Deepak Choudhary is the Chief Mentor of WWI School of Event Management. As an alumnus of IES Management College, Mumbai, he has successfully diversified business opportunities for flourishing start-ups and created bankable Live Event IPs across different genres. He co-founded various ventures such as India’s first Event Management School and the first-ever Radio Management School. Being a co-founder of EVENTFAQS, he has ventured into various IPs and publications in the event space. He also established Event Capital, which has partnered with projects such as BMP, WindMill Festival, Bike Festival of India with M. S. Dhoni among many others. He has also co-authored ‘Staged’ – the first-ever book based on the Indian live event industry.
- How has the Pandemic Outbreak affected the Event Management Industry?
With a complete ban on social and community gatherings both for business and on a personal level, the entire entertainment, tourism, travel, live events, and experiential industry came to a complete standstill in March 2020. More than 10 million event professionals from across the country are currently waiting for the government to give a green light to a detailed proposal that is being submitted to all state governments and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Govt of India. The restriction on public gathering to prevent the spread of the disease has impacted all social environment businesses. Many from the industry, especially those who have heavily invested in equipment are now trying out and relying on different alternative businesses to sustain themselves. So, people have started delivering food, supplying produce, doing logistics, etc. to make a living. With zero forms of entertainment, artists, musicians, performers have also been affected and are currently out of work or relegated to doing only online shows. But globally it’s a lot more positive, with governments and event bodies working closely to open markets and entertainment hubs by following strict COVID-19 protection SOPs and also creating safe spaces for executing events and exhibitions. A lot of companies have also gone digital, starting an entirely virtual event space offering a plethora of webinars, virtual conferences, virtual exhibitions, and weddings and online theme parties as part of the new normal experiential services.
- Having recently added the School of Event Management to Whistling Woods International, could you please elaborate on your role as the Chief Mentor of the school?
I have always been an educationist first and then an entrepreneur. I founded one of the first-ever event management schools in 2002 and then moved on to do many other ventures like India’s first event industry magazine and then co-founding an IP company, but my love and belief in event education never left me. And, when I was approached to mentor and formulate the School of Event Management, I knew that from an industry perspective, partnering with Whistling Woods International (WWI) was the best thing that could happen for the industry, as WWI could offer a great advantage to event students with all the technology, infrastructure, and state-of-the-art learning on campus. Also, WWI has some of the best minds in media and entertainment running the education program, and most importantly the event management industry is so connected to the media and entertainment industry. So, collaborating and bringing the rest of the event industry to co-curate this and be a part of teaching, training, providing practical experiences, and eventually hiring the students was the best formula. My mentorship is focussed on bringing the students and industry closer, inculcating the best practices in teaching industry-relevant content, and ensuring every subject taught is a futuristic perspective, helping the students to be industry-ready and create/manage successful events. Besides helping talent curation from the school, to enable the industry to have leaders of tomorrow is my ultimate vision as the Chief Mentor at WWI School of Event Management.
- What does the PGP Course in “Event Management and Experiential Marketing” entail? How are students benefitted and stand out among their peers in the media and events industry?
This would be one of the most comprehensive event education programs, which has been created by the event industry and for the event industry. The subjects range from understanding Business Analytics and Strategic Planning for Events and Experiential, Learning How to Deploy Market Intelligence and Research for Event Concept Testing, Using Software and Best Practise Methods to Test Measurability of Events, Study of Sunrise and Emerging Verticals in Events like Sports, Rural, Retail, Community Events, and IPR, Digital and Virtual Events. Besides, we will also cover systematic learning of all types of event scenarios to enable the students to learn storyboarding, content packaging, production planning, technical deployment, execution strategy, finance and budgeting, client management, and business development for every type of event vertical that exists in the market. Our aim is to make students ‘industry-ready’ for any kind of event management set up that exists in the country or overseas.
- Could you tell us more about the importance of Event Management and Marketing in today’s times?
The concept of personalization, customization, CRM, brand engagement, customer loyalty came into focus in the early 1990s, and this has stayed with us as consumers and marketers, ever since. With the world broadening its horizons, access to global markets, information being freely available on the internet, an overdose of content and media sources, etc., the attention span of the average consumer is very limited. Today consumption of content is decided on absolute personalization, there are communities built on likes and preferences and not on religion or race. Hence, in-person and LIVE experiences will always thrive and prosper. Brands will always want to look at new innovative ways to talk on a one-on-one basis (while planning to reach millions) and offer customers an experience that makes them take center stage in the consumer’s mind. Brands want to create content that relates to the aspirations and beliefs of its consumers and this can only be achieved through unique LIVE experiences.
In today’s times, with the pandemic upon us, while live events have been paused, brands are constantly looking at innovative means of in-person engagement. One of them is using the AR/VR/ MR to connect with the audiences at home and built content and create event experiences, even when they are remotely located. This has become a huge opportunity for many marketers. However, the feel of personal connect and LIVE engagement is still a huge draw, and so while consumers are waiting to go out there and relive experiences, brands too are pushing to find new ways of working around restrictions, and event companies are finding ways of keeping safety norms in place and yet trying to bring in the Live Experiences to the viewers and visitors.
- How have the responses for the School of Management and the courses offered been so far?
While demand for trained professionals has always been the utmost need of the industry, an increasing number of graduates from engineering, medicine, law, management, find the creative industry far more invigorating and lucrative. Firstly, this is not a monotonous job, it is extremely high on adrenalin and requires a lot of passion. It is exceedingly exciting to work on varied types of events and clients, work in different role plays each day, work with so many different art forms, interact with so many artists, performers, talents, etc. The dynamic nature of the industry makes no two days similar and that makes events one of the most engaging careers, for someone who thrives on working with people, dabbling with technology, creating new imagery, working without creating barriers. The event business truly has so much to offer. Hence from the time we have announced the school at WWI, we have received a very enthusiastic response to our PGP program and we hope we can also launch our BBA program for the next academic year.
- According to you, how accepting has the society been to the concept of Event Management from before? What can one do to help develop this concept?
Event Management as a concept is about three decades old in India. However, it gained popularity only around the time when Michael Jackson came into India for a live gig, it reached the masses and rural India when the Hindi film industry portrayed a take on wedding planners with the release of ‘Band Baaja Baaraat’ – a Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma’ film.
While life itself is a series of events from birth to death, how we deal with the planning of our lives and maneuver around our circumstances is a classic example of management. Events are more aspirational manifestations of the human mind – society needs to connect, needs to engage, needs to communicate. Events are one of the most effective ways to do that and when these are managed with great content, smooth planning, interesting presentations, filled with engaging moments, they become everlasting memories. The event manager converts dreams into everlasting memories and that is something that the society needs.
Recognizing events and event industry as a viable career option and investing time to get oneself educated to learn how to do events is the first step towards the manifestation and proliferation of events. Events Management agencies are great SME / MSME model for young start-ups in rural India, where there is a huge market for entertainment, given that they are only second-hand users of the urban hand-me-downs over television and other media. Creating local content, using indigenous culture to create larger communities and bigger influences will go a long way in building better societies and that in a true sense will mean growth for the event industry in India.