Speaking with David Peckinpaugh of Maritz Global Events last week in our 6 Degrees of Associations show was enlightening and inspirational. The live event industry was crippled this past year in the pandemic, not only creating deep cuts on the production side of the house but also putting a major dent in the books of associations who count on these events for non-dues revenue. The way Maritz responded to this unforeseen crisis is a lesson for all to take note of.
Let’s first tackle the brilliant move of taking entire teams and moving them into educational programs to gain the right skills for the transition into all virtual events and hybrid events. Peckinpaugh noted that right at the beginning of the pandemic, they quickly acted to be sure their team would be prepared and skilled for the new wave of events. While they had a few folks within their design studio that may have already been whizzes at digital, upskilling over 40 people to be at the ready was both forward thinking and we are sure, built a lot of social capital with their employees.
Who provided this education? A trade association. The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) saw an opportunity to appeal not only to its current members, but by offering the Digital Event Specialist certification to non-members alike, captured non-dues revenue while likely engaging with folks who had not previously seen the value of the organization. Associations are in a unique position to offer education and certifications to people who are not only looking to upgrade their career through upskilling, but also those that took this pandemic as a time to career switch.
Another brilliant move we learned about is the way in which Maritz approached the digital event revolution. All of us have now attended any number of virtual events with varying degrees of success. From home grown solutions that companies decided to build custom to off the shelf amalgamations of preexisting technologies, we have seen it all. It would be all to tempting for a massive event organization like Maritz to explore building their own platform to capture more market share but ultimately, they realized the benefit of using existing technology to propel them.
By employing their design studio to evaluate the solutions on the market and using what may likely have been some downtime due to the massive cancellation of live events, Maritz was able to capitalize on the innovation and research and development of other more well-suited companies. It is tempting to build additional revenue streams, but his team was not a group of coders and UX designers, they were a team of creative minds, event designers, producers, and users of the technology. Using their skills and firsthand experience building events put them in prime position to evaluate the solutions that existed in depth and build revenue by building expertise.
That expertise went into making successful virtual events and creating a new protocols for hybrid events as noted in this great case study.
Moving into the Future
Whether you are supporting your staff in building their skills for your own ability to maintain clients or as a tool to retain clients, we can assure you it will pay dividends all around. Being able to see your employees’ strengths and talents and put them to use to build revenue efficiently, will enable a smoother transition into the future. Technology is moving at warp speed; how will you think about your people as ways to keep pace?