Lara Burnes, general manager of premier events & experiences at Melbourne & Olympic Parks, shares her thoughts on being proactive to build personal skills, improve work processes and boost team morale during this time
The events industry is undoubtedly experiencing its biggest challenge to date. In Australia, the term ‘two’s company, three’s a crowdâ€™ has never been more apt, with the Federal Government banning all social gatherings of more than two people for the current time.
For events professionals, working from home is the new normal and many across the country are now looking to find a fresh routine to tackle the day-to-day.
1. Level up: Upskill (or learn a new skill) during downtime
With the events industry currently taking an extended siesta, event professionals from all over Australia may have been experiencing reduced hours and changes to their work environment. Undoubtedly, the current climate is proving difficult, but there are still ways to maximise this newly available time.
This could include filling-in any gaps in skills for your existing role, developing new work-related skills and engaging in a passion project that could help elevate your business.
A great option to consider is a Business Chicks upcoming event called All Stars. They usually hold face-to-face conferences and Q&As with industry leaders, but are taking their show online with an impressive lineup, including New York Times bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k Mark Manson. Theyâ€™ll be talking about how to cope, upskill and thrive during these uncertain times â€“ certainly one to watch out for.
2. Review (and revamp) processes
Take the time to review your workplaceâ€™s current processes, so that when you do go back into work (physically), youâ€™re as prepared as possible to tackle whatâ€™s ahead.
Begin by mind-mapping each task procedure based on whatâ€™s working, whatâ€™s not, and what can be built-on or improved upon. For my team, weâ€™re using this time to review our databases, update sales CRM activities and improve our system processes.
Weâ€™re also looking at how we can revamp meeting procedures to apply them to virtual meetings, as individual ideas can often be missed without a structured format. To improve this, weâ€™ve developed a framework for our Zoom and Google Hangout brainstorm sessions. We set up by having one staff member lead as the organiser to guide the virtual meeting and discussion, allowing us to creatively ideate in an orderly manner.
3. Update marketing collateral and social content
Now is a perfect time to review your online presence and marketing collateral.
For my team, weâ€™re looking at updating our website copy, reviewing and updating our SEO and revamping our e-newsletters for a more engaging customer experience. Whether itâ€™s online content, staff biographies or business cards, spend time reviewing and looking at how you can update and improve areas that you might not get to tackle in your usual day-to-day.
Now is also prime time to update your social media pages and to get creative. Spend time looking at your industry counterparts and what theyâ€™re doing well, analyse the trends of today, and explore new ways to boost your page engagement. Whether this is done sitting on the couch or watching Netflix, immerse yourself in social media to get inspired!
4. Research and innovate
Research, research, research.
There are so many available source providers that can open windows of opportunity to learn about new ideas, projects and production techniques.
Whether itâ€™s learnings from a key opinion leader or innovations inside or outside your industry, consider how you can incorporate these ideas into your events, venues, businesses or products.
Particularly now, itâ€™s really interesting to see so many brands launch innovative products to adapt and support the local market. A couple of good examples that come to mind are Melbourne-based florists Flowers Vasette, and Victoria Whitelaw Florists, once strictly specialising in flowers, they are now extending their services to create flower deliveries with fresh produce â€“ dropped off at your doorstep, including make your own soup boxes and boxes with Easter goodies. This is the time to start thinking differently and innovating.
When we come out the other end of all this, so many industries will be congested and you will need something new that sets your business apart from the rest.
5. Check in on your team â€“ and industry partners
Physical and social distancing does not have to mean complete isolation. Check in on your team regularly â€“ whether professionally or personally. This could include a direct team member, industry colleague or event partner. Remember that this is a unique and challenging time for most, especially those in the events and hospitality industry.
Stay connected by arranging regular team catch-ups via video calls, put a call in to a supplier or arrange an open chat forum via Zoom for your industry colleagues to drop in to say â€˜Hiâ€™. Also, keep close to Business Events Industry Professionals for advice and updates, such as BEA Australia, Melbourne Convention Bureau (or your relevant bureau), PCOA, EEAA, MEA.
On a deeper level, checking in with your team is also important for mental health. For those doing it tough, make sure there are resources available, such as Beyond Blue. Subscriptions to mindful apps like Headspace or Breethe will assist you in learning how to take a moment for yourself and separate your work from personal life, when your home is now the location for both.
To the business events community, Iâ€™d also like to extend that our lines are also always open, to discuss any challenges or just to have a chat or a check-in.