VOK DAMS: “There is no communication with the same emotional impact as live events”

3rd Mar, 2022

This period of seeming inactivity proved to be the opposite for VOK DAMS during the peak of the pandemic. The events agency produced over 50 digital events, along with sales conferences, partner summits and award ceremonies for the likes of the European Patent Office, Miele, Vodafone, Merck, Pfizer or ServiceNow. Even though the future of events is hybrid, now it all comes down to what the agency calls "New Live". Come decipher this and the concept of campfire gene with CEO Colja Dams (pictured below).

1) As one of the leading live marketing and event management agencies in the world, what trends do you anticipate occurring in terms of event services?

Hybrid events have experienced a real boom in the past year and their immense potential is far from exhausted. When it comes to brand experiences, the topic of hybrid events remains hot. However, the powerful impact of events is based on the deep human desire to socially interact with others. We call that the campfire DNA. There is no equivalent communication with the same emotional impact as live events.

Yet, digitalisation shouldn’t be an afterthought to “Live”. Certain live events are made for digitalisation, others depend on interpersonal face-to-face interaction and others again are optimal as hybrid events. It will be the agency’s task to find the right balance. From a sustainability point of view, the digital element should be part of any future event setup to lower the environmental impact of certain parts of live events. Sustainable events with less travel, less product and less energy use will be more important in the future. Another important aspect of producing live events in the coming years will be agency agility. The agile process allows responding quickly and efficiently, with short decision-making processes and extreme flexibility.

2) Do you expect to see your business model changed in a short time by this worldwide digital explosion?

The digital integration and use of online communication channels has always been part of our business model and shaped our client offerings. For us this “digital explosion” is part for course, but the pandemic has accelerated the acceptance of online aspects of live events on the client side, making it easier to get hybrid events approved.

3) After nearly two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, VOK DAMS is experiencing a strong increase in demand for live events around the world. Do you think this push around regional smaller events will trigger the larger scale ones?

The rise of smaller regional events replacing the central large-scale events is a result of the COVID-19 induced travel uncertainty. With travel restrictions coming in force, clients were not willing to take the risk of having a large percentage of their guests not being able to attend. Now with a large percentage of the world being vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, this risk is much smaller and clients are choosing large-scale events again.

Bringing everyone into one central location to experience the same event at the same time is still the preferred solution for the majority of our multinational clients. It’s easier logistics, more time efficient for management and much more impactful for guests.

"Strategy, planning and production need to be readjusted to the new client and guest requirements. That’s what we call the “New Live”."

4) Last year, VOK DAMS published a new white paper based on learnings from 439 digital and hybrid events, and pointing out six factors for their success. After a few months, what has changed or been reinforced by these February findings?

All six success factors mentioned in the February white paper — co-creation, autonomous choice, timing, content, haptic moments and personal dialogue — are still valid for successful digital and hybrid events. While producing face-to-face events in the past months, we have learned that a number of pandemic related aspects are having an impact. Strategy, planning and production need to be readjusted to the new client and guest requirements. That’s what we call the “New Live”.

These aspects include the "zoom mindset" of event attendees during events. Today's event attendees are always online and ready for the next video meeting, even during exciting live keynotes. The new COVID-19 routines — integration of vaccination/recovery certificates into guest management systems and on-site PCR testing — are also part of the "New Live”. Stumbling supply chains require agile working methods and long-term planning. Further convincing staff acquisition is more important than ever in the “New Live”, as many employees left the event industry permanently during the pandemic.

5) Do you think that public and private investments will get tighter and more wary due to the stagnation of the last two years?

Investments in the live marketing industry came to a crushing halt during the pandemic, as there was no certainty about when the situation would change for the better. With the positive impact of the ever-increasing vaccination rate and the amount of successful recoveries, it’s clear that people are keen to meet in person again. The social aspect of live events is of such importance for the majority of people that they are willing to endure the added admin of testing and vaccination passports. This thirst for live events of the majority of the people makes investors more comfortable investing again.

The pandemic had a profound impact on the profitability of many companies and therefore the amount of investments might be lower in the beginning, but there’s no doubt that the live event industry will be a profitable investment environment again. Large-scale events like EXPO Dubai, Munich IAA and Las Vegas IMEX show that we are on the way back.

6) In a recent study 83% of B2B marketers said that they will increasingly invest in data analysis. From a client perspective, what are the risks and actions to be taken in data management with hybrid events?

Data is collected for automated, promising marketing measures. The aim is to obtain a comprehensive picture of the interests, information and buying habits of the target groups and to find out which measures generate attention. In this way, marketing measures can be evaluated and specifically selected to address potential customers in a promising manner.

This is only possible if relevant customer touchpoints are identified, controlled and all data is collected in one single system in order to finally analyse it. So far, data generated by events has not been fully integrated into the marketing automation process — this gap has been closed with our offer of Live+ Marketing Automation. The technology for safe and secure data transfer and storage is widely available. All our marketing hubs, open platforms and guest management systems have high levels of security and protection. A necessary requirement, highly appreciated by clients.

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