I felt it apt to this month write about my experiences since the events and hospitality industry have reopened their doors and having been fully immersed in this industry for the best part of fifteen years, I can safely say that now I have seen it all…
No one could have foreseen the pandemic and the effects it has had on us all as both individuals and as businesses and whilst we have all had to navigate our way through it in different ways, the events industry is one that has sadly been most effected.
Yes, live events from March 2020 were put on hold indefinitely with no real indication of when they would return and many of us were left with no choice but to adapt our event models to fit through the screen, creating new formats, taking on new roles and adjusting to tech we had never had to encounter before. I was no different in that I donned a new hat as an interviewer, relaunched my events as ‘virtual’ and completely turned the format I had consistently rolled out for the last ten plus years on its head. Thankfully my creative decision paid off and if anything, those who participated in the digital events were grateful for the platform of connection and I too learnt a lot, however come July 2021 it was time to get back to it -time to get back in the room.
Even though events are my forte, I won’t pretend it wasn’t daunting re-adjusting our events back from virtual to live again. Re-igniting new conversations, reconnecting with those who had gone quiet during lockdown and generally rebecoming an event’s organiser. It felt good to be liaising with venues again and having real and raw conversations with the staff about how challenging this period had been for them. My favourite element of my job are the people, learning about their businesses, what their aims and objectives are and looking at creative ways of how I can help them to achieve their vision and collaboration has and always will be one of the strongest ways to achieve this.
Bringing back my first live event in September was both a nerve wracking and exciting experience. It was time. Thankfully we had a full house with almost one hundred and fifty business professionals in attendance, all eager to see one another again, with slightly apprehensive smiles on their faces as they approached the entrance. We operated a traffic light system for our name badges which gave our guests the option to select one of three colours to wear as a name sticker dependent upon how comfortable they were with physical human contact – green being ‘happy to handshake’ and red being ‘please keep at a distance.’ Interestingly ninety five percent of attendees opted for a green badge, no one selected red and the remaining five percent selected amber to represent elbow bumps!
This for us was a very useful social experiment to gauge how people are currently feeling about the situation overall and whilst its not completely accurate to an specially conducted survey, given that those who attended were there because they are to some extent happy to be in a room with other humans again, its worth taking into account the many others who no doubt chose to stay silent in their continuing anxiety about leaving their homes to network. Despite this, it was still a positive reaction to what we see as the world slowly re-awakening.
My prediction for events going forward is that gradually month by month, people will gain more confidence to interact in the room again and as more events and opportunities arise, so will the attendance numbers. To summarise my experience has been one of positivity so far and thank goodness, we have to get back to business at some point, right?
For more details of Fiona’s RSViP events, see her website – www.rsvipnetwork.co.uk
Fiona Duncan-Steer, RSViP