Eliza Hart, Account Executive, Smoak Public Relations

    by Eliza Hart, Account Executive, Smoak Public Relations

    With the current circumstances surrounding COVID-19, we are without a doubt experiencing a different time and all businesses have had to pivot. The event world is no exception. COVID-19 has forced all events to come to a halt and determining the next steps has been a challenge.

    We reached out to some of our friends in the event industry to gather different expert opinions on what they recommend to best help you move forward with your event. Please find the below pointers on how to navigate the event world during such a unique time.

    Perspective from the event planner (Smoak Public Relations): As an event planner and account executive at Smoak PR, I suggest using this time to get organized, work ahead and make your event even better! For starters, reach out to your venue and hold several new event dates—request first right of refusal. With the status of COVID-19 ever changing, it is important to have more than one date option and to consider the possibility of a virtual event. The upside of having a virtual event is that you are able to keep your original date and stay connected with your attendees. In addition, you are saving on the majority of event expenses, such as food & beverage, rentals, event signage, and more. However, hosting a virtual event makes it more difficult for networking opportunities to occur and may also result in lower event attendance. You must be very creative if you are hosting a virtual event!

    Perspective from the event rental company (Professional Party Rentals): Janice Mancuso at Professional Party rentals gave us some insight on what they are seeing from an event rentals standpoint. She shared, “With events coming to a stop it has resulted in most event rental companies temporarily shutting down. We are getting small orders here and there, but we are no longer running at full capacity. At PPR, sales representatives are only working one day a week; therefore, response time may be delayed. Be sure to stay organized and make a list of everything you need so you can limit the amount you are contacting vendors. It would also be helpful to visit our website, where you most likely will be able to find the answers to the majority of your questions. The website will give you a good idea of what items we have and hopefully provide some inspiration!”

    Perspective from the caterer (Southern Way Catering): The general manager of Southern Way Catering, Mark McCalmont shared,With event dates being rescheduled, we will be busy when things are back up and running; however, in the meantime we are taking a hit. COVID-19 has affected scheduling, food orders and staffing, so share updates with your caterer as soon as you can. Most people who order food to go are picking up from local restaurants rather than ordering meals through a caterer. Most caterers, Southern Way Catering included, have family meal options for any day of the week and especially options for holidays. Use this time to support your caterer and order food to go so you can sample different menu offerings. This is also a great time to check things off your list and finalize your menu and bar package.”

    Perspective from the venue (Bon Secours Wellness Arena): According to Joe Dolan, assistant general manager at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, “the live event, sports, and entertainment industry has been impacted significantly by COVID-19. Our industry was one of the first to cease operation after the spread of the virus, and will likely be one of the last to return as restrictions are lowered. Customer safety and security is at the forefront of every decision we make, so new best practices will be instituted to ensure each guest is comfortable enjoying the unique experiences our events have always provided. Our industry is familiar with adapting to protect our guests, and just as we did post 9/11 and in the age of violence against mass gatherings, we will overcome these new challenges to create a welcoming and safe atmosphere for fans of sports, events, and live music.”