Philip, would you mind giving our readers an explanation of what VenuIQ does and what problem it solves

VenuIQ is a tech solution or ‘events management solution' that enables users to create a fully immersive, event experience through an easy-to-use builder platform and key delegate focused features.

Essentially, we can make your event experience fantastic whether hosted virtually or in person [post-COVID]. From registration right through to delegate engagement, we create and deliver beautifully, branded web portals, super slick apps, registration technology and tracking hardware. The latter of which will be fundamental in helping to make any physical event COVID-safe.

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely wiped out the events and exhibition industry during 2020, with many forced to find alternative virtual solutions or postpone until 2021. How does VenuIQ help either events organisers or corporates ‘pivot' their planned events to online?

The biggest challenge that event organisers have with this is that in many cases they are having to find entirely new suppliers, build those relationships and the trust that is so important in delivering a quality event. I raise this point first as so often, event organisers overlook the importance of the service and support element as a trusted partner in delivering great experiences whatever the medium.

The VenuIQ platform is equally at home for a fully virtual or fully physical event so gives the organiser flexibility to adjust and pivot according to the ever-changing guidelines. Furthermore, we can also help provide a blended hybrid solution that gives the best of both worlds and enables the host to maximise football both online and in person.

What is the difference between using a platform like VenuIQ versus hosting a virtual event via a platform like Zoom?

Zoom is part of the mix for our platform - you won't find me criticising their business model. Many of the sessions streamed into our platform are hosted on Zoom and are then fed into our infrastructure. However, a platform like VenuIQ offers much more around content consumption both live and on demand, as well as providing more flexibility and value in networking and sponsor/exhibitor interaction.

Do you think there will still be a need for virtual events as the vaccination is rolled out?

As I stated above, I don't think virtual events are a replacement for physical. However, I do think a new hybrid solution is here to stay. That's not for every event though, there will be some events that are just suited to going back to physical but for many there will be a clear benefit in creating the opportunity for both physical and virtual delegates to join or attend. In this case there will be delegates who will attend physically and those who will attend only online. The content would be streamed, and meetings can take place face to face or virtually. The virtual experience won't be as fully formed or effective as physical but I still believe it will play a fundamental role for events and exhibitions moving forwards.

How will you adapt the VenuIQ platform and your service offering as face to face events start to take place again?

We will continue to ensure that there is as much integration between physical event attendees and those who have to attend virtually, so they can consume the same content and network effectively. Getting this balance will be key to honing the hybrid model and making it a success.

In addition, we will continue to bolster our AV and streaming support either directly or through our partner network.

How do you think the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to impact both the events and wider business community as we move into 2021?

The events industry has probably been the most impacted sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitality is a close second but at least hospitality had a period of reopening, which events has not had. As such, so long as COVID-19 and the restrictions are around the world, the events industry will suffer. In the first instance, the biggest change will be that events will have to cater for attendees from different parts of the country or world who have different restrictions at different times so a hybrid experience where delegates can attend physically and virtually is key.

In terms of the wider business community, UK borrowing is now at its highest point since records began, which sounds incredibly bleak from an economical point of view. However, despite the sheer challenge of 2020, there are millions of stories of business owners who have pivoted their product or service offering and continued to trade against all odds. In addition, the figures from Q3 were very promising and show that a bounce back is possible. Ultimately, I think UK businesses will be able to progress and see signs of recovery in 2021, but key to this will be the success of the vaccine and prevention of additional lockdowns, which have and continue to impact key sectors like retail and travel.