As we get bombarded with the latest up to the minute stats over the number of coronavirus cases and deaths across the globe, along with news of redundancies and furloughs in the events industry, it can feel a little overwhelming to say the least. It can also be easy to forget that behind all these worrying stats are real people.
The events industry is all about people, and everyone from corporate buyers, to agencies, DMCs, hoteliers and the entire supply chain, is being affected by the crisis in different ways. So over the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing you some of the personal stories of #eventprofs across our brilliant industry in a series of Coronavirus Chronicles. First up, it’s InSynq account manager Kiera Gilbey, who shares how just one day in her life last week was completely different to what she expected…
How I thought the 26th March was going to look for me:
- Recovering from post-event exhaustion after a Food & Drink Tradeshow in Liverpool.
- Inbox full of post-event reviews and reconciliations.
- Currently on the 07.50 flight from Gatwick to Tenerife for a site inspection and a well-earned gin & tonic in the sun.
- Less than a week away from a 3 week scuba diving holiday in Bali.
How the 26th of March is actually looking:
- Virtual tumble-weed rolling through my inbox.
- Sat at home writing this blog about a word none of us had ever even heard of a few months ago.
- Spending far too much time sending funny dog videos on various group chats in an attempt to keep spirits up.
As event professionals, the Coronavirus hit us right where it hurts. The heart and soul of our industry is rooted in bringing groups together to share experiences as a collective. It is this collective nature that enables events to build relationships, spread ideas and establish communities within the various industries that we support.
As Insynq were in the midst of organising a UK based event, I naively thought we would be immune to Coronavirus and at first, my day to day life wasn’t affected beyond having to offer a few reassuring words to the first of the concerned delegates who called. I assured them we were monitoring the situation, following guidelines and would keep them informed. There. Job done. Back to hotel and exhibition stand bookings I went. It’s funny now to try and remember when/where it was when I first heard about the virus… the truth is I have absolutely no idea. I was probably too busy thinking about something else that was far more important to me at the time, a concept which now seems hard to imagine.
I have suffered both professionally and personally as a result of Coronavirus but I am currently expecting that once we reach the other side of this terrible time, my life will resume nearly as normal. Unfortunately, I am extremely lucky to be able to say this and there are those who will not be so lucky. In the recent weeks, I have spoken to friends in the industry that are facing life-changing consequences of this epidemic due to financial difficulty and lack of work. I can only hope that as an industry, we support those companies and individuals who have spent their careers building the industry that we all love.
Insynq are one of a plethora of agencies currently experiencing the joy of dismantling a cancelled event. I hope that other agencies have experienced similar responses that we have from our suppliers who are focusing on maintaining positive business relationships for future events that WILL come. Obviously, it is not only event agencies that have been financially hit by the virus so we braced ourselves for strict cancellation policies imposed by suppliers to prevent their own cash flow problems. While this was of course not entirely avoidable, we have managed to secure a huge amount of money as credit for future events. Not only has this kept our clients happy, but it also offers the events industry a lifeline with the promise that events will resume again as soon as it is safe and ethical to do so.
I have worked hard to remain positive and whenever this slips, I remind myself that compared to so many others, I have nothing to complain about: My family and I are healthy and I am able to support those elderly and vulnerable, I have a house, a garden and an adorable Jack Russell to see me through this lock down period and the government is putting financial aid in place so that I am able to pay my mortgage. However at the same time, we are all being pushed and tested by these unprecedented circumstances and sometimes a moan (or maybe even a cry, when necessary) is perfectly justified. It is hugely important to remain positive, but it’s equally important to remember we’re only human and sometimes need to let off some steam.
So here’s some things I am letting myself feel bitter about:
- The cancellation of our event the week before it was due to go ahead meant we had done basically ALL of the hard, sometimes boring preparation work and then got none of the job satisfaction from seeing the event come to life.
- Exciting plans and research for future events have been put on hold and replaced with cancellation/postponement policies.
- The results of my pre-holiday diet are being wasted on self-quarantine and I will have snacked my way back a pre-diet state and worse by the time I get to go… Particularly bitter about this one.
However, I refuse to finish negatively so here’s a few little gems of goodness born out of these weird and crazy times:
- A real sense of community. Yesterday, I jogged past a man who I vaguely recognised as living down my road. Rather than ignoring each other like we usually would, we both made the effort to practice social distance, smiled and he even saluted me. I felt such a sense of ‘Keep doing your bit, we are in this together and we will get through this’.
- The positive effects on the environment have been astounding and while I am by no means suggesting we carry on living our lives like this for longer than necessary, the point has definitely be proven that when the whole world works as a team, it does not take long before changes are evident.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy (or painfully non-busy) lock-down day to read my blog. Stay safe, be responsible and indulge yourself in any and all positive thoughts you can manage.