After reading and hearing the unfortunate news of event businesses having to furlough employees or close down, businesses losing income for multiple months and clients keeping contracts on hold, we had to do something about it.
There is no time to look backwards. Instead, we need to work collaboratively as an industry and think about solutions that will make our businesses more secure, robust and agile in the future.
The way we work and communicate will evolve and take place increasingly online when businesses reopen and travel resumes. That knowledge means that it will require adjusting and evolving the current business models of the entire events industry.
That’s how the idea of the online #eventprofstalk hackathon was born.
From 23–25 April 2020, the first #eventprofstalk hackathon took place with the challenge to ‘develop a 12-month business plan for an event agency affected by COVID-19.’ The ‘agency’ was a fictitious entity for this challenge, but when working on this, we suggested that participants also think about it as their business.
Fifty event professionals from all around the world registered to take part in this inaugural project. Four groups collaborated for 48 hours on Slack across different time zones.
The entries were of a particularly high quality, setting a very high bar for the first edition of the hackathon and exceeding all expectations.
The group members thought out of the box, strategically and sustainably, creating a business plan for an event agency affected by COVID-19 to give back to the industry that we love so much.
Seeing the concepts develop from a short brief to a detailed business plan really made the process somewhat emotional—that emotion that you have at live events and until now thought would not be able to be replicated in the online space.
We could see now clearly what events in post corona crisis world would look like: collaborative, challenge based and cause driven.
All four groups have delivered outstanding work. We were so impressed by the high standards of submissions and concepts, which exceeded all expectations. This first edition will set a whole new level of expectations for the next hackathon.
Each one of the business plans had elements that made it stand out from the rest, and all were different and original. Because we loved all of the entries so much, we’ll be doing an additional ‘best of’ recap and sharing our favourite parts from each of the business plans in the next weeks. So you have more to be looking forward to!
Before you get to see the winning business plan, here’s an overview of the requirements that the participants were tasked with to include in their entry:
- How to maintain networking
- Selecting travel when businesses resume
- Noted webinars to attend
- Keeping in contact with clients
- Developing alternative income streams
- Business goals
- Additional ideas
The judging criteria were the following:
- Active participation and contribution from all team members
- Applicability of the ideas. Concepts should be able to be implemented immediately
- Elaboration of concepts and ideas
- Additional important elements beyond the ones suggested in the business plan outline that can contribute to the agency’s success over the next 12 months
And the winner is..
The winning team comprised five international event professionals from the UK, Spain, Belgium and Ghana. Group 5 came up with the creative name ‘Pyat Anum’, which derives from the words for ‘5’ in Russian and Ghanaian. The team has demonstrated a high level of commitment and collaboration to this task and over delivered on all the requirements listed on the business plan.
Meet the team members and their winning business plan
We awarded this business plan because there was substantial detail on what the agency wants to do, and how they will do it. They’ve introduced phases to the recovery plan, focused on sustainability by discussing locality and presented how they’ll add hybrid and online events to existing services.
We enjoyed the approach towards maintaining a strong identity as an agency and being visible during the pandemic.
There was a great approach for putting new protective procedures in place because this will be a big concern for event planners and businesses moving forward post COVID-19.
We enjoyed the idea of developing new roles according to different needs, such as moving to content marketing, logistics managers to shift things by post, and online relation management.
We enjoyed the idea of creating one’s own profit-making experiences, particularly looking at new services such as virtual assistants and copywriting.
The detailed listing of all industry associations, online events and their webinar offerings was excellent, and event industry professionals can maintain ongoing education and networking.
This winning plan is highly operational and hands on, close to the industry and understands how market needs will evolve. The plan is also very open to adapting to the new reality whilst also creating new roles.
Creating a three-phase recovery plan was highly strategic. We appreciated that the team was very aware of all industry associations and understands the new need to make crisis communication paramount and integrate it into the communication plan. We also loved that they empathised seeking to support local suppliers and developing a sustainable business model going forward.
We want to thank all of the participants who have taken part in the first #eventprofstalk hackathon and to the entire online community for supporting the teams. We hope that throughout this process, all the participants have been able to have personal wins, be it learning a new tool, developing a new idea or meeting new colleagues. For us this process has been a rewarding journey working with everyone, and we hope to keep in touch and welcome you to our future events.
And now, the wait is finally over, and below you can read the full 12-month business plan for an event agency affected by COVID-19 written by Katinka Meszaros, Natasha Russell, Anastasiya Saukina, Amy Cowan and Linda Owusu.Hackathon FINAL Version