Event Companies During Pandemic: Checking in With Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting

As we mentioned in last week’s article, it’s important for us as an industry to stay connected and aware of business across all markets. Although we will continue to run the Allseated Connecting Our Community webinars, we are also following up with event professionals for Q & A interview articles in order to further educate ourselves and the industry on how event companies are doing during this unprecedented time.

We recently spoke with Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting to see how business has been since she was a panelist on the Allseated Connecting Our Community Marketing Expert Panel in the spring.

How has business been this summer since we spoke to you around Memorial Day during the Connecting Our Community webinar?

When I got off the plane from Catersource/TSE on March 13, I don’t think I had fully grasped that my job as a publicist was about to become nearly 24-hours a day for the next two months. When I participated in the AllSeated webinar, I was on the tail end of many 90-hour workweeks, so I was equal parts grateful for the work and exhausted. I was also focused on remaining sustainable as a company for the long-term, so I was knee-deep in PPP Loan applications, cash flow reviews, and an internal tech audit for the company. 

I knew as we headed into the Summer that things would slow down- great news for my own personal well-being but concerning from a business standpoint. I’m fortunate that my company wasn’t impacted so quickly at the beginning of the pandemic- I had time to make considerable adjustments that have served us well and better prepared ourselves for the challenges we would face. 

These days, we’re focusing heavily on relationships- those with our clients, conference chairs, education directors at associations, and the media itself. I can dive in fully to what I do best- and no longer feel that I’m also holding a fire hose in one hand, putting out endless fires.  

I’d be remiss if I didn’t share that my responsibilities as a business owner this summer were greatly impacted by the current child care crisis many of us are facing. With my son at home with me, I split the days up in 3-4 hour sections, so my husband and I are alternating between 6 am and 7 pm nearly every day. As a result, I made the decision to cut my office and transfer those funds to increasing staffing to help offset my odd schedule. 

What have you noticed from your clients overall as we continue to navigate the pandemic this summer?

There was a definitive moment for me this summer, where it was clear that the event season would not recover in 2020, and I could see that ripple effect in the industry as others came to the same, sobering conclusion. The challenge went from adjusting for a few months to adapting for the remainder of the year and beyond. Morale shifted from panicked to morose. 

But the event professionals are resilient, and I’ve had a front row seat to truly inventive ideas, shifts in services and complete overhauls of mindset. It inspires me every day. 

How do you see the Fall shaping up for the industry?

The Fall season varies considerably depending on where you live. California, as an example, is so very limited in what they can do while some colleagues are business as usual in other areas, which is strange to me. Realistically, some companies will have to make tough decisions about their staff as well as their own longevity. Others will see the benefits of their hard-earned pivots. 

We’ll see a continued interest in small celebrations in events, as well as virtual gatherings that far exceed the basic Zoom meetings from the spring. My hope for the wedding space is that newly engaged couples will feel more confident that they can begin making plans for 2021. 

What positives have you possibly noticed this summer in business / the industry?

I was about to hit the two-year renewal with my latest office lease, and let it go, without hesitation. I always wanted to work at home full-time but felt an office was something I *had* to do, especially with having a small staff. When it was clear that the money could be put to better use, I promptly wrote the leasing company and then gave all of my furniture away to friends within the day. I felt 100% lighter as a result and am much happier for it. 

Since the initial publicity push, I have had the chance to slow down just a bit and enjoy more time with my family. I travel frequently in “normal times,” so while I miss being on the road and spending time with my conference friends, I am happy to be with my family full time. 

Of course, all of this is to say, that these positives are very bittersweet. I would have rather made these adjustments without having a global pandemic. 

Anything else you wish to share (about your business, new launches, new services, highlights, etc.)

Given that I’m no longer on the road right now, I’m able to build in time to finally pursue projects I’m had on the backburner. I’m creating much-needed Wedding PR products, starting with a multimedia guide on earning press without as many events on the books. 

I initially launched it while participated in the Profitable Planner Bundle and it will be live on the site, along with other products, this Fall. I am also putting the finishing touches on resources for newlyweds interested in submitting their own weddings. 

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