It’s a familiar story. During the pandemic, many agencies and clients
pivoted towards digital events but then found that their systems - and
their staff - lacked the necessary skills to successfully execute a
Fast forward to today and while face-to-face events are firmly back
on the agenda, agencies and brands are being flexible in their approach,
offering virtual elements as part of a bigger physical event. With this
in mind, will the role of the digital strategist become a prominent one
Yin Liu, digital strategy director, global GDPR & data protection
officer at agency Pico, says that event planners have been enhancing
their digital skills for some time now, as it was a growing factor even
before the pandemic.
“The pandemic accelerated the pivot towards digital delivery, and
that experience should not be forgotten too easily,” he says. “However,
we do need to recognise that attendees crave physical interaction at
"Pico’s latest survey insights in 2022 show that attendees have begun
to shift their main focus away from virtual networking and back to
doing their mingling in person," he adds. "In this case, behaviour
changed during the pandemic, but the underlying preference did not.”
Similarly, he adds, event managers must take into account that it’s
unrealistic to expect an attendee to be logged in and attentive for long
periods online. Without the benefit of having left the office to attend
in person, online attendees prefer to maintain their regular
productivity whilst joining agenda sessions as their schedules permit.
The past couple of years have led to on-the-job learning, but platforms have a responsibility to explain more about why their solution works, rather than just taking people through how to use their systems.
Mun Yin Liu, digital strategy director, global GDPR & data protection officer, Pico
Liu says the issue is not about addressing a skills gap – it’s better described as an ‘understanding gap’.
“With the sudden mandatory shift to online delivery, many event
managers are familiar with the execution,” he says. “What they may lack
is a clear explanation on what these changes mean. The past couple of
years have led to on-the-job learning, but platforms have a
responsibility to explain more about why their solution works, rather
than just taking people through how to use their systems.”
Luther Low, regional operations director, Asia Pacific at CWT
Meetings & Events, says that companies are now thinking much more
intently about the role of digital events within their M&E
programmes, particularly as sustainability considerations continue to
take priority. CWT expects to see more virtual and hybrid events than it
has in the past.
digital events involves various considerations that are distinct from
purely live events – from accommodating multiple time zones, to the
duration and format of your sessions, keeping remote attendees engaged,
providing networking opportunities, and of course contingency planning
for technology issues,” says Low.
All M&E professionals will need to have a certain level of skills and competence in this (digital event) area moving forward.
Luther Low, regional operations director, Asia Pacific, CWT Meetings & Events
“While there’s a growing demand for specialists who have a deep
understanding of how to plan and run such events, all M&E
professionals will need to have a certain level of skills and competence
in this area moving forward.”
Liu believes that a digital event strategist can certainly be a
specialist role within events, but says that there will more likely be
overlapping responsibilities for broader event strategists.
“For general event strategists who are picking up more digital
responsibilities, stay ahead of the game – it’s critical to give more
consideration to how data is collected,” he says. “From the perspective
of attendee behaviour, the focus should be on how to take advantage of
digital activations to capture more information about what attendees are
By keeping the data collection aspect in mind, strategies and tactics at events will naturally veer towards digital components.