The COVID Series: Leading the team while coping with Covid

COVID Series, Malcolm Wallace
The COVID Series - Malcolm Wallace

The exciting news, for us anyway, is that we have begun a phased return to the office. I know that we all had mixed feelings after so long working from home, but it does feel good to be talking (a socially distanced) face to face and bouncing ideas around without sound delays, dialogue gaps and barking dogs.

We have been able, amicably enough, to sort out how we use the kitchen, clean the toilets and spread ourselves out among the desks, I guess after a week or two it will feel normal and then we will think about bringing the rest of the team back and adjusting to yet another new normal.

So, as a business, how do we view this next new phase and the challenges it is going to throw up?

The most important thing?

After some 35 years of running businesses, surviving Foot and Mouth, volcanoes, various recessions, SARS, strikes, 9/11 and, I am sure, some other crises I have forgotten about, my mantra is Marketing, Marketing, Marketing. I am not sure we do it particularly well compared to some of the creative items I see, but even at our lowly level it is, again, paying dividends.

The reality is that marketing relies on the hard work, self-belief and perseverance that being successful at anything requires. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no easy solution, no guarantee of success. You just have to keep trying new things in different ways and be thick-skinned enough to take failure on the chin until you find the solution that works for you. Just remember to keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge for the successes.

The second most important thing?

Has got to be budgeting, it is of course important normally, but it is critical in a crisis. As soon as we realised how seriously we would be affected by the Coronavirus, our management team sat down and re-worked our budget for the next 24 months.

The important thing though is sticking to it. I check at least weekly that we are not overspending in any areas and want to know why we are if that happens. I ensure we have plenty of contingency as invariably something unexpected crops up.

Cash is King in a crisis, so credit control must take priority, get your invoices paid on time but remember we are all in the same boat, so pay suppliers on time as well!

And finally

Have we learnt anything new during this new crisis? For me, it has reminded me that having a strong and cohesive team is paramount. It has been difficult with lockdown and having to slim the business down to maintain positivity and focus. Like a lot of companies, we have done our best with regular ‘Teams’ and Zoom meetings, quizzes, virtual cocktail making and the rest of the virtual menu.

I have been massively impressed with the ideas and suggestions that have flowed from everyone in the team. It is easy to think that at my end of the spectrum, with too many years under my belt, experience is all that matters. The reality is that the youngest members of the team have been able to come up with fresh and original thinking. Time for the old boy to move over.

Until next time,

Malcolm

Malcolm Wallace, Managing Director at Dynamic Conferences & Events Ltd

[email protected]

07515 664 368

The COVID Series: How far outside our comfort zone are we?

Business Management Covid-19
Business Management Covid-19

As businesses, we are all adapting to the unpalatable truth that most of our industries have changed irrevocably for the short-to medium-term and quite possibly for the foreseeable future.

We have had to make changes to the way we market and communicate with customers, clients or employees. This has been a particularly massive sea-change for those of us in the communications industries usually accustomed to simply meeting to collaborate, connect and share whatever information or message we needed to get out.

Now, we need a new medium and, for a lot of people, the obvious choice of virtual events is proving to be a taxing one.

The obvious choice?

It is the obvious choice; however, it is not necessarily an easy choice. Virtual event platforms are springing up almost, it seems, on a daily basis. Essentially, they are all tools that enable people to communicate remotely. But how do you know which platform is right for your organisation? And what can different platforms offer?

The very basic virtual platform is simply a video call and the more complex ones can recreate a complete virtual conference environment. They can include an auditorium, collaboration spaces, exhibition halls, speed networking, networking lounges and any other space you would see at in in-person event.

What’s the challenge?

The challenge, in reality, is not dissimilar to delivering an in-person event.

