For the Spring issue of Spice Magazine, event industry stalwart Peter Jones penned a column on the future reality of the business events industry as it recovers from the COVID-19 crisis.
There is a long list of world events that make us say “I remember what I was doing when that happened” and whilst they all had a massive impact, nothing has had a greater impact on our industry than Friday, 13 March 2020 at precisely 8.45am.
That was the moment the Australian Grand Prix was called off and it became the catalyst for what was about to happen. Four hours later the Prime Minister banned gatherings of over 500 people, which progressed to only 10 people and then none at all over the following weeks.
March seems like a lifetime ago and yet it hasn’t got any better; here in Victoria it’s even got worse. At the moment you can’t even visit your family or a friend, let alone go out and run an event.
We now have a multi-billion-dollar industry on its knees and whilst many venues will survive, it’s the suppliers I’m most concerned about. AV companies, stylists, caterers, entertainers, logistics experts – the list goes on and they are all currently out of work.
Some of these suppliers have been able to change direction, but not all of them can. Many have just shut up shop for the time being but the big concern is what does it all look like in another three, six or 12 months, especially if we still cannot meet in large groups.
So what does this all mean for us?
- There will be a new world of what clients want and expect from the industry. Clients will be asking how to do things differently and more cost effectively.
- As many suppliers may not be able to operate at full capacity, organisations will need to look at their supply chain to ensure they can deliver the required service.
- At the moment it’s all about being online, but not every event can work this way. I do believe we will get tired of virtual events and will want to go back to live experiences as soon as we can.
- The next generation of graduates are in a harder position than anyone trying to get their foot in the door. We need to ensure they have the right skills and confidence in the industry.
- Event and meeting organisers will be hesitant to put their full staff back on and will look more towards working with freelance staff than ever before.
- The smaller events will come back first and vary from state to state, but my biggest fear is the time it takes for larger events in excess of 1,000 pax.
So all this said, it’s a matter of how best to redesign your business and be able to regroup and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’ve gone from seven staff to three and if it wasn’t for JobKeeper I’d be a one-man band like I was 29 years ago. I’m fortunate that I can ride this out for the time being, but one can’t sit back and just expect it all to magically return the way it was.
Organisations who have been running their own events pre-COVID-19 will likely return with smaller teams, as events will take so long to restart. They’ll be asking how to run events with two staff instead of seven. And that’s why I have launched PJSE Consulting at this time. Our aim is not to come in and run the event, but to help create a structure and strategy that allows organisations to deliver in the most cost-effective way possible.
Peter Jones Special Events will still have it’s ongoing role to play, but I believe this will be an area of the business that will grow over time. I’m even employing myself at the moment as PJSE Consulting is working with Peter Jones Special Events on how to operate in the new world. I’ll let you know if I’m happy with the results!
This article originally appeared in the Spring issue of Spice Magazine.
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