If you were to pick one word to sum up events and conferencing during COVID-19, it would surely be ‘uncertainty.’
Yet both 2020 and 2021 taught the staff at Misselwood Events the importance of communication, customer service, quick pivots, and flexibility. Thanks to an amazing Misselwood team and some out-of-the-box thinking, Endicott not only took care of current clients but also created exciting new revenue streams that will continue on into the future.
When COVID hit “there was a ton of scrambling,” says Eileen Geyer, Executive Director of Misselwood Events. “It was a chance to hone in on customer service and work with our clients—we were all in this unknown world.”
“It was a chance to hone in on customer service and work with our clients—we were all in this unknown world.”—Eileen Geyer, Executive Director of Misselwood Events.
Though projects evolved during the pandemic, a number of new events and conferencing offerings are here to stay. Hybrid programming with both virtual and live components have been huge. “I expect people are still going to be cautious for the next year, and by going hybrid you’re getting people to attend who couldn’t fly here,” says Geyer. “People did it out of caution, but found opportunity.”
Also staying are packages for smaller, niche groups that may have reduced budgets; virtual event hosting via Zoom; and more virtual client meetings—something Geyer says was not considered appropriate in the past but has now become a convenient norm.
Saying “I Do” to Client Service
To work around COVID restrictions, Claudine Mitchell M'21, Director, Weddings & Social Events, worked to pivot wedding plans for each couple. “It forced me to get away from the expected ceremony-reception plan and go back to the root of everything. I would tell them, ‘The pandemic is awful, but what can I do as your event coordinator to make things better for you?' ”
Misselwood gave all 2020 wedding parties the opportunity to exchange vows on their original wedding date at no cost, and Mitchell says that about half of the couples accepted and then followed up with a full event in 2021 to celebrate their one-year anniversary. That’s how the Vows With a View package originated, which is now offered as a standalone option for the foreseeable future, along with microweddings.
The 2021 wedding season was busier than usual between original 2021 weddings and carryovers from 2020. “I can’t imagine a couple who this will not affect into 2023,” says Mitchell. “We’re almost fully booked for 2022 already. People are having a good time, making up for lost time last summer. Hopefully as more vaccinations happen, we can get back to celebrating without caution.”
A COVID-Friendly Concours
Like many events in 2020, the annual Misselwood Concours d’Elegance car show was held virtually. Over 70 vehicle owners participated, including one from the Netherlands, and it raised over $10,000 in scholarship funds.
The virtual show created an opportunity to start a four-part driving series, the Misselwood Touring Series, which will continue every year moving forward.
“For many, it was the only time they participated in an event with their car all year,” says Darren Stewart, Senior Operations Manager at Misselwood Events and Chairman of the Misselwood Concours d’Elegance. “At the conclusion of the series we had driven over 243 miles, with 92 cars participating. We raised a few thousand dollars for scholarships and met many new friends in the area who joined us on the road.”
In 2021, the Concours was close to business as usual, though uncertainty surrounding state and city guidelines proved a challenge. With gathering restrictions lifted in May, planning in a short amount of time for a July show made it difficult to get sponsorships, as did the chip shortage currently crippling the auto industry.
“We’re looking forward to having a normal Misselwood Concours in 2022, and we’re very excited for it,” says Stewart. “We’ve started planning and doing a great deal already for next year—there’s never really a rest period for a show of this caliber.”