The IPIA has launched a new digital networking initiative, The IPIA Big Breakfast, which will take place every two weeks starting from 11 March between 8.30 – 9.30am.

‘At the beginning of the year, if I am being perfectly honest, we were a little bit flat,’ said marketing and events manager Sharron Mahony. ‘Using Zoom, and platforms like it, for personal and professional connectivity had given us all digital fatigue. We were drained by lockdown and just wanted to organise a physical event that involved hugging everyone.

‘Joking aside, we knew we had to come up with a new initiative that would add authentic value to our members, sponsors and the wider industry. The ongoing restrictions gave us very little room to work creatively, so we knew it had to be a digital ‘zoom-thing’ which, well, crushed our souls a bit.’

The IPIA embarked on a research initiative, surveying its membership and that of its sister trade association, the BAPC. It says that its latest initiative has been designed to foster the ‘much-needed human interaction we all crave from within a 1950s inspired virtual diner.’

Ms Mahony explained, ‘We wanted to understand what support they needed to continue coping in their roles, and to learn if their digital connectivity tolerances matched our own. They also confirmed our thinking and highlighted the direction we needed to go.

‘Whatever we did, it should not take up hours of a person’s day, talk ‘at’ people for more than 30 minutes tops, and it needed to be fun.’

The event, hosted in Remo, is open to members and non-members of the IPIA and the hourly sessions are split by a 10-minute informative segment called Freshly Juiced. 

‘Being able to bounce around and talk to various groups of people is just wonderful,’ Ms Mahony concluded. ‘It takes seconds to switch groups. You can also use the Diner floor plan to see who is in the room and head on over to their table to have a chat. This creates a more ‘real world’ atmosphere and the conversations are more natural – no static zoom sessions for us.

‘We hope this will give a feeling of belonging to a very special and fun club, which we are very proud of and excited about its potential.’