The Unlimited Events Group (UEG) can transform ordinary spaces into unforgettable events. They’ve designed and set up almost 2000 events a year across South Africa, but that came to a halt when COVID hit. We chatted to Liaan Herman, their Senior Operations Executive to find out more. Thanks for your time and your positive attitude Liaan!
“It was March 2020… Life was great with a loving family (now even bigger), an awesome job, business was booming. On route to the best year we’ve ever had. Then all of a sudden… nothing!
To be honest, COVID-19 affected every single person to various degrees. For me, it highlighted what we should be thankful for, but also how much we actually took for granted. Being in the event space, one tends to just think about the next deadline, the next show and the next budget. But you forget about your loved ones, family and friends. You forget about colleagues (who you spend most of your time with). You just forget!
It opened my eyes to how little other people knew about COVID's huge affect on the “live” and “in person” events industry. During Level 4, when we could go outdoors and have conversations with neighbours and friends, it shocked me to hear that they had no idea how massive the blow was.
Fortunately, UEG have some extremely loyal clients. Without them, and our business owners’ mindset, we probably wouldn’t be here today. And COVID will be around for a long time to come. The difference is how we do business. We’ve implemented a variety of procedures to mitigate the risks of both health and business. Only time will tell if we did this successfully or not.
At the moment, one of the industry challenges is that a large number of companies have closed their doors - businesses that supply tech, décor, furniture, props, staging, flooring, catering – to name a few. So lots of experienced staff have lost their jobs, and in essence their livelihoods.
Some of them have started their own businesses, hoping clients will go with them. Without the big overheads and expenses of larger companies they’re charging cheap rates.This is hurting the bigger companies who can’t compete with the cheap rates, but it also hurts them in the long run, as it’s not a sustainable business model.
I believe that the industry needs to stick to the normal rates and educate people that you can’t study for the work we do. Nothing teaches you other than experience. Experience costs money. Experience saves lives. Experience ensures that you have an awesome event. Not just a bottom line budget.
We’re also struggling with regards to upfront payments, and deadlines for briefs and events. Our industry may have been quiet over the past 24 months, but this doesn’t mean that it only takes a day or two to come up with a concept and pull-off an event.
The great news is that the décor side of our business is making a massive return, as are themed events. Clients want to host “James Bond”, “Western”, “African”, etc themed parties and events. And from a regular business perspective, some of our yearly events are coming back - and we cannot wait for them! Personally, I am also 100% looking forward to a couple of days away with my family in July.
Always stay Positive, always stay humble and always stay who you are!”