Well what a year it’s been. The words I would use to sum up those first few weeks in March 2020 would be bewildering, frightening and unimaginable.
For the months that followed, the one word that seemed best to describe the situation we found ourselves in was “relentless.”
The speed of change to our business - and of course our industry as a whole was phenomenal. We were lucky, being accustomed to delivering events all around the world, the set up of everyone having to work from home wasn’t as hard for us as it must have been for some.
Those early weeks were all about cancelling and moving events and then cancelling and moving them again alongside chasing overdue payments (and I am delighted to say the vast majority honoured these payments), whilst simultaneously getting our heads around the ever increasing amount of technology out there. Technology though has been the saving grace of communication and connecting teams all over the world including our own. The development of our platform from primarily a registration and website tool has also being an exciting journey allowing us to expand our scope of services and enter the new ‘virtual’ world.
All of the Lime Blue team were, and continue to be, hugely resilient as we adapted quickly to the new way of working, embraced virtual events and continued to come up with new ways that we can provide services to our clients.
Over the last few months we have organised many successful virtual events such as “Oscar” style awards ceremonies, town hall meetings, full virtual conferences and provided a vast range of on-line activities and entertainers, not to mention organising a huge amount of door drop deliveries such as food hampers and cocktail making kits.
During this time we were also nervously waiting for the much needed (and delayed) planning permission to convert an old shop, that we bought in December of last year, into the new Lime Blue Solutions office. We finally got this in August and the building work is now in full throttle so we will hopefully be officially moving in early next year (Covid 19 allowing of course). We are all missing, as I am sure many are, the buzz of being in an office with the rest of the team.
That’s not all we miss though of course. We miss the hotels, the venues, the travel, the wonderful DMC’s, the transfer companies and numerous other suppliers we work with all of whom have been affected terribly. We miss having a face to face meetings with our clients and we miss the few wonderful, talented people we had to let go (all of whom have found other positions we are delighted to say.)
Virtual events are of course here to stay and are an amazing tool but it is so strange being on an event but not actually physically being there on it. As Kate, Director of Operations and Events commented “usually we would be there to greet the speaker as they got out of their transfer, get them some refreshments, walk them through to the conference area, introduce them to the AV team, get them mic’d up, run through the schedule with them and so on….now it’s all down to the technology to make sure we can still engage with them to make them feel comfortable.” Our AV and design teams are massively important cogs in the business and the operations team still need to look after all the logistics of the event – its just in a totally different way. No triple cross checking rooming lists, transfer lists, special diets or counting people on and off coaches for now!
As we head towards the end of the year and begin our next lockdown, we will remain optimistic. We must not forget the positives that have come out of this situation – a time for everyone to reflect, to come together and create new, fresh ideas and ways of working and to understand the importance of our personal and professional relationships. The MICE industry is a fantastic industry. It is irrepressible and willing to adapt. After all you don’t go into events expecting everything to run exactly as planned all the time. One day this pandemic will be over and people will want to meet and celebrate face to face together again that is for sure.
In the meantime, thanks to our supportive clients that are continuing their journey with us through these very strange times. We still believe that live events are key and one day they will be back.
Nicola Miller, Managing Director