Event organizers are masters of contingency planning. They typically have back-up plans for their back-up plans. But Covid-19 was the unexpected twist that not even the most experienced event planners could have anticipated. For Halifax, N.S.-based ZedEvents, it meant watching a busy spring schedule literally disappear overnight.
“It vanished out from under us,” says Leanne Andrecyk, managing partner with ZedEvents.
Senior producer Rémi Lefebvre says that between his work with ZedEvents and eSource Event Registration, he was working on 35 events before the coronavirus lockdown. All but one, which went virtual, had to be canceled – only two have been rescheduled.
Rescheduling is going to be a challenge, warns Andrecyk. With a heavy fall schedule already in place, it’s difficult to find alternate dates at many venues. And even if you do find an alternate date, you might find attendance lower than originally expected since there are only so many events that people can attend in a week.
As well, Andrecyk cautions, the months of reduced incomes, both for individuals and businesses, could mean that people will have less money to spend. Event organizers may need to consider reducing overhead costs and passing those reductions along to their guests in order to boost attendance.
The bright side, according to Lefebvre, is that the pandemic and physical isolation is making Atlantic Canadians more receptive to virtual experiences. “We have to rethink how we can deliver guest experiences (across virtual platforms),” he says. “We’re very excited about these new opportunities. We can’t wait to get started.”
The big question, of course, is when we will be able to meet again. It’s a question that, for now, continues to go unanswered.