The comprehensive restrictions around events have all but closed the local business event industry. We are now experiencing the backlash of the loss of events as a marketing channel to drive key business objectives, as a tourism stimulus, as a catalyst for business growth, as an educational tool, for job creation and to develop knowledge opportunities. Beyond that, this pandemic has removed the event platforms that are fundamental to forming business connections and strengthening relationships.
While society has made enormous inroads on a digital level, pivoting to embrace Google Meet, GoTo Meetings, Microsoft Teams and Zoom as an integral part of the everyday “new normal”, a remote connection cannot satisfy the need for an in-person connection that is part of our DNA. Face-to-face allows for a deeper, more personal connection that digital cannot replicate.
Connecting people is what we, in the events industry, do and it is clear that the intrinsic value of business events went largely unrecognised until COVID-19 brought our industry to a grinding halt. Whether it is a breakfast meeting, a product launch, an exhibition, trade show or a conference get-together; events lie at the heart of business growth. Our industry is part of the root system that feeds every branch of business.
Remember when “shooting the breeze” with a business colleague in a networking environment allowed personal chit-chat to segue into a relationship that would sign future business? It was at our exhibitions that buyers and sellers negotiated partnerships and it was at our conferences that business people explored innovations, honed their business skills and wrote business deals. It is through business events that companies marketed their products, allowing prospects to experience the brand and form the type of deep and meaningful relationships with the team that results in long-term brand loyalty. Without events, businesses have lost their approachability and within the younger generation, who thrive on engagement and first-hand experience, this has left many doors unopened
The absence of business events has removed many of the important touch points through which a brand can connect with its clients. There are no more face-to-face explanations at exhibition stands. No more direct exposure for entrepreneurs to the market. No in-person thought leadership, exposing attendees to current trends and industry knowledge at conferences. No more experiential marketing to allow users to identify with the brand or product in a unique and lasting way. In short, less opportunity for conversion! And to compound the problem, restrictions on travel and incentive events have removed the motivational element of sales as well.
Business events have always contributed significantly to the economy by attracting inbound tourism, generating hospitality and tourism spend, creating thousands of temporary and permanent jobs, by creating knowledge opportunities and galvanising the sales function.
Yes, we have any number of ways to connect digitally and that will be the way forward for quite some time, but online connection simply does not allow for the same ease of connection or negotiation. We are losing the human interactions that have greased the wheels of business for as long as we can remember and this loss is negatively impacting our economy’s ability to rebuild.
The business events industry is ready when you are! We have prepared the foundation to host exhibitons and events safely at larger capacities. We are a professional sector, waiting to resume effectively and responsibly. Trust us to help you restore your business and contribute to rebuilding the economy. The business events industry is a vital part of the recovery narrative in South Africa.
For more industry updates visit: http://www.saeventscouncil.org/