How have you adjusted your business to be ready when events begin to open back up?
Andrew Roby Events has created a post-COVID-19 event's plan that outlines protocol that we must take in order to protect not only our team but, our clients and their guests.
My weeks are actually busier than ever. I am taking several classes and spend time each week discussing ways to innovate within our industry with caterers, rental companies, entertainers, and fellow planners.
It’s been over two months since we executed our last live event. In mid-March, we were postponing our spring events to the fall to give us time to flatten the curve, stop the spread, and hopefully get back to “normal”. By now we all hoped we would be on the downslope of the curve. In the meantime, the outlook has gotten worse and we don’t anticipate in-person events for quite some time. Without an answer to the BIG question – just when will it be safe to celebrate again in our hotels, venues, barns, mansions, and museums? – we are all planning without parameters. One thing we do know, our industry can’t survive by waiting this out. We must use this time for innovation and our clients so desperately need to celebrate.
My weeks are actually busier than ever. I am taking several classes and spend time each week discussing ways to innovate within our industry with caterers, rental companies, entertainers, and fellow planners. Now is the time to come together as an industry. While events haven’t been happening, our clients have found DIY ways to make them happen and a new trend called Zoom Mitzvahs is taking shape. We cannot postpone celebrating life right now. We as an industry need to use this time to be creative and come up with new ideas to make these makeshift online celebrations grander.
To that effort, I’ve been hosting a weekly group we call Mitzvah Monday Motivation. Mitzvah because many of us work with Bar and Bat Mitzvah families. This gathering started as a place to lament and accept our situation. Now we meet weekly to motivate and brainstorm and support each other through this. Each week we have more and more people join us. Some have just begun accepting the situation, while others have come up with some really neat ideas of how to survive past the pandemic. It gives me such an incredible feeling to know that I have this gathering to look forward to every week and that this motivation is just what many of us needed to look past the pandemic. We just want to hold on so we can be in business long enough to produce live events again.
I hop on webinars and town halls to get updates from area politicians and doctors who are discussing possible reopening plans. I read the latest health warnings, and worry a lot. One thing is crystal clear; when events start to open up, they will not look like the events from the past. Tables will have to be positioned for social distancing. There likely won’t be dancing as they are finding that this environment will promote super spreading. Caterers and hotels are laying out plans for strict food handling with safety measures in place so guests don’t handle or touch more than their own utensils and food. No more self-serve stations or grand displays of hors d’oeuvres. Events will be smaller and food safety will be strict. Cleaning and disinfecting between each group will become commonplace until there is enough testing and a vaccine. One infected guest has the potential of infecting all the others. There will likely be someone at the door taking everyone’s temperatures and turning away anyone who has one, guests and vendors alike. It doesn’t sound much like a celebration.
While tight restrictions for gathering remain in place in the state of Maryland, we are hopeful we can gather in small groups outdoors in the warmer months ahead. I’ve spoken to many venues with outdoor spaces and we’ve laid out plans for ways they can host micro-events and allow others to safely attend, or drive through. So the wedding planned for late June can happen, just differently. With restrictions changing weekly, the plans we make need to be fluid and creative.
We cannot forget about their guests, the family, and friends who so desperately want to join them on their big day. As people come to realize that we can’t hold a traditional event as they had planned and continue to postpone their events, we are preparing to offer innovative options to meet and celebrate using alternative online delivery. Our team has been immersed in learning all about online events and coming up with incredibly creative ways to celebrate while respecting physical distancing, health, and safety of our clients and their guests. So rather than waiting for events to begin, we are anxious to let events continue despite being in the midst of a pandemic. This is a tall order that we do not take lightly. We are asking all our clients to consider celebrating now, just in a different way or we fear many event professionals and businesses won’t survive while we wait to meet again on the dance floor.
The general public will have to trust that others around them are following suit & staying hygienic; that businesses & retailers are ensuring safety & health at all times.
- Following all CDC, WHO & OSHA recommendations on health & safety in the workspace.
- Created policies & protocols for ensuring health & safety for all.
- Deep cleaning and disinfecting our headquarters as well as our warehouse.
- Providing cleaning directives for pre & post event cleanliness using the recommended grade of products.
- Providing PPE for staff and requiring it to be worn when out in public by all staff, crew, performers & contractors/vendors when on a job site.
- Daily health screenings & check-ins for staff, crew, performers & contractors/vendors.
- Providing our staff, crew, performers & contractors/vendors with wipes & sanitizer while on a job site.
- Requiring our staff to be trained & certified on Covid-19 awareness as well as PPE before they can return back to work provided by online training services by OSHA & 360training.com.
