Words by Geoff Donaghy, CEO of ICC Sydney
The outbreak of COVID-19 is having a catastrophic impact on businesses, people and livelihoods here in Australia and globally. Colleagues and friends in the events industry are all feeling the impact deeply, and in many countries the situation is already much bleaker.
With the progressive measures taken over the last few weeks by the Australian Federal Government to protect our nation, we now find ourselves in a situation where all indoor events for over 100 people have been shut down. For venues such as ICC Sydney, this means we are no longer able to deliver nearly all events. This is quite simply an unprecedented situation.
However, amongst all the uncertainty there is one certainty; at some point this will end. When it does, we have a responsibility to our clients, visitors, employees and communities to be ready and emerge once again as a healthy and thriving industry. So, while we deal with the situation at hand we also have one foot in the future. At ICC Sydney we have put in place measures to take care of our people and wider industry, to make sure we are ready as soon as this dark cloud passes.
Taking care of our extraordinary team
The team at ICC Sydney is our number one asset. Without their hard work and professionalism, we could not put on the world class events that have earnt us our reputation over the last three years and they will be critical to our recovery. Our top priority from the first day this crisis broke has been to retain team members.
It is with great sadness that this has not been possible for our casual team. Rostering casual team members requires events to be taking place. At this point in time we do not know when this will resume as normal. In lieu of this we are doing what we can to ensure these casual team members have access support, providing counselling services and communicating updates on the situation whenever we can.
To protect our full-time team members, we have reasonably redeployed these people to essential administrative tasks including cleaning, stocktaking and updating our databases with the objective of trying to ensure everyone has a job here at ICC Sydney. We’ve also implemented measures to ensure we are practicing the health recommendations of social distancing such as working from home, setting up new desk spaces across the venue and opening up our halls as a free staff car park so teams feel comfortable getting to and from work
A voice for the industry
ICC Sydney is working closely with industry representative bodies, particularly our peak national body the Business Events Council of Australia, to ensure our industry survives today and thrives tomorrow. By providing input on lobbying and submissions to the Federal Government, we are ensuring there is ongoing support for our industry and that there is the appropriate focus in place on the recovery period.
While events under 100 people are still allowed, with the correct social distancing, I am realistic that it very unlikely any events of scale will go ahead in the immediate future. In response, ICC Sydney has set up audio visual services to enable clients to continue running events and connecting with their audiences through online technologies. This offering includes live or recorded web streaming, remote presentation, video conferencing and a broadcast studio. These tools have already been used by one of our key city associations, the Committee for Sydney, and we’ll continue to offer this to our industry and client base during this challenging global climate.
Not losing sight of the future
We can’t underestimate the impact that this most serious combination of a pandemic and economic downturn that we have seen will have on our industry. But what is as equally as serious during this time is ensuring we keep a strong focus on the future, undertaking planning and ensuring our recovery readiness. Our industry, and ICC Sydney’s role within it, will be at the forefront of our local and national economic recovery – and we’ll ensure we are ready from the moment it begins.