Shifting Future Events Perspectives
Event Africa Contributor 19/06/2020 Industry Association News
The South African events industry is one of the industries most impacted by COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown. More than 90% of events planned and organised for 2020 were cancelled.
The industry is thought to be the ambassador of the virus, making events and gatherings the biggest threat – and ironically, this has become one of the industries most threatened and adversely affected by the coronavirus. Musawenkosi Gebuza speaks to two events industry stalwarts to get their take on the current state of affairs and finds out where the challenges and opportunities lie for Zelda Coetzee, Founder and Director of the newly established My Virtual Event, and Barbara Elshove, Founder of Team Orange Events.
A conference and events specialist, Zelda Coetzee is well known as the former National Chairperson of the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI). Zelda has a deep understanding of the international business tourism landscape and has extensive experience in the production of international conferences and events, both within South Africa and abroad.
What events have you lost or had to postpone as a result of the virus? What has your recovery plan been since March?
Zelda: I have lost all my events for 2020, but I have a new virtual platform that I am working towards because virtual and hybrid are our new reality therefore it is best to start adapting. We cannot deny the fact that people will start finding it easier to open their laptops and phones and attend conferences and events rather than paying a lot of money for travelling expenses.
COVID-19 hit unexpectedly changing the way of doing things, how are you adjusting to the new normal?
Zelda: COVID-19 really did hit us hard, for me it was really difficult to accept and adjust to it as well as finding rhythm of doing things differently.
What are your thoughts on the lockdown and its impact on the local event industry?
Zelda: what lockdown has reminded me is that we need to pay more attention to risks and has shown that the world can go on lockdown within two weeks. Making virtual and hybrid a necessity. It is wide and broad and there is so much that we still need to explore in the virtual and hybrid realms. In a different light, we could say that this is an opportunity to reimage and rebrand the industry, moving away from repetition and norms
Barbara Elshove is Founder of Team Orange Events, a Corporate Events Management company that produces anything from conferences and team building, to special functions and incentive programmes. At their core is the ability to inspire colleagues to connect in unique and meaningful ways, even during these trying times.
Is virtual or hybrid events something you would have considered doing at all if there was no global lockdown?
Barbara: Not all. We are in the business of face-to-face connections. Virtual events are a very new space. The more I learn about this new world of collaborations, the more excited I get with the endless options it offers. The world is literally at our doorstep!
How do virtual events fit into the future of the industry, particularly since we know that Africa is perhaps not the most connected of continents?
Barbara: Virtual events still requires an event planner to co-ordinate all elements of the event – the space looks difference, but the elements remain the same.
Tell us a bit about the Live-Cook Channel concept that you recently launched.
Barbara: Live-Cook Channel was born out of the idea of moving an interactive cooking event onto a virtual platform where you could connect with your team while cooking along with a celebrity chef using the ingredients of their signature dish delivered to your door. The idea then developed into a live-streaming channel which will host regular episodes for not only entertainment value, but also to support chefs and the food industry as a whole which has also been hard-hit during this time.