How has COVID-19 changed your business for the better?

How has COVID-19 changed your business for the better?
For the events industry especially, it hasn't been easy to find the positive these past several months. But, creatives keep creating whether it's within their teams, through education and innovation, or helping their communities - both locally and professionally.

This shift in our focus, marketing and product offering has prepared us to sustain our business and we are hopeful that we will come through the pandemic stronger and with the ability to handle live, virtual and hybrid events.  

COVID-19 had a huge impact on our business as event designers and planners. All of our events were postponed and even cancelled as live event restrictions forbid such events through the spring and into the summer of 2020. We took a look at what we could do with our team, tools and talent and learned to produce virtual events.

We created a marketing effort to shift our clients to think about creating their event virtually instead of postponing or even cancelling it. This shift in our focus, marketing and product offering has prepared us to sustain our business and we are hopeful that we will come through the pandemic stronger and with the ability to handle live, virtual and hybrid events.

Heidi Hiller

Owner | Creative Director

Innovative Party Planners, Baltimore, Maryland

Basically my business has not changed, but it did allow me to see that the foundation we have set has held us strong throughout the pandemic.

Basically my business has not changed, but it did allow me to see that the foundation we have set has held us strong throughout the pandemic. Yes we have had postponements and cancellations, but the business has been moving forth working with our current and new clients for their 2021 and beyond events.

What the pandemic has done is provide me with the time to move ahead with pending projects and new partnerships to be announced in 2021.

Jacqueline Vazquez

Owner & CEO

Lifetime Events by Jacqueline, Scarsdale, New York

One of my largest goals for this year was to expand and have a team, and I was still able to meet that goal despite this whirlwind year of uncertainty.

COVID has changed my business for the better by forcing me to continue to innovate what I bring to clients during this time of quarantine, as well as how I will approach events in the future. I don’t think that I will ever have a large, live event again that doesn’t have some sort of hybrid/virtual component—the reach of virtual events has been proven to be global in nature, which is exciting for the industry. It also changed how I approach the content creation aspect of events, and thinking about how to repurpose virtual event content to integrate into a campaign or digital experience that lasts far beyond the scope of the event itself.

Additionally, I’ve been able to cultivate an incredible team of women who support my business with respect to social media, marketing and logistical support. One of my largest goals for this year was to expand and have a team, and I was still able to meet that goal despite this whirlwind year of uncertainty.

Beth Lawrence

CEO

Beth Lawrence Meetings & Events, Philadelphia, PA

I have had time to sit back and truly reflect on my brand, my business and what we stand for.

I have had time to sit back and truly reflect on my brand, my business and what we stand for. Because of that it gave me the opportunity to focus on things that had been overlooked or a second thought. I was able to sit down and make my brand assets a true reflection of where we are in business. I must admit I have been very grateful for the 7 months to focus on building a stronger brand that connects with the exceptional clients that we will continue to partner with.
Michelle Norwood

Michelle Norwood

Principal Designer + Planner

Michelle Norwood Events, New Orleans, LA

We now know more and offer more than ever - that we most likely wouldn’t have without this pandemic. 

Newton’s first law of motion states that “An object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” Companies, like objects, tend to “keep on doing what they’re doing” unless there is a critical disruption. COVID has been a major disruption for the events industry and I am proud of the way that we here at Sherpa Group have elevated our online events and local DMC services to allow us to keep working in this difficult environment. We now know more and offer more than ever – that we most likely wouldn’t have without this pandemic.

Heather Sharpe

Event Producer

Sherpa Group Events Inc., Vancouver, B.C.

This pandemic has taught me that we have to work differently with our clients and provide them with a myriad of solutions at every step of the planning process.

This pandemic has been tough not only on our industry but on our clients too. Working with them on making the best decisions for their events, especially my non-profit organizations, has really taught me a lot about thinking fast on my feet and outside the in-person event box. We were able to successfully pull off a hybrid event for one of our non-profit organizations this year where we focused on creating a stellar program script and having a flawless production from my vendor team to create a seamless in person along with a virtual experience. We also transitioned an in-person event to a completely virtual event for another client by featuring a unique panel and keynote speaker along with an awards ceremony. Although we weren’t able to be onsite with our client for that event, we were able to do all the same things as before, even giving five minute warnings to our moderator throughout the virtual event.

