Part One: Starting an events and entertainment business in a global pandemic

April 1 2020

Written by

My name is Daniel Osullivan and I have been the managing director of Red Cactus Events since 2011.

Red Cactus Events is a UK and Europe specialist in group experiences for stag, hen, birthday and team building events that arrange over 2000 experiences for groups each year.

After eight great years at Red Cactus Events I announced in June 2019 that it was time to hand over the ropes to Steve Bartholomew (managing director) and Sam Green (sales and marketing director) to take the company to the next level. They have assembled a great team and I have no doubt the company will continue to go from strength to strength.

I gave myself 12 months to launch a new company as I still needed to hand over my current responsibilities. Steve Bartholomew who would take over as managing director has seven years experience so the handover would be fairly straight forward.

Shizzoo LTD

Shizzoo LTD was born in October 2019 and would become an events and entertainment company that specialises in entertainment hire and team building experiences for corporate and private events. Events is a fantastic industry, you only get one chance with live events which is what makes it so special.

Shizzoo LTD is born

In October 2019 I commissioned the build of Shizzoo’s first purchase, this purchase was a new website Team-Building-Experiences.co.uk. A prospective launch date was pencilled in for June 2020.

I wanted to continue working with some of the fantastic suppliers that I already have great relationships with. This platform had been designed so that I would be able to market these suppliers to companies and individuals looking for exciting and unusual experiences that can be delivered to their office, off site venue, private party or conference.

We will only offer the country’s best mobile team building and corporate experiences that are able to be delivered to the customer. Shizzoo LTD will use the platform to advertise its own portfolio of innovative events and entertainment.

Woman Wearing Face Mask Covid-19

Covid-19 Pandemic

Shizzoo had planned to launch the Team-Building-Experiences.co.uk website in June 2020, however the UK, Europe and the World has seemingly over night been plunged into uncertainty.

At the time of writing this blog (April 2020) we are currently into week two of the UK lock-down that commenced on 23rd March 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The future of the events and entertainment industry looks unpredictable to say the least as the entire events and entertainment industry albeit a few companies are now effectively hibernated. Firms in nearly all industries furlough their staff and cut all but essential costs as the government orders everyone who can to work from home.

Covid-19 Christmas party 2020

The Decision

Launching a new events and entertainment business while in the midst of a worldwide pandemic is a daunting prospect.

Without overreacting it is probably the worst time in modern history to launch an events and entertainment company.

Social distancing is expected to stay in place until at least the end of the year and all leisure and hospitality has effectively been cancelled for the foreseeable future. Things are looking pretty grim.

Companies and individuals traditionally reduce there spend on experiences and entertainment in any downturn. However this is currently forecast to be worse than any downturn we have seen in the UK since the great depression.

In normal times 20% of new businesses fail within there first year of trading, this is not normal times so it is going to be a long road.

Pushing ahead with the company is the only way forward, there is never a perfect time to start a new business and many successful businesses start when there is a downturn. When the pandemic is all over businesses and individuals will be looking to have fun and the hope is we can arrange this for them. I have delayed the planned launch date for the company to September 2020 and plan to focus on building a company that provides memorable experiences that customers want to book year after year.

The Industry

Pre Covid-19 there are currently over 25,000 businesses (2019) in the UK events industry, according to eventbrite in 2019 the sector is worth 42.3 billion to the UK economy.

With people not allowed to meet with one another from outside of their household and all indoor and outdoor facilities shut the entire team building industry has pretty much been brought to a halt with the exception of remote team building experiences.

The Value of Britain’s Events Sector – direct spend by segment

Conferences and meetings – £19.9 billion
Exhibitions and trade fairs – £11.0 billion
Incentive travel and performance improvement – £1.2 billion
Corporate hospitality and corporate events – £1.2 billion
Outdoor events – £1.1 billion
Festivals and cultural events – £1.1 billion
Music events – £1.3 billion
Sporting events – £2.3 billion

Further reading visit – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/blog/academy/uk-event-industry-in-numbers-ds00/

The events industry can often have low barriers to entry initially as people work from home with a laptop on their kitchen table. With a huge spike expected in unemployment in the coming months and potentially years some of these recently affected by the economic crisis may start their own business in events and entertainment.

In my next blog I plan to talk about the products we plan to bring to market as I earmark the next few weeks to planning and development.