Eventology: Post-pandemic permanence
By Michelle Nicol, CERPFeatures Business Intelligence Party and event
Lingering effects from the biggest disruption to the events business in memory.
When you read the title of this article, you may be asking yourself how we are still talking about the pandemic nearly four years later. Returning to work in January after being on maternity leave for 12 months, I had the expectation that certain aspects of events that were implemented during the pandemic would surely have ended by now. I was mistaken!
Locally and globally, the impact that the COVID pandemic had on the event industry created a ripple effect that is still being felt to this day. While we are permitted without regulations to have large gatherings and the majority of venues and events are no longer enforcing mask or vaccine mandates, there are still many annual events that have not returned due to low attendance, lack of funding and a heavy debt load from not being able to recoup costs. Many rental companies I have spoken to were able to use their crew, inventory, trucks and warehouse capabilities to service other industries to keep their lights on and doors open. Unfortunately, some companies were forced to shut their doors if they were not able to make ends meet, and some veteran industry professionals had to pivot their careers to more reliable and stable industries during the pandemic.
Administratively, clients have started to closely pay attention to and read the fine print. They are questioning policy pertaining to cancellations and refund of deposits more than ever. If you’re like me, this is something you have hoped would happen for years! Historically, clients would briefly look over contracts, often not paying attention to important details and ensuring accuracy. On the other hand, it is now important to event organizers to have a plan in place should their event not proceed as planned, and how a company will handle a request to cancel an event after it has been confirmed is part of that. If you have not reviewed your terms and conditions yet, now is a great time to do so before the busy season hits.
Equipment-wise, some items that perhaps your company bought to serve customers during the pandemic, or certain items you might have increased in your inventory, are still needed for events. If you have been to an event with a buffet within the last few years, you may have noticed staff serving the guests from behind the buffet rather than guests helping themselves with the communal tongs. Limiting touch points for guests and increasing garbage and recycling availability on site are a couple things that will likely remain at events going forward. Many caterers and their clients are opting to go with grazing stations full of single self-serve items and some are looking for a disposable alternative such as bamboo serving boats and mini bowls.
There still remains an increased need for sanitation whether it’s in the form of handwash stations or increased staff for cleaning and maintenance of the event. Guests like to have the peace of mind that they are in a safe area and are able to comfortably enjoy themselves. Even though most are no longer wearing masks on a regular basis, I feel the increased health, safety and hygiene we have all became accustomed to during the pandemic will be forever ingrained in our subconscious – and we’re better for it! Additional sanitary items to add on might be rubber gloves, boot covers and microphone covers, to name a few.
While the world is now gathering and we are so thankful for events to be back – better and bigger than ever – we acknowledge how far we have come and how the past four years have impacted our day-to-day work. Now it’s time to do what we can do to adapt and thrive!
Michelle Nicol is an award-winning account manager and festival specialist with Higgins Event Rentals in Toronto.
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