Five key lessons learnt from pivoting an event’s business due to Covid

Five key lessons learnt from pivoting an event’s business due to Covid

Before Covid-19 hit us with all its force, like to so many event’s businesses, we had an exciting book of business planned for 2020. We had been gradually building our business up over a couple of years – refining our areas of service; moderating, facilitating and curating content for events - and building strong relationships with our clients. We were full of energy and ready to go!

The pandemic put a stop pretty much overnight to our carefully laid plans for growth, not just for 2020 but beyond.

Now, more than six months into this journey, we thought it might be useful to reflect back on what we’ve learnt. When we saw the shout out for blogs on DW, we had the idea of writing this blog in the hope that there might be some shared learnings and maybe even some inspiration for others. So, what have we learnt from pivoting our event’s business due to Covid-19?

  • Upskilling is critical - we had been deliberating for a while how to improve our digital skills, especially our social media skills. We were relatively competent but still could see the digital world never stands still. We took the decision very early in lockdown to take the time we had been “given” to work on our digital skills, and in particular, our social media skills. Who would have thought that we would become gurus at facilitating high impact virtual Zoom events? Build our own e-learning modules on presenting and public speaking both virtually and in person? To name a couple of our pivots.
  • Play to your strengths now more than ever – as a team we have always played to our individual and collective strengths but when it became clear that we were going to have to change our service offerings from in person to virtual and also extend our services, we very quickly had to understand who was capable of what, where the gaps were and what expertise we were going to have to buy in (no amount of upskilling is ever going to make us experts in marketing online courses!)
  • Relationships are key – invest in them. Honestly, without the relationships we’ve formed throughout Covid-19, life would have been even tougher. There were days when, like so many of us, we questioned how and whether to go on but the time we’ve invested in relationships has come back to us in so many wonderful ways and has kept us in an industry we love.
  • Cash is still king/queen – our very first exercise was to figure out how financially we could not just survive but thrive through the pandemic. We have had to be very creative in how we’ve managed the business; not just cutting costs right back but also taking some calculated gambles - investing where needed - in order to generate the much needed new income from our business pivots.
  • Look after yourself (physically and mentally) - throughout this journey there continue to be up days and down days. Sometimes down days become down weeks. So many of us have been focusing on making sure others around us are ok – especially if we have staff (let alone vulnerable relatives and friends), we’ve totally forgotten to put on our own oxygen mask. Managing our own wellbeing is critical. For us, we’ve formed a new habit of taking a n hour’s walk every day early in the morning. Also, like so many of us in the events industry, we are bon viveurs so we’ve really had to lean into this one! And at least try to eat and drink more sensibly.

As a husband wife team in events (we think we know a few of those!), we’re used to working closely with each other. What we weren’t used to was having our young daughter at home with us 24/7 (don’t mention home schooling), the close proximity and the emotions – whilst pivoting a business during a crisis. None of this would have been possible without us having each other’s back with good humour and while we still have some way to go to get back on track with the business, we’re grateful for many of the lessons learnt.

James Hasler and Rebecca Hill are both principal consultants at HaslerHill Consulting, an organisation specialising in moderation, facilitation and curation of events, as well as presentation skills and public speaking skills training both virtual and in person. If you would like to learn more about the services they offer and how they can be of benefit to your business, please get in touch via the HaslerHill Consulting or call +44(0) 7773 229909