This pandemic has taught me that we have to work differently with our clients and provide them with a myriad of solutions at every step of the planning process. It has also made me a better communicator as I am in constant contact with my vendors and affected clients to try and stay one step ahead of these constantly changing times.

Michelle Stewart

Owner/Event Planner

DYV Events, Bedford, NH

I would say the way that COVID has changed our organization is that the move to virtual events has been well received by our patient community.

I would say the way that COVID has changed our organization is that the move to virtual events has been well received by our patient community. Working with constituents that have movement disorders and going from walking to walkers to wheelchairs to being homebound in about 5-7 years of diagnosis they have really taken to the new online event offerings. Travel after a certain point for them is very difficult for them and their caregivers and although they miss seeing each other in-person they have found that our educational events to have just as much value in the virtual realm. Additionally, many of our support groups have had to move online and since then many more have been created because the demand has exponentially increased!

Jaclyn Zendrian

Vice President - Events

CurePSP Inc., New York, NY

Covid-19 has changed our business in a positive way by allowing us the extra time to reevaluate our goals, our strengths, our weaknesses, and our future!

Covid-19 has changed our business in a positive way by allowing us the extra time to reevaluate our goals, our strengths, our weaknesses, and our future!  We have been able to have the time to work on our continuing education and participate in some really amazing seminars and summits!

We have been really able to dig in with our clients and give them the extra attention that they need and be there to comfort them and direct them through these challenging times!

Fortunately, though we lost a majority of our events to 2021 or to cancelations, we were able to have a great season with some last-minute bookings and really because we are proficient in outdoor weddings and off the cuff planning.

While I definitely do not want this pandemic to last and hope that we see some relief for our 2021 season, we always like to find the silver lining in everything and I am grateful for the extra time we have had and the experiences we have gone through, and learned from!

Samantha Nelson

Owner

EVL Events, Ellicottville, NY

The big one for me is that we are finally seeing a level of cohesion between live and digital planning that was long overdue.

The big one for me is that we are finally seeing a level of cohesion between live and digital planning that was long overdue. Experiential events in particular rarely live in a vacuum and yet the joining-up thinking between a physical event design and the broader digital and social media marketing plan was, until recently, palpably absent. The concept of a ‘hybrid event’ isn’t new; there have always been opportunities to better align content creation, social amplification, and remote engagement with an IRL event. We just tended to not get round to executing such opportunities beyond the ubiquitous shareable photo booth and a few hastily vinyl-ed hashtags.

Smart event design should be able to offer ROI beyond bodies in the room and a few hours of live experience. Although the live industry is suffering badly right now, it is still an opportunity to rethink event design from the ground up. Or rather, from the cloud down.

Venetia Harpin

Venetia Harpin

Immersive Event Producer

Los Angeles, CA

During this time of uncertainty, our team has had the time to streamline our event offerings and internal processes.

During this time of uncertainty, our team has had the time to streamline our event offerings and internal processes. This has been positively noted by current clients; loyal clients that have responded positively to our refreshed website { https://thehuestudio.com/ } and enhanced cancellation policies. 
 
Now with many of our scheduled events postponed until late 2021, including travels to international destinations, we have temporarily paused new business for the remainder of 2020. While still available to current and new clients, offices are now closed with our team working safely and remotely. 
 
Our entire team remains focused on the positive and quite often reflects upon quotes for inspiration and mindfulness. One favorite during this time of change and unrest is from Nathaniel Hawthorne in that, “Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” 
 
While quiet and paused, at this time, the huestudio + company is blessed; healthy and safe, and we hope you and yours are, as well. 

Jeff Hughes

Chief Experience Officer

the huestudio + company, Mt. Prospect, IL

We decided to start bringing in two reception coordinators, so that just in case myself or someone from my team got Covid-19, we had already contracted coordinators for that date who could step in, if needed.