- Limiting the types of gigs & events that we provide support for. Taking into account accountability for health & safety, attendance/audience size, timeline, as well as learning what & how we the venue/client is providing action measures to ensure their venue is sanitary.
- Communicating with our clients on our transparency & how we are handling the situation and what our expectations are.
- Limiting the amount of overhire crew, performers & outside vendors/contractors as necessary.
- Utilizing our FT staff in more capacity to ensure we have a safe team that can be easily traceable if necessary.
We are working on a couple large-scale, virtual events with clients for the Fall and New Year, but we're more so focusing on a new consulting arm that will be helping charities and non-profits with fundraising and strategic projects during these difficult times.
By investing in this research and soul-searching, I've prepared my business to have a more clear point of view so I'm not distracted by the avalanche of inquiries that is sure to come.
The COVID-19 crisis has nudged me to align my business even more closely with my personal beliefs. At some point, I expect we’ll encounter a wave of pent up event demand. I won’t be able to accommodate every possible inquiry that comes my way, so it’s more important than ever to stand tall in who I am and the legacy I wish to leave behind.
The forced downtime has allowed me to research and adjust the types of partners I will recommend to my clients. Going forward, I wish to align more closely with small boutique venues, particularly those that are independently owned and operated. I’m also partnering with florists who strive to create sustainable and ethical designs, including foraged botanicals and foam-free installations.
By investing in this research and soul-searching, I’ve prepared my business to have a more clear point of view so I’m not distracted by the avalanche of inquiries that is sure to come. Also, by taking a stance on who I am, I expect to attract bookings from clients who share my world view. Essentially, I want to do well by doing good. If the events industry works together to support the success of small business owners and a healthy planet, we can make a big difference for our clients and our communities.
This time has also allowed us to explore, source, and form new partnerships with local businesses and artisans
During this time of postponement and pause, our team has taken quality time to review + refresh our website [thehuestudio.com], including a full exploration of our brand, current offerings + services, and upgrading portfolio photographs. For established clients, we have waived all fees and continue to collaborate with preferred service partners to adjust and/or waive penalty and cancellation fees, wherever possible.
We’re working closely with our hotel partners to stay up to date with all the upcoming changes including: new technology, hotel operations, testing and training for employees, access to PPE, new guest check-in flow, as well as specific cleaning guidelines, f & b handling and sanitation policies.
Event planning in a post-COVID-19 world will require some adjusting across the board. At Echelon Events Group, our #1 priority is the health and safety of our clients and their attendees. We are closely monitoring local, state, federal, and CDC guidelines and mandates. Las Vegas is dedicated to paving the way when it comes to reopening strategies and safety precautions for hotels and meeting facilities. We’re working closely with our hotel partners to stay up to date with all the upcoming changes including: new technology, hotel operations, testing and training for employees, access to PPE, new guest check-in flow, as well as specific cleaning guidelines, f & b handling and sanitation policies. We want to be knowledgeable and prepared to answer any questions our clients may have as they are trying to navigate through this unprecedented time.
In addition to staying informed locally, we will also have creative solutions available for clients hosting events anywhere in the world. We’re very excited to be launching a new website dedicated to all things virtual – www.virtualresourceguide.com. There, we will be providing information on all the latest and greatest virtual options available, from team building to speakers and everything in between. While nothing can quite replace the unique benefits of face-to-face events, virtual alternatives can create surprisingly powerful results.
The next few months are going to be challenging for our industry as we adjust to this “new normal”. We all look forward to the day we can reopen the city and welcome our guests back. In the meantime, our team is committed to being educated, vigilant and a trusted resource to our clients.
The best way to be prepared is to have honest and open conversations with my clients.
I have armed myself with education - I am more than ready for the industry professionals to resume doing what it is that we love.
This experience has forced me to restructure and reevaluate my business.
I have updated all my social media platforms and other platforms my business is associated with. I have implemented a new scheduling program. I have tweaked my client questionnaire and updated my digital databases. I have purchased new decorative items and linens.
I’m super excited about how the event industry will take off when everyone is ready to engage person to person again. This experience has forced me to restructure and reevaluate my business. This is a great thing. We can not become comfortable in business; we have to always adapt.
Let’s start planning some events!!!!
My goal has been to take a deep inhale, pay attention to what has been happening, and to see what the proper pivot needs to be in the event world.
- Square Footage – Number of guests on the dance floor, number of guests at each table, matching up new events: guest count with venue square footage
- What we need from our vendors – what precautions are they taking? what precautions do we need them to take?
- What we need from our venues – what precautions are they taking? what precautions do we need them to take?
- What are they requiring of us to host events? Key – what are they requiring of clients and their guests?
