The Covid-19 pandemic has strongly impacted the event industry since March 2020 and we have heard from many of our clients over the developments.
We share with you the testimony of Ida Parzanese, Global Marketing Event Coordinator at Talentsoft, who experienced a trade show during the COVID-19 period. This event expert tells us about her experiences during this very special year, punctuated by postponements, cancellations, and in rare cases by the maintenance of trade shows. Her testimony provides us with a vision of an event during a COVID period and the ability of Marketing departments to adapt to respond to an unprecedented situation.
It is an important networking moment for our teams.
Can you briefly introduce us with the activities of your company as well as your job functions at Talensoft?
Talentsoft is the European leader in human capital management software. Our platform helps organizations to transform and support their talents in the transformation of professions. We adapt to the challenges, needs and technological ecosystem of companies.
For my part, I am in charge of coordinating events, such as trade shows and special events dedicated to our clients.
How important are B2B fairs to your company’s communication strategy? How many shows do you take part in a “normal” context?
In “the world Before”, we used to participate in fifteen trade shows in Europe a year; around a third on the French market. Trade fairs are very important moments for us; they help meeting new professionals and identifying new projects. More difficult moments to find on digital events.
Our teams are very committed to promoting our presence, particularly through social networks, but also through more targeted initiatives, such as the organization of on-site meetings, meetings with our founders, or special events such as cocktails for example.
What are your main objectives when participating in these events?
We have two main objectives by exhibiting at trade shows; the brand visibility and the identification of new projects. A show is an unique opportunity to showcase our expertise, the new features of our solution, and the successes of our customers through testimonials.
But above all, it’s an opportunity to meet people and discover new projects with potential customers or existing ones that might not have happened without it. It is an important networking moment for our teams.
We are putting alternatives in place to compensate for these cancellations
How do you feel about the repeated cancellations of trade shows due to the COVID19 since March 2020?
Obviously, the planning of our activities has been deeply impacted. We were only able to participate in 3 shows over the whole year. We anticipate that many of the shows we usually attend will be canceled in 2021 too.
In facing the situation that we experience today, the Talentsoft teams are showing solidarity and resilience. Like many organizations, we are putting alternatives in place to compensate for these cancellations.
Your company was impacted by these cancellations, how did you react?
Unsurprisingly, we turned to a 100% digital event strategy. I believe that we were able to take the digital turn at the right time. We’ve been running webinars for several years now. So we naturally turned to this format to transform some of the events planned for this year.
For others, we have had to completely revise our strategy. This is the case for our annual conference, which was to be held at the Carrousel du Louvre with nearly 2,000 attendees in May. Very quickly, given the changing situation, we decided to turn this conference into a 100% digital event. While we are independent in our webinar-type events, we are often supported by digital professionals; most of them also had to reinvent themselves.
One of our convictions today is that the volume of digital events will increase, as well as hybrid formats combining face-to-face and digital. But I sincerely hope that physical events will continue to exist, because nothing will replace face-to-face interactions in one dedicated place. Events are places where the “wow” effect is reachable with more ease, with the support of business experts such as Live & co, who are essentials to us.
Nothing will replace face-to-face interactions
How did you approach the months of preparation before the show?
Talentsoft attended the Solutions RH trade fair in September, after two postponements. The organization of the show was punctuated by the evolution of the health crisis. When we learned that the 2020 edition was postponed to May, we were quite sceptical about the situation and the risks it would incur for our teams and our clients. The event was again postponed to September, when the number of contaminations was quite stable and low. Once the decision was taken to maintain our participation, we took over the organization, bearing in mind that we had to be ready if the show was held. On the contrary, if it was definitely canceled by the end, the energy would not have been wasted because no matter when the show took place, we would be ready.
Have you changed your preparation process for this event?
Yes obviously, the health protocol was part of the new organization; Organizing a new flow direction of the visitors on the booth, offering hydroalcoholic gel displays, wearing compulsory individual protection equipment, etc. For my part, I completely relied on Live & co to implement the right solutions, in addition to the ones which were put in place by the show organizers.
This year only came people with a real need
Have you considered canceling your participation in the event?
Yes of course, it is necessarily an option in such a situation. And we move forward from day to day.
What was the feeling of your teams a few days before the show opening? Were there any fears?
Yes of course, internally the fears surfaced as D-Day approached, and our management had a very kind message, even on the eve of the event. There was no question of leaving the teams in fear as they were going to mix with the crowd during a pandemic. In the end, the situation did not arise, and even on the contrary, the teams were happy to participate in an event 😊.
Was there any fear from your clients and potential visitors?
We did not receive clear testimonies. The only feeling was felt on the last day of the show; the government communicated the day before on new measures, in prevention of a potential second wave.
We have, not surprisingly, observed a lower attendance compared to previous years. While it is often difficult to walk in the aisles of the show, this year only came people with a real need, more than just curiosity or an initial benchmarking.
We are considering hybrid solutions for 2021
How do you assess the attendance at the show?
We anticipated the fact that we would have had fewer contacts than in previous years, but more “qualified” meaning visitors with real projects, concrete needs, and with whom discussions quickly went to an advanced level. Usually, at this show, we have a lot more visitors who are only benchmarking, or who are discovering the industry…
Have you implemented additional actions around your physical presence at the show to ensure the visibility of your messages and to soften a possible decrease of visitors?
Yes absolutely, we have made some recordings of our on-site presentations to promote them post-show.
How do you predict your events program in 2021? Will face-to-face meetings and B2B trade shows keep the same importance in your communication strategy?
In 2021, it will be necessary to show an adaptive capacity. For now, we are still planning everything digitally. But when it comes to physical shows, we are working hand in hand with Live & co and we are considering hybrid solutions for 2021.
Thank you Ida for your testimony. We can’t wait to get back to the exhibition grounds with you in 2021!