Latest News: COVID-19 and the events industry (21 April)
We did it, folks. . .1 month in lockdown
But we reckon it’s like dog years. So 4 weeks must be…what, 12 months? Yeah, that sounds about right…
On this unreasonably sunny Tuesday we’re bringing you: some good news for the future of the events industry; details on the furlough extension; useful tools for event profs working remotely; a day in the life of an event prof turned NHS volunteer; and a virtual face-touching ‘swear jar’ raising money for PPE (we promise we don’t make these things up).
Why the live events industry will bounce back
We’re starting strong this week, with a bold statement we whole-heartedly believe—the events industry will emerge from the COVID-19 crisis stronger than ever. And Event Industry News makes a good case for it.
With the live events industry at a complete standstill, there has unsurprisingly been increased chatter around virtual events, alongside the inevitable cries of “it’s not the same!”. The thing is, online meet-ups can’t replace the buzz and vibrancy of live events—but that’s not the point. Virtual events are allowing us to continue networking with like-minded peers, to keep connecting those all-important ideas. And when this is over, chances are we’ll have learned a lot from social distancing; like better awareness of personal space, and perhaps a few digital tricks from our time in lockdown that’ll help us redefine events in a post-COVID world.
In other words, we’ll have new-and-improved live events, and we’ll appreciate them all the more.
Furlough cut-off date extended to end of June
The online application system for the government’s furlough scheme opened yesterday morning, receiving an incredible 67,000 claims within the first 30 minutes, and 1 million workers placed on furlough in 1 day. Yikes.
Following news of the prolonged lockdown, the government also announced last Friday that the furlough scheme would be extended until the end of June—a move welcomed by the Meetings Industry Association (MIA), as 82% of organisations within the industry are relying on the scheme. Jane Longhurst, Chief Executive of MIA, also voiced the need for more flexible furlough terms, allowing employees to volunteer for their companies whilst furloughed. This would ensure the events industry doesn’t stand still, but instead prepares for the busy event schedule forecast for the end of the year.
Top 10 tools for event profs working remotely
For plenty of professionals, remote working is relatively straightforward—and event profs…well…we do not fall into that category. We’re used to being on the go, on our feet, and on the ground at live events. So a whole day spent inside, at a desk, is an alien concept for many of us.
If you’re struggling with the switch from on-site to at-home, Planning Pod has suggested 10 technology tools for event profs working remotely. This guide will help you find everything you need to set up your very own WFH haven—from the best group chat and videoconferencing software; to the right external monitors, wireless keyboards, and standing desks (see earlier comment re being on our feet).
Virtual collaboration in the social distancing era
Event profs are hard-wired to connect and collaborate with others—ideally face to face. So even within the most idyllic of home offices, we’re still likely to feel disconnected from our teams, our clients, and the industry as a whole. But the good news is, virtual collaboration platforms are really upping their game lately, keeping us energised and motivated whilst in lockdown.
Event Marketer suggests 3 platforms that take online collaboration to the next level, but in very different ways. As a whistle-stop summary…
- Launched last month, #ExperienceGood is an open-source digital platform focusing on how brands are pivoting to digital, and sharing ideas around consumer engagement in a time of social distancing;
- Virtual Braindate is designed to help event profs facilitate online networking, with a virtual ‘lounge’ where topic-driven ‘braindates’ take place; and…
- Glue is a platform that serves as an extension of the workplace, through immersive 3D graphics, VR, and cloud computing—with features like personal avatars, virtual post-its, whiteboards, and 3D drawings.
Colour us intrigued!
From event prof to NHS volunteer
For any out-of-work or furloughed event profs out there—if you want to give back but aren’t sure how, event prof Tracy Armstrong answered some questions for C&IT Magazine about her experience volunteering for the NHS. After she was made redundant from her job as a marketing manager, she signed up to an app that connects her with vulnerable people who need help getting shopping and medication. On whether she’d recommend it to other event profs in a similar position, she said:
“Definitely. This is our opportunity to step back from our chaotic schedules and do something really worthwhile, yet so simple, that will make a massive difference to people’s lives and mental wellbeing.”
Perhaps we should all be a little more like Tracy. See what else she has to say here.
Virtual ‘swear jar’ raises money for PPE
Lastly, if we’ve learned anything over the last few weeks, it’s that human beings are exceptionally bad at *not touching our faces*. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if you touched your face while reading that sentence.
To take advantage of this collective shortcoming, ad agency Venables Bell & Partners and digital agency Firstborn joined forces to create ‘Facejar’—a virtual ‘swear jar’ that turns accidental face touches into money for COVID-19 protective gear. The concept is simple: touch your face, donate a dollar.
The software uses a custom Snap Cam lens to count face touches during video calls on a number of platforms (Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, etc.) and when the meeting’s over, users can donate by scanning a QR code on Venmo. All proceeds go towards #GetUsPPE (getusppe.org)—so it’s bit of a laugh, for a very good cause.
Stop. Touching. Your. Face.