- How much product were we storing to use in the future?
- How much money was going out in small charges without us realizing it?
- Should we be more digital than we have been? Paperless in a world that uses paper (invites, escorts, place cards, menus, etc.)
- Revised marketing materials for key venues and solidifying relationships
- New templates for invoicing, budgeting, letterhead, and client proposals
- Updating website with event photos
- What marketing has worked and what has not?
- Where will new clients be coming from?
- Making a new plan overall – evaluating what has worked and what has not
- What do we want to say to clients in the new normal?
I am working to increase my expertise as a virtual event planner to better support clients – not only as they transition from in-person events temporarily, but also to provide better solutions moving forward.
I am working to increase my expertise as a virtual event planner to better support clients – not only as they transition from in-person events temporarily, but also to provide better solutions moving forward. I truly believe we will see some sort of digital/hybrid component for in-person events into 2021 and beyond, and I want my clients’ meetings to be as effective, engaging, and inclusive as possible. To that end, I am preparing as much as I can now to learn all I can.
I have decided to create a document that I will email to all vendors for each event that outlines what is expected by each vendor, so there is no confusion as to what role each of us will play or not play.
In this industry, the environment remains very fluid and in flux, so the more information I have the better I can serve my clients.
I have personally been investigating new resources so that I am knowledgeable on new venues, floral designers, dress shops, caterers, and other services that I may suggest or hire for my clients when restrictions relax and bookings are possible. Also, I have been in contact with many venues, in particular, for updates on their postponement/cancellation policies.
I also am keeping updated as smaller service providers make adjustments to their businesses, such as layoffs, and in some cases, closing of their businesses altogether. In this industry, the environment remains very fluid and in flux, so the more information I have the better I can serve my clients.
Sweet I Do's has also launched a sister site - Phoenix Micro Weddings - to assist those clients that are looking for a more intimate, yet still full-service experience.
Things are ever-changing in this new landscape and weddings aren’t going to be what they were a few months ago. That being said, Sweet I Do’s has done a number of things to prepare for this “new normal”. We have made adjustments to the back end side of the business – additional clauses in our contracts to make things more transparent for clients, adapting technology to give the opportunity to clients to remain in their homes to attend meetings, automation of some of our processes to reduce the number of items needing to be “touched” and passed around. We have also made some changes to our day-of services to ensure we remain in compliance with the local, state, and federal guidelines.
On the client-facing side, we are advising clients on things to consider when making their wedding and event plans – potential adjustments to the budget to account for additional tables, chairs, linens, etc., considerations with regards to the buffet and open service food items, and alternative entertainment options if we are not allowed to have dancing. We are also asking clients to poll their guests to determine who will be attending, what circumstances would need to be met for them to attend, etc.
On a personal side, we will be asking clients if they would prefer for us to wear protective gear and taking the appropriate protections to ensure the safety of our families. Sweet I Do’s has also launched a sister site – Phoenix Micro Weddings – to assist those clients that are looking for a more intimate, yet still full-service experience. We’re here ready to assist clients in making everything amazing and memorable, no matter what size event we are allowed to host.
The Covid-19 pandemic has actually given me time to slow down and readjust several aspects of my business.
I've read and sat through many webinars dealing with the effects of the regulations as related to social and business events.
- Maintaining constant communication with my clients to assure that we are all on the same page with adjustments that need to be made.
- Communicating with my venue managers and vendors regarding adjustments and the expectations that I have regarding their service adhering to all regulations.
- Making face masks to provide my staff and any vendors that may need them.
- Keeping a supply of gloves, hand sanitizers, and other sanitizing products that may be needed at the event.
- I’ve added an addendum to my contract releasing me and my staff from any liability if a guest or vendor gets sick, that my clients must sign.
- Making sure my clients know that we must adhere to the six-foot distancing rule with each floor plan and seating arrangement.
- I’ve ordered digital, touchless thermometers that we will use to check temperatures of guests and vendors if required.
As far as our business, we are working on ways to become less dependent on events alone, especially since we probably won't be able to do the same quantity of weddings.
As far as weddings go we are just working with our sweet couples on their unique circumstances as the issues arise. It is hard to be proactive with this without literally postponing everyone until next year.
As far as our business, we are working on ways to become less dependent on events alone, especially since we probably won’t be able to do the same quantity of weddings. We want to make sure our business is still in place to take care of our couples when this does let up.
It is definitely in our heart and soul to help couples and weddings come together, but I see some more adaptive trends on the horizon (such as more elopements, mini weddings, virtual weddings) that may not sustain planner businesses as well, so we want to be prepared.
