What It's Like to be an Events Organizer During the COVID-19 Outbreak
By Flash Global Media Team
As of today, there are more than 150,000 cases of COVID-19 around the world. The pandemic has impacted nearly every industry globally in the past few weeks. Now that there’s a declaration of Community Quarantine in Metro Manila, there are postponements of different concerts and music festivals including Wanderland, Chroma Music Festival, Calle Con and Aurora 2020.
The outbreak has taken a major toll on the festival industry, and we were able to witness the struggle of some of the local organizers last Thursday, when we were invited at Flash Global Media’s office in Makati for an interview for Legion Music Festival. It was around 5pm when we arrived, so everyone seemed so tired when we got there except for the core organizers of the event. While we were on our interview with Benik Angeles (Marketing Director), one of their event coordinators, came in and unexpectedly told him that one of the producers just called and wants the event to be postponed.
Everybody was shocked especially the man in front of us. “What?! What do you mean postponed? Sino nagsabi?“ Benik looked so dumbfounded and couldn't even decide whether he’s going to walk out from the conference room or he’s going to stay to push thru with the interview. We told him that it’s okay if he needed to fix thing,s and we would understand if we would need to wait for him for a while. The office was not that big so we could hear them from inside. “Hindi pwede, Direk! Sayang ang sales! The hype could go down if we will announce right away.” He sounded like he was talking to someone over the phone.
After few minutes, Benik went back with one of his colleagues Vince, the Project Manager of Flash Global Media. “Sorry for the drama, something came up,” Benik said and introduced us to his colleague. Since we already knew what’s going on, we started asking them some questions.
So before we begin asking questions, we just want to know if you guys are okay?
Benik: Yeah!! Yeah, of course! I was just shocked regarding the lockdown that will be announced tonight. You know, it will affect everything that we do and we have right now.
Vince: Well, I just want to break this news to you guys since you are here already, we received a memo from the LGU of Angeles Pampanga to move our event to a later date due to corona virus.
Oh! That’s why! So how does it feel that your event is near and yet you have to postpone?
Vince: “Hmmm.. to be honest, it’s very frustrating that you can’t do anything about it. You will think about the preparation that has been done, the target sales, but of course, you can’t compromise the health and safety of your attendees.”
Benik: Honestly speaking, when we started the planning of this event, there were already corona virus issue in china circulating the internet. Maybe we just didn’t expect that it would come to this point that our country will be really affected. Some of us even thought that maybe we should not worry because maybe by April, the virus could be gone or the issue would die down.
If there would be no lockdown, and our country is still not that affected, what are the measures that you consider having on the day of the event?
Vince: Well we actually had a meeting about it already. We are willing to provide face masks and hand sanitizers at the gates. We planned to have temperature scanners at the entrance as well.
Sorry to ask, but what about the sales? I mean, was it affected by the outbreak?
Benik: Maybe yes, maybe no? Benik said. Our early bird tickets were sold out already in a span of two weeks after its release. As of now, we are on our 20 percent for the regular tickets naman though last week medyo bumagal.. I don’t know.. maybe people got scared when they’ve heard that there’s a local transmission already.
Do you think the COVID-19 outbreak could affect the outcome of the event?
Benik: In terms of sales, it depends.. Maybe you just need a stronger marketing plan. I mean, it’s really challenging for us especially now that we’re going to announce regarding the rescheduling. But I believe that with everything that is happening right now, people will understand. We just hope that everything will be okay soon.
Vince: Well if there will be an improvement after the lockdown, I guess people will stop worrying. The panic will be gone and same with the issue. Maybe that would be the time that we will continue planning about the event. We are not selfish. The event could continue anytime after this pandemic. What’s important now is the safety of everyone.
How hard is it to be an event organizer at this time?
Benik: Well, once you planned something, you should always have a back-up plans. As a marketing guy, I am always worried about the sales, the hype and everything connected to my tasks. But aside from that, there are more important things that should be settled or fixed. You need to advise the artists, the ticket sellers, the people who bought tickets, the venue, the suppliers, and even the influencers.
Vince: Even if you are in the middle of crisis or part of this crisis, you still have tasks to fulfil. You still need to work maybe from your home just to make sure that everything are still on the same page. The social media, the inquiries from vendors, sponsors, media partners... It’s tough, but you can’t complain because it’s part of the business, and everything happens for a reason.
What is your message to other festivals that have been facing such difficulties?
Benik: I know it’s really hard and very sad for everyone. Everybody is having a hard time now, but maybe we could just pray for the betterment of everything. We can still do this. Maybe not now, but soon. Let’s just keep doing whatever it is that we are doing for the success of our events, but of course in times likes this, our health and safety should be prioritized, too. Don’t worry, because babawi tayo. Sa tamang oras at sa tamang panahon!
Last question, on what date are you planning to move the event?
Vince: If everything will be okay after the lockdown, we might move it to mid-June. But if not, we might be forced to move it to a later date. What we can guarantee as of now is that we are not going to cancel. Those who have tickets can still keep it until we announced the new date of the event. Again we are not going to cancel, we are just rescheduling.
Rescheduled date: TBC