Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Events Industry Carries On Together Through COVID-19

Catering Industry March 31,2020 Meryl Snow

This catering pro shares how the industry has triumphed in the past and shares tips on overcoming today's challenges.

At this point in time, we are experiencing history in the making. As COVID-19 (the illness caused by the coronavirus) impacts people across the globe, the economy is seeing the impact of mandated isolation and shutdowns. Businesses are shuttering for the foreseeable future and, collectively, we are navigating this public health crisis one day at a time.

It’s natural to feel scared, confused and overwhelmed by this situation. But, let’s not forget that there cannot be darkness without light. If you look closely, you’ll see humanity playing out on small and large levels. Together, we are stronger and communities are growing closer each and every day.

Currently, we are stretched in multiple directions--we need to hold onto our businesses, we need to support our employees, we need to look after our families and, of course, we need to take care of our own physical and mental well-being. In this time of confusion, let’s take a moment to remember that humans have been faced with extreme challenges in the past.

Consider the early days of 1980 when it felt like everything was in abundance. Events were luxurious and over the top, with clients’ budgets ready to accommodate the expense. Yet, in 1993, we faced a recession that had people tightening their purse strings. Guest counts dropped, events were cancelled, and the events industry suffered as a result.

Yet we prevailed and came back.
Then, the tragedy of Sept. 11 sent shockwaves across the U.S. Our nation was under attack, leaving citizens paralyzed in fear and uncertainty. Businesses stood still in the aftermath.

Yet we prevailed and came back.
Fast-forward to 2008 when the market crashed and the nation faced a financial crisis unlike any other. Events came to a halt. How could anyone celebrate something when they were forced to lay off employees? Small businesses took the hit of this economic recession.

Yet we prevailed and came back.
In terms of public health emergencies, this isn’t the first pandemic we’ve faced. It’s certainly the most drastic in most of our lifetimes, but history can offer some important lessons on how to deal with this crisis.

Just over 10 years ago, the swine flu (H1N1) led to more than 274,000 hospitalizations and some 12,500 deaths in the U.S. In 1968, the flu pandemic killed an estimated 1 million worldwide with 100,000 deaths in the U.S. The most severe pandemic in modern history was the 1918 Spanish flu, when about one-third of the world’s population was infected and an estimated 675,000 people died in the U.S. alone.

All of this to say that while this COVID-19 situation is novel and unpredictable, it’s not exactly unprecedented. At this moment, we don’t know how this crisis will end, yet history shows us that we prevailed and came back from each crisis.

In fact, we emerge stronger than ever before. If nothing else, find solace in a historical perspective.

Once again, small businesses will face an uphill battle throughout this pandemic. We will have to make tough choices on behalf of our companies, our employees, our families and ourselves.

Communication is key right now, so be open and honest with clients and colleagues about where you stand right now. Customers will empathize with brands during a crisis, as long as you are taking the efforts to be transparent.

Remember: You are not alone in this. Your feelings are natural. Everyone is facing this together, so let’s use this opportunity to remain transparent about our businesses and ask for help when we need it. This is not a time for pride or competition. This is a time for community and togetherness. I don’t have the answers to this situation, but know that I and everyone else are living through this right alongside you. Let’s prevail and come back from this one together.

With 30 years of experience owning event planning, high-end catering, and design and decor companies, Meryl Snow is on a mission to help businesses get on their own path to success. As a senior consultant and sales trainer for SnowStorm Solutions, Meryl travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design, and branding. As a valued member of the Wedding Industry Speakers, she speaks with groups from the heart with warmth and knowledge and covers the funny side of life and business.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Managing Anxiety and Isolation During Quarantine

Since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, many of us, even those who have not been infected by the virus, will choose to quarantine in our homes for the upcoming weeks. Capsized travel plans, indefinite isolation, panic over scarce re-sources and information overload could be a recipe for unchecked anxiety and feelings of isola-tion. Here are a few pointers that could help you survive spiraling negative thoughts about this uncertain time.
1.) Reframe “I am stuck inside” to “I can finally focus on my home and myself
”As dismal as the world may feel right now, think of the mandated work-from-home policy as an opportunity to refocus your attention from the external to the internal. Doing one productive thing per day can lead to a more positive attitude. Set your sights on long-avoided tasks, reorganize, or create something you’ve always wanted to. Approaching this time with a mindset of feeling trapped or stuck will only stress you out more. This is your chance to slow down and focus on yourself.
2.) Stay close to your normal routine
Try and maintain some semblance of structure from the pre-quarantine days. For those individuals with children, sticking to a routine might be easier; however as you work from home, it could be tempting to fall into a more lethargic lifestyle, which could lead to negative thinking. Wake up and go to bed around the same time, eat meals, shower, adapt your exercise regimen, and get out of your PJ’s. Do laundry on Sundays as usual. Not only will sticking to your normal routine keep you active and less likely to spiral, it will be easier to readjust to the outside world when it’s time to get back to work.
3.) Avoid obsessing over endless Coronavirus coverage
Freeing up your day from work or social obligations gives you plenty of time to obsess, and if you have a tendency to consult Google for every itch and sneeze, you may be over-researching the pandemic as well. Choosing only certain credible websites ( or is a good start) for a limited amount of time each day (perhaps two chunks of 30 minutes each) will be in your best interest during this time.
4.) A chaotic home can lead to a chaotic mind
With all the uncertainly happening outside your home, keep the inside organized, predictable and clean. Setting up mental zones for daily activities can be helpful to organize your day. For exam-ple, try not to eat in bed or work on the sofa- just as before, eat at the kitchen table and work at your desk. Loosening these boundaries just muddles your routine and can make the day feel very long. Additionally, a cluttered home can cause you to become uneasy and claustrophobic of your environment- so keep it tidy.
5.) Start a new quarantine ritual
With this newfound time, why not do something special during these quarantined days? For example, perhaps you can start a daily journal to jot down thoughts and feelings to reflect on later. Or take a walk every day at 4pm, connect with your sister over FaceTime every morning, or start a watercolor painting which you can add to every day. Having something special during this time will help you look forward to each new day.
6.) Use telehealth as an option to talk to a professional if your anxiety becomes unmanageable
Many licensed psychologists are offering telehealth options over HIPAA-compliant video chat platforms. Remember to reach out for help if your anxiety is reaching proportions that is unmanageable without professional help.
Letting go of illusions of control and finding peace in the fact that you are doing your part to “flatten the curve” will certainly build mental strength to combat the stressful situation the whole globe is experiencing.

About the Author
Dr. Aarti Gupta, PsyD is Founder and Clinical Director at TherapyNest, A Center for Anxiety and Family Therapy in Palo Alto, California. She specializes in evidence-based treatment for a wide spectrum of anxiety disorders, including OCD, panic disorder, social anxiety, trichotillomania, and generalized anxiety disorder. Dr. Gupta serves on ADAA's public education committee.