The first thing that strikes you when you meet face to face for the first time after so many months of virtual meetings is the emotion. A hug that cancels out all the video conferences and online meetings that until now have been the way of communicating and maintaining relationships.
Then, little by little, you realise that nothing can replace the in-person meetings, and nothing can bring the wisdom and group learning that is implicit in face-to-face meetings, and that we lost for months.
The first of the three post-pandemic meetings that the 27Names group organises to share experiences, best practices and information about live events took place just a few days ago in the beautiful city of Budapest. During lockdown the monthly meetings have been online and were reduced to discussing how things were going in each of the respective countries, and always, with the concern that some of our partners might fall by the wayside.
The world of events went from the stars to the ground in a matter of a day… But fortunately, the 20 members of the group are still standing after having suffered the worst form of uncertainty we have ever known. We have survived, mainly thanks to the ability of each of the agencies to reinvent themselves, to look for new systems and solutions to stay on our feet, to change and invest in the virtual and to prepare for what we all hope for: to organise memorable events for our clients again.
During this process, almost all 27Names partners have evolved and are no longer what they were at the beginning. This highlights the fact that perhaps the changes we have undergone have transformed us in such a way that the original reason why we joined this group is no longer valid, or is now no longer as relevant as it once was.
The agenda of the Budapest meeting concentrated almost exclusively on these questions (more details and pictures on 27Names’ blog entry). What direction should 27Names take now that many of us are not what we were before, and which partners should not be kept as such in the present? Since the group was born as an exchange of knowledge and possible business between European countries, should some agencies resign or be excluded from the group?
If we took only the statutes into account, a considerable number of agencies would probably split from the group. However, after two intense days of meetings to try to steer 27Names towards the present and the future of events and life communication, it turned out that all partners, without exception, voted the human and personal relations between the partners as the most important thing of all, followed by the personal and professional enrichment of each partner.
On a professional level, we might have seen that some of the 20 partners no longer fit the profile, but on a human level, none of us can imagine the group without the people behind each name of each agency.
I think that the fact that these issues were elucidated in person and not online influenced much more the outcome of the decision taken. It reinforces the fact that meetings, gatherings, congresses, etc. have to be done in person, and the sooner we can do that again with peace of mind, the better it will be for all of us who make possible for people to meet and make sure that the knowledge of the crowd will not be lost.
It is without a doubt the human factor that makes the difference.