One of the industries hit most harshly by Covid-19 is without a doubt the events industry with events big and small cancelled throughout lockdown and still many question marks over when certain types of events can restart. These include the kind of big Races for Life that GBC member Phoenix Events East provides security for, as well as the cookery classes that GBC member Greenwich Pantry facilitates. Plans for a full 2020 of events and classes came to an immediate halt.
These two businesses had to think fast and plan for survival but in a way that aligned with their GBC accreditation. As Lara Omoloja, founder of Greenwich Pantry put it:
“We had just received our GBC accreditation and that propelled us forward because it meant we had to push ourselves not to look for ways contrary to what we believed. That spurred us on to think there is a way out of this and to seek to do that well.”
Adam Harding, founder of Phoenix Events East explained:
“Mental endurance was key. Phoenix took the positive stand that they would not be beaten and that they would use the time they had been given to come back bigger and better. Essentially we wrote off 2020 for events and viewed anything that could happen as a bonus.”
Phoenix Events East Ltd
Phoenix Events East Ltd is a new name in the events industry and 2020 was always going to be tough. They had over fifteen events in their calendar, well on their way to being full, including prime dates like the May bank holiday weekend.
As a diversified business, with events cancelled, they did still have operations they could focus on, including a couple of sites where they provided security services. They swiftly implemented temperature checking key workers in the factories and making sure they sanitised each time they entered as well as following a one-way system.
They have also been protecting high value buildings due to stock being delivered but not going out. They ensured a local market they had kept to a one-way system in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines as well as having time to work with some new big events and get the planning in for next year when events return.
Director Adam Harding says:
“We have stayed positive and kept working hard, which is our ethos. The main thing is everyone is safe and well and whilst we love event season and meeting all the fantastic customers, we know we will be back again very soon.”
Greenwich Pantry Ltd is a London cooking school passionate about teaching people to cook, eat and live well. When the pandemic struck, Lara Omoloja focused first on her team, wanting to make sure they were fine. She started and sustained a weekly communication to check in with both staff and the wider community of freelancers, keeping them informed including on access to government support where applicable.
A lot of Greenwich Pantry’s sales for cookery classes occur through vouchers purchased as gifts but Lara wanted to make sure that even though they had a 12-month policy in place on their tickets, customers could have a refund if they needed one. That was especially important because a lot of their customers were only in the UK for a time and wanted to experience the culture but might not be returning within 12 months.
They then started a podcast helping people look at food from a different perspective, featuring people with allotments and seeking in particular to help people who were not accustomed to cooking but have had little choice during the lockdown. They have also used the podcast to talk to lots of people from different walks of life, the youngest being just 5 years old, and even had people engaging from different parts of the world.
They are looking at ways that they can put everything online, an important part of being sustainable and thinking outside the box, but also look forward to the time they can gather together once more which holds such value for their customers.
“We were always mindful that the cooking class itself ticks many boxes – social interaction, time together as a family – not just learning to cook. People are not fully aware of it when they purchase a cooking voucher but there really are multiple benefits. It’s just not the same online. The real reason people come is to spend quality time building relationships and learning a skill but in an environment that makes them more confident as a person.” Lara Omoloja
A Time to Reflect
One of the strengths when you are forced to stop is to take stock and evaluate whether what you provide is actually needed or wanted. Both of these members firmly believe there is a sustainable future for their businesses and that there is real value in the service they provide. Whilst both companies expected 2020 to be a key year for sales and growth, they have adapted to the circumstances, showed resilience and are preparing to meet 2021 more focused than ever.