As we stare longingly out of our windows hoping for this #unprecedented (word of the moment) virus to pass us by with as minimal disruption and loss of life as possible, the idea of hosting kick-ass events, and in our case cocktail events, seems a tad irresponsible, excessive, and low priority right now. I think we're all agreed on this.
However, I can't help but stop to think what our fabulously creative industry will look like immediately after Coronovirus passes us by, and how long it'll take to recover.
There will be a new normal, I keep hearing. And I believe them.
Whilst we'd like to hope bars and restaurants will fill up with people desperate to be out of the house come July, I can't help thinking that this won't be the case for the events industry. Budgets will be squeezed as a change of focus starts to take shape.
Here were my initial thoughts, concerns and musings...
Businesses will most likely be tighter on cash, and unlikely to want to spend limited funds on extravagant or close proximity events, potentially into 2021. It also look irresponsible to do so to the wider community, and they won't want that to affect their business image.
Brand launches, influencer events, and media events have all been postponed, and will therefore by vying for attention and attendance when things get up and running again. There's likely to be big delays on jobs getting confirmed, and more uncertainty about what budgets are available.
Whilst there may be an initial rush to social un-distance ourselves with private events in people's homes, there will also be a lot of uncertainly about whether to commit to future events. Covid-19 may return, and restrictions could be implemented sporadically over the next 12 months.
People's attitudes to spending will be different. We've all had a chance to slow down and take stock of what's really important to us. The extravagant and the luxurious will be redefined, and how we connect with each other will affect how much we want to spend.
I know, I'm making it sound all doom & gloom! But it's crucial to be prepared that things won't return to as they were post-corona, and if we're going to survive, we need good ol' creative resourcefulness and a new perspective.
Our clients attitudes to hosting large gatherings of people will probably change too, so we need to be prepared to showcase some ingenuity and forward thinking when it comes to hygiene and best practice.
In response to all this, I've started to ask myself some questions...
I've changed, so how might my clients have changed?
This has undoubtedly been the most globally challenging occurrence in most of our lifetimes.
What's shifted in my own mind? And how does that affect how I feel about what I offer?
Where's My focus? What's important?
How am I communicating what I offer, and what's the most important feature in post-Covid society?
The human impact.
How does my service impact on people connecting with one another?
What's the tone of our offering?
Am I aiming at the right market?
Mix & Muddle has always been a luxury service. What does luxury mean now?
Are people looking for something different?
I sense a feeling amongst us liberal urban folk, who so often occupy the events world, that the wealthy and privileged won't be bothered by all this nonsense and will return to spending as normal after lockdown ceases.
I wouldn't be so sure...
"Cultural pressure is the sometimes unseen force that allows us to maintain civility. It helps us decide what to choose. People like us, do things like this.
As we face the need to pay for our recovery, for a new and more resilient safety net and for the shifts that our culture demands, will we have to resort to the short-term and the selfish yet again?"
Seth Godin, Marketing Guru and Author
I imagine, in the UK at least, that people will consider the royal 'WE' rather than the selfish 'I'. #Unprecedented events have a habit to inciting such a response.
Images like THIS may stay a thing of the past...for the near future...
SO, we come to the solution...or the approach to the solution...or an educated guess at the approach to the solution! But what more can we do but prepare to be prepared...
Step 1: Strike the Right Tone
Put an emphasis on re-connection, as apposed to up-selling glamour. If you want to offer a post-Covid discount to your clients, make it a celebration of re-connecting with loved ones and fellow humans.
I've been developing a plan for Post-Covid VE Day Party offer, for example.
Step 2: Develop a Post-Covid Toolkit
Develop your toolkit for responsible event hosting. Take into account how you'd maintain high hygiene standards, how you're avoiding unnecessary human contact, and how your safeguarding your staff. I'm even going as far as to stay to clients how many guests based on the size of the space we're willing to accommodate.
Step 3: Keep up a Virtual/develop a home delivery offering
Some of our catering companies have already done this, and are seem to prospering, but there's no reason not to continue it post-Covid.
Yes, people may well delete Zoom from their laptops, vowing never to return to a virtual chatroom ever again, but truth is, we're likely to return to a semi state of lockdown again.
I've developed a corporate cocktail package for corporate event nights in, marketing media send outs, and home based influencer events.
Step 4: Let Your Staff Know You'll Need Them Again
Bets are that your freelance or part-time staff have suffered more than you have during this time.
Reassure them that they'll be the first to hear when events do start coming in again.
Step 5: Target A New Demographic
It's not like you're going to run off your feet with booking from day 1, so sit with you team and brainstorm a new demographic of customer, or sector to approach.
I'm already considering what Mix & Muddle could do for small catering companies who don't offer cocktails as a package.
Stage 6: quality over quantity
Research into consumer behaviour has shown that people are wanting quality products, and are choosing to support smaller businesses and spend more on especially food and drink. This should guide you into reviewing what you offer.
I've been really honing in on my brand image too, and making sure that it strikes the right quality tone.
I'd love to hear what my fellow events profs think about a post-Covid future for our industry, so feel free to comment below. As a small cocktail events company, we're also up for collaborating with small catering companies to join together on an offering, so feel free to reach out via our website.
Stay curious folks, and see you on the other side :)
P.s. in the meantime, let's make some boozy chocolate milk...