"Busy, busy, busy", that is what we often hear in the event and cultural sector. There is rarely time to stop, think and learn. Can event professionals benefit from lifelong learning? And what exactly would they like to learn? Kaat Geboers, coordinator of the Event Academy of our centre of expertise Public Impact of KdG University of Applied Sciences and Arts, clarifies.
Running from one event to the next, from one problem to another. Changing gear quickly and always offering solutions. That is typical of many organisations in the various meeting sectors such as events, culture, tourism, hospitality, nightlife ... However, the corona crisis changed all that. At last, these professionals could (rather: had to) take a break. Suddenly, there was time to reflect. We noticed this at our centre of expertise as well: there was remarkably more interest in the courses we offer at our Event Academy.
Time to stop, look back and go forward: it is a luxury for many professionals.
A participant at our Event Academy said: "We do what we always do and that is organising. But that is usually all we do, because we do not have time for anything else." Time for trainings is often considered as time that does not bring money on the table. But, nothing could be further from the truth: not stopping, reflecting and learning from time to time also costs money.
What do event professionals want to learn about?
Our research (December 2021) shows that event professionals have a strong need for information, new knowledge, skills and tools. Safety at events is crucial and 70% of the companies need support in this. Another 65% want to gain insight into the mood of visitors in order to better meet their needs and expectations at events. And no less than 59% of the companies want to know more about sustainable solutions for the mobility of visitors to and from events.
Why do event professionals need to learn lifelong?
Continuous learning is profitable for yourself, your organisation and ultimately also for the sector in which you are active. By acquiring new expertise and building up your knowledge, it trickles down to higher levels. The consequence: not only you improve, also your organisation and the sector are lifted to a higher level. If you have a certain specialisation that is currently very popular in the market (e.g. augmented reality), this can be an added value for your organisation: more brand awareness, more buzz, more projects.
Another reason for lifelong learning: society is constantly changing. Technology does not stand still. Therefore, our knowledge and skills must be able to adapt quickly and flexibly. If you do not catch up and learn, you quickly fall behind. For example, the pandemic made many people and sectors work from home. Suddenly, digital skills became a necessity. So, we'd better make sure we stay abreast of the latest evolutions, trends, and regulations in the sector.
Limited number of training courses for event professionals
Striking is the limited supply of (re)training courses for professionals active in the various encounter sectors. Especially for the event sector, there are few initiatives in our country. With our Event Academy we try to meet this need by offering master classes, workshops and (free) webinars. We focus on topics such as safety, sustainability, and audience reach.
How can we meet those needs even more? As a centre of expertise, we like to surround ourselves with other experts who complement our expertise. For our Event Master Classes, for example, we work together with expert Stijn Lambert, zero waste manager and co-founder of Ecofest. On 17 March 2022, he will explain how to organise events in a sustainable way. He will discuss concrete environmental challenges, such as the mobility of visitors to events, the logistics of materials and the supply of food and drinks. He will also zoom in on sustainable communication, using concrete cases and examples.
Each Event Master Class is followed by a roundtable discussion. We always do this with a limited group of people. With less than a dozen professionals, we talk about the presented topic and exchange insights and experiences. The added value of this method was expressed by a participant as follows: "The networking aspect of this Event Master Class is truly inspiring. You build on your expertise as well as your network, sharing experiences with others from the sector."
Each training in our Event Academy is organised for and by event professionals. Sharing knowledge is central, but we also put the focus on establishing partnerships and developing knowledge networks. After all, knowledge and expertise is not just available in our centre of expertise. It is mainly to be found among the professionals themselves. Developing and sharing knowledge: let us do more of that and keep doing it post-corona.