Daniel Marsden-Knight, events programme and development manager, details the North East England Chamber of Commerce’s commitment to delivering a virtual events programme in these challenging times

Daniel Marsden-Knight

In our last edition, I discussed how meeting virtually and virtual events would become a normal part of our post-COVID-19 working and personal lives. Of course, we are still online. It now feels normal, logging on, listening, engaging, networking and still forgetting we are on mute.

As our last edition was released, behind the scenes my team and I were planning for a return to small, informal COVID-19 secure networking events this autumn.

How we looked, and still look forward, to seeing smiling Chamber members heading towards our reception desk in one of our region’s wonderful venues.

A whopping 7045 of you joined over 200 webinars since lockdown until the end of October. I mentioned in our last edition this will not stop when we return to physical events.

The demand is there, it broadens our service to our members, and we look forward to forming a hybrid programme of online and face-to-face events with feedback from members.

An estimated 600,000 people work in the UK events industry with very few of us able to continue to do so since March 23.

We have seen events organisations, just like the Chamber, diversify as best they can, and I commend all of them. It is not easy.

The Chamber continues to support the North East & Teesside EXPOs, the organiser of which (Fresh Start Events) has invested heavily in online platforms to recreate the EXPO experience as best they can.

I would encourage businesses of all sizes to engage in this month’s North East EXPO. Another member, Jack Saward, of Saward Marketing & Events, is standing out nationally as a real thought leader on the future of the industry, co- hosting an industry podcast.

It is always great to hear North Eastern voices leading the way.

Announcements should come in the Spring around the Chamber Awards as we continue to work with the British Chambers of Commerce following this year’s cancellation.

Equally, work continues with our Women’s Leadership Forum on our Inspiring Females Awards. Most of all, the team and I look forward to celebrating the achievements of the businesses who were shortlisted for this year’s awards and are working on COVID-19-flexible plans to do so.

A personal prediction is that physical events may return after Easter next year. Unfortunately, this is speculation only.

While there is no information from Government, our focus remains on our online programme, and COVID-19- flexible 2021 planning around some of our larger annual events.

I can assure members we are ready to act, we have plans and structures in place to ensure when we can – we will be back out there within just a few weeks of any announcement.