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The GenWhy Leaders Podcast

Jul 20, 2020

Show overview:

In this episode we interview Kristin Hems, who has been a small business owner for more than five years. She started a third-party event planning company, Third Avenue Events. Listen as she discusses COVID-19 and the future of in-person events for the rest of 2020 and beyond.

Kristin’s Why:

The movie The Wedding Planner made Kristin interested in event planning. In high school she told her dad event planning is what she really wanted to do, and he said that it was not a real job and she needed a college degree. Now her dad does the accounting for her company.

How has COVID-19 affected Kristin’s business?

COVID-19 brought everything to a halt very quickly, in a year that was supposed to be their busiest. Her clients who planned on having events in the end of April and beginning of May both had to postpone until August and September. There is still discussion if that is far enough out, with some companies discussing scheduling for 2021. 

What did Kristin find from her research on COVID-19?

Third Avenue Events asked their clients, hotel partners, travel directors, and their social media following when their clients might feel comfortable and ready. They found that in the next six months or so, with some changes, people will be ready. Over 50 percent of their client base travel one to five times a quarter, so they may have a different tolerance.

50 percent of people said they would be willing to attend an in-person event before the end of 2020. What are Kristin’s thoughts on this?

Kristin believes people will want to control the variables of events as much as possible . This means they can say if attendees will have to wear a mask or not, and know what the hotel guidelines are. But if they are not in charge and just attending, they might have to dig for that information. She thinks that closer to fall is looking optimistic, but a lot of people are still afraid of the second surge. People need a vaccine. Companies are hesitant to make an investment moving forward, having lost so much money over the past quarter.

How will events at the end of the year incorporate the standards that have been set such as hand washing, mask wearing, and social distancing?

Kristin thinks there are very strong camps that are both pro-mask and anti-mask. Some clients have told her they will not host an event that forces everyone to wear a mask. Some people do not want to go to a party and stand six feet apart and yell across the room to one another. Individuals may be ready to travel, but their company may have travel restrictions in place.

People have been using the phrase “new normal.” Will there be long term effects when it comes to events?

Kristin thinks it will probably change the way events are contracted within terms and agreements. If larger events are canceled, it does not get you out of the hotel contracts. New clauses may be put in place to protect people if the event is no longer happening. She thinks self-serving buffets will be rare the next couple of years. The cost of events may increase when triple the amount of space is needed for everyone to sit six feet apart.

Will companies planning events need to start having a backup plan? How will things change?

She thinks people may not plan as far in advance. People may register and get confirmation packets mailed to them in advance. She does not think virtual events can take the place of in-person events. She has a hard time believing that people do not need the personal connection that comes with in-person events.

Kristin’s book recommendation:

-          Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes:

How to contact Kristin: