© Ben Hider / Mark Shearon

April 19th 2021

"New solutions, new ways of working and innovative ideas for this new world"

GCB Future Talks - North American Edition, Vol. 4

As a marketing and communication specialist at Proscenium, a global marketing agency focused on the creation and production of live and virtual events, Mark Shearon shares over 25 years of experience in finding innovative and cutting-edge solutions that bring brands to life in the live space. He is convinced that "live events will come back strong in 2022" and that "the venues that have used this time to upgrade their infrastructure and technology will be the winners". He shared his experiences of virtual events and collaboration in times of the pandemic with Matthias Schultze, managing director of the GCB, in the latest edition of the GCB's interview series with North American event planners.

Matthias Schultze: The world of business events has changed tremendously in the past year. Do you have any examples of virtual/hybrid programs that you may have executed, and if so, are you able to share any details on how that experience was in terms of execution, attendance, feedback, challenges, successes, etc?

Mark Shearon: Our last live event was in March 2020! It was a Heineken USA event in Orlando, Florida. Then the world completely changed. Since that time, we have produced over 30 fully virtual events for brands like T-Mobile, Qualcomm, Lowe's, Univision, TD Ameritrade and of course Heineken. They have varied from fully custom solutions to using existing platforms to full-on broadcasts from our clients' offices and homes. We have had online audiences with up to 35.000 viewers in over 90 countries including Germany. Proscenium was fortunate that prior to COVID we had experience in the virtual world, so we were able to quickly pivot and help our clients continue to communicate with their most important audiences albeit not in a live setting. This has gone extremely well, and our clients are happy with the results. Feedback from attendees has been excellent and they appreciate that brands have continued to reach out and both entertain and inform. We now are looking forward to hybrid events and currently have clients planning to do that in the fall of 2021.

The latest research of the German Convention Bureau's innovation network Future Meeting Space shows that the relevance of events for an organization's overall communications mix will continue to grow in the future. What is it that you need from event suppliers - from locations to tech service providers - to be able to create successful events in the future?

Proscenium concurs with these findings. We believe that live events will come back strong in 2022. There is such pent-up demand for human interaction after a year of isolation for many. Of course, we want to be safe so hygiene protocols will continue to play an important part. For hybrid events, testing will also need to be available as well as robust but cost-effective bandwidth and wi-fi. The venues that have used this time to upgrade their infrastructure and technology will be the winners. I am pretty certain that the German venues will have used this enforced lull in events wisely.

To keep up with the speed of change driven by the digital transformation and global events such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the business events sector needs to drive innovation. How do you come up with new ideas? Would you be/ Are you open to collaborate with other event professionals to discuss new solutions and the future of business events?

It's so funny you ask this question. Only this week a client has asked us to be a part of a joint venture working with others in the event industry to come up with new solutions, new ways of working and innovative ideas for this new world we find ourselves in. We of course said a big yes and we look forward to ideating on what events will look and feel like in 2022 and beyond.