As I sat down to think about how I wanted to excite and encourage you, my valued industry colleagues, I thought back to the phrase, ‘we’re all in this together.’ I feel compelled to remind everyone that this still holds true, and as we plan for our future, we must think about each other and our mutual success. Together is the way forward. Our relationships with our suppliers, team members, and industry are our most valuable assets. It’s these people that truly make our events a success. Our industry is in a time of need. It’s just beginning its recovery phase, and we will need to remain “in this together” to survive.
Canada and many parts of the world are beginning to feel the effects of inflation. The cost of food, transportation, fuel, and rent has already skyrocketed. For us, this means the cost of doing events is already high and could get much higher. Not only is this difficult for budgeting, but it’s also challenging to explain to clients as most of them are just recovering or trying to recover from how the pandemic affected their businesses. Many clients will ask for discounts, but now is not the time to ask this of our suppliers, or ourselves.
We must remember that all our suppliers were also hit hard during the pandemic, as our entire industry came to a screeching halt in March 2020. Most simply, they cannot afford discounts at this time.
Our suppliers make our events shine and bring them to life. They answer our calls in our time of need and come through when things go “bump in the night”. It’s important to remember this and how hard we were all hit by the pandemic when clients are looking for discounts or savings. Let’s not ask for this cost savings from our suppliers. Instead, let’s look for efficiencies in our planning, reimagine how things could be done, plan ahead and explore mutually benefitting strategies.
The event and hospitality industry has seen a mass exodus of staff and management over the last two years, and the talent pool is increasingly shallow. It is more important than ever that we inspire the next generation of event professionals to stay in our industry and aspire to do greater things going forward.
I encourage you to look at your team and ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I know what they want out of their career? What are their short-term and long-term goals?
- What are their core values?
- What is their biggest personal goal?
- Is working with us helping or preventing them from achieving it?
- What is their dream event or role, and how are we helping them go after it?
We all know that we can achieve more as a group than as individuals, so investing in your team members is the best way to ensure growth.
Many of us rely on volunteers to execute our events. This may become more important as we look for efficiencies in our planning. Let’s start by thinking about how we contribute to these people in exchange for their time and effort before recruiting them. If we want engaged, enthusiastic, knowledgeable volunteers (and we all want that), we must first think about what we contribute in lieu of pay.
- Most people are volunteering because they are looking to gain experience or are advocates for what the event stands for, supports, or will achieve by supporting, or they are both.
- Learn why someone is choosing to volunteer and then invest in their learning or goodwill accordingly.
- Thoughtful onboarding and orientations go a long way. Thank you parties, gifts, and notes do as well.
Let’s not forget the power of the thank you letter accompanied by a personal letter of reference. If you can’t budget the time to do these things, you can’t “afford” volunteers.
Early in the pandemic, someone I respect said, “if we’re all rebuilding, all starting from scratch, what do you want to do and what do you want to represent.” This is something I’ve held on to and something I’ve loved discussing with colleagues. It’s no secret that all of us want to do work we’re proud of but being aligned in your purpose and being a part of necessary and meaningful change is gold! If you haven’t done so already, spend some time with your team discussing what really matters to you and what you want to stand for, then make sure that everything you do honours that.
We aligned on our core values in early 2020 when we launched our rebranded event agency EVNT MGMT. When it came time to “pivot”, knowing what was important to us and what we stood for made it easy to decide what work we would take on. We now only work with clients who share our values. This means that all the work we do together not only feels good, but we are also all mutually successful in honouring our core values. To us, this is what a successful path forward feels like.
Jasmine Baker is president and founder of EVNT MGMT in Toronto.