COVID-19: the event has not said its last word

The We Are COM team, well confined, takes advantage of the calm to question the impact of the global health crisis of COVID-19 for our sector. Entrepreneur at heart and wise communicator, Frederic Bedin - Chairman of the management board Hopscotch Group - answered our questions big and small. What is the effect on the event industry? Is this a digital crossing? Should we reinvent our modes of interaction, and our information flows? A light without language on this exceptional situation. Welcome to postmodern communication!

In a practical way, what is the impact of COVID-19 on major events Frédéric?

All major world events are postponed for a year, no more, no less. On the football side, UEFA has already announced that Euro 2020 will be held in 2021, with the same device. Ditto for Jeux Olympiques of Tokyo, postponed for a year, raising the argument of the health of athletes and logistical constraints due to globalized confinement. Decision supported by long-term committed partners. But the real stake, economic, concerns more directly reimbursement of the ticket office by insurance. To this end, to probably avoid reimbursing all the tickets already sold, Roland-Garros is postponed for three months. Gold Roland Garros in October will it be the same tournament? Hopefully the public - and the players themselves - are there!

So how does professional insurance work?

Insurance generally applies to expenses incurred or to the profit margin. Corn you still have to be assured, which is not the case with many events! In addition, there are specific options specific to each event and numerous exclusions. For example, Roland-Garros has never been canceled in over 100 years! Obviously, the insurer is confident and will commit to covering only 1% or 2% of the total competition budget. If you are an automobile manufacturer and you organize the car shows tour in the world, you will not have the same needs in insurance: you will opt for minimum guarantees, considering it unlikely that all the shows in the world will be canceled ... Thus in our industry, very few events are insured against the risk of cancellation, with the exception of one-off events because they are unique.

In addition, once the cancellation is confirmed, negotiations begin with the insurer, who will often try to minimize the amount of the claim and invite postponement instead of cancellation.

In context COVID-19, we see more than 90% cancellation. The organizers must get closer to their insurers, who are not yet at the stage of comprehensive assessment of claims for the sector. The sums are considerable… in line with the importance of our sector of activity. Paradox of the moment: we must prepare for the recovery, the organization of new events for the second semester and fail to obtain quotes from insurers. Obviously, we are not asking to be protected from the coronavirus, since it is not possible to insure against a foreseeable situation.

On the advertiser side, brands find out about cancellation in the event of force majeure. This concept is complex and requires the support of legal experts specializing in events.

Events, public relations… what does it represent more widely in our lives?

Our professions are steeped in history since they come under the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, which will emerge from the French Revolution 🇫🇷. Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explicitly mentions freedom of assembly, as does the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Under the Ancien Régime, the only authorized meeting was mass! Organizing a meeting in his barn was punishable by repression.

Today, with containment, the state of emergency limits this freedom of assembly to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This is a legitimate health measure in an exceptional law ... And a response to an exceptional situation. Surprisingly, it is a virus that takes away one of our fundamental freedoms. A few molecules destabilize a bicentennial balance of power in our civilization.

But I remain optimistic because our postmodern society is resilient. We will all meet again soon to continue running together, to educate and help each other. It is the richness of our social lives; both heterogeneous and interrelated. And companies are no exception! This is what I call the community marketing 👨‍👨‍👧‍👧  : instead of targeting individuals according to their age, their CSP, their income, their initial training; we must seize the power of belonging! What we are currently experiencing is an absurd demonstration of the importance of communities.

In Chinese “crisis” means “danger” and “opportunity”. What will this unprecedented crisis change in our daily lives?

Our relationship to digital will evolve: what separation between professional and personal life will we have left after successful weeks of teleworking? Our professional activities will be further enriched by digital, and will also be more complex. Occasional yesterday, teleworking will certainly become a standard tomorrow and collaborative tools will - by necessity - have been adopted by everyone. It will be difficult to reverse the new habits. So, we will have to support these new uses with new rules and also new relational politeness.

You are one step ahead with your teams in China. Does the activity restart?

Yes ! Already two clients in the luxury sector are asking us to deploy major marketing operations in Asia, because the business is back  📈 ! The epidemic broke out in mid-January in China, which applied drastic containment for ten weeks. Today they live a resumption in V 😀 thanks to a voluntary and supported dynamic.

Europe too must be proactive in negotiating the way out of the crisis and each economic player must prepare for it. No reluctance possible when restarting! Business doesn't have to be groggy. If policymakers are in low morale, the road to recovery will be even longer. Looking at China gives you a positive message. Europe's voluntarism will have to materialize through the massive production of goods and services, but also through massive investments, particularly in communication 💪, be creative !

To prepare for this post-COVID-19 recovery, what are your advice to communicators?

I propose 5 actions to the readers of We Are COM 📣:

#1 Organize digital life 💻

Since you will no longer meet your boss in the hallway or your colleagues in the elevator, it is essential to plan your days to maintain your pace of work and life. Keep your meetings, your weekly points, your team meetings, recruitments … Do not give up any of your usual rituals. It is only necessary to be more rigorous in your exchanges and the deadlines to be met.

#2 Adopt new digital tools 🔧

For my part, I was not a real Teams user. For a week, I have been much more. And indeed… it's super intuitive! So a multitude of tools are open to us. This is the opportunity to get started 😊

#3 Dose serious and humor 🎉

Because if everything becomes serious, it quickly becomes "not funny"! I love all the initiatives that are launched: aperitifs on Teams, cafes on Skype. And it's really great to animate the link despite the distance.

#4 Maintain financial flows in all directions 💰.

Money is the lifeblood of the economy. So let's sign our pending quotes, settle our invoices. Above all, the flows must not stop, at the risk of blocking our economy. Communicators have an essential role in explaining the interdependence between economic players and putting into perspective the activity of their own company in this value chain.

#5 Prepare for recovery 🏋️‍

You will need to be hyper-proactive internally with employees and externally with your clients. You can even save time on recovery by preparing these recovery communications upstream.

The period we are going through illustrates the importance of communication, in the management of the crisis as in the resumption of activity. Also, brands will survive thanks to the intangible asset that their notoriety constitutes. The brand is an incredible business base and communicators are the active principle of the relational networks that surround the brand. So communicating, high hearts !!!


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