WeWork Fireside Chat Invitation

“Events of Tomorrow” with Errol Lim, COO of
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November 23, 2020


2020 has seen the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Yet at the same time, 2020 has also shown us that we are built to adapt — that individuals and companies are struggling, but coming up with new solutions.

In October, WeWork Singapore organised a two-day digital convention packed with conversations around more changes we should expect and how we can continue to adapt. The aim was simple. To learn from the collective community of entrepreneurs, and industry leaders as we work together to find the way forward from here on out. We are privileged to be invited to take part in this conversation. Representing us is none other than our Chief Operating Officer, Errol Lim.

What does Jublia do?

We empower event organisers with an end-to-end engagement platform for Live, Virtual and Hybrid events. Our mission is to help event organisers intelligently matchmake people and content at their events. The 3 broad capabilities that we provide are Relevant Networking, Content Discovery and Audience Engagement.

Jublia was founded 8 years ago, today we support 12 different languages and work with thousands of events all over the world covering over 30 different industry sectors, from Kenya to Australia, Cuba to China. Some of the notable shows in Singapore that we partner closely with include the Singapore Fintech Festival, the Singapore Airshow as well as the Singapore International Water Week.

How did Jublia get started?

Jublia is a home-grown Singaporean startup that was born from a university dormitory back in 2012–2013. The co-founders started Jublia during a year-long scholarship program in Stockholm. Although the 3 co-founders didn’t know each other prior, as fate would allow it, we met and found out that we were a really good fit for each other while working on school projects.

This was during a time when we were attending a lot of events. We noticed some glaring inefficiencies in the way people were networking and discovering content at events. We also noticed that audience engagement typically (only) started the moment an attendee walked through the entrance of the event venue. We decided that we wanted to enhance an event lifecycle by extending and personalising the audience engagement.

The concept that started out in university was proven in 3 very successful self-organised events that took place in Stockholm, London and Singapore. We have been in business ever since. Fun fact, the name Jublia comes from the Swedish word which means Jubilant / Happy / Cheer.

How would using ‘data’ for a company in the events industry would look like in terms of results and how companies can go about collecting that?

The term ‘data’ in all of its variations (data-driven, big data, actionable-data) have become overused buzzwords in the industry as more companies adopt these terminologies in their marketing initiatives. The truth about the business of the events is that we are playing a ‘data’ game. As an event organiser, one of your biggest intellectual properties is in fact the attendee / customer database that you own. It is thus important for event organisers to have a keen interest and understanding of the data amassed and analysed.

Data gleaned from events, most often than not, provide us with two kinds of insights. Firstly, explicit insights — things that made known plainly. These come in the form of demographic data through registration (e.g. Majority of the audience attending this conference are from the region of Asia Pacific). Secondly, implicit insights — things that are implied and not stated directly. These come in the form of data collection through action-based activities (e.g. Majority of the Asia Pacific audience attendee at this conference are interested in the topic of digital transformation for trade shows).

Jublia’s technology analyses both explicit and implicit data. Through the years we’ve developed a reputation for knowing how to comprehend the data collected and converting them into actionable insights; for sales, marketing and strategy.

How have the challenges of 2020 changed the events industry?

It has been a tough start to the year due to the pandemic. With the ban on mass gathering, seen in most (if not all) countries globally at one time or the other, the live events industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors. We see our event organiser customers going through a tremendous upheaval task just to keep their attendee customers engaged throughout this period of lull. Some of the event companies that we partner with have postponed their projects to the later part of 2020, 2021 and even as far as 2023. Unfortunately, we also have some customers who have gone out of business and been forced to close down.

Jublia has suffered quite painfully from this direct impact on events. We’ve experienced a number of project cancellations, postponements and payment defaults. For the entire 2020 and beyond, we have been making our best efforts to be a lighthouse for lost organisers who are trapped in the storm that our industry is undergoing.

There has been a surge in interest (and demand) for virtual and hybrid events. We have answered this call by being in consultation discussions with many of our clients to develop a suitable and sustainable virtual offering which events can easily convert their affect live programs into. Monetisation for traditional event organisers has been a challenge as well.

What is the long term impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown on the events industry? What are some of the future trends in the events industry?

The events industry has definitely been disrupted by the pandemic. From this year onwards I daresay that most (if not all events) need to have a digital component in one way or another. This digital shift is relatively new for a lot of event organisers who are used to the way events have been traditionally run. A fully digital event experience is wildly different from a physical event experience, yet many event organisers make the mistake of trying to (exactly) replicate the live event experience entirely.

One future trend that I would expect to take a larger centre piece in the event organising process would be audience engagement. Event organisers are starting to learn how to extend their audience engagement timeline by prolonging their event lifecycle.

Another future trend that I foresee would be a globalisation of events as the audience reach greatly increases. Digital events are not bound by any geographical limitations, and most of the events that we’ve attended during these Covid times welcome a wide variety of attendees who join virtually from all over the world.

Other future trends that I’ve noticed include an increasing number or new ways for event organisers to generate revenue, in the digital domain. With only approximately 25% of the corporate marketing budget traditionally devoted to offline marketing, the new virtual / hybrid event formats present event organisers with an appealing opportunity to capture the other 75%.

What are the best practices of organising a digital event? How can companies move their events online successfully?

First and foremost, do consider the demographics of your attendee customers. It is important to have a clear understanding of who the users are as well as their usage habits. These behaviors match geographic-specific business cultures as well as industry-specific deal-making activities. For example, traditional sectors such as Building & Construction, tend to require a lot more initial education as the attendees are less tech savvy.

Another important factor to consider when organising a digital event would be the platform medium that the virtual event would reside in. If you are considering having a native mobile event app for the event, do consider that while the experience could largely trump website-based applications, native apps require a high barrier of entry (users will need to go through multiple steps to download the application on their mobile devices).

It is imperative that the platform chosen provides a unified experience to the attendees. Once you have determined the best medium for your digital event, start choosing the specific interactive features. No two events are the same, so I would suggest moving away from cookie cutter models that are not flexible to your needs. After all, a trade show has very different objectives as compared to a sponsor-driven conference and should not be operated in the same way!

One of the most important factors to consider and prepare beforehand is the monetisation strategy. You should leverage the technology to monetise creatively. Think of your virtual event platform as a venue and more. There are definitely ways to do so, and many internet companies such as Google and Facebook have shown us that this revenue model is actually extremely lucrative.

How should companies be thinking about their events strategies moving forward?

Events in the future are bound to have an element of digital in one way or another. There has been a lot of interest in hybrid event formats and we continue to receive many enquiries pertaining to this subject. Moving forward, we certainly expect a large majority of events to support a combination of live attendees together with virtual attendees. We also expect a greater appreciation for in-person events as people would soon realise that live events are still the best platform for generating the most qualified leads compared to any virtual counterparts.

The way that event organisers operate would also need to change, as they would have to contend with new data savvy attendee customers who, through this experience, have been data-educated by the digital domain and would demand better justification for their participation. This would mean the formulation of new formats and measurements that seek to answer the questions of the end customers’ ROI.

Digital is here to stay. Covid has not created this new need for digital, rather it has merely accelerated its adoption in all industries especially in the events sector. In the near term, digital will be the primary touch point for audience awareness. In the longer term, digital will be the vital tool for continued and prolonged audience engagement.

Written By :
Clifton See Tow
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