May 22nd 2020

The Sustainable Dilemma

The Sustainable Dilemma

There has been one winner through the coronavirus pandemic; the environment. Changes we never dreamt were possible have happened in a matter of months. And on a global scale. We’ve seen the cancellation of eight out of ten international flights. Waters are clearing of plastic and pollution. Air quality is improving. Endangered species are returning to their natural habitats. In Venice, the waterways are clear. The people of China are able to breath clean air. And in New York, where my daughter lives and coronavirus has devastated so many, the levels of pollution have dropped by 50%. This city epitomises the sustainable dilemma – can we maintain the environmental benefits without the threat of pandemic pain?

The Sustainable Dilemma

 

It may be a miracle amongst the madness, but will we learn lessons for the long-term? Will doubters such as Donald Trump accept global warming as a scientific fact? It was the change our planet badly needed. Yet it may never have happened without a threat more imminent than the environmental catastrophe that has been lingering in our peripheral vision for many years.

The Sustainable Dilemma

 

The Events Industry

 

Within the events industry this raises a huge dilemma; one that I shared my thoughts on in my Conference News column at the beginning of this year. Events are by nature consumers of environmental resources. Energy use for a full lighting production for instance is substantial. Many elements of an event will be single use. Then there’s food waste, plastic consumption, car travel and air miles. Plus, a whole host of other factors to consider. It gives planners the sustainable dilemma – and a challenge!

 

In recent years, the conundrum has been that people have been eager to reduce their impact on the environment, yet they still want the impact and drama of lavish, glamourous events. As event planners, we’ve been charged with marrying desires that are polar opposites to one another. An almost impossible task. But has the coronavirus crisis given us the beginnings of a solution?

Social Distance

 

In the short term, social distancing measures will go some way towards keeping up the progress we’ve made environmentally. It’s unlikely we’ll be allowed to host large-scale events for some time. While we find our feet in a new world, small is better. We’ll have to throw all of our creativity into making events that are pared back in scale, but NOT in vision.

 

Another consequence of time spent in lockdown, is there has been a renewed understanding that we can survive on less. People are taking joy from the smaller things in life. Events will therefore need to respond and show reductions in energy, food and environmental consumption, honing-in on attention to detail. Small events CAN be beautiful. More thoughtful. More manageable. Clients will however need to invest in the finer details to make them successful. That TLC touch that makes all the difference.

 

Innovation

 

A different question is, can events really become more sustainable while maintaining their scale and impact? On this point, only time will tell. Event planners need to turn to their greatest assets to solve the dilemma: innovation. As I mentioned, I wrote a column about this very subject at the beginning of the year and I’ll leave you with some of those thoughts to summarise now.

 

“We need to tackle the challenge in the way that I deal with every event. I take every individual element and assess how we can deliver it with creativity and style, and now, with a more sustainable edge. Work with suppliers to minimise plastics and packaging. Look at low-energy options. Take care of your team’s wellbeing. Employ local venues, caterers and florists to lessen the burden of travel. For large events, I accept the task is daunting, but it shouldn’t be avoided. Perfect? Your solutions will evolve over time. You may not be able to change everything at once. But every swap, change, new idea and alternative option will make a difference.”

 

THE EXTRA FACTOR

Finally, this article in the Independent takes a closer look at the air pollution rates, and the changes we have seen in just a couple of months: TRULY startling! https://www.independent.co.uk/news/coronavirus-pollution-environment-lockdown-carbon-emissions-charts-a9510636.html

Having also been lucky enough to visit Venice for work and fun, the pictures here of the beautifully clear canals are astonishing and make the sustainable dilemma more apparent: https://youtu.be/HVwjs_D_kRI

The Sustainable Dilemma The Sustainable Dilemma The Sustainable Dilemma

 

-Liz Taylor, CEO. Taylor Lynn Corporation

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 May 18th 2020

Social Distance for Meetings

Social Distance for Meetings

Over the past two months I’ve done a lot of thinking about how we can begin to deliver events again. Most of you will know. I’m not the type of person to just accept that I’m unable to work indefinitely. When I hit a wall, I tend to look for something to knock it down with. If I can’t knock it down, I find a way to climb over it. So, my self-isolation has become a time for reflection. Brainstorming and planning for how we can start to deliver events when the Government begins to ease the lockdown rules.  Embracing the social distance for meetings philosophy.

