Everyone seems to be doing whatever they can to help.
750,000 volunteers have signed up
to help the NHS in the UK
But we in the events industry can’t profess to be saving the world but I think there is something we can do.
I have been in a few industry meetings recently with other leaders and the same phrase has come up again and again – the empathy model.
This is something we at Firebird were keen to explore but didn’t know where to start.
As always, it is our customers who know exactly what to do!
Like many other suppliers, we have had several customers who have had to postpone their conferences, congresses meetings etc. and have asked us “what are the implications”. They have asked us not only as the provider of their submission system but also because we are the leading experts in this field. They need insight into what it means for researchers, academics, field leaders and anyone else who has worked so hard to get the recognition for their work that they deserve.
But there’s more than this, there are massive financial implications; for those that have submitted, those that have registered to attend and those that are running the events.
I have seen some incredible generosity from delegates who have openly and willingly donated the registration fees they have paid, despite the event being cancelled. In one case, it was a very sad situation as it was to be the very last running of an incredible event that was in its tenth and final incarnation. A large proportion of this well loved meeting’s delegate choose to donate their registration fee to the organisers who were going to be horribly out of pocket without their help. This empathy model is something that we wanted to follow: to make us proud of what we are doing to help support others at this time.
Offering expert advice is one thing, but how could we actually make a difference?
Well, there are a number of financial and technical implications of postponing an event. There is the obvious opportunity cost of missing out on running the same event next year as technically it is just this year’s event, just postponed. More importantly, the postponed event must be hosted and supported for an additional amount of time that was not envisaged when the agreement was first made. All of our clients have recognised this, and all have asked us what they need to do.
This puts me in a difficult position – do I take the money that is on offer or do I do what I can to help those who may be in more need than me? These are people that I want to keep as customers, and I can’t afford for them to disappear under the financial pressure. By following the empathy model, am I actually investing in my own future?
Yes, absolutely. By offering to extend the contract period to cover the postponement without any cost, I am helping those organisers who have been put in a very difficult position. It is only a small help but someone wiser than me once said every little helps.
Then I got a shock of my own. My customers are now making voluntary payments to help cover our costs. I haven’t asked for anything at all to run their events for longer, but they are searching their budgets to find a way to help us back.
Funny how the world works, right? I’m not the greatest believer in karma but I can most certainly see the sense. Those positive people may just be right – we will get through this – we will get through this together!