June 30, 2020

Inside Denver Insights: Events in the Time of COVID

Deanne Gertner

COVID’s disproportionate effect on businesses has left some industries reeling while others continue to plug along (almost like) business as usual. Many of those hard-hit industries are using the pandemic to adapt and innovate. The events business is no different. With large-scale events off the table for the foreseeable future, planners, caterers and venues have had to rethink every aspect of how they do business. But the challenge COVID presents may very well unlock new possibilities to reimagine and retool.

At our June 17, 2020, #InsideDenver Twitter chat with Blake Communications, we spoke to five event experts to hear how they’ve handled the shifts so far and what the future of their industry might hold.

Creative Pivots

Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. Whether that means uprooting your event from indoors to a rainbow-colored, umbrella-canopied alley like EXDO Events or inventing brand-new revenue streams like Footers Catering and Events, Colorado’s event planners know how to pivot with panache without sacrificing quality or safety. That goes for going virtual, too. Experience goes hand in hand with safety.

Insight #1: Keep the experience central. Make it memorable, yet seamlessly safe and easy.

With Great Challenge Comes Great Opportunity

Revenues and attendance are way down. Barriers to deepening relationships pop up faster than you can say whack-a-mole. Rules and regulations can change from one day to the next. Some parts of the industry are essentially frozen. Saying things are tough right now is a huge understatement. Uncertainty looms. How do you retain your staff without cash coming in? How do you shrink an event for 300 people to 50 people and still be profitable?

Courtney Drake-McDonough of In GoodTaste sees opportunity in pop-up-style weddings that could bring more fun with less planning. Christy Kurowski of Kurowski Event Production sees the opportunity to elevate virtual experiences as the next frontier in events. Jeannie McFarland Johnson of Creative Strategies Group thinks monetization of virtual events along with scaling experiences on both the individual and group levels could also make a difference.

Insight #2: With enough creative problem-solving and elbow grease, anything is possible.

Winning Strategies

The trade-off for increased public safety in the short-term has decreased interactivity and increased rigidity in the form of timed reservations and increased physical distancing. But events are stealing plays from other industries to keep people engaged. For example, a local farmer’s market takes a cue from the grocery store with pre-ordering and curbside pickup.

What else can events do to succeed in a pandemic? Have a backup plan for your backup plan.Communicate with transparency, clarity and authenticity.Be nimble. Stay on top of emerging trends. Study what’s worked for others.

Insight #3: Events, like life, are always a work in progress. Keep learning and experimenting. Oh, and don’t stop improving—or believing.

Want to know what else has our wheels turning these days? Head to Happenings.