In this article I’ll present my ideas about how the events industry can begin to recover. Ways in which we can get back to doing what we love; meeting.

As an event planner of 36 years of experience, I know that finding a social distance for meetings solution will only be possible by working collaboratively with venues and clients. I ’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts. Can we make this possible?

social distance for meetings

Beginning with baby steps

My first thought is that restrictions will determine that we will need to start off small. So, my skeleton plan is about how I think TLC will be able to deliver meetings of up to 50 people in the first instance.  Simply put, adopting the social distance for meetings approach will be much simpler with smaller groups.  We’ll need to hone our provision of these smaller micro meetings, then begin to think bigger and better until we can get back to delivering the large-scale wow factor events.

One solution could be to spread an event out over a few days, with smaller groups attending each day. You could even bring everyone who has attended together virtually on the final day with.

Alternatively, in a venue with more than one event room, organise the event content into smaller sub events. Delegates could be moved round the venue in an orderly and organised way. This could ensure that different groups don’t mingle, with each event space being cleaned in between.

All the Ps – protection, preparation, prevention

Staggered arrival times. Sending out pre-meeting safety packs detailing the steps a company is taking to protect delegates. Giving access to easily reachable sanitisation stations. Meetings will be all about thorough preparation to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

And until the world returns to normal, it will be our job as organisers of events to allay any fears and reassure delegates every precaution has been taken to ensure their safety. That means clear communication will be key.

social distance for meetings

Finding the right venue

Finding the perfect space to host your meeting will never be more important. Bigger will most certainly be better for smaller events. Businesses will need to find a venue that’s much larger than needed, so for a meeting of 50, we’d probably suggest a room that can host 250.

Layout within that space will be another consideration – with each delegate (or group of delegates depending on what’s allowed) being given ample space to social distance themselves from other people in the room.

Access to the outdoors is going to be another key factor in choosing to hire an event space. The latest information on COVID-19 shows that it’s easier to prevent the spread of coronavirus outdoors. Giving delegates frequent breaks in the open air will be hugely important also give venue teams time to clean the rooms frequently. But this will need to be staggered and well organised to prevent a mass exodus!

If the weather permits, why not hold the whole thing outside.

Non-Contact Catering

Buffets with precision organisation should be the way forward when it comes to catering at events. I’m fairly certain there will be no sit-down meals for a while, unless we adopt the approach that some restaurants in Europe are taking with clear Perspex screens segregating diners.
My preference would be small plates. There’s no need for service and attendees can help themselves without touching serving utensils – limiting the possibility of cross-contamination between groups of people.

Another idea would be to make up individual picnic baskets with single servings for each person, this could include some gorgeous cakes for afternoon tea, or a selection of cold meats, cheeses and breads for a more continental approach. Blankets could be laid out on a lawn with adequate spacing in between to adhere to social distancing while still allowing guests to mingle.

social distance for meetings

And for teas and coffees why not send out a personalised reusable cup ahead of the event within a delegate welcome pack. Another way to reassure your guests of cleanliness and minimal contact with venue staff.

Related Topic: How to Put the Wow Factor into an Event

Hybrid meetings

With a limit on numbers, businesses will really have to think about who they send to meetings. Only those who are integral should/will be able to attend. But by embracing technology and with careful organisation, it may be that a mix of virtual and actual attendees becomes the new norm.

Here is where an event planner would be able to add lots of value.  Making those virtual attendees feel as much a part of the event as those there on the day will be a challenge. Interactive elements will need to be handled in a creative, innovative way to bring the room together.

But with the recent VE Day celebrations as an example, it could mean that we reach even more people with events and messages.

By providing people with the means to have their own social distanced garden party at home, organisers believe that thousands more people became involved in the celebrations in their own way, than would have attended any official gatherings.

social distance for meetings

Attention to detail

In a world where smaller gatherings will become the norm (even for a short time), personal touches will become more important than ever.  Small is certainly more manageable when it comes to delivering the right social distance for meetings approach. And small can be beautiful. But companies will have to invest in micro events to elevate them and ensure they’re successful.

