Q: Have your clients cancelled parties?
We have seen a couple of cancellations in the last few days but I think the backdrop to that is that a number of people had already decided that they weren’t going to do a live Christmas party this year, they were going to do a virtual event or send their colleagues and clients a gift instead. So whilst we are still running 30 or 40 live events over the next few weeks, at this moment in time pleasingly not that may have cancelled at all
Q: Last year, we were suddenly told that we couldn’t socialise at all, did offices still have virtual events then?
We ran more Christmas parties last year than ever before. I think companies felt a responsibility to say thank you to their staff and we’re running a very large number of events this year as well, it’s just that because COVID has been with us all year long, a number of people made the decision very early that they weren’t going to do an event where they were all in the same room. Saying that, a number of people still have, and the brilliant events industry will do all that they can to make sure that everyone is kept as safe as possible and that nobody’s Christmas is ruined at all.
Q: For a live event, what does making sure everyone is as safe as possible insist on?
Booking a venue that is a bit bigger than you actually need, if you have tables for dinner, for example, that there is plenty of space between you and the table next door. Plenty of ventilation. Asking guests to take a lateral flow test before they turn up, as well as some other common sense decisions about not doing something like karaoke, so Christmas parties may have to be slightly sanitised compared to years gone by. Saying that, we had two Christmas parties last night, for which the dance floors were full, and everyone had a brilliant time.
Q: If there are further restrictions, what impact will that have on your business and other businesses like yours?
The hospitality industry as a whole has suffered terribly. AOK Events has done okay because we pivoted the business into virtual early, and set up a big gifting business as well to send out hampers and digital vouchers to say thankyou to people instead, so if another lockdown does follow then we are quite well prepared for that, but my heart goes out to hotels, caterers, staffing agencies, florists etc. who have the prospects of getting back on their feet over the next few weeks and then that being taken away from them.
Q: What’s your take on the government advice and communication in regards to the OMICRON variant so far, because many argue there’s a lot of mixed messaging going on?
I don’t think anybody has got an idea of what to do. I think if people are sensible they have the ability to limit transmition of this virus, and if people are stupid then they will probably become part of the problem, so as long as people use their heads and don’t do anything too stupid, going to events, going to the pub, to hotels and so on, doesn’t need to be any more dangerous than going to the office or going to the shops.
Q: What’s the most extravagant gift you’re sending to clients?
That’s a great question. Tech is very popular this year, but sending out hampers, and vouchers which is a bit more sustainable, plus it gives people the option to actually choose what they want rather than someone choosing it for them.
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