How We Are Planning Now at Team SaaStr

I’m pretty tired right now.  It’s not the stock market, or other things.  It’s the fact that we’ve been doing Corona planning since January — earlier than most in U.S. and Europe.

As soon as we saw it take off in China, we knew we had to get ahead of it for SaaStr Annual.  We tried a bunch of things that seemed cutting-edge at the time.  In the end, it wasn’t enough, and we had to postpone Annual until the Fall.

The nature of the events side of SaaStr means we have to do a lot of medium and longer-range planning.

So that means we need a plan now, even though in many ways, we don’t have enough data yet.

But here’s our current plan, and why, in case it helps other folks:

We’re assuming Shelter-at-Home ends in the U.S. in May.  Late May.  This may not be the case.  But based on reading everything we can, and looking at what’s happened in China, Singapore, etc. … it seems like this is a practical date for interim solutions to be implemented.  People have to get back to work.  They have to.  It also has to be safe enough when they do.  Late May seems the most logical date at the moment.  The U.S. is a democracy, and a somewhat decentralized one as we are seeing for many decisions.

We’re assuming it’s not until July the smallest of group gatherings can start again.  In the past three weeks, the rules on group gatherings have gone from OK, to 1,000 or less, to 100 or less, to 10 or less … and now to None At All.  In 3 weeks.  The opposite is likely to happen as well.  First, when Shelter-at-Home ends, we are assuming social distancing will still occur as a strict rule.  Perhaps 60 days later, we’ll need to start thinking about school, sports, and related gatherings.  The Summer Break will happen, but the need to go back to school and to go back to work will mean small gathering will start-up again.  But very small at first.

We’re assuming in September, bigger events will start up again as a new normalcy returns.  We’re not sure what that is, but everyone doing group gatherings is hoping for this.  We assume everyone will be doing thermal scanning, massive cleaning, and more.  But people will at least want to get back to consumer-type gathering first.  ComicCons, music festivals, beer-and-wine festivals.  The beach.  Just as B2C events were slower to cancel than B2B events, so will they come back faster.  But they will start smaller, and calmer, with a lot more screening.

We see Coachella in October a proof point.  There are so many events, but Coachella is such an iconic one on the consumer side.  Folks will want to go.  We have tickets ourselves. If Coachella is able to be a “go”, that will be a key milestone in events resumption.  But right now, who knows?  We just know a segment of society will really want this.  So it will drive a lot of thinking and work. Folks will try very hard to pull this off.  And they’ll be forced to do it the right way.

We’re assuming by November, normalcy returns and Dreamforce, in modified form, is a go.  Having just postponed a 10,000+ person event, we’re sure the Dreamforce team is deep in planning with the City and many others, and reworking things to probably make a decision to go or no go as late as possible.  It is also possible they may just cancel soon to simplify decision making.  But many organizations are hoping to resume in the Fall.  We’re assuming Salesforce is getting a lot of help and will postpone a decision as long as they can, and that a modified Dreamforce is still a go.  Still, with so much travel and planning involved, it may take 6 months to unwind Dreamforce.  So they may need to decide before there is any real data to help them.  They probably have to decide by June at the latest, probably May realistically.  A guess, but an educated one.

That’s our current plan.  It may be too aggressive.  There is no way it is 100% accurate.

But we need a plan, and one that we won’t change weekly.  One driven in some data, that we can stick to for now.

We’ll let you know if it changes.

What we do know is folks want to get back to this, to a life full of enriching experiences together with others.  And that it will be a lot of work to get there:

Published on March 21, 2020

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