There is no doubt that one of the most affected sectors the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has affected all over the world is Events and planning Sector. The events planners, Decorators, Food vendors, Fashion designers who naturally would have been raking in millions on weekly basis are left with not having a single event to plan due to the nature of the spread of “Covid19”. Don’t forget that Event planning sector strives mainly on a personal relationship or contact and referrals from people to get a job so getting jobs becomes more difficult while those event planners who are booked couldn’t get to work as parties have to be suspended.
Why won’t the party be suspended when Event planning has to do with gathering people together, social contact and when you have a disease that is inimical and the only way to get out of it is stop people from gathering and getting close to each to each, then it begins to have an effect on the industry.
Few days ago, Mrs Yewande Zacheaus, one of the pioneers of events and planning industry was a guest on Metrofile on Channels TV. Don’t forget the story of the event planning in Nigeria will not be complete without mentioning of the big brand and front liners in that sector like Eventful run by Mrs Yewande Zacheus. The Graduate of Law at the University of Lagos knows her onions and has mentored many other Event Planners in Nigeria. She is one of those who have made the industry lucrative for others to follow.
She has been running her Event planning firm which has become the household name for many Big Nigeria families for over 25 years and still standing strong and firm. What is the plight of that industry? How will the party be held henceforth after Covid-19 pandemic were many of the questions that come to mind as she speaks extensively on the effect of Covid-19 on the industry?
In her reaction to the lockdown and how events had to be stopped, she explained that she has postponed event even before Lagos State Government announced the entire lockdown. She said this was necessary because of the nature of their job. Her words “ We were supposed to have a Beauty Souk by March and as at that time there, Nigeria only had one or 2 cases and it was as of we could still go on. was no much cases and the Government haven’t even announced lockdown but I just woke up on that Wednesday morning and I saw all over the news around the world and I am like, health and safety, even if it was just 1 person “GOD forbid” and it was the morning we postponed that Lagos State Government announced that gathering should be more than 50 or 20. So I was actually gratefully to stop and take that break and rest and renew my brain and restrategize but of course, that was me personally. But for my business, what we did was to do many things we were too busy to do. It is time to look at the way the lockdown would impact on our business. Time to look at what to do” she explained.
She said that just like every other event planning company around the world, they also have their fear. “ I will advice Nigerians not to give in to fear and despair. We must follow all they said we should do to help us get over this pandemic. Don’t be afraid because fear is rampant now. People are very worried about their means of live hood. People are worried about losing their love ones but this is not the time for us to be afraid. Because if we are afraid, we may give in to the pandemic. A lot of people don’t plan ahead so this is the time to plan ahead and look for at “what am I going to do in the next 3month”? What impact will this have on my business? Am I going to be able to pay salary in the next 3months? If I can’t, is there anywhere I can get funding short terms? If not, am I going to lay off? You need to think about it so Life doesn’t just happen to you. You need to have a plan SWOT. This is something we don’t get to talk about. You need to start looking at the health of your staff because people are going to be worried. There are lots of things that are going to come out of this pandemic from the economy issue. There are going to be lots of emotional and mental health issues. You need to watch out for that. You need to look at opportunities too that comes with the lockdown. Don’t forget that time of crisis comes with opportunities. For instance, people in the tech space is going to their time without a doubt. Lots of businesses will go digital. People will begin to create all sort of app store so we need to take a look at more of that” she explained
She also spoke about the effect of the lockdown on their industry and how social gathering g maybe after the lockdown. In her words “You know how it is the time to take health and safety more seriously. We need to have a standard and maintain it. For instance, when you rent a venue for your event and you say that you are going to have 800 guests and you ended up having 1200 guests, that is not going to happen again. We may have a situation where you have a board and the names of the guests we be Mark. Ones the number of guests of 800 are in, you may have to hold on until the guests inside step out before you allow other guests into the hall. We may also have statutory spacing. We may have only a number of seat for a table with some number of meters in between the chairs. Now you came in here and you had to first wash your hands and use sanitizer. That will be done at various events now so people can feel comfortable. Then we need to talk comfortably. Then we need to talk about hygiene around food, hygiene around the toilet. Things have to be improved. With time people will be more comfortable at a social gathering. These are few of some of the measures we may have to have. Of course, this may affect lots of corporate events because people may have to go digital. You see for a while, even after this is over, people may be afraid to be in space with lots of people. So what is going to happen to our fashion souk, market souk because it is a gathering of people? So we may have to change the pattern. Are we going to have online experience? All this kind of things is what people need to think about. It is clear that businesses is going to be affected. What are the things we need to do? You see because of our nature as human we won’t stop socialising. Just a few days ago, I did a fellowship, I did a fellowship, it was online by zoom. I DID MY EXERCISE, IT was online. My friend did her brand had a video party. But of course, it is not sustainable because people want to see people, people with to talk to people, So we will get back to that time. Right now for this period, we must be able to understand what people need and be sympathetic to them” she Revealed
She didn’t stop as she spoke about when events will begin to take shape in Nigeria. “ Lots of events are shifted back to the 3rd and 4th quarters of the year. People are still worried and there won’t be much going on but I believe that by the 3rd and 4th quarter, the business will pick up and we will get people to schedule for events. We will also begin to have events back to back. Of course, we may have to reduce salary, that may be a reality but we won’t have to lay off. No matter what, 2030 is a year that we will all remember.