  • Clear, focussed event objectives
  • Measurable goals of success
  • Adaptable environment to deliver objectives
  • Interesting, relevant and articulate speakers
  • Professional production
  • Branding to promote and reinforce  core messages
  • Accessibility for all visitors to the event
  • Staff available to solve problems for conference hosts, speakers, delegates, exhibitors and sponsors

But here is the crux of the challenge – there is an assumption that a virtual event is easier, simply because it is delivered digitally. No travelling, no lost luggage, no hotel bedroom mix ups.

However, to stage a successful virtual event requires just as much pre-planning as an in-person event. I recently attended a virtual event where the first speaker didn’t start on time, leading to many attendees thinking they had logged on incorrectly, with a substantial number leaving entirely.

The help desk wasn’t staffed meaning requests for help were not promptly addressed and there was no communication for the reason for the delay. The first speaker appeared unprepared, was incorrectly framed and lacked specific direction in his talk. Obviously, people who are sat at their laptops in their home office are not going to concentrate for that long with all the other distractions they have.

A well planned, virtual event will have the correct platform selected with the event running to time. If it can’t run to time then attendees need to be informed, attendees requesting assistance from the helpdesk must be responded to immediately.

Speakers often require guidance to transition to delivering a message to a virtual audience; to get orientated and understand the functionality of the platform; to juggle presenting with pushing out live polls, organising questions or using a white board.

In this new digital era, it is far better to use the ‘Ted’ talk model, keeping speakers to shorter, punchier presentations and then utilising collaborative spaces for interactive discussions to dive deeper into the subject. And it is so important for presentations to be delivered to a professional standard.

Thought should be given to interspersing the business content with ‘gamification’ or social activities, whether to introduce a fun element, encourage networking or foster team collaboration. Specific networking time can be included to encourage your audience to engage with content, sponsors and branding.

It is important to convey your branding and messaging throughout the virtual environment, to reinforce your professionalism and values. This is often underestimated for both in-person events and virtual events.

The solution

As with most aspects of business life, an industry professional can effectively tackle what seems an insurmountable situation. They can anticipate problems and remove the stress of the unknown.

Just as you would use a professional event management team, whether in-house, or outsourced it is important to do the same for a virtual event.

Your production partner will guide you through the vast range of available platforms from webinars to virtual reality, recommend the most suitable platform for your event and support you through the entire process., They will work with you to craft a compelling, diverse agenda to maximise delegate interaction and engagement. Assist with practical guidance for speakers, sponsors and exhibitors and help delegates navigate the platform and interactive functionality to ensure they receive a fulfilling an beneficial experience.

After all, the aim is to give everyone concerned the correct impression that you have a professional and inclusive organisation.

If you are ‘out of your comfort zone’ and need help in this new virtual world, get in touch and let’s discuss how we can create an amazing virtual experience.

Until next time,

Malcolm

Malcolm Wallace, Managing Director at Dynamic Conferences & Events Ltd

[email protected]

07515 664 368

www.dynamic-events.co.uk

Coronavirus – Reducing the Financial Risk

The UK events industry is worth £39.1bn per annum*

The Coronavirus has hit the event industry hard. Many events which were in planning for 2-3 years have been cancelled following the government’s decision to prohibit mass participation events from taking place to contain the outbreak. We are now on lockdown, meaning we have no real way of knowing when events can be postponed or which events in the future can still go ahead.

The larger the event, the bigger and wider the impact has on the whole global economy.

In the last few weeks our spring season of events have taken a huge hit; most have either been cancelled or postponed until 2021, Autumn events are being pushed back not specifically due to the virus itself, but it’s correlated financial impact on all industries and businesses.

As an event management company our goal is to be an extension of our clients. We become part of their team and our primary focus now is to reduce and mitigate the financial impact this will have on their bottom line.

Although we cannot stop the events from being postponed or even cancelled, we can reduce the impact to our clients financially and take away the stress involved in contacting delegates, venues and suppliers.

