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Event manager Wendy Lacey highlights the importance of event preparation
TLC Events Manager, Wendy Lacey advises that as Queensland relaxes restrictions, it’s essential that event managers, and everyone included in staging events - pivot, plan, prepare and pre-empt all possible scenarios to ensure their event is safe in every way.
Lacey notes that “thinking it is business as usual will be a big mistake.
“This is a major line-in-the-sand-moment for events nationally, and Queensland will lead the way.
“In 2020 and beyond, it will only take one unsafe event to threaten our COVID status. Everyone is keen to see the industry come back and is hungry for work, but potentially jeopardising the event returning in the future is a big NO.
“Queensland has always been famous for events, from the multi-awarded Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers which currently holds the national Australian Tourism Award title for Best Festival, to Paniyiri Greek Festival, the Chinchilla Melon Festival to James St Food & Wine Trail and picnics in parks, pop-ups and more.
“Events celebrate community, showcase local artists, operators and flavours, encourage travel, and generate economic impact and joy. It’s no wonder governments and communities are looking to events to revitalise the Queensland economy and culture.
“But this must be done with care and knowledge.”
Lacey highlights that “staging events from now on calls for careful consideration of financials – increased resources will be needed, teams will need additional training, attendance levels will most likely be less, or spread over more days, investment will be needed in digital technology, programming will need an innovative rethink. Every plan, method and protocol used pre-COVID needs resetting. It’s not business as usual by any stretch of any imagination.”
Brisbane in 2021 would be a different year again with Lacey noting “we believe a number of events will decide to not proceed and others will introduce different offerings. Until we have a COVID-19 vaccine and consumer confidence starts to rebuild, some people will decide to not to attend larger gatherings, particularly older demographics. If that is your target market, then work is needed on creating offerings on a smaller scale where people feel comfortable.”
She said regional Queensland should take advantage of its uniqueness explaining “people are looking for locations and events to attend, without the mass crowds, and those who typically head overseas throughout the year, are now on the search for amazing domestic experiences. Now is the time for regional Queensland events to shine.”
Led by Wendy Lacey, TLC Events Co has 30 years of experience, not only producing major events but also mentoring and consulting for a variety of events in regional and city centres throughout Queensland including the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, Paniyiri Greek Festival, Sweet Days Hot Nights Festival, Goomeri Pumpkin Festival, Cunnamulla Fella Festival, Eat Street Northshore, Second Gateway Bridge Opening, Story Bridge 75th, Valley Fiesta, Executive Building Open Day, Fish Lane Festival, James St Food & Wine Trail and more.
Following a devastating year for the event industry, TLC is forging forward – working with regions in forward planning, creating COVIDSafe planning for the industry and clients, providing pivot counsel for city-based events, and mentoring smaller operators.
TLC is a leader in sustainability event management, and has transitioned their major clients to be more kind to the environment. All their events are now run in a sustainable way, with full compliance to compostable packaging and beverages linked to the Container for Change program. TLC event managed Paniyiri 2019 was the first major event in Queensland to implement these onsite changes, a project used as a case study for future planning by local government.
Lacey provides advice for events and event managers listed below, to ensure events not just survive, but thrive in a post-COVID Queensland.
Wendy Lacey’s top tips for companies/events/organisations/regions planning events for 2020:
1.Stay current with all Government information on COVID planning for events in 2021; it is ever changing and it’s important during planning that you are developing ideas that are compliant.
2.Restrictions will continue to change for some time yet and we all need to be creating several scenarios for clients, working on different layouts, different formats for entertainment, most likely less attendance numbers and increased training of all those on site relating to COVID – particularly vendors, cleaning, security and operational teams.
3.Integration of digital technology – make cashless payments available at every outlet onsite and introduce options for online ticketing only.
4.Increased resources may be required to manage the COVID requirements – ensure an understanding in how this will financially impact the viability of the event, in conjunction with less attendance numbers.
5.Adequate training of staff, particularly around COVID requirements – most of these procedures are new and so extra time and care needs to be allocated to ensuring everyone understands their responsibility.
6.Patrons need to have a clear idea of what to expect once they arrive. Marketing of what is on offer and how the event will be proceeding is extremely important to manage these expectations.
7.Developing innovative programming ideas and collectively re-thinking what makes the event unique and why people are attending is crucial. Creating more boutique experiences that draw on those key components will be important in keeping people loyal.
8.Having developed the successful drive thru dessert concept at Eat Street Northshore, which ran over the last three weekends, feedback shows that people found the drive through the venue was part of the excitement, and it generated lots of social media, as a unique experience. It has been a great opportunity to still give people a taste of Eat Street while the venue remains closed. The operational planning for this concept was equally important, thinking about the consumer and their experience:
a.How can we keep them entertained from the moment they enter?
b.How can we manage queuing and wait times?
c.How many staff at each location to ensure every stage is streamlined?
9.We believe events that will run as ‘digital only’ may struggle unless we go back to a lockdown situation.
As Queensland moves forward, people want to experience their events live and in person again. This is what keeps the event alive. However, including a ‘digital’ element and add-on for those who perhaps cannot attend, is an exciting new option that is now current for many, and wasn’t before COVID.
Any digital aspects of an event need to be well rehearsed and engaging to keep people’s attention/interest – it is easy to ‘switch off’ during a digital event. Without strong marketing of all concepts, we don’t believe experiences will work – if people don’t know about something, they won’t attend/engage whether it be virtual or in real life.
For more information on TLC events go to tlceventsco.com.au/
Image top Eat Street Northshore and image above of Paniyiri Greek Festival. Courtesy of TLC Events
2nd October 2020 - Venues in 25 nations light up red to back #WeMakeEvents initiative
21st September 2020 - Western Australian Government announces Guidelines and Plans to enable more events
21st September 2020 - Tourism and Events Queensland secures Toowoomba flower festival for another five years
11th September 2020 - Australian business events industry welcomes $50 million funding announcement
1st September 2020 - Events Centre Caloundra reopens for first live performance in over four months
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