Posted by Ray Poynter, 15 May 2020
We were scheduled to hold an in-person Council meeting in Amsterdam, but that is clearly not possible at the moment. Instead we held a three-hour meeting, balancing time zones, using Microsoft Teams
Members: President Joaquim Bretcha, Anne-Sophie Damelincourt, Nijat Mammadbayli, Alain Mizrahi, Umesh Kumar, Lucy Davison, BV Pradeep, Niels Schillewaert and me.
Officers: Finn Raben (Director General), Marie-Agnès Mourot de Lathyle (Chief Finance and Operating Officer), Kim Smouter and Rhiannon Bryant.
Kristin Luck and Nikki Lavoie
The big news for everybody is the pandemic crisis; it was after all, only 10 working days after our last meeting that social lockdown was implemented. One consequence is that for the rest of 2020, all the Council meetings will be virtual (in the past three meetings a year were held face-to-face in Amsterdam and a fourth one held on the Saturday before Congress).
Finn opened the meeting with the background in terms of the Amsterdam office, the lockdowns, the Dutch Governments approach to the pandemic, and the resultant decisions of how to ensure F2F meetings can be moved to virtual, and the pressure there will be on most of ESOMAR’s revenue streams.
ESOMAR President Joaquim Bretcha brought the Council up to date with the what ESOMAR has been doing and he focused on two main themes:
1. External to members and the whole industry using ESOAMR’s three strategic pillars:
– Advocacy of the profession
– Guidance and Knowledge
– Community reinforcement
– Working from Home and Welfare of the staff
– Change of 2020 plans, cost reduction and financial responsibility
Kim Smouter reported on the massive amount of communications that ESOMAR have been doing, including the International Market Research Day, the Community Circles initiative, and our COVID-19 Community Kit.
Rhiannon reported on the work that has been done to reschedule the LatAm conference until October and the APAC conference until November, but clearly these are still “virus-dependant” dates, and may need to be reviewed again. TV at home has been a success, from a quick start. There have been ESOMAR Plus webinars and there are more webinars to come. The Summer Academy is going to virtual as will the Client Summit, and how Congress should be delivered is still very much under review.
Staff Support and Welfare
Marie-Agnes reported on the work being done to keep the staff secure, supported and able to work from home. The team are taking advice from the Dutch Government on what is recommended and allowed.
Marie-Agnes presented the work the team has done on the membership and revenue situation. Because the future is so unclear, one element of the finances has been to create a range of scenarios to help plan and navigate 2020. Clearly the main message is that 2020 is going to be difficult (which is an English way of saying we are going to lose money). The three strands for immediate focus are 1) increase revenue, 2) reduce costs, and 3) look for Government subsidies (in this case from the Dutch Government). This means several plans have been put on hold.
Membership fees also came under review, but with the anticipated loss of all F2F event revenue, the more prudent decision was not to change this current revenue stream, but to ensure that increased value could be delivered to all our members.
Moving the AGM
In reviewing our ability to move to digital, Council agreed to move the AGM to being virtual and to the possibility of de-linking it from Congress and bringing it forward. One suggestion that has been made is that the Council elections due this September should be delayed – asking the current Council to serve a bit longer; however, this is not a decision that the Council can make (for obvious reasons) so the AGM may be asked to discuss and decide on this suggestion.