We’ve heard the phrase a lot. These are very much ‘unprecedented times’. From an events perspective, the global COVID-19 pandemic has turned the industry upside down. Where we were busily ensconced in booking logistics for speakers and attendees; liaising with venues about the flow of people and audio-visual requirements and running around the country on site-visits, we are suddenly working from home and all live events are being cancelled or postponed. Our jobs as we knew them just 2 months ago are no more.
There is no doubt that the victims of this pandemic are those who have lost their lives and members of their family. And it is clear that those most affected by these ‘unprecedented times’ are those key workers battling on the front line to protect society, who we are very grateful for. However, the damage being done to the economy is also painfully evident. As a small events agency, we are facing our darkest times economically, but we wanted to use this post to highlight some of the ways we have adapted to change, and turned negatives into positives. After all, who doesn’t need a little positivity right now?
So, how has CFS Events dealt with these changes?
Ok, we won’t lie. We haven’t always been able to follow this rule. It would be impossible for anyone to ‘remain calm’ the entire time while the events you have spent months working on are cancelled or postponed, and the government shuts down your industry. Sure, we have panicked. But, after the initial panic we did calm down. You need to be able to focus on the big picture in order to make the right choices – and advise your clients to make the right choices – when thinking about how to move forward with events. We formulated a set of guidelines (or questions to ask ourselves) to assist us in deciding how to move forward with each event: what does the client want? Would the event work if postponed? How does the event look financially if it is run later on? Would the event work virtually etc. etc. We then applied those guidelines to all of our events individually (in a calm manner of course) to make those critical choices. This gave us a plan for each event. And everything is always easier when you have a plan.
Appreciate (and use) what you do have
As a small events agency specialising in running live events, we were definitely worried when it became clear that we wouldn’t be able to run those events as usual. It seemed we were losing so much. So, we had a good look at what we do have: an excellent team with excellent event management skills; good client relationships and tenacity. And we used them.
Our team quickly set about equipping ourselves with the necessary skills to run events virtually. Learning new technology, purchasing appropriate licences and upskilling ourselves at a rapid rate. We practiced and perfected. Running a virtual event uses much of the same skill set as running a live event – and that is what we are good at! But it was daunting nonetheless to pitch to run those events for our clients when they were so new to us. That kind of change feels hectic but also exciting. We have learned brand new skills and we are now using those skills to run virtual events – and we couldn’t be prouder of our team!
Roll with the punches – flexibility is everything
As we continue to navigate through this pandemic, we are focused on the fact that it is important to remain flexible throughout. We have already learned lessons and improved our processes each time we have run a virtual event. This is certainly not a time to stagnate!
The events industry as a whole has adapted and changed to meet different demand during this time, and there are certainly benefits to virtual events that mean they won’t be discarded when lockdown is lifted! Looking to the future, hybrid events will certainly become common place the world over. And we intend to continue to adapt, so that we can master the running of those as soon as lockdown measures are sufficiently lifted. A challenge we are very much looking forward to.