By Stu Katzen, owner and creative director, Eventify

2020 has been an unparalleled year for the world, let alone the Australian MICE industry.

As a global community, we have watched our lives, the way we do business, travel and our social existence change in the space of weeks. Never before in our lifetimes has this happened with such speed, ferocity, or with such magnitude.

Social distancing, self-isolation, travel bans and quarantine, have become the new reality and the MICE industry has faltered like never before.

We have watched as our flourishing industry has literally been stopped in its tracks.

With understandable government and global limitations in place and client fear of the unknown –  a major driving factor – our industry has ground to a resounding halt.

No part of the industry has been unscathed and all of us have felt the hit of going from 100 per cent to in many cases zero in weeks. Size, scale and history have not mattered, as we have watched the literal destruction of a $35.7 billion industry. All without a murmur.

Currently, domestic travel is limited and international travel and tourism is virtually non-existent.

Incentives, events and traditional conferencing are also not happening, with the understandable fear from clients to do anything that puts guests or their corporate name at risk.

So, the massive question is… what now?

We have seen the recent advent of “virtual” or to use a better word “online” events and a proliferation of client-based Zoom meetings and conferencing. However, this is all just a short-term band aid in order to keep the cogs turning. The bigger question is what, as an industry, are we doing for our future? What will we do to save our industry, provide a pathway forward and what are we going to tell our understandably frightened risk adverse clients?

My answer is collaboration!

As an industry we are very siloed. More so than many other industries. We have a history of fear, mistrust and ruthlessness and that’s just with each other. But it’s not serving us now. Now more than ever we need to work together in order to kickstart the industry we are all a part of.

I say this all from personal experience.

I recently got a call from a long-time colleague. Someone I knew through work and who was a direct “competitor” to me. We had over the years dealt with the same clients, pitched the same gigs and knew many of the same people from the client and supplier end. We were never acrimonious and enjoyed each other’s company. We had even hung out socially.

But the call confused me. He told me he and his business partner had created an online event platform that far exceeded what was out there and would I like to learn more about it. I assumed he meant from a business point of view IE: I hire them for gigs and maybe he did.

But as I sat there talking to him and his business partner, it became clear that what he was actually offering was a de facto partnership. A collaboration where our two entities did stuff together? I know! …..Right? WTF!

Well it’s been over five months now. Eventually I stopped looking for the angle. I don’t believe there was or is one, other than they are really amazing people who saw the writing on the wall.

Collaborate and conquer by size and force or die. I was the lucky one they picked to collaborate with and honestly, I must be blessed because working with these guys is not only amazing, but fun. Everything is transparent, up front and clear. Our work compliments each other and the stuff we are working on is great.

So, the moral to my very cheesy but true COVID story is, if we stay in our silos we will die. Especially us small agencies. So, get out there, collaborate and let’s work together to revitalise and rebuild what we all love. Forward momentum is without doubt the key. It builds on itself and creates a domino effect and movement begets movement (I’m sure it says that somewhere in the Bible – it has the word beget…). So, reach out to someone, anyone and get the ball rolling.

I have started a Northern Beaches monthly lunch for events peeps with a supplier. Contact me if you want to come along on stu@eventify.com.au. Or start one yourself.

Good luck all and see you all soon and let’s roll that ball!