Perhaps it was a little naïve to expect that the coronavirus would acknowledge the passing of one year to the next and embrace 2021 with the same feeling of new beginnings. I guess this human tragedy was never going to start the New Year with a new, positive mindset in the same way as many of us in the industry were planning.
While a bit of festive cheer, some well-earned holiday, and the chance to reset, has given us the chance to approach 2021 with a renewed sense of vigour, unfortunately, Covid-19 just keeps fighting us back and has now evolved into something even more concerning for us all. Bringing with it a national lockdown at a time when we were emerging, ready for the fight, and full of enthusiasm.
However, while it does feel like we’ve been dealt a 2020 style body blow (no sooner had we ‘kissed’ that year goodbye) I’m personally not letting go of the fighting spirit.
One of the main traits of 2020 was the constant drip-feeding of bad news; drop by drop it took away our enthusiasm, changed our plans, and had us bouncing from one government briefing to the next. With it, we felt a fundamental lack of control and urgency in both the running of our events and the management of our businesses.
As of 2021, here at both Lime Venue Portfolio and The Venue Collection, we’re looking to take back control; for our customers, for their events, for our staff, our venues and our industry. So, what does this mean?
First of all, it’s worth sharing a story about one of the great events that were held in our portfolio last year. I’m not sharing the name for privacy reasons, but it was one of those events that had a date in the spring and then found itself bouncing across the year. The event moved from one shut down to the next until the autumn, where it found a date that it was allowed to take place. The event planning had all been done, the execution was set in terms of how it would handle operating in a Covid-secure environment, and everyone was ready to jump as soon as they had the date confirmed; this included the venue.
It was a great event, it was productive, creative, effective and the event management was extraordinary. It was a credit to the brand that ran it. But what I liked most was what it said about the attitude of the people running it. Great events have great personality and this was an event that had will power. It seemed to want to happen, it was not going to be denied; it was patient, agile and persistent. When it could, it took place.
One of the sad facts about events is that, even without coronavirus, they are too easily cancelled. Events need to change attitude and adopt that will power of the event we saw in the Autumn. It’s an approach that will inevitably lead to frustration for the brands and companies, stress for the organisers, and lots of administration for venues and others in the supply chain. But this is what events need to be if they are going to happen in 2021, this is the new model.
Lime Venue Portfolio recently joined forces with The Venue Collection to launch our ‘March on March’ campaign. This is a new initiative where we are working with both our venue partners and our clients to incentivise events to happen as soon as the latest shut down ends. We’re realistic. It may not be March, but we’re encouraging the industry to at least be ready for March. If it means we have to delay, wait, or move, then so be it.
Mass cancellations in the first half of the year would be devastating for the industry and in my mind unnecessary. This isn’t like 2020; we know more about this disease, we have the optimism of a vaccine, and the surprise factor is gone, as has the slow bleed. We are in a position to be more in control of our businesses and our collective objective is to get as many events happening as humanly possible. This means #eventprofs need to develop new skills and mindsets. They are already dynamic and agile, prepared and organised. However, we need to add to this the quality of patience and reactivity.
We need to leap on opportunities to hold our events, act quickly and still execute with excellence. We need to work with our stakeholders and delegates to manage this new, more dynamic way of organising and bring them with us on this journey. As venues we need to be supportive of our customers, sharing risk, showing flexibility and being supportive of those events that are willing to put their faith in us and our businesses. This needs to be replicated across the supply chain.
It’s not a highly aspiration vision for 2021, but it is a realistic one, and it’s one that gives us back our momentum, allowing us to show the world the value of what we do. People have missed face to face experiences, this is a chance to remind them of just how much. 2021 is going to be a tough year for our industry, but we have the chance to take back control of what we do and get back to what we love; creating great events.