Here are some of the steps we have already taken as a team;

  • Communication – Over the past few months we have kept our client’s continuously and consistently updated on the current situation and the impact this has on their event.
  • Budget – Creating emergency budgets to show what the impact means financially if attendance was reduced by 20% or even 40%. Looking closely at the budget, analysing extras that would not affect the running of the main conference (decor, entertainment, venue and program changes) to cut costs without lowering value.
  • Contracts – Reviewing contracts with suppliers and venues, specifically cancellation and postponement policies, whilst working on instigating Force Majeure.
  • Inform – Communicating all information to our clients allowing allows them to make informed decisions about their event and the financial impact of any decision they make.
  • Innovation – Providing a solution for live events by presenting a virtual conference platform. We are calling this the “Dynamic virtual world”, an interactive, cost-effective, accessible and environmentally friendly alternative. See our Dynamic virtual world blog post here.

As a team, we collectively have over 100 years of experience in event management. With that comes a wealth of knowledge that puts Dynamic Events in a unique position. Our longstanding relationships, buying power, and mutual respect with suppliers, gives us an advantage to minimise the risk in a situation like this.

Therefore, we have limited and even escaped the financial implications to our clients by re-negotiations and postponement of events to 2021.

“Our long-term partnership with Dynamic Events team is based on mutual trust and a shared vision, and it is a collaboration that achieves excellence for our attendees. Postponing our conferences this year was not an easy decision since they create vital networking opportunities for our member firms. For obvious reasons, our two conferences scheduled to take place in Beijing had to be postponed to 2021. Thanks to the Dynamic Events team’s knowledge of worldwide destination and their contacts, they were not only able to postpone our conferences without any negative financial implications but were also immediately able to suggest alternative locations and programmes.” Paul Ginman, COO and Global Head of Quality – Nexia International, March 2020

The policies and procedures we have in place are purely to protect our clients. Through implementing rigorous contingency plans, this enables, and has enabled, us to react quickly to this current crisis. Whether the client wishes to go ahead with the event, cancel or postpone, we are well equipped to handle any decision they make.

We work with local and national public health authorities, as well as receiving regular updates by the World Health Organisation and continually updating risk assessments. This keeps our clients informed should the situation change, and the event is no longer safe to proceed.

During the event we have an emergency hotline available 24/7 for all delegates, identified isolation zones with venues and contingency plans to organise travel for delegates.

The key to our management is TRUST – our clients trust us as an agency and trust that we shall keep them informed and enable them to react to any situation. Often companies question the expense of having an event management company rather than employing a person inhouse, but our clients will be the first to tell you – we save them time and money. Not just from negotiating more favourable rates with suppliers but should things happen that are out of our human control, like covid-19, our contracts and terms with suppliers protect our clients. 

With our member firms located in more than 146 territories, our regional conferences provide a great platform to build relationships, learn about our strengthening network and portfolio of services and engage in collaborative conversations. When we had to take the decision to cancel this year’s regional conferences, the Dynamic Team kept calm and carried on doing what they do the best. They have managed to renegotiate all local supplier contracts to secure new dates in 2021 with the existing rates and have successfully negotiated for any deposits already paid to be credited against future events. Their quick action and the concise information they provided enabled us to make informed decisions which has been very much appreciated in these extraordinary and uncertain times.Adam Grainger, Chief Information Officer – Baker Tilly, March 2020

Solutions – Virtual conference platforms

We can offer our clients an alternative to having a physical event by creating a virtual conference platform.  The virtual conference will allow delegates to be actively involved in a secure online environment from anywhere in the world – 24/7.

Our platforms are totally accessible, fully interactive and customizable so that your brand is visual throughout the experience.  We can pre-record sessions, have live Q&A’s, hold group chats, share links, hold spaces for sponsors, and have virtual shops to promote merchandise.

Virtual conferences have huge benefits and are available at a fraction of the cost of a live conference

Our virtual conferences offer an enriching event experience with delegates, making them able to interact, debate and participate in online forums, chat rooms, as well as having on demand ‘pre-recorded’ seminars available.