When the pandemic began, we knew that restructuring our team on the day would be essential.  We decided to start bringing in two reception coordinators, so that just in case myself or someone from my team got Covid-19, we had already contracted coordinators for that date who could step in, if needed.  We also thought it was a good way to minimize exposure by having two teams to split the day instead of one team working 13 straight hours in an environment.

What I have now realized is, we should have been doing this all along because once the daytime team begins to get tired, the second team comes in excited, rested and ready to go!  I still get to set up and style their day and of course, send them down the aisle (my favorite part).  It makes for better work as a whole and we will continue to do this moving forward even after the pandemic.

Meredith Corning

Owner/Wedding Planner

Meredith Events, Rogers, AR

Covid has made me realize that quality is much better than quantity.

Covid has made me realize that quality is much better than quantity.  Gatherings of close family and friends create a more meaningful experience for everyone involved. We decided to focus on more meaningful smaller gatherings for our clients, focused on the love that the couples share with creative and personal details added to each event.
 
I also pivoted and created a non-profit organization providing PPE for Front Line workers and shelters funded by donations.  We also are offering custom masks for events and event planners with proceeds going towards funding our non profit.

JoAnn Gregoli

Owner

Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli, New York City, NY

The inability to plan events confirmed how much we love planning, designing and coordinating them.

For my company, At Your Side Planning, there have been quite a few positive changes this year! This year provided some much needed rest and an opportunity to regroup. The inability to plan events confirmed how much we love planning, designing and coordinating them.

One major change is the new team! We have a few coordinators continuing on (Kendra and Robin) as well as a prior coordinator returning (Shauna) and an intern (Ricagin) taking on the role of assistant coordinator. The new team is still very diverse with a lot of event experience which is what I am most proud of.

I have also had a chance to freshen up our online brochure and website. There are also some areas I am looking to expand for our services that I will be reviewing soon. The team and I are ready for the weddings we are booking for 2021 and excited to get back!

Diana Romero

Owner

At Your Side Planning, San Diego, CA

Bill Hansen Catering did their part to give back to the community during the pandemic, by providing meals to the Opa Locka Police Department and donating food to the national guard at a COVID-19 testing site. 

What does a catering company do during a time of social distancing? Obviously we cannot gather for large events right now and it’s greatly impacting the events industry. Bill Hansen Luxury Catering has been in business for 40 years this year and are not letting a pandemic slow them down.

As you can imagine, most weddings and social functions were cancelled, leaving them to go back to the drawing board on how to remain in operation. This included:

  • Creating a virtual wedding program with food in partnership with Villa Woodbine, offering weddings via Skype, Zoom, and Facetime

  • Joining Miami Spice as the first catering company to participate via delivery

  • Offering delivery meal services to homes and businesses using a fleet of refrigerated trucks and vans

  • Micro-Dining for small parties with custom menus

  • Offering a Zoom party program, delivering a catered meal to multiple homes at once, so everyone gets to dine together from all over Miami/Dade

  • Instituted new precautions to ensure the safety of employees and guests

In addition, Bill Hansen Catering did their part to give back to the community during the pandemic, by providing meals to the Opa Locka Police Department and donating food to the national guard at a COVID-19 testing site.

Bill Hansen

Bill Hansen

CEO

Bill Hansen Catering, Miami, FL

We have always been pretty tech-savvy, but COVID-19 has pushed us into an even more digital service environment for our clients.

We have always been pretty tech-savvy, but COVID-19 has pushed us into an even more digital service environment for our clients. This has lowered overhead in many ways and provided added services for our clients as well.

Kate Whelan

Kate Whelan

Owner & Senior Event Consultant

Kate Whelan Events, Sacramento, CA

With all the hardships that COVID has brought us, it has changed our business for the better in every way.

With all the hardships that COVID has brought us, it has changed our business for the better in every way.  We are more focused and organized than ever.  We took this time to create a new beginning, to set new strategies and truly define our goals and target clients.  It was an opportunity to educate ourselves in things we never have enough time and to make commitments to future endeavors.  We are 100% aligned with the company image and goals!

