15th March 2019 – We had just completed a massively successful Doncaster show, it was amazing with brides and grooms pouring through the doors all day, it was one of our best shows, but something else had been in the background in the run up and throughout the whole weekend which tainted the weekend’s event.
‘Lets just hope there isn’t a case of Covid in Doncaster in the run up’ we said to ourselves. As it happened, there wasn’t any cases and the show went ahead as planned, but the stress levels of cancelling a show were off the charts.
Now in our 12th year of exhibiting, I must say Doncaster 2019 will be the one I remember most and not for all the right reasons.
It was weird as the weekend progressed, the news of the virus and its implications began to take effect, throughout Saturday set up, one by one exhibitions and events were being cancelled minute by minute. By the end of Saturday, both our stage crew and Shell scheme team had, had 95% of all 2020 bookings cancelled. Soon to be 100%.
It was a heart breaking set up, normally upbeat, but this time the mood was sombre. By this time everyone knew that this was their last gig and after this weekend, they were unemployed.
Shock and denial hit a lot of our crew first off, but as many of us do, we brushed it off as a ‘it will be over in a couple of months’ and carried on. Little did we know, two days after a Really Successful Doncaster Show I sent my email out to this year’s exhibitors to invite them to exhibit again next year, but so much happened in those few days and I was a little worried.
Normally, that email would generate over 25K in orders (it’s our Christmas tree season) But this time we didn’t take ONE booking, not one. Too much had gone off and then the whole country got Locked down.
We had managed to get the show though by the skin of its teeth, but what next? Our income had been cut by 99% overnight. Like everyone in our industry our livelihoods have been severed through no fault of our own, this is not your fault nor anyone else’s.
This is just a storm we must weather.
I have spoken to numerous friends in the industry intrigued to find out what they have done to make it though this time. It’s fascinating. Next time I’ll share with you how we are surviving as a company and how other wedding suppliers have had to adapt while the industry is in lockdown.