Top benefits

  • AccessibilityMulti language, on demand, mobile platforms, available 24 hours.
  • InteractiveIndividual or group chats, voice, text, video links, search function.
  • SustainableReduced travel – CO2 consumption – reducing your companies carbon footprint; Paper, plastic and organic matter waste generated at real events will be removed.
  • CostThis platform is far more cost-effective than a live event and allows people to attend that may not ordinarily be able to.

If you wish to learn more about our virtual conference platforms or are planning an event in the future, contact my team on 01797223626 we would love to hear from you.

Welcome to a ‘Dynamic’ virtual world..

Virtual Networking Lounge, Group chat
Virtual Networking lounge, group chats

The current global situation that we all find ourselves immersed in doesn’t need explaining – these are truly exceptional times, and no-one can predict how this extraordinary time in history will continue.

However, at Dynamic Events, we believe that extraordinary times provide the opportunity and challenge to reflect on what is truly important and create positive solutions to enable our clients to continue their global conversations.

We all know that live events will return and can never be completely replaced, but until that time, we are looking to harness all the amazing technology that continues to connect us and allow enriching engagement, even when we can not be together.

The virtual event creates an environment that can bring teams and wider networks together – whether through delivering powerful presentations, facilitating group discussions, providing a platform for face-to-face interaction or engaging participants in an array of social, wellbeing or team building activities.

The team at Dynamic Events are spending time with each client to devise an immersive and experiential platform to provide real solutions to replace live events.

The possibilities to engage are only restricted by our creativity and imagination. At Dynamic we have been doing this in the live event space for 20 years – the Dynamic virtual world is an extension of our teams’ desire and passion to innovate and deliver.

We would love to talk to you about how we can support you.

Find out more out our virtual conference solutions here

Call our team now on +44 (0)1797 223 626 or email [email protected]

The Horror Story of My Events Career

Dynamic Events have been doing what we do best – international events – for over 20 years now. We decided that it’s time to share our experiences and tips when it comes to event management. We will do weekly blog posts written by a different team member each week exploring various topics and areas of our business.

First off, our Operations Manager Angelika will tell you a horror story of her career. Now if that isn’t an interesting way to start a blog, we don’t know what is!

It is official (Forbes report) that event management is the 5thmost stressful job in the world. When it comes to it, we are up there right after the military, firefighters, pilots and police officers.  And yet, we all love it – well, we wouldn’t do it otherwise, right? For me, this is the perfect job where I can combine my creativity with my down-to-earth practical mind, meet amazing and inspiring people and travel the world. 

Events are unpredictable; you put lots of thought and effort into planning but weather, people, and lots of other circumstances keep challenging us on a daily basis. At Dynamic Events, we specialise in running events internationally, so on top of the usual challenges we have to understand anything from cultural differences, work methods to language barriers and body language… you name it, we’ve been through it.

I could tell you the stories of incidents when my heart literally missed a beat, when I thought this was it and tomorrow will find me jobless. But having been in this industry for almost twenty years I’ve learned that what matters most is not the challenge you’re facing, but the way you recover from it. So here’s one example of the situation where everything was out of my control (and other event managers, a.k.a. total control freaks, will understand how scary that is).

I guess we all remember an ash cloud hovering over Europe in 2010 resulting in the largest air traffic shut-down since World War II. So it happened that we were hosting a large event in Stockholm when the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland erupted and we were stuck in Sweden with over 150 of our conference delegates not able to return home. My colleagues pulled out all the stops and got on with what seemed to be a logistical nightmare trying to arrange buses across Europe by creating transport hubs in various locations where local buses would be waiting and taking everybody home. We managed to get everyone home, although it wasn’t the most enjoyable process… or journey, for that matter!

Disaster? Yes, but totally and completely out of our control. Outcome? Camaraderie between us and the attendees which created an everlasting bond and a relationship with our client that has lasted over 10 years. When it comes to situations like that, it’s important to look for the silver linings and focus on them rather than on the negatives and stress that the situation brings – that’s my top tip when you are experiencing a horror story at work!