Nicole Braghin

Nicole Braghin

Managing Partner/Creative Director

Plan Design Events, Miami, FL

Covid-19 has brought me back to why I became a wedding planner.

Covid-19 has brought me back to why I became a wedding planner. It is to work with 2 people that are making a commitment to one another. Yes, you can have plans that are elaborate and beautiful, but what really matters is having your nearest and dearest present at your wedding.  The smaller, scaled-down weddings this year have made me realize this and appreciate the connection in this difficult time.
Robyn Bruns

Robyn Bruns

Owner & Principal Event Planner

Red Letter Event Planning, Coeur d 'Alene, ID

COVID-19 has changed my business for the better by providing new contract opportunities with clients I never would have had access to previously.

COVID-19 has changed my business for the better by providing new contract opportunities with clients I never would have had access to previously. As an independent event manager, I am finding many new clients coming my way who are totally inexperienced in events and/or trying to make sense of the virtual world. This pandemic has opened doors to new faces and new skills as an entrepreneur that I never had before.

Heather Roeper

Heather Roeper

Owner & Event Director

Roeper Events, Chicago, IL

Covid-19 has made our business rethink how we can still support our clients with their pivoted goals outside of Event Management.

Covid-19 has made our business rethink how we can still support our clients with their pivoted goals outside of Event Management. As a result, we’ve recently expanded into providing branded merchandise for our clients as it felt like a natural projection since we always acted as the liaison between our clients and the vendor for this service anyway. It ultimately allows us to grow, and still be able to support our clients outside of our usual projects.

Alicia Jenelle

Director of Events

Alicia Jenelle Events, Toronto, Ontario

There always has been a bond among industry professionals but the pandemic has taken it to a whole new level.

We have experienced an increase in new collaboration ideas and conversations, which has been great! There always has been a bond among industry professionals but the pandemic has taken it to a whole new level. We are stronger together!

Stacy Felkar

Principal

Town Square Consulting, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

We have been doing a lot more video production and product design...

We have been doing a lot more video production and product design – it’s been fun to learn new skill sets in this time. We are also finding online fundraising events to be just as effective as in-person fundraising events with lower costs.
Nicole Peters

Nicole Peters

Co-Founder

Peters Design Lab, Los Angeles, CA

This time has allowed me to reflect on services that I can improve on and services that I really don't need.

Covid-19 gave me time to be still with some things that were going well and not so well in my business. Covid stopped the “rush rush” mentality that had become acceptable.
This time has allowed me to reflect on services that I can improve on and services that I really don’t need. I have been able to rethink my approach to doing things with more intention for me personally and the growth of my business and business partners. I’m anticipating 2021 to be full with new opportunities, relationships and a full calendar. I just hope that I’m able to use the new things with some of the old things to create the very best experience for me, my staff and clients.

Covesa Gragg

Founder and CEO

Covesa Kelly Events, Cleveland, OH

Sweet I Do's is still planning and coordinating weddings; we've made some fantastic changes.

I know that COVID has created loads of uncertainty, required tons of flexibility, and the need to think in a new direction. Sweet I Do’s is still planning and coordinating weddings; we’ve made some fantastic changes.
Online Zoom consultations are now our thing. A new contract that has some additional safety measures outlined as well as streamlining our communication of those safety measures to clients and fellow vendors has become standard practice. Being flexible and having the knowledge and creativity to help our clients and professional team navigate the ever changing regulations are second nature.  Plus, we have created an online wedding show, the Arizona Online Wedding Show to help local and national vendors connect with the clients that are desperately looking for still in business, COVID safe, happy to help professionals to help them make lemonade out of lemons.
While these may seem like minor changes, our clients are thankful that they have been put in place and that we have an amazing resource to help them navigate through all the pandemic uncertainty.
Brandy Blackford

Brandy Blackford

Owner/Lead Planner

Sweet I Do's, Phoenix, AZ