• December 14, 2020

Six agency leaders reflect on 2020 and share expectations for 2021

Six agency leaders reflect on 2020 and share expectations for 2021

Six agency leaders reflect on 2020 and share expectations for 2021 1024 683 micebook.

2020 has been a pretty tough year that most of us in the events industry can’t wait to see the back of. But there have been some positives, and with Covid vaccines now being rolled out in the UK, there is finally some light at the end of the tunnel.

We asked five agency leaders to share their positives from 2020 and hopes and expectations for the year ahead….

Laura Pace, managing director, Yellow Fish

What has been your biggest positive?
My biggest positive has been joining the Yellow Fish team and working collaboratively to find a new direction for us as a business. Watching the team innovate and grow to create a product that works for our clients’ needs at this moment in time has been so rewarding. I can’t wait to see what we do in 2021.

Can you share something you’ve learnt about yourself during this time? 
I’ve learnt what a sociable person I really am. I really struggled with communications all happening via a screen and have been longing for face to face interactions to return.

What’s been your stand-out virtual event or experience of the year and why?
Hot off the press, it has to be our virtual experience that is live this week for one of our Pharma clients. We’ve transitioned from a live event to a global virtual event for health care professionals from around the world. From a bespoke platform build, to interactive workshops to product innovations brought to life in engaging virtual formats it truly is a stand-out event.

What are your hopes and expectations for 2021?
My hopes are that we see corporate and consumer confidence grow for experiences to come back on the table. I think we’ll see a true collaboration happening between physical and digital worlds, a focus on innovative in-home experiences and a growth in events and experiences for small audiences that are broadcast to many.

When do you expect business to be back to pre-Covid levels?
For us 2021 is all about stability for us and our clients. We want to continue to be their partners in navigating this new world and providing relevant solutions to their requirements. I think the balance has shifted for good now and we’ll see clients looking to us for cross channel solutions in the virtual, physical or hybrid space.

Amanda Edgcumbe, director & founder, Powwow Events

What has been your biggest positive?
A really tough answer to find, but we managed to pivot to virtual really quickly (a very steep learning curve) and work together brilliantly as a team to get through the last nine months.  The Powwow team have been incredible throughout all of this.

Can you share something you’ve learnt about yourself during this time?
Resilience is everything.  I have also realised that our industry is so incredibly strong together – that has been a truly humbling experience.

What’s been your stand-out virtual event or experience of the year and why?
We picked up a brand-new client who asked us to devise a wellness programme for the winter months.  We have been working virtually with them to help their employee base of up to 7,000 people find ways to look after themselves under the banner of Mind, Body and Soul.

What are your hopes and expectations for 2021?
Firstly, that the vaccine means the beginning of the end of this cruel and disruptive global pandemic and gives our clients the confidence to start doing events again, in whatever format. Also, that face-to-face events come back sooner than we all expect. Virtual events are absolutely no substitute for actually meeting people in person. I miss that so much.

When do you expect business to be back to pre-Covid levels?
2022 I hope, if not a little sooner.  Fingers crossed.

Alistair Graham, co-founder & CEO, emc3

What has been your biggest positive?
For me it has to be the rise in altruism… I have seen this happening externally and especially internally during this year. The emc3 team got together at the very beginning, and although some were on furlough, they decided they wanted to give something back, so Boxes for Bravery was founded. It’s a way for people to be nominated and recognised for going above during these testing times. We have had teachers, nurses, doctors and care home workers all receiving boxes of treats.

Not content with that, recently the team partnered with Anna-Marie Trzebinski’s redundancy group to put together IGNITE2020 to help out of work event professionals. With wellbeing, recruitment and positive messaging, we had over 170 join the event that was marketed in under a week! To help expand out of work event profs’ knowledge of virtual platforms, my business partner Daniel Curtis has also been running free training sessions with the help of the emc3 team.

Can you share something you’ve learnt about yourself during this time?
That I can work from home, and actually be just as, ff not more productive!

What’s been your stand-out virtual event or experience of the year and why?
I would have to say IGNITE2020 – it helped lots of people see that there is a way through this.

