event industry coronavirus

It’s undoubtable that this is a devastating time for businesses not only in the UK, but across the world. I’m writing this on a Sunday afternoon, on the 22nd of March 2020. It’s been two days since the government shut down all restaurants, gyms, and social establishments. On my bike ride this morning, despite the glorious sunny skies, there was an impending sense of doom, something which is now almost normal. It’s been two weeks since our final event cancelled, meaning our diaries from March – September are unprecedently clear; something I’m sure will ring home to many others in our industry. 

I’ve naturally thought about what this means for our clients, our business, and our future. This isn’t the focus of this article, but The New Black Studio has been in the making for ten years. We didn’t come this far to only come this far, so we’ll see you all again next September. 

It’s a frightening, unstable, and uncertain time for those in the industry. Our jobs are at risk, our workloads have cleared, and our purpose has been taken. I’ve spoken to press a lot this week and have quoted many times “it’s not just the money that’s an issue”. For many, it’s heartbreaking to see events we’ve worked on for many months, sometimes over a year, just be cancelled. Just like that. It’s a very personal process, for us at least, unique to every client. To not see the designs you’ve worked so hard on come to life is devastating. Tomorrow will be the day first day we were supposed to have an event, but it cancelled, so we’re having grief tacos instead. 

But, like the world, the industry must go on. We must adapt. We must be strong in adversity. I keep saying to my partner, can you imagine how many people are going to flood the pubs when this is all done? I suddenly realised today; the event industry is no different. We should give people the craving of freedom they will want and need. We should respectfully celebrate making it out the other side of a crisis by hosting events with a purpose, reconnecting people. 

Sure, the technology available to us now is more powerful and versatile than ever before. But we all know it will never replace a conversation over a good glass of red or a joke shared over a dinner table. 

Times have been and will continue to be tough on many businesses’ finances, so I fully appreciate that investing in an event won’t be possible for all. I’m not for a second suggesting that we should come out of a distressing time period with luxurious and lavish events, I actually believe that would be quite insensitive. However, I do think focussed, well put together, impactful events should be encouraged. We all have a responsibility to keep the wheels of this economy turning. 

There’s no time like the present. Many events teams are finding themselves with a seriously reduced workload, and I’m sure we would all rather our teams are actually working. Events have always been planned in the same way: find the date, and everything else follows. In times where nothing is the same as before, we have to flip that on its head. Who says we need to have the date first? Suppliers have very open diaries, it’s extremely achievable to plan an entire event and make filling in the date the last box to tick. If you really feel you need to, you can always put a few dates on hold. 

Here’s a list of things can be done now remotely:

  • Create the event design
  • Curate the content
  • Reach out to sponsors
  • Reach out to speakers
  • Find a venue 
  • Find a production company, florist, caterer, and so on… 
  • Set a budget
  • Invite guests, but instead of a date, ask them to register their interest and a date will follow.

I would urge businesses to forward plan now. Have the foresight to look to where we might be in 6, 10, 12 months, and make your plans. People need hope, connection, and enjoyment.

Come back from this with an impact. 

Come back with a bang. 

event industry coronavirus
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