ALHI Industry Update – Penny Noble

Our Managing Director, Penny Noble, was delighted to be invited to present as a guest of the ALHI at their bi-monthly Industry Update yesterday.

Penny shared some recollections and learnings from the events we’ve delivered for our automotive clients during the summer, including press events for Honda and our installation for Lamborghini at Salon Privé, a public event which saw 2,000 visitors a day, safely managed.

As Penny explained, the planning and arrangements for each event were slightly different, as the UK government’s regulations changed across the summer months. Our clients’ presentations to their attendees ranged from uploads on individual iPads, to a drive-in movie format and indoor presentations in small socially distanced groups.

Catering was another challenge as a result of the pandemic, with personalisation being key. For some events, guests would choose from a packed lunch menu on arrival which would then be delivered to them at the appropriate moment. For another, a wood fired pizza oven allowed us to provide bespoke pizzas with individual salad boxes, and at another, drinks were made to order at the bar with waitress service.

Health and safety has always been a priority for us, and at all these events PPE packs were distributed as standard, with facemasks, gloves, hand sanitiser and so on. Penny explained that the risk assessment process was taking place much earlier in the event lifecycle, as thorough risk assessment documentation was required by clients at the beginning of the planning process in order to ensure senior management approval of the event. All suppliers, including hotels, were required to produce and provide Covid-19 protocols to support that approval process, and we are also finding that venue planning meetings are taking a lot longer, because of the amount of Covid clauses to be discussed.

Of particular significance to the ALHI audience were Penny’s observations on the venue research and selection process, with many clients preferring to use private villas and boutique hotels, where they can take over the whole venue and thus control their own safety and the safety of their customers and attendees.

Penny said that she felt very fortunate to have a Dubai office right now as we are seeing a lot of momentum in that region, with 9 events confirmed for November and December. She was happy to report that the UAE is really beginning to take off in terms of their commitment to the events industry and wanting to get people back into hotels. The region is starting to open, but there are still strict restrictions in various countries, and much uncertainty about international travel.

Whilst personal health declarations have been a requirement at our events in the UK, along with temperature checks on arrival, Penny explained that Covid tests are mandatory for many events in Dubai. There was much discussion about the benefits of testing, and in particular the need to use the appropriate tests at the right time. As Mike from ALHI pointed out, people tend to think testing is a silver bullet, but it’s not.

When asked about Noble Events’ longer-term ambitions, Penny confirmed that we would like to be delivering some larger events. With an average of 165 events a year for the business, 2020 was been sadly quiet and slow, with smaller events being preferred across our client base.

She was interested to hear Mike’s thoughts on the Great Barrington Declaration, and the sense that it is now time for us all to start living our lives, particularly to avoid any further damage to people’s mental health. He observed that the WHO had said lockdown should be a last resort, initiated in order to ensure hospitals are prepared, rather than to attempt to delay and stop the virus. As energetic supporters of the One Industry One Voice campaign, Noble Events looks forward to the relaxing of restrictions and the opportunity to deliver events globally again.

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