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A message from Paul Murphy, Managing Director at AVCOM

Managing Events In A Crisis – Status Red and how we are dealing with this crisis to keep our doors open.

It can all change in a heartbeat but miss a beat and it could be the death of you.

Managing a company that is an integral part of the events industry can be challenging at the best of times, but when the threat of COVID-19 approached the shores of Ireland, we suddenly found ourselves in the eye of the storm with no escape route. In the first week of the threats, we had two events cancel or postpone on us, and by the beginning of March, this had risen to 12 events. From then on, the numbers rose in cancellations every week from 28 events on the 9th of March to now more than 180 as I write this blog.

Where do you start when a storm like this takes hold of your business? 

Well, you start to look at your team (or try to avoid them in the corridors) and ask yourself; how will I be able to pay them this month and the months after? How much do I owe the revenue, banks, landlord, creditors and utilities? It can become crippling if you let it.

But in a time of crisis, calm minds and collective thoughts are needed to steer the ship through these stormy waters. As the captain, your crew are watching your every move and can sense your emotions, so the first course to take is to get clear on communication.

Transparency with your team

During these uncertain times, it’s important to be transparent and clear with your team and let them in on what you know, as well as what you are expecting. When I discussed with my wife that we need to batten down the hatches with our own family spending, I knew trouble was brewing. I needed to share this with my team.

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So I had the difficult task of gathering our team together and informing them that the future was uncertain, and that short-time working and possible temporary layoffs were on the horizon. That was on a Tuesday.

On Thursday, the Government recommended that all indoor events over 100 people should not go ahead, and that’s when our cancellations and postponements jumped three-fold in one day.

I had to take drastic and immediate action. That Friday, I had to temporarily lay off more than 30 team members with immediate effect, that was the most difficult start to our survival.

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In a cruel twist, on the evening before, it was announced that AVCOM had won an award from the Small Firms Association of Ireland for ‘Workplace Wellbeing’. Our team is the core of our business, and unfortunately, in order to keep the longevity of AVCOM, and ensure job security in the future, we had to be honest and decisive. When business returns to normal levels, we look forward to celebrating this achievement when our teams are back together.

The storm is now in status red and as a business, we are in survival mode, just two weeks after realising it may hit us. Since the 16th of March, all of our March & April bookings are wiped out, with half of May’s events also gone and the rest is hanging on the edge of the cliff, ready for the storm surge to sink it.

Every cloud has a Web Stream lining

For the time being, we must look out to the horizon and see that the storm clouds will soon clear. We don’t know when exactly, but when it does, we need to be ready.

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Our first step is marketing – we must tell the world we’re open for business and have solutions to beat the mass gatherings ban. Our solution is to use technology, after all, we’re a bunch of techies anyway. Audiences are already used to communicating online in their everyday lives via our handheld devices and we want to give our clients the confidence that technology is more important now than ever before. The globalisation of travel is no longer viable, but technical communication is still global and online communication must be interactive and recordable to allow viewers to watch in their own time. We’re experts when it comes to advanced events technology and we can provide solutions to help business adapt, adjust and stay connected.

Connect with clients to build lasting relationships

The next step, when our customer is ready (remember they are managing a crisis too), is to engage with them. In our very fast-paced world, we work every second we can, rarely getting the time to look beyond current tasks. 

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It’s time to digitally connect with clients, discuss their needs and wants, align service offerings to their requirements and inform them of the opportunities that they may never have considered before. Start designing their next project and build momentum, engagement and excitement that brings positive perspective in this challenging time. We have a number of different engaging and effective solutions for our clients to deliver a truly incredible experience.

Be ready for when the storm dissipates

How many times over the past year have you said; I’ll get to that when things quieten down. We all know things don’t just quieten down – except for now. This crisis period is an opportunity to get to those housekeeping tasks that there was never time for and bring about positive change in your business. Think of your review processes and systems – are they up to date and relevant? If not, change them, adapt and make them part of the everyday workings of your business.

This is also the perfect time to train and retrain your team, or at the very least, have your training planned for their return. When the industry opens its doors again, there will be an abundance of opportunities out there, but all your competitors will be pitching for the same business, you’ll need to stand out from the crowd. Ensure your teams, especially your sales group, are informed, upskilled, ambitious and creative in their approach to your everyday offerings. This will set you apart from your competition. We’re working really hard to keep the ship afloat so that we can have our full teams back with us when this crisis is over.

Deliver your forecast of a bright outlook ahead

Over the past two weeks and probably over the next few weeks, our natural course of action will be to look internally, but you’ll need to lift your head from the spreadsheet forecasts and communicate, to your team and your customers.

 

The message I give to myself is:

You’ve talked with your customers; reviewed your internal workings, and up-skilled your teams – now tell your team what the plans are once we sail out of these stormy waters. Have the team believe in your purpose so that your niche and customers will listen and engage too. Your marketing will support this belief and if you believe, both your team and your customers will believe that the horizon is no longer too far off in the distance. Before this storm, your business was thriving and after the storm, your business will be striving to achieve even greater things. Put the foundations in place now so you can achieve your positive forecasts.

As always, AVCOM are here and open for business to offer any advice or solutions during this time. Get in touch with us today to see how we can support your communication in these stormy times.

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