I honestly didn’t even know if anyone would read this blog post given that information is changing so rapidly, and companies and individuals are responding so differently depending on where you are in the country. Nonetheless, I felt the need to share my point of view for the few of you who read our blog religiously because I want to instill hope for our industry.
This would have been our 16th year involved with producing SXSW-related events. You could say we grew up right alongside SXSW as they helped transform our great city of Austin into the tech, music and film powerhouse that it is today.
In fact, 2020 would have been our BEST year in history as a whole – not just by revenue or SXSW activations but also by depth and size of program conceptualization and involvement, which is what we are most proud of. Unfortunately all of that turned upside down very quickly in early March, as the Coronavirus, specifically COVID-19 – spreading like wildfire across our globe – prompted Austin city officials to cancel the festival. And we were far from being alone experiencing this disruption.
Rather than immediately panicking, I had to remind myself what got us through the previous industry disruptions that were not within our control.
Each and every disruption led to a better version of ourselves and our industry. No, this time isn’t going to be easy but I have so much confidence in our industry as we are all collaborators and creatives that we can redefine what the new normal is for face-to-face events and activations — how we can keep each other safe while doing what we love doing.
Though each of the previous virus outbreaks (i.e., SARS, Bird Flu, Zika) were different in nature and scope, one thing remained the same behavior-wise – businesses often responded in a destructive combination of fear, concern over safety and pressure, both from media and peers alike. And this downward cycle significantly impacted our hospitality industry as a result.
In each instance, though, we had to pause, take a breath, and remind everyone WHY we – collectively – are resilient and still very much open for business. It is because we know that lasting and significant business happens face-to-face and in real time. When humans lose the ability to connect that way, we all suffer.
As Apple CEO Tim Cook told the Wall Street Journal, “For all of the beauty of technology and all the things we’ve helped facilitate over the years, nothing yet replaces human interaction.”
I recognize that there is still so much unknown about this new strand of virus, but as a nation, we are only better when we come together. While we are facing a natural contraction in our industry caused by the fear of the unknown, our purpose at Red Velvet will be to rediscover why we got into this business in the first place and help our industry figure out a new way to get comfortable with meeting in person again. And when we do, safety, not just creativity, will be at the forefront of all our minds.
Each time the hospitality sector has been tested, we have always risen to the occasion and not only overcome the challenge but made our industry better and stronger. We will get through this as we have before, because meetings, gatherings and face-to-face interactions lead to business — and our world is driven by the success of businesses. We will continue to be here for our clients, helping them stay connected through experiences and ultimately, to help them reach their business goals, in whatever format that may be. Let’s stay the course, press on with life and business safely. AND TOGETHER.