"Balancing act between here and now and already shaping the future again".
Habegger has a home office. But the customer projects are not affected. That's how it goes at the company. Expodata Live Kommunikation interviews Jürg Schwarz, CEO of Habegger.
Expodata: What does a Corona day in the life of Jürg Schwarz and von Habegger look like in contrast to a previous day?
Jürg Schwarz: It looks like after a full brake from 200 to 0 - but I still give it full throttle. That's more or less how it feels. As before, my day is extremely varied and lively. Only the topics have changed. These include daily or even hourly orientation and decision-making based on the new circumstances, dealing with event cancellations or postponements, and conducting the resulting negotiations and discussions with customers and suppliers.
There are also a lot of questions to answer and new creative solutions to develop. All this is only possible thanks to my extremely good team and a super task force. We have divided up the various sub-projects and everyone is getting stuck into their own topic. The balancing act between here and now, going completely back to zero, and already shaping the future again is very big for everyone. In addition, of course, there is the health of employees, their families and my environment. Here, too, I always have an open ear for concerns and fears.
What are the biggest challenges for Habegger right now?
This is, as for all companies in our industry, securing liquidity. Here, it is important to be in permanent contact with all parties and to maintain a balance. Be it with customers, suppliers, partners or even with the cantonal and state authorities. Uncertainty is another factor. None of us knows how long the crisis will last. Should we try to find alternative ways to create value or should we send the whole company 100% into short-time work? Here, too, a great balancing act.
Will Corona ever settle down and enable business as we were used to? Will it lead to positive transformations, including in the live communications industry?
After all, we didn't get into the crisis for economic reasons. I am therefore convinced that demand will increase again as soon as the situation begins to recover. Unfortunately, however, even increased demand will not be enough to compensate for the Corona crisis. I think that certain event formats will change permanently as a result of this crisis. Some rather in the negative, others rather in the positive - seen from our point of view. Solutions such as hybrid or virtual events are more likely to gain momentum, and other formats that have been scaled down because of the situation today may also take place in a reduced form in the future.
How has Habegger responded to Corona and how can opportunities be generated for Habegger and the live communications industry?
We reacted very quickly and already announced short-time work at the beginning of March. Furthermore, we immediately launched proactive and transparent communication in order to provide all stakeholders with the necessary certainty and clarity at all times.
New opportunities have already arisen. For a few years now, we have successfully established other service areas in addition to the classic event business (picture: live streaming from Habegger). These include the development and construction of visitor centers, adventure worlds, exhibitions and museums. This is also the area in which inquiries have currently increased during the crisis. We generally observe that many customers are investing more and more of their budgets in fixed experience worlds and not only in temporary events. Budgets have shifted here to some extent.
What message do you have for the live communications industry?
We have to stick together. We are a small industry with a big impact. We have already been able to make our voices heard through the crisis. We should now use this to organize ourselves better. We should also work to ensure that we are better represented in politics and business.