The COVID-19 health crisis will likely be remembered as a generation-defining event, one that wiped out trillions of dollars from the world economy and (hopefully) will have led to systemic improvements to governments and science funding all over the world. Along with restaurants, travel and others one of the hardest hit segments of the economy will undoubtedly be the global event industry. From small weddings and birthdays to concerts and conventions, the event planning and rental industries are hit HARD by this pandemic.
At its core an event is a gathering of people, where frequently they will not only be closer than 6 feet together, but likely engaging in even closer human interaction like dancing, shaking hands, playing sports or engaging in conversation. That’s what is so incredible to me – the realization that so much of our world is based on being around each other and enjoying the company of people in close quarters. We take for granted simply being able to have a beer at a bar with a friend, or take a salsa dancing class with 20 other people.
But at some point things will return to normal. This, in my humble and non-scientific opinion, is an inevitability rather than a hope. As someone intimately involved in the event industry, I certainly make that statement with a selfish need for people to get back to having events (and renting lawn games). But as a normal person, I do truly believe that humanity is capable of much, much more than we can individually comprehend, and I have faith that “this too shall pass”.
My long winded diatribe now over, I wanted to highlight a few thoughts and tips on getting back to business in the event planning industry once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed and we are booking weddings, parties, conferences and concerts again.
- We have to be patient and realize it won’t be “normal” immediately. As my wife will (unprompted) attest, I am impatient. I move too fast, I want resolution and I am not always willing to wait for it. It would be amazing if, after the pandemic ceases, events are rescheduled, new bookings come in, and we can get on with our lives. However, that might not happen. There is much uncertainty around the illness, like if it will come back and what the right precautions to take are just to return outside. It is possible that we won’t be able to have “normal” events again this year at all. I hope that is not the case, but we have to be patient and try to adapt. It might be as simple as ensuring all your equipment is properly disinfected, but it might be more involved – much of this depends on what the CDC and other organizations give as guidelines from medical professionals.
- We have to realize doing business will require some flexibility and creativity. It is important to realize you might not be able to get the same rates, have the same number of bookings and events, and you might have to be more flexible and giving to get business. This is a great article on the PCMA website that talks about some realities of this for the event world, and about going from a “seller’s market” to a “buyer’s market”. What that means is scarcity might no longer increase demand for your products or services, and you might have to drop prices or add sweeteners to close deals. For instance the Triangle Lawn Games family is giving 20% off all orders for the rest of 2020. We might get rid of that later this year, but for now we are trying to create some urgency and give folks a great deal.
- We are going to have to work harder and be better at our jobs, from here on. We really do try as hard we can to be good at renting people lawn games affordably so they can have fun at their parties. That said, I realize now more than ever that what we do is a luxury and non-essential. We simply have to work harder to convince people that having awesome lawn games at an event is fun, and worth it. And we have to be perfect to maintain our customer relationships and reputation, because now the margin for error is thinner. We simply cannot afford to screw up orders or be late to a delivery because someone else will come up behind us and do it right. At least for the foreseeable future, less events will happen and more companies will be looking for work – so it is important to be at our best and keep every client happy.
I don’t think I personally understand how hard this has been for some. I feel fortunate that our businesses haven’t stopped completely and my family and I are OK, for which I will always be grateful. That’s why we are trying to help where we can by donating money, games, time – whatever is needed. Now is the time to be kind and work hard and we will get through this.
Gordon Buchanan – CEO
Triangle Lawn Games/Bluecannon Ventures