Dear Blog Diary,
Have you missed me? Instead of my usual monthly musings detailing all the great things that have been happening in my wonderful 1-year old career as a professional conference Emcee and Moderator, I have decided to start a narrative of this new world we’ve entered since we heard the words COVID-19.
The life of this MC has been going rather splendidly, up until February this year. I have been working with exceptional clients, production teams and event organisers across the globe moderating and emcee’ing both large and small conferences and events. It had be going so well and most had rebooked or added further events to this year’s activity. With bookings until November (with a few gaps here and there) and my experience really developing across a wide range of meetings and conferences, I have been the smiling Samme Allen you guys all know really living the dream, finally finding my way.
It was upon my return from being the MC for MPI’s European Meetings & Events Conference (#EMEC20) the rollercoaster started gathering speed downhill at an alarming rate.
Firstly, I received an incredibly short notice cancellation from a corporate client.
NOT because of coronavirus, but because they had someone internally wishing to do it. Not ideal when you do a job that doesn’t have any opportunity to back fill dates 3 weeks later. Later, we learnt this event was cancelled due to the fears of coronavirus, but this was the first February frustration.
Then, the news started accelerating the fears and facts around this largely unknown virus. I don’t need to fill you in any more as unless you are in Antarctica (and if you are, I am not even sure this is true but coronavirus hadn’t reached there at time of writing) you will have been affected due to COVID-19 in one way or another.
(DISCLAIMER – there will be no medical advice from Samme Allen in this blog, I am not a doctor, just a small business trying to work out how to make it through this crisis)
The news that France was going to cancel large groups of people started the postponements. The first being an expo in Paris (end of June) then followed a large medical congress at the end of May, and whilst I have a firm booking for an event in Philadelphia at the beginning of May still going ahead, the understandable nerves are slightly frayed. Clients are asking to hold off booking travel, cancellation procedures are (finally) being scrutinized and the only thing we can do, is sit tight, be as flexible as we can and listen to the real advice coming only from the WHO and respective scientific and medical experts.
What does a conference Emcee do when she hasn’t got a conference to Emcee?
This is a jolly good question. To start with I became quite depressed. Just when the business (and its owner) is on its feet, this has the potential to destroy this. I felt angry every time I heard an event was being cancelled, frustrated that no-one was listening to reason and of course utterly baffled about how to business plan for the future. That needed to dissipate quickly, and, thanks to friends and family support, it did.
I have then been working with all my clients in terms of reassuring them of my flexibility and of course ability to moderate any online/virtual events they may decide to host during this time.
I have had a secret project in my head which I’ve been really keen to explore, aside from the Emcee and moderating work but due to being so busy this past 13 months, it hasn’t happened. So there is no time like the present to get working on that, ready for when the world returns to some sort of normality and our meetings and conferences reconvene, at a pace of knots because we know that when we meet we can and often, quite literally, change the world.
I always do my best to keep the glass “half full” and whilst I have a little time on my hands, I plan to use it wisely, take advantage of this “temporary” hiatus and build the business to create a sustainable future for Samme Allen Ltd.
There are great resources in your own government public health websites and the large associations including MPI are signposting us towards content that will help planners and organisers in the coming weeks and months.
I simply ask all friends, colleagues and business associates that we all look at this with a measured processes and strong communications or we will start seeing small business (like mine!) disappearing unnecessarily.
We don’t know when this crisis is going to peak, we don’t have all the facts but what we do have are good business relationships so we must work together to protect our industry whilst also being responsible regarding public health of all those around us.
I’ll be back to the diary in a couple of weeks and let’s see where the world is then but until then,
Wash your hands and be happy 😊