We've all been affected deeply by the Coronavirus. Loss of jobs, stores shut down, worldwide uncertainty, and sheltering in place are just a few of the once-a-century type of occurrences we're experiencing. The event industry in particular is getting hit hard. After an emotional roller coaster, we're seeing some light and adapting fast. Here's what we've been up to and a few of the ways we're pivoting to stay relevant and resilient!
Rescheduling and cancelling events. This was the first, but worst and most dreaded phase of our new life. We put a new policy in place for clients unable to have their event due to Covid-19 related government mandates. It was two (unpaid) weeks solid on the phone and sending emails. The bulk of it is done, for now. Unfortunately, requests for rescheduled or cancelled events continue to trickle. We've consulted our legal team and other event vendors and we're handling requests on a case by case basis.
Scaling back our staff. As new bookings slowed by over 80%, we had to cut back staff and hours worked by 25-50%. Luckily our rainy day funds and low overhead are helping us weather the storm.
Government assistance. After a PPP round 1 failure and much frustration, our bank came through in round 2. We never thought we'd ever learn this much about banks, loans, and government assistance programs! This is a welcome boost that will last 2 months.
Catching up on projects. We've had a backlog of projects that live events were preventing us from getting to. Now they're getting got to... Backing up hard drives, cleaning our storage, repairing gear, organizing cabling, researching new technology, updating our website, and more.
Following government and vendor trends. We used to meet in person, attend networking gatherings, and educational classes. Now, it's webinar after webinar of tons of supportive discussion and education. Our Austin International Live Events Association (ILEA) chapter, Austin Wedding Planner Association (AWPA), Wedding Network Texas (WNT) and SCORE have hosted virtual panels on reopening, safety, laws, business strategy, marketing, etc. We're soaking it all in.
Creating new company policies for safety. We're taking the advice of those aforementioned smart panelists and taking action. Aside from standard social distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing, we're also implementing some DJ and AV specific standards. For example, microphone handling and request taking are two areas we really needed to tackle. We're now offering multiple solutions for minimizing microphone usage risks. We'll be having disinfecting options on site at each event and/or offer more microphones than before when each mic user wants their own mic. We recently had an AV inquiry to supply a separate mic for each of 30 board members at a meeting. We can make that happen!
DJ request system and setup. In the past guests would simply walk up to us to make a request. They'd get right up to us to be heard over the speakers by the DJ station. That's no longer safe practice. Our solutions include a notebook for DJ requests and messages and direct messaging options via Facebook, Instagram, or text. A quick announcement or small signs will let guests know how to communicate with their DJ or AV technician. We'll also put up stanchions or other discreet barriers to protect ourselves from wandering guests.
Going virtual. We're stepping up our virtual consultation offerings with multiple video chat platforms. Need to discuss your event but don't want to meet in person because you don't want to get out of your PJs? No problem. Having a virtual event and need an AV tech or a DJ to create the perfect soundtrack on Zoom? We now cover that, too!
Reflecting on what's important. We're spending more time with family, getting regular exercise, and allowing ourselves the space to grow.
Let us know in the comments how your life or business has changed. If you have questions about how we're handling something not mentioned above, contact us and we'd be happy to discuss! We're in this together.
- DJ Jeff Hudson, CSEP