Free Idea Fridays!

Dear John
Dear John…and Doug… and Justin.

A few of my blog followers asked me to elaborate on my nightly letters to Justin.  So here goes…
It started as a letter to Toronto’s mayor and then it morphed into Dear John… Dear Doug… and Dear Justin.

(and before I get a scolding from all my fellow members at PDI-POA, of course, my addresses were much more formal than this but for the levity of this blog, I will depart from such rigid protocols.)

One morning in the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, Mr. Tory was answering questions on an early morning radio broadcast that riled me up.  In early March, our mayor was already telling landlords to cut tenants a break during the COVID-19 downturn in business. Hold on there; whose giving landlords like me a break when my business is suffering? Please, Mr. Mayor… think through a viable solution before taking to the airwaves with big statements like that. At the time, the city let alone the provincial and federal government weren’t even contemplating any assistance, but landlords were to cut tenants a break?  Somehow landlords were the bad guys and tenants the victims. My first letter was to plead that we were all unwilling victims. We are all in this together as victims.

This short rant morphed into a nightly letter to the mayor, the premier of Ontario and the big honcho himself in Ottawa.

I told my story of beating the odds as a female entrepreneur, growing my business diligently despite many economic hardships over the years (the dotcom bubble, SARS, 911, the financial crisis).  That I was the daughter of immigrant Italians who taught me the value of a hard day’s work so I could build up two small businesses over the last 25 years. Though I was a small fry in the grand scheme of Canada’s economic fortunes, my meetings and events business gainfully employs a team of 12 full time and half a dozen more part-time staff. Not to speak of the many contracts we bring to the hotel and airline industry and the work we provide to other small businesses; d├ęcor companies, florists, entertainers, web designers, sign makers, graphic designers, audio visual companies, rental companies and caterers.

Then I told the story of our industry, sharing all the good that our meetings and events do for the Canadian economy. Just like every small and medium-sized business that started as a dream so many years ago, we weren’t looking for a hand-out. All we need is a HAND to get out of these dark waters; waters that we didn’t fall into recklessly but rather found ourselves pushed into by something that was completely out of anyone’s control. And through it all, we continue to work for our clients every day, coming up with viable solutions for their meetings and events. And we remain steadfast about our industry’s survival like we have through all of the other crises. 

The better part of 2020 will be simply erased for us … half a year – poof – gone…. and our hopes hang cautiously on the remaining Fall meetings.

So, gentlemen please HELP US HELP YOU –

Help us bridge our revenue gaps for the next few months. Give us the tools now, so we as an industry and as entrepreneurs can help you bring back the faltering economy.

And when these dark days are behind us, we will be the first to forge ahead with the small business we fought so hard to build. The lights will dim again, the music will play, flowers will adorn the tables and meals will be served once more. We will orchestrate our own come-back.
We as an industry will pay it forward tenfold with new conventions, meetings and events. We will help rejuvenate tourism not only in Toronto but across Canada and the globe and reinvigorate confidence by bringing our clients back to convention centres, hotels, venues, restaurants and airlines. We NEED to keep our teams together so we can hit the ground running when our city, our province and our country are ready to open again. 

As an industry, we’re good for it. Go ahead, ask around.
Last week's Post from my Linkedin:

I sent an email to Justin every night before bed for 15 days. We had been putting all possible measures into play to preserve cash flow including taking me off payroll completely. Today I got my reply along with the rest of the country. This morning's announcement is a significant step towards saving small businesses and saving an entire industry. Proud to be Canadian. Now we can STAY STRONG
#saveevents #savetourism #weareallinthistogether #femaleentrepreneur #smallbusinessowner #flattenthecurve #postponedontcancel #eventplanner

Blog post by: Dana Zita

at 11:11AM
Cooperation is Pivotal
By now, the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic has sunk in for most of us. And, now we are all busy helping clients navigate through this new reality. We have spent much of the past few weeks working closely with clients to cancel or postpone their programs scheduled in March, April and May. Seeing many events postponed, rather than cancelled, is a positive sign forward.
From the outset, our clients have been our priority in everything we were initially focused on to minimize the financial impact to them. As we did that, we also realized immediately the impact this would have on all our suppliers, many of whom are proud small business owners like ourselves, and our hotel partners in sales, conventions services and banquet teams, many of whom are already on temporary leaves. All have been understanding and reasonable as we find ourselves in uncharted territory. The spirit of cooperation is simply astonishing. Seeing the enormous sacrifices being made by so many businesses proves to me the resolve is there so that we can get on with what we all do best…put on the best events and conferences for our clients...when all of this is behind us.
In our 25-year history, we have seen many difficult times for our industry. And each time it has bounced back with unwavering resilience. This time will be no different but first, collectively we will face periods of uncertainty with many changes happening on a daily basis, hourly in some cases, that will impact us all in our everyday personal and work lives.  But this will pass as others have with a new normal at the end of it all.

I am not certain I can draw you a complete picture of the new landscape of our industry but I know for certain I am committed to being a small but nimble part of making it better.
To all our industry partners (our allies in this fight) – our hotel sales reps, our convention services managers, our travel agent partners, the venues, restaurants and caterers we work with, our AV and show services teams, our speaker bureaus, all our event and entertainment suppliers and our web/technology partners = We are thinking of you.  We are grateful for you and we value our partnerships.
If you need anything at all, have questions, want to brainstorm ideas or simply want to vent - I promise to answer all emails Contact me any time.

Be Healthy, Be Safe. Be Strong

Blog post by: Dana Zita
at 07:04AM