We all know events organisers have been forced to roll with the punches, but as normality resumes, we hear the suppliers’ side of the story, with Chris Warbrick, Founder of luxury event supplier Exceed Events revealing a candid view of the current landscape.
Exceed Events is a multi-award-winning Bolton-based luxury event supplier with over 30 years of industry experience hosting high-profile events for clients including MTV, FIFA, Barclays and ITV.
So Chris, how have you fared over the past 15 months?
The last 15 months have certainly been the most challenging months of our existence with a number of obstacles that we have had to overcome. We were the first industry to fully close and we’ll be one of the last to fully reopen and with the nature of our business, events have to be planned and organised months in advance, which has proved difficult for us as suppliers, but also our clients due to the ever-changing and sometimes unclear guidance.
Like many suppliers, we have however used the time as wisely as possible, undergoing a full company rebrand, new website, new customer management system, better operating processes and also strengthening our core team. This will allow us to provide a better product and service to our clients while also meaning we can scale to a greater level, at a greater pace than what we could have done previously. We’re more excited about the future than we have ever been before and hope other suppliers are similarly able to come out of lockdown on the front foot!
In what ways have you pivoted the business to survive?
We’ve worked in several different ways over the last year to not only drive revenue but maintain an active business presence while supporting our venues. Throughout the duration of the lockdowns, we have performed a number of virtual events, both under our own brand and also on behalf of our clients. This saw us convert our warehouse facility into a performance area where we live streamed from while also connecting other live artists too. This generated great engagement and helped us connect with clients we may previously not have reached.
From summer 2020 onwards, we became involved in a number of outdoor events, hosting drive-in club nights and family friendly bingo events in partnership with other companies where members of the public could all join in and have fun from the safety of their own cars. It may not have been our usual clientele, but it was an incredibly rewarding learning curve that added a new string to our bow.
Are you seeing bookings increase as we come out of lockdown, or are clients still reticent to dip into budgets?
2020 certainly saw new bookings grind to a halt and also resulted in approximately 140 events postponed until 2021 and 2022. Since the start of restrictions easing, we have seen a significant growth in consumer confidence resulting in record months of enquiries and new bookings with people wanting to get things secured and something positive to work towards and look forward to. As each month goes by, clients are coming to us with more excitement and optimism rather than the worry they had last year.
Are you offering clients flexible terms if the situation changes?
Right from the start of the first lockdown, we wanted to make sure we offered our clients additional reassurances and flexibility, therefore amended our terms so that if for whatever reason their event wasn’t able to go ahead due to the pandemic then they could move to another date at zero additional cost. We also made a business decision that any planned price increases would no longer come into effect and would be reviewed at a later date to help us be as competitive as possible in a difficult climate.
As restrictions lift, what response are you looking for from event organisers to help stimulate an industry-wide recovery?
As things return to a new normal, it’s important for event organisers to remember there may be new processes and practices for their event suppliers as part of new rules that weren’t originally there at the point of booking, and to work with them to understand if there is any impact. It is also important to remember that most suppliers will now have significantly more bookings in place due to postponements, therefore anyone wanting to move a date or to make a new booking should contact the supplier as early as possible to avoid any disappointment as we get back to business.