COVID-19 impact on the Events Industry

Practical Solutions for Event Planners during the Pandemic

The events industry has been affected negatively with the current pandemic resulting in unemployment and tough times for related industries. Shereen Shabnam speaks to Shenin Hamid, CEO of Inspire Group ME on what she has learnt from her own experience of starting an agency with no capital and how focusing on technology has supported the Inspire Group in 2020.

What has the agency done to still be relevant in the ‘new normal’?

Inspire has always innovated since conception. We started as an event staffing agency and now are a full service scenic, event production and activations agency functioning across Qatar, KSA, Kuwait and UAE.  We strongly believe that if you don’t innovate you live a very short life as a company. How we innovate as an agency is by finding the most creative way to solve an existing problem.

When the world turned upside down with COVID-19, events were delayed or cancelled purely because of the restrictions in place. In that time, we went back to the drawing board to look for solutions that can work around COVID-19 – because, at Inspire one of our core beliefs is “there is always a solution for every problem”. We quickly implemented the virtual event solution as an offering for our clients. 

Which industries were open to your solutions?

As things started to open up – the FMCG – mainly food industry was booming! With everything locked down and consumers hoarding for a rainy day throughout the world, this particular market really took off and we knew we would be required to activate a new launch or promote an existing product in the FMCG space sooner or later. And there we were, on our zoom calls and back to the drawing board thinking of ways to create an engaging activation with the shopper but keeping distancing and health security as our top most priority. That is when we came up with an amazing set of touch-free activations for a post-covid / post-lockdown world. 

Whilst we were back at our drawing board we asked ourselves an important question, “What kind of event would I want to really go to and at the same time feel really safe at”? That question really drove the ideas and keeping safety at the forefront, we came up with amazing no-touch activations that could be implemented at events, on-ground activations and even at virtual events.  

Tell us about the solutions that really worked during these difficult times?

Some of our solutions include, 3D Augmented Reality Solutions, No touch Activation portals that allow the participants to walk into a mystical world through their phones by scanning a QR code, they can engage, play, collect points and redeem, Hologram displays for compact events, Virtual Photo Booths and more!

We have conducted several virtual events as well as on-ground activations (in-store) since the lockdown keeping social distancing and Health and Safety as the highest priority. 

Give us some insights into the activations you have done?

This month, we have executed 3 activations in-stores that allowed a systematic participation of the shoppers to a hands-free / no-touch gaming, social distanced experience for one of our amazing FMCG clients. Inspire created a Kinect based game that was embedded into the display (produced by Inspire) – upon participation, each player was given a full packed product sample. An alternative approach to in-store traditional sampling which is now not allowed due to Covid. This significantly drove our clients’ product sales up double digits and allowed for a safe and well monitored on-activation. 

In another one of our activations we had an enhanced AR embedded magic mirror that allowed shoppers to be thrilled with augmented surroundings while doing their regular grocery shopping. Placed on the regular POSM, posing as a regular mirror – but once standing close to it, it transforms into a screen that displays various projections allowing you to step into another environment completely. It was a magical experience for the brand and the shoppers that allowed participation with no-touch, socially distanced and relevant.

Our virtual events are created by our brilliant team of developers, coders and event managers that pulled together over 10 virtual events since the lock down. These have been award ceremonies, graduations, weddings, trade shows and employee appreciation days. 

We have various options that allow our clients to participate and host these events, they can be done completely virtually – from the comfort of one’s home or even behind a green screen at our studio which can be pre-recorded or broadcasted live to the participating audience of anywhere from 10 – 10,000 PAX at a time. 

We added safe solutions for clients so they can still communicate their message – this includes digital sanitizing kiosks, hologram display sanitizer, in-store LED banners.

Which safety solutions help all industries?

Keeping safety a priority – we have incorporated a drastic H&S system applicable for all on-site events and activations we execute globally. These include Self Sanitization Tunnel, On-ground Sanitizing Kiosks, Air Purifying Robots (moving), LED cleansing (pre and post activation) and HSE professionals to monitor the event throughout in making sure everyone follows the guidelines in place by the local authorities. 

Our most important priority at any event or activation is Health and Safety and abiding by the strict social distancing rules outlined by the ministry. For this reason, as soon as on-ground activations and small events were permitted we made sure to have certain mandatory guidelines in place that would include a Self Sanitizing tunnel for the guests to go through before entering the venue, a full temperature check through our heat sensors (installed across the event venue that are continuously monitored by our HCP’s), Gloves and face masks being a mandatory requirement for every attendee.

What makes your events safe?

We have a “no mask, no entry” policy across all our events. All the seating arrangements are socially distanced by 2 meters between attendees and a structure in place that would only allow a handful of people to gather in one area being socially distanced through the stickers pasted on the floors as a reminder.  All our events are sanitized pre- post and during with our fantastic sanitizing robots that emit a special LED light, sanitizing the entire venue and killing bacteria and viruses in the air.  They go around the event venue from start to completion.

When it comes to on-ground activations that are, at this moment only permitted in supermarkets, it’s easier to control the health regulations and monitor safety of the shoppers since this is already strongly implemented by the retailer before entering. A temperature if taken and face masks and gloves are made mandatory, hence the shopper comes tested and equipped to our stand to participate in the experience.

Once the customer arrives, he is asked by our promoter staff to sanitize with our sensor based, state of the art sanitizing LED displays (that showcase brand logo and TVC at the same time dispense sanitizer) before proceeding with the participation, even though it is a completely no-touch / hands-free experience that is socially distanced.

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