NAME: Nicole Walker

What are you working on right now in anticipation of a return of events?

Overall confidence on the return of business events has diminished and we need to show the world we are ready to meet again and design and facilitate business events that are COVID-safe. The Arinex team identified the need to demonstrate the developments within the industry in preparedness for COVID-safe events and how physical events can now take place even with border closures and physical distance requirements. We have created The Turn of Events; Bringing Business Events Back taking place in five city locations across Australia as well as virtually, to showcase that the industry is ready.

We have developed COVIDSafe Guidelines for each State and have been certified by ATEC as a COVID Ready Business.

Finally, with the increased focus on sustainability we have spent time refining and developing our Sustainability Guidelines for both physical and virtual events.

What’s one lesson you have learnt during the COVID-19 lockdown period?

Nothing is set in stone and anything is possible. So many of the industry were getting too comfortable living in the ‘normal’ and this has forced everyone to stop, re-evaluate, re-think and redesign the way we approach events.

What do you value more now than you may have pre-COVID-19?

Taking time to stop. The Business Events industry is fast paced and constant with little time to stop. When we do stop, we don’t take enough time to actually unwind. This year has taught us that whilst it is good to be fast paced (and our sector loves it) there is also a balance that needs to be maintained so that an organisation can continue to deliver at the highest level consistently.

How do you think events will change in the future?

We believe hybrid events are here to stay. Forcing clients to adapt to technology has, and will be, one of the benefits of this experience. The past 15 years have presented challenges in the adoption of technology for the Association market.  They have been forced to experience and implement technological solutions and the majority have realised it is not as scary as they first thought. In fact, many have acknowledged the significant benefits of using virtual and hybrid platforms.

Why are events important?

This experience has reinforced the importance of human interaction. Zoom fatigue has increased peoples’ need for face to face interaction. Whilst virtual events can provide a good stop gap for now, the value experienced from networking and interacting in person is rewarding and meaningful. The events and conference industry facilitates the meeting of like-minded people to share knowledge and develop professionally and economically as a society. The legacies from the conference and events sector such as new programs, new learnings and future thinking and partnerships, have long been the ultimate catalyst for significant global change and growth in our society.