An industry that must reinvent itself

When the arrival of COVID-19 in March gradually struck the entire planet, nobody knew exactly how long the pandemic would last or what impact it would have on our society. In fact, now in the midst of a second wave, there are currently more doubts than certainties on the horizon in the short-term.

If there is one sector that has suffered the consequences, this has been the leisure industry in general and the events industry in particular. The need to avoid large gatherings has changed the system of a financial activity ‘condemned’ to reinvent itself in order to guarantee its survival while we await a vaccine.

We can see this need for change in some of the world’s most important museums which, faced with the imminent temporary closure of their installations, decided to bring art and culture closer to people by using all the technology available to them, holding virtual conferences or enabling 3D viewings of some of our civilisation’s most significant artistic or historical works.

A combination of attendance and streaming: an alternative that is gaining ground during the pandemic

This will be the setting for the 1st Ibero-American Social Innovation Congress. Photo: 5th Magallanes-Elcano Centenary

This will be the setting for the 1st Ibero-American Social Innovation Congress. Photo: 5th Magallanes-Elcano Centenary


Cultural events, conferences, forums and debates continue to have a human element on which virtual technology has a very limited influence. Luckily, new technologies provide options that guarantee that an event can be carried out efficiently, optimally and –today more than ever– safely. This is the case, for example, of the combination of face-to-face events which, thanks to streaming, can reach anyone anywhere in the world.

This increasingly more consolidated alternative has gained ground after the emergence of COVID-19 and is becoming a guarantee of safety until from a health viewpoint it is possible to return to total normality. One of these events is the 1st Ibero-American Congress on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Creation of Value in Emerging Spaces, the 5th Magallanes-Elcano Centenary, which will be held on 18, 19 and 20 September in Seville (Spain) and for which ACCIONA Producciones y Diseño (APD) is participating with the design, technical implementation and production of the event.

The congress will take place with both participants attending and virtually and will serve as a meeting point in which projects will be presented and discussed based on three main blocks: social innovation, entrepreneurship and the creation of value in emerging spaces in Spain, Portugal and Ibero-America. Forty top level speakers from all over the world will participate in the congress, responsible for between 150 and 250 projects and initiatives that will be shown in Seville with a view to working towards a new productive model in all industries (health, food, the environment, education, tourism…).

The Ibero-American Social Innovation Congress has been designed following the safety measures recommended by the Ministry of Health. To this end, APD’s experience in the organisation of events at a world scale will play a key role in guaranteeing the safety of those attending the congress.

More sustainable and efficient events and other lessons we will learn from COVID-19

Not only has the pandemic brought about a radical change in the way events are organised, but it has also placed the focus on a series of changes that will be the trend for the future. One of the lessons we can learn from these past months is that there are possibilities that enable us to carry out events more adapted to our public. The future requires us to provide more personalised experiences tailored to participants; an added value that now joins safety as an essential element which, while already considered important, COVID-19 has made unquestionable. Nobody will go anywhere in the coming months if it does not offer them real guarantees against the new Coronavirus.

The organisation of the 1st Ibero-American Social Innovation Congress is just the tip of the iceberg of APD’s commitment to responsibility of an event for its participants and their environment. The company’s experience goes beyond a long background in the industry; its good practices in holding sustainable, creative and technologically innovative events have led it to be recognised with numerous national and international awards.

With a view to collaborating in the improvement of the industry, APD has published a Guide for organising sustainable events, which describes the key elements for successfully undertaking the organisation of an event of this kind, taking into account the needs to be covered in aspects such as organisation of the programme, the location, catering, accommodation, mobility and transport and the technical services.

These elements include certain practices that have already been introduced during the easing of lockdown; in our leisure areas the role of paper has been disappearing to be replaced by screens and QR codes, thus reducing not only unnecessary use of natural resources but also the handling of these elements, thereby preventing possible sources of contagion. Screens also enable us to improve the signage of the event thereby facilitating an enhanced flow of movement, avoiding possible crowding.

This practice was very well received at the Madrid International Real Estate Exhibition, SIMA 2019 (SIMA, Salón Inmobiliario Internacional de Madrid), where the stand designed by APD for the Real State division of ACCIONA was widely recognised for being the first paperless stand at the event.

An essential aspect will be transport management in all the stages of organisation of an event. Efficient management of these movements to and within the event will represent a great challenge in the prevention of contagion. Informing participants of all the transport alternatives and reducing the distance from origin can help to break chains of infection. But one thing for sure, the choice of less contaminating options will continue to be prioritised.

There are also other areas of action that will represent real challenges in this new normality; this is the case of catering and accommodation, elements where a new framework will be necessary that balances sustainability with health security. For example, in catering services, bulk dispensers are once again being replaced by those known as ‘single-dose’ dispensers with their inevitable packaging. However we will still be able to opt for local products, as well as for recycled, reusable and biodegradable materials in order to thus prevent a greater environmental impact.

Inauguration of the floating photovoltaic solar plant on the Sierra Brava reservoir (Extremadura). Cocktail area

Inauguration of the floating photovoltaic solar plant on the Sierra Brava reservoir (Extremadura). Cocktail area


In this new phase we will all learn new ways of offering users the best possible experience. To be prepared for the changes that will come, a commitment to innovation and adaptability will become an essential value.