2020, An event planning review of a rollercoaster year
If you asked me one word to describe 2020, it would be rollercoaster. Well, at least that’s the polite way I would phrase it. A year that started with so much promise within the events and wedding industry in Jersey quickly transcended into a whirlwind of postponements, cancellations and frustration. In a normal year, this article probably wouldn’t exist (although it might become an annual festive habit now – lucky you!.) I’d more than likely be waltzing around managing a Christmas party we had meticulously been event planning over the past few months. But 2020 is no ordinary year, this December the pandemic has resulted in the venues falling silent and the champagne being left on ice.
Retracing my steps back to February however, and times were very different at event planning HQ. Over the course of many months we crafted a colossal concept which had not been rolled out anywhere before – White Collar Darts.
Working on behalf of Brighter Futures (and with the Jersey Darts Organisation) we wanted to architect an event experience which would not only raise awareness and funds for them, but also be a fantastic journey for the players and a captivating experience for those in attendance. Its fair to the say the night didn’t disappoint!
The extraordinary energy, the electric atmosphere, the most unbelievable walk-ons and of course, the darts, that left the 500 strong audience tantalised at every piece of tungsten thrown. Never did I ever think we’d witness quite the veritable smorgasbord of a dozen bananas, oompa loompas, Vikings, Ginger Spice and the cast of the Village people in a small corner of Trinity. A creative triumph – By the end of the evening over £64,000 had been raised and the foundations had been built for an exciting bullseye themed event for the future. Simply Epic!
In hindsight, we were very fortunate the event took place, of course. I don’t think many event planners will tell you that the dark, wintery depths of February would be the highlight of their event planning year but seeing something go from concept to creation and everyone in attendance having an incredible time is why we do what we do. Watch the after movie here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsIQHiGrJBg and you can also view the online recap magazine – http://hartmannmedia.co.uk/White-Collar-Darts-2020-Recap/.
It wasn’t until our next event on Friday 13th March that I started to realise the challenges lurking around the corner. The Gold Cup at the Grand was another fun-filled, successful event which we organise on an annual basis for Brighter Futures. You can’t really go wrong with a sparkling reception, three delicious courses, the excitement racing brings and some live entertainment but you could sense this ominous cloud forming. Whilst the mood was upbeat, there was a palpable feeling that this sense of togetherness might be broken for a while. I recall an attendee of the event telling me, “Gareth this will be one of those moments that will go down in history” and whilst you don’t want to believe it, he was right.
The week after, all components were in place for the Silkworth 25th Anniversary Ball with Calum Best being the guest speaker. This was meant to not only be a celebration in showcasing the history of Silkworth, but also an opportunity for our Island to support a local charity in developing their teenager and adolescent programme.
Months of preparation and inspiration had gone into developing an evening to match the milestone it marked, but days before the event all plans were gradually being extinguished. Being event planners we are used to problem solving but we were soon hit with the helpless realisation that this was a problem we were unable to solve. The plight of COVID19 had ploughed its claws into our plans and life as we knew it came to an abrupt halt.
This was obviously devastating for Silkworth and in trying to raise some funds we organised a sweepstake for the virtual Grand National which raised £400. This was nowhere near the amount that would have been raised at the ball, but dedicating that extra time showed how much we valued them as clients. I hope one day we will be able to again create that milestone celebration they richly deserve.
A year that was bubbling nicely therefore, had now boiled over. Lockdown and restrictions ensued which decimated our events calendar and left the industry in a cauldron of confusion. As event planners, it was time to hit the Ctrl, Alt, Adapt button.
Lockdown saw us launch “QuintEVENTially” – an online video series featuring professionals from the events and wedding industry. We thought of the initiative as a creative way in touching base with those we have worked with, whilst also discussing their thoughts on the situation and how they could potentially adapt to the restrictions imposed in the future.
We spent the next few months dedicating our time to evolving, delivering a rebrand and producing our new website. It was time to revitalise and “flourish those creative feathers” which not only makes us proudly stand out, but better portrays our event planning business. Whilst you can’t exactly say the industry is thriving right now, we are confident that when we can #partylikeapeacock again a much improved platform has been established in communicating our story and services. 🦚
This autumn, we extended our event planning and wedding services to also include our new range of premium rental items. Named “The Collection” our carefully curated luxury hire items range from the highest quality flower walls to an array of neon lighting which are guaranteed to bring that WOW factor to Jersey weddings and events over the forthcoming years.
With our connections within the industry in the Valencia, Murcia and Andalusia regions of Spain it was also hoped this year we would be introducing our “bodas en España” initiative, but with restrictions as they are this is something we look forward to introducing next year. If you would like a copy of our wedding planning booklet we would be delighted to send you one in the post.
One thing we have learned from the stillness of 2020 is how powerful events are and how integral they are to our Island. Without them doesn’t everything feel flat? Where are the memories? Those engaging experience that ignite our personalities and our businesses? I for one can’t wait to polish off those (very dusty now!) dancing shoes and be a part of some exceptional experiences again.
Events will not fizzle into obscurity, and there will be no last dance. Despite the challenges faced in a completely polarised year we continue to remain optimistic. The relentless rollercoaster has ebbed and flowed from impressible highs to frustrating lows and we still await the roar from the roaring 20s. Once that roar is heard however, rest assured that us and our fellow event professionals will come out fighting and bounce back like never before. We will be ready to party, will you?
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy Christmas and an amazing 2021! 🎄 If you could describe 2020 in one word what would it be?
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