What are your hopes and expectations for 2021?
That vulnerable people get the vaccine and our team continue to thrive in the new environment we find ourselves in.

When do you expect business to be back to pre-Covid levels?
Mid-late 2022.

Charlotte Gentry, CEO & founder, Pure Communications Group

What has been your biggest positive?
For us, we have pivoted to becoming a more integrated communications agency and have won business that speaks to those different service channels, which has been exciting for us. Wellbeing has increased for our work force, working from home and not commuting five days a week.

Can you share something you’ve learnt about yourself during this time?
That you have to be grateful for your health and the ability to spend time with family, walk the dog and swim every day.

What’s been your stand-out virtual event or experience of the year and why?
Loved the company meeting that we had ‘socially distanced’ where we used ‘lick me I’m delicious’ as an activity.

What are your hopes and expectations for 2021?
To get through the first half of the year and that it will be a modest and character-building year!

When do you expect business to be back to pre-Covid levels?
In 2022.

Frances Green, managing director, Green & Pleasant Events

What has been your biggest positive?
The positive impact on the planet, appreciating everything we’ve got, learning new skills and reinforcing industry relationships. I really found out who my friends are.

Can you share something you’ve learnt about yourself during this time?
Work isn’t as important as I thought it was. I’m on a journey of discovering just who I really am – not just my identity as ‘the MD/ Agency owner’.  I used to work manically, stretching myself thin and ever in search of new goals, challenges, achievements. Then when it was all at threat, I realised I only really focused on that and not much else.

What’s been your stand-out virtual event or experience of the year and why?
We came to the virtual party late as we were embroiled in the grim business of cancelling events and clawing back refunds from airlines, hotels, venues and catering companies. But during the summer my amazing team came up with some incredible creative solutions and in November and December we will deliver over 20 virtual events – something I never thought we would achieve.

What are your hopes and expectations for 2021?
Just that we survive. That we can be here- ready and waiting for when client confidence comes back to running live events which is my passion.

When do you expect business to be back to pre-Covid levels?
Hopefully a year from now. But what this pandemic has taught me is that one can’t really forecast anything.

Toby Lewis, CEO, Live Group

What has been your biggest positive?
I think the huge advancement in the use of technology has enabled us to seriously consider the accessibility and sustainability of events moving forward. I would also like to extend my thanks to the associations who have kept communication within the industry alive. It would have been easy for us all to put our shutters down, and the effect of the crisis would have been much worse.

Can you share something you’ve learnt about yourself during this time? 
At the beginning of the year I was beginning to fall out of love with events. It had become clear where the industry was heading, with clients telling us how high to jump, sending the same brief year-in year-out. I can safely say my position is now completely reversed. I feel renewed passion for events and communications, now that we are able to reach a new level of clients interested in our perspective on how they communicate. We have moved on from the old ways as an industry, and that inspires me.

What’s been your stand-out virtual event or experience of the year and why?
Live Group has run over 200 virtual events this year so it’s difficult to isolate one! But if I had to I would highlight Civil Service Live. We had one month to pull together the full registration site and seven simultaneous streams which were viewed by 40,000 delegates at the same time. I’m proud we delivered that one to such a standard, given the scale and time pressure.

What are your hopes and expectations for 2021?
My hope is that the industry and our clients don’t revert to what once was and embrace this new blended approach to communication with physical and virtual audiences. We shouldn’t accept the briefs of the past, the old rinse and repeat. With the industry driven by large hotel chains and travel companies there are people with huge investment in the event industry who won’t want to push for this innovation. We need to make sure they do not take control again.

When do you expect business to be back to pre-Covid levels?
Funny you should ask. Our average share of spend on events has gone up since the Covid crisis, and the margin we receive has gone up from 49% to 60%, too. In short: I hope business doesn’t go back to pre-Covid levels. The event organisers will attain a greater share of the client budget which now won’t go to catering, hotels and transport. Virtual, hybrid, blended events work for the event organiser, and I hope this continues.

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