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Weathering the storm: a look into the events industry

31 July 2020


Chloe Poole, Marketing Manager, in conversation with Alice Peacock, Managing Director of Alastair Currie Events

Weddings postponed. Conferences cancelled. Birthday celebrations marked with relatives dialling in. It is fair to say that the events and hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19. With social distancing restrictions rendering many events logistically impossible or no longer commercially viable, the industry has innovated to survive. Out of necessity, they have adapted.

Three weeks ago today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his plans for the events industry to reopen, subject to the careful implementation of social distancing measures and successful pilot events. But with these cancelled last weekend, and talk of a second wave dominating the headlines, much uncertainty remains. We have spoken with leading event management company, Alastair Currie Events, about their experiences so far and what the future holds for them.



From pre-lockdown worries to continued uncertainty, what have been the biggest challenges Alastair Currie Events has faced over the course of the pandemic?

The biggest challenge in the early stages was knowing what was realistic regarding the lockdown timescale. We quickly shifted to a long-term outlook - being as flexible and supportive as possible in re-booking for 2021. Concurrently, it was incredibly emotional to furlough our team as the jam-packed 2020 diary disappeared. It has been difficult letting go of exciting plans, and the sense of loss of being separated from colleagues also. It’s been staggering to see the amount of change the world has taken on in such a short space of time.

What have the past few months had in store for you?

We have focused on volunteering time, skills and equipment where needed. We also have 2021 clients with menus to choose and centrepieces to finalise – which have been wonderful to continue with. It’s been heartening to see the importance still placed on real socialising, good food and fun times – we know things look unusual now, but we have hope going forward. In response to the need for social distancing events, we’ve created ‘Stunning & Safe – Parties at Home’ for those wishing to dine spectacularly in their gardens, and also ‘Socially Distanced Studios’ for our corporate clients looking to communicate to their audience in a quality, engaging manner. We’ve had fantastic feedback and the first few productions have been incredibly well-received, which has been so heartening. It’s been great getting people together on a project again.

What does the future hold for Alastair Currie Events?

We are at a crucial point for the events industry in that the furlough scheme is roughly halfway through its term before ceasing completely. The furlough scheme has helped our business immeasurably, and we are in a good position to get moving again quickly as policy regarding events and mass gatherings becomes clearer. As private events and weddings find their feet, with smaller numbers and social-distancing, we’re here ready and waiting. We predict a ‘bumper’ year for all things events in 2021, with many having been postponed but also pent-up demand and a real wish to gather for social occasions again.

Finally, did the pandemic teach you anything new about your business? Is there anything you will take with you beyond COVID-19?

We have enjoyed embracing online events; their benefit for the environment is undeniable but also their ability to bring together new audiences. We’re engaging with international speakers and event attendees with such ease, it’s something to really continue to foster and encourage. This experience has also cemented what we already knew, but were too busy to reflect on - we are blessed with a fantastic team, a wonderful group of skilled suppliers and we love what we do. We are determined to continue to put our best foot forward in the coming months and into next year. It’s been a very unusual summer, with so much sadness and difficulties for so many, we remain positive – for us it is all about bringing people together, and long may that continue (in whatever fashion that may be). We have found new resilience, new ways of working and renewed love for our industry.   

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