We catch up with KSS MD Mark Stephen on how 2020 has been so far and the changes it has brought for KSS and the event production industry.
What has been happening in your world since March?
2020 should have been a record year for KSS but was pretty much decimated overnight at the start of March.
Having dedicated a large part of my life to the music and tech production industry, I made a decision to plan for the long term and get to the other side of the pandemic the best we could as a business.
With that in mind, we decided early on to keep a core team of staff employed throughout the lockdown period, ensuring we did not completely shut down. This meant we could restart with relative ease, in whatever way possible when the time came.
Sitting here now in October, although we are by no means out of the woods, we have seen trickles of work coming through and have been able to react quickly to fulfill any of our client’s needs…. who thankfully are also still here.
What kept you going whilst the UK went into Lockdown?
My bike, my team, my family, and cooking. Most of all just continuing to focus on the business’ long term goals, and wrapping up every office, admin, system and efficiency task we had always planned to do but never seemed to get round to it during the busier times.
I made an effort to regularly see our local clients in our home area of Shoreditch in London. Despite all the doom and gloom in the media, like us, our clients were pretty much in every day working on similar long-term ideas and getting things done. I feel it shows a real spirit of business within the creative and events industry of just how determined people are to not let things get them down.
What has the pandemic meant for your business?
Needless to say, on the whole, in-person old style live events for now are not happening. It is such a shame as I really thought some of the markets we are in may have seen a season this year – particularly the art fairs; the teams behind them had produced incredibly robust COVID “safer fairs” plans; but it was not to be for 2020.
Is online the way forward for events?
We have seen, as a lot of tech providers have, an interest from clients in hybrid, virtual conferences / content-led sessions. I think there was a misunderstanding early on about what this was. Tech companies were being asked to manage Zoom / MS teams meetings, which is fine, but does not really utilise the specialist skills of event tech providers. With a little bit of help, guidance and education, our corporate clients are now seeing the benefits of a TV style / studio-based production that enables them to produce a truly engaging show for all of their stakeholders.
This market is shaping up to be fairly busy for Q1 of 2021, I think it has finally sunk in for brands and companies that they need to do something that has a professional look and feel.
It’s by no means a replacement for what we had and not what I set out to do many years ago. It is however, what we’ve got at the moment so we are embracing it in every way we can.
What does the future hold for the industry?
The digital hybrid model will be here to stay in some shape or form but I have no doubt we will see a time where we get back to where we were with live audiences; people value human interaction more than anything and the events industry pioneers this.
Has there been any positives?
One thing I have always believed in and is paramount to both KSS and any business, is relationships with your clients and maintaining a great team of staff. These attributes have been proven more than ever this year.
We are an equipment supplier, of course, but in truth I think our biggest selling point has always been our personal, friendly, calm approach we bring to event production.
And, I think being there for our clients and staying engaged with them during 2020 and the pandemic has proven this.