Staying on top of COVID requirements for events and relaying this information to our clients is one of the biggest changes as we move forward into the summer and fall wedding season.
I am ready now! I have booked two full planning clients since the crisis began. We have been moving along with our timeline and action items per usual. I actually did COVID compliant sight tours last week. I am planning on starting décor meetings in the next couple of weeks with my new clients and potential design firms.
The biggest challenge is still anticipating when our postponed couples will be able to host a large scale wedding. Staying on top of COVID requirements for events and relaying this information to our clients is one of the biggest changes as we move forward into the summer and fall wedding season.
I have my running sneakers ready for site walk-throughs and our shoes are shined and the wardrobe is ironed and ready to celebrate with you!
I have my running sneakers ready for site walk-throughs and our shoes are shined and the wardrobe is ironed and ready to celebrate with you! I’m looking forward to being hands-on finding the right dress and the perfect venue to create a magical moment.
I plan on offering micro weddings for those who still wish to get married this year.
I plan on offering micro weddings for those who still wish to get married this year. For next year, we are just making sure everyone is safe and taking special precautions for social distancing, such as satellite dance floors, no more bar lines, and drinks will be served to the tables and not handed out by bartenders, so we eliminate long lines. Just rethinking the overlook of how to social distance.
We have updated and reviewed all of our contracts, making sure they protect both us and our clients.
For planning weddings after the quarantine, we have written suggested instructions with adjustments that brides might want to consider to make their weddings and receptions safer for them and their guests.
As things begin to open up, I believe clients will need simple, cost-effective solutions to plan events.
I have been thinking about what the clients might need now that is different than before. As things begin to open up, I believe clients will need simple, cost-effective solutions to plan events. They will not have much time or money to start with, so it will be up to the event community to find ways to help them create events with safety and style that meets their goals.
I am working to streamline offerings, services grouped to make event planning simple for the clients, my event partner, and me. Simple events with limited options, grouping what they need, as one flat fee.
I spent time chatting with my event partners, finding out what they need, what I can do to help them, and how we can help each other create new opportunities.
None of us know exactly how things will be once people can gather together again; the best thing I can do for my business is be ready to help clients and colleagues alike navigate the new event landscape.
I have been in constant communication with vendors since the shutdown.
I have been in constant communication with vendors since the shutdown. So when the transition begins for the opening of all venues and vendors, it’s like we never missed a beat. All the planning processes will proceed and we will have a smooth transition for our clients to enjoy their special event or wedding day.
We are in the process of enhancing our internal processes (from inquiry to post-event) to ensure a fun, stress-free, and even smoother experience for our clients.
We are in the process of enhancing our internal processes (from inquiry to post-event) to ensure a fun, stress-free, and even smoother experience for our clients. This includes updating our contracts to provide more flexibility for cancellations and postponements and providing the ability to further customize our Event Planning service offerings to best meet our client’s unique situation and event needs.
We realize that while things may be opening back up, there is still a great deal of uncertainty with events, and we are positioning ourselves to be more flexible and agile as we help our clients maneuver all of the changes to come!
One of the biggest changes that I have made to my business is adjusting the services that I provide our clients.
I have adjusted my business many ways to be ready for events whenever we are able to celebrate in groups again. One of the biggest changes that I have made to my business is adjusting the services that I provide our clients. This has looked like creating custom elopement and intimate wedding packages for clients interested in an alternative option to a larger wedding.
Another adjustment has included creating processes and structures to help aid our clients in the rescheduling process ranging from managing and alerting their guests to working to reschedule vendors. This time of reflection during COVID-19 has given me the opportunity to reflect on how we can create opportunities to better serve our clients once celebrations are possible.
Currently, we are taking this time to update our website, our social media coverage and strategies, and also maintaining our relationships with both our clients and our vendors so we are ready and “in the know” when things pick back up.
I have added virtual events to the services that we offer and I am working on the platforms that I want to regularly use for that along with the services that we can offer with it.
I have not necessarily “adjusted” my business but I have gone through what we were doing in detail. I’ve been looking into areas for improvement and making those improvements. I have been updating and adding to our processes and step by step instructions for the team.
Speaking of the team, we have been virtually connecting every other week to catch up and discuss changes as they are being made internally and across the industry. We were not meeting as often before the pandemic but I will encourage the frequency of our meetings. I think it’s a great way to share ideas and keep the momentum going while keeping everyone in the loop. I like the virtual aspect of meeting with people – I think it’s productive and concise and they can be recorded which allows the option of revisiting.
I have added virtual events to the services that we offer and I am working on the platforms that I want to regularly use for that along with the services that we can offer with it (virtual template design, merch shipping, and email correspondence).