential. VOK DAM’s clients are increasingly coming to this conclusion as well and inquiring about our hybrid expertise, be it as event technicians or concept designers, or when simply looking for new solutions and possibilities.
One aspect helps us a lot with regards to hybrid events and makes us confident for the future: We are not starting from scratch; we have built up our experience and competencies in the digital, virtual and hybrid area for years. We developed flexible concept platforms for digital, virtual and hybrid events since 2010 and that expertise is now really coming into play.
Back in 2018, we restructured our agency and gained a lot of experience in remote and cross-location working by strengthening our ability to work independently from anywhere. All our staff around the world have been suitably setup for working remotely for years, as the majority of our work takes place on event locations.
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I am grateful and proud that all our colleagues around the globe have performed expertly and with admirable motivation under tough conditions.
The pandemic has been a catalyst for digitalisation developments in the communications sector that would have come in the near future anyway, but probably a little slower and less intense.
Another confidence booster is the fact that the events industry has come up with strong hygiene concepts to make live events possible again and with success: the first events are already taking place in China and Europe – albeit often on a smaller scale than before.
Instead of one event for 3,500 participants, we are now breaking it down into 25 regional events. We have recently trained hygiene specialists for events at each of our locations worldwide, which allows us to develop safe and legal hygiene concepts in-house together with the local authorities on site.
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The pandemic has undoubtedly shaken up VOK DAMS as a company but we are also confident about the future of the live events industry. Events will continue to be social, personal and live. They provide the essential drive in marketing and conveying and anchoring messages.
Even with social distancing and hygiene rules in place, face-to-face communication remains fundamentally important and effective. We all are social animals to the core and therefore always find a way to – safely – connect and interact.
And that has become blatantly clear over the past few months; for us humans it’s so important to be able to be together and to communicate with one another. Even when it’s with a safe distance between us or though digital channels.
There is nothing that achieves better results than direct communication from person to person. This has been the core of our company for the past 50 years and Covid-19 – no matter how frightening and impactful – is not weakening this belief.
Colja Dams is CEO of VOK DAMS Events & Live-Marketing, which operates in 19 locations worldwide. Headquartered in Germany, the agency has 13 international offices, which include Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong