Moving and Shaking From Our Living Rooms

By Stephanie Hagen, Director, Urban Mobility Company

A Brave New World 

This morning I, like millions of people across France, woke up, walked to my living room, turned on my laptop and got to work. There would be no rushing to catch the metro or bus, or unlocking a shared bike or scooter. There would be no stop by a café or starbucks for a quick morning coffee. And there certainly would be no colleagues greeting each other with a “bonjour” and a bise. If I want to leave my apartment to go grocery shopping or attend a doctor’s appointment, I need to bring a government-issued certificate which, in addition to detailing the date, time and my contact details, also indicates exactly why I am leaving the house. Were the police to stop me without this paper, I would be fined €135. Following in the footsteps of many other countries, France has been under quarantine since March 17th in the hopes of quelling the spread of COVID-19 and, as such, the population has been forced to adapt to a radically new way of life.

The nornally bustling streets of Paris are now eerily empty. Source: Ross Douglas

This also means that we at Autonomy and the Urban Mobility Company (UMCo) have suddenly found ourselves working under strange, new conditions, and so we wanted to give our community an inside look at how we are moving forward during a time of great uncertainty. Ultimately, we are choosing to remain optimistic as we know that with every major disruption, comes major opportunities. 

Talk To Us 

We are stuck at home and chances are you, dear reader, are stuck at home as well. With all physical meetings and events cancelled, our team’s calendars have been freed up considerably, which gives us the opportunity to engage in long and rich telephone conversations with members from across our urban mobility community. We invite you to get in touch with us to chat, whether you have questions about Autonomy 2020 (4 – 5 November), any of the Urban Mobility Company’s Services, or simply want to connect with our CEO Ross Douglas. He would be happy to speak with you, as long as you don’t mind hearing his two young, sightly rambunctious (but very cute) children in the background. 

Want to talk? Shoot us a message here and we’ll set up a call. 

Online Is The New Outside 

For better or for worse, COVID-19 has forced many of us to start living our life online. Besides obsessively checking for news about the pandemic, those who are stuck inside have turned to social media in order to connect to the outside world as well as one another. This means sites like LinkedIn are experiencing more eyes than ever and their audiences are growing daily. While it’s natural that motivation and output levels will drop when holed up, we see this as an opportunity to transform what was everyday “office” productivity into digital productivity. We are living in a moment where the only way to communicate to your audience is through digital platforms, which is why we are proud to be able to offer the Urban Mobility Weekly newsletter, the Urban Mobility Daily site, and our social media networks as resources to our community. Have you been thinking about writing that incredible mobility article for ages but just haven’t got around to doing it? Well now is the time to do so, and we are here to help you benefit from a massive digital audience of over 10K mobility professionals who are hungry for some new reading material. 

Have some content to share? Get in touch with me here. I’d love to hear your ideas!

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Is This The End of Physical Events? 

In short, no. Every day, inboxes are being flooded with alerts about cancelled or postponed events and so it is natural to wonder what the events industry will end up looking like in a post-COVID 19 world and whether it will even be able to survive at all? The Autonomy & the UMCo team have spent the last couple of weeks — and especially the last couple of days — discussing what the future will hold. We believe that although there will always be a place for physical events, they are going to look different and will be complemented more and more by digital platforms. However, although the current situation may speed up this transition, it is hardly a new trend and we have already started to see a major industry disruption taking place. 

For instance, the big motor shows have been struggling immensely over the last few years, and with the cancellation of the International Geneva Motor Show earlier this month, it is doubtful that the classic motor show model will ever recover. The days of the “mega show” are likely over as even after the situation begins to normalise, companies will more than likely continue to cut back on business travel and people will be cautious about attending events with a million fellow attendees. It will no longer be about getting the largest number of delegates to your show, but rather curating your audience so that you attract the most qualified visitors. Superimposed on top of these smaller but highly qualitative events will be an important layer which encompasses knowledge, networks and digital communities. In light of the current situation, such digital platforms are proving more valuable than ever. This is because they allow companies to communicate their narrative and message while digging deeper into complex topics in a way that a 15-minute keynote would never allow them to do. 

This leaves us with a final question: if digital platforms are so effective and efficient, then why are we not transitioning to 100% digital? While it is easy for companies to either initiate business digitally or to close a deal digitally, it is extremely difficult to do both of these steps digitally. There almost always needs to be some kind of face-to-face contact in the process. This is why physical events still have an incredibly valuable place in the ecosystem and why we are combining the strengths of the physical event through the Autonomy trade show with the power of  the digital networks and platforms of the Urban Mobility Company. This offers our partners a complete package which gives them the best of both worlds. 

One Final Thing…

To our entire urban mobility community, the Autonomy and UMCo team wishes you continued health and safety and if you want to discuss anything you have just read, let’s set up a call. In trying times like these, sometimes it’s just nice to get away from the screen and enjoy a warm conversation.