Celebrity Event Planner On Future Of EventsJune 19, 2020
It hasn’t been a good year for hospitality and events, with the pandemic shutting down travel, large gatherings, venues and the desire to be physically close to other people.
Burning Man has been canceled, Coachella was delayed and then canceled, there will be no Iowa State Fair and the $300 billion global wedding industry is almost entirely stalled.
Celebrity Event Planner Colin Cowie of Colin Cowie Lifestyle said the industry has to pivot to survive.
“All of my weddings have all been moved to next year,” Cowie told Karen Webster in a recent conversation. “Our corporate work is moved to next year. We have one or two things on the calendar for this year, but I think it’s much smarter now to figure out how to do things in the future when, hopefully, we’re in a much better situation.”
Cowie told Webster that with no events for him to plan, he’s working on a book about hospitality, developing a new TV program and launching a hospitality consulting business that has been back-burnered for years. Cowie said one bright side of a global pandemic is that it’s forced him to innovate and diversify his business.
“No matter how dark it gets, it is always possible to find a way to switch on a light if you look,” he said.
Cowie said he truly believes the world will one day get back to normal and people will go to large weddings and corporate events again. But he said he expects that to only happen in phases over the next two years — meaning there’s never been a better moment to diversity and tap into new revenue streams. It isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary — and will ultimately improve the event industry.
“I think that as an industry, we’re just going to have to navigate our way through this on a case-by-case basis until we get to [a] certain state where we can move around with more confidence and style than ever before,” he said.
Social Before Business — The Long Walk Back
Cowie said he believes that weddings and social gatherings will make their return long before corporate events do.
Business travel, he noted, is going to be on hold for quite some time as corporate life has found a lot of ways to carry on remotely in the last 12 weeks. With that hold comes the big pause in large-scale corporate events. A Zoom call — or otherwise virtually managed meeting — can recreate a lot of what is valuable about a large corporate event for participants dialing in remotely.
Moreover, he noted, when he sees the physical designs going into socially distanced conferences — with floors heavily taped up to show people where to social distance and small groups being seated “together” at massively oversized tables — the remote version isn’t just a reasonable substitute, it is arguably a huge improvement.
Social events, he noted, are a different animal entirely. Much of what is beloved about the physical experience can’t be easily recreated online — the eating, drinking, dancing,…