So, these are some steps I feel could be taken to mitigate risks of small-scale events and meetings as we begin to get back to business. Some companies may think ‘why would we get an event planner in for a small event?’ As always my answer would be that ‘the devil is in the detail’. But in fact, it’s even more important now to ensure that smaller events are planned to perfection, to allow us to progress further in the future.

social distance for meetings

Can we get people meeting again with the right social distance for meetings approach? Thoughts people? Over to you.

-Liz Taylor,  CEO, Taylor Lynn Corporation

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 May 7th 2020

Coronavirus Lost Generation of 2020

Coronavirus Lost Generation of 2020

Since the beginning of the pandemic employment or indeed the uncertainty has been one of my concerns. New research into youth unemployment has found that 600,000 more young people could be out of work this year due to the coronavirus. With pay and prospect ‘scarred’ for years. INDEPENDENT ARTICLE They will become the Coronavirus lost generation of 2020.

I accept that in the great scheme of things this could be perceived as way down the pecking order. People are dying whilst others are losing their livelihoods. It may be true that some, if not the majority, of young people could go back to live at home with parents and ride out any possible recession with their whole lives to rebuild their careers. But, there’s a bigger picture that many of us are overlooking as we become consumed with the herculean task of keeping our businesses afloat.

If we don’t support and nurture new talent into our sector, they will go elsewhere. For me, a person who has built a business with the help of young event industry talent, this would be a tragedy.

Commitment to New Talent

I’ve always committed to having an intern at TLC. And what brings the current situation into even sharper focus is very personal to me. In 2007 I hired my now Events Director Jess Randall fresh from university. She came to us with such energy, enthusiasm and creativity that I simply couldn’t let her go. She was a raw talent and I immediately knew that with the right guidance and in the right environment she would be a force to be reckoned with. So, I told her that once she had graduated there would be a job for her at TLC. The rest as they say is history.

She’s been with us for 3 years and is an incredibly important part of TLC. Creative. Enthusiastic. Hard working. Brilliant with clients, Jess has proved to be everything you want in a young event director. Developing the next generation of event planners is something I’ve dedicated a lot of my energy to. I love nothing better than delivering my annual lecture to the budding event planners at Manchester Metropolitan Uni. Taking time to share experiences, and my own brand of wisdom.

 

coronavirus lost generation 2020

The Lost Generation of Planners

Unfortunately, the first sector to shut down is likely to be the last to reopen for obvious reasons. The events industry has, frankly, been decimated by the pandemic. But even with all of this going on in the background, the thought of graduates, talented individuals, who will qualify and be sent out into a jobs market where there are no jobs, has been bothering me.

Not only have they had the joy of graduation taken from them. No final exams. Parties cancelled. Post-graduate travels on hold. The final chapter in their academic career simply stopped mid-sentence and carefree university life became a memory. Now they’re being released into an economic wasteland.  However, this is about more than just wanting to nurture new talent. It’s about the event industry as a whole and how we move forward to avoid allowing this crop of talented planners to be remembered as the coronavirus lost generation of 2020!

Our responsibility (with Government support) is surely to ensure that these eager, talented individuals realise their potential within our industry and don’t go elsewhere. They’re the future of the profession we’ve given our lives, hearts and souls to.

The Youthful Solution

I believe that the key to our recovery partly lies within this generation. I’m no technophobe. I may be known to Insta post at 3am, but I wasn’t brought up in a world where I learned to swipe and pinch before I could read and write. Young people coming through are digital natives. And now, more than ever, the events industry needs to harness technology and innovation.

In an industry built on bringing people together, we need to find, new, safe ways of doing so while we ride out the rest of storm.

When I first started out, people just organised their own parties and meetings, much like they are doing now on Zoom, Skype and Google hangout. Then event planners came along with inspiration and creativity and events were elevated to a level nobody could have imagined. It’s this enthusiasm that we need right now – new avenues of thought that can add value to companies finding their way to doing business in the ‘new normal’. The Coronavirus lost generation of 2020 could be a major part of our recovery.

coronavirus lost generation 2020

To Conclude

Finally, what I do know is that as an industry we won’t simply give up. We’re a hardy bunch. It’s taken all my resolve to stay focused and positive, but I have ridden out recessions, divorces and more. It may be a bumpy road, but I’m committed to ensuring that TLC survives and thrives. And when that happens, I will be certain to welcome a new intern into the fold.

For more information on how TLC are staying positive during Coronavirus, take a look here.

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