I had a call today with a colleague (they shall remain anonymous!) and they said to me, with no malice or bad intent “the pressure must have been off for you and the team, you know given the situation”.
From February time, and accelerated through March, a lot of our in-person conference and event activity started cancelling, postponing and rebooking for the all-important Autumn dates 2020 “when everything would be back to normal”.
The “normal” we talked of (dreamed of) in April/May time did not come and the team worked hard with clients to pivot our physical activity to a virtual offer. Reimagining our event activity online demonstrated the team’s commitment and drive to deliver for our customers and the ability to flex to the prevailing environment, lockdown or not!.
As in-person activity went online, our venues went quiet (for a time) but our team continued to work tirelessly. Called on to support our accommodation teams as the University term began and our students returned to campus, offering a physical presence packing food boxes, offering reassuring calls to self-isolating students and learning the intricacies of the University’s switchboard to support our University community.
In our ‘Ask the Expert’ series back in May we spoke with industry and city leaders on the impact of Covid-19 and Claire Heap talked of the great spirit across the industry and passionate individuals adapting and working with real flexibility in face of adversity. A prime example of this flexibility and passion can be seen in the work our team has done to apply their rich event expertise to support and enhance the welcome experience for our International student arrivals through Autumn and continuing into the New Year.
We were so very proud when during Lockdown 1.0 we took on the ownership of our city-centre conference venue Cloth Hall Court. Thrilled again, when the team got geared up to open our doors at Cloth Hall Court to a Nightingale Court in September, and from 1 October were able to offer a Covid-secure venue, accredited by Visit Britain’s ‘We’re Good To Go’. Welcoming conference activity back through our doors safely and with the same vigour as ‘before’.
Just to say we’ve really enjoyed the three days immensely. The venue was great, clean and all Covid instructions were very clear.
Your staff are outstanding. Full of smiles and always happy to help. From Kelly in the morning to the gentleman on tea and tidying up in the afternoon. They made us very welcome.
Please thank them all.
Asymptomatic test centres I hear you say? To support a safe return home for students you say, can you help? – a beautiful echoed ‘Yes’ from the team. Supporting the wider University teams on this monumental feat has been our privilege and our honour
So, back to the call. With a big smile on my face, an overwhelming sense of pride in everything the team has achieved over this time, and a coherence of thought and confidence of tone, I responded to my colleague: “I can see why you would think that, but they have been really busy supporting the University in the best way that we know how, by finding out what needs doing – and doing it”.
With a gentle nod of the head and a humble acknowledgement of our collective place in supporting the University, our students and our staff, we enjoyed our planned catch up with a real sense of collegiality and stoic commitment to a future that will be brighter as a result of the parts we have played as individuals and teams in the months gone by.