Practising Resiliency in the Midst of Chaos:  An Event Professionals Perspective

Event Planner Member Spotlight: Rowen Cui

There is no doubt that one of the industries most negatively impacted since COVID is the Event Industry.  Many in this industry have struggled and closed their doors.  Others have decided to pause and take stock.  One event professional that I have been inspired by is Rowena Cui.  She has caught the wave and shifted her business without missing a beat.  In the midst of this, she has done this with grace, gratitude and a giving spirit. In addition to insights in what you need to know about producing a polished event and the value that the pros bring to the table, I was inspired by the life lessons Rowena shared with me.

Here are some highlights from my discussion with Rowena:

What has been your focus since COVID?

Expressing gratitude.  I think all of us being catapulted into this experience the last 9 months, there is always an opportunity to be grateful.

Yes.  This can really impact our perspective and shifts our frame of mind as we navigate this changing space.  How have you innovated your business Post-COVID?

I am very solution focused and relentless at finding a way.  It has forced our industry to embrace the chaos.  Some of our clients have postponed their in-person events.  At Plan It Sound, in addition to planning events we have always been a production company for 11 years.  We have been producing virtual events for over 8 years.  We are very grateful that this has been a seamless transition for us as we have been able to offer branded audio and visual production services to our clients.  We are very busy keeping up with the demand as organizations look to stay connected with their communities with content.

Why should we look at hiring a professional for this?

By leveraging the expertise and years of experience of an event professional, you are investing in the success of your event.  It’s like Jamie Oliver, I can have all the tools, ingredients, and amazing recipes, but my food will never be like Jamie Oliver’s food.  It is the same with event professionals.

Let’s talk more about that “special something” that event planners bring to the table.  How does this impact production of events?

There is a psychology, art and analytical component that needs to be considered that event professionals add.  We can speak to the key deliverables but there are many microcomponents that influence the final outcome that can not be captured on paper.

What are the statistics on the impact that COVID has had on the event industry?  

Really good question.  I have the privilege and honour to serve on the ILEA (International Live Events Association) board and with ALEC (Alberta Live Events Coalition).  Here are some stats on the effects COVID has had on our industry:

  • Over 11,000 events have been cancelled in Alberta since March 2020 which translates to over $193 Million in lost revenue for event professionals only
  • Business events prior to 2020 stimulated ⅓ of tourism across Canada, sustained 229,000 direct jobs, generated $33 Billion in direct spending across Canada, and added $19 Billion to Canada’s GDP.

So huge, massive impact that the Live Events Industry has on our overall Canadian economy, our provincial economy, and if you weren’t sure about the value of hiring an event professional, I hope that helps to bring it into perspective.

What has been your big lesson in going through this journey that you will remember and practise Post-COVID?

How little we need to be happy, survive, and thrive.  When we are back to in person events I feel like this will help our industry be better.I feel like we are going to be more sustainable because we know we need less to produce a standup event experience.  I feel like we will be more creative because we have been forced to innovate and pushed to the limit.  We are all in the same pandemic storm but some of us have more holes than others.  We are helping each other through this.

On a personal note, chaos is my comfort zone.  This is a common characteristic of event professionals in that we thrive under pressure, in challenges, and are tasked by every single client to create miracles.  With the impossible to create the vision the client curates in their minds to life.

Live events are a part of who I am.  

Yes, it’s the challenges that can pull us to our purpose.

Thank you Rowena Cui from Plan It Sound for sharing your insights and inspiring us to remember that we are resilient and can pull through this storm, together.

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