MICE player Abrie shows how innovation, adapting to change could help amid Covid

Abrie Events and VIP Services Co-owner Abi Padiernos (third from left) strikes a pose with members of international rap group Black Eyed Peas during the closing ceremony of the Southeast Asian Games 2019 held in the Philippines.

DESPITE the ongoing pandemic, the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) sector, though it continues to grapple from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, still has reasons to celebrate in the age of the “new normal.”

Industry player Abrie Events and VIP Services, with its creativity to adapt to the current situation, has shown its tenacity and perseverance to withstand the challenges brought about by the unprecedented health crisis.

“We treat the pandemic as a way to improve ourselves and innovate as a business. We are new entrepreneurs who want to give hope and faith to younger generation that following your passion will always result you to succeeding in life together with hard work,” Abrie Events Co-owner Abi Padiernos told the BusinessMirror in an e-mail interview.

Started in October 2018, the full service production company came into being simply from the common shared passion in doing and coordinating events that she developed together with her co-owner Marie Valencia during their more than a decade of experience working in the hospitality industry.

Abrie Events caters to all clients’ needs, from full coordination and production (lights and sounds, stage design, technical team to styling, and concept planning that includes scriptwriting) to hosting company events and occasions, as well as road management and VIP services.

Just like many of the many micro, small and medium enterprises in the country that have been caught unprepared by the ensuing crisis, including the 40,000 live event industry players that contribute to the national coffers at around P221 billion, the two-year-old company also has its own share of a challenges in these trying times.

“Due to the circumstances, almost all our events for 2020 were canceled,” Padiernos conceded, while citing 85 percent of their overall business has been lost since the implementation of government-imposed community quarantines in March of this year.

Unfazed by Covid-19, they were brave and innovative enough to revamp their business model to survive. Hence, they just focused on virtual corporate events and intimate gatherings for weddings and birthdays.

“Filipinos are naturally sociable and hospitable people that’s why we think these new strategies are taking flight in the industry,” she pointed out.

The coowner reiterated, though, that they deliver these offerings without sacrificing the safety of customers by adhering to the standards set.

“Experiencing the new normal is an adjustment, however, for safety protocols we are one of the doers who shows it’s still possible to celebrate now. We are big on health safety standards and always communicate with our clients in what they want to achieve in their event and what are the restrictions we should consider,” she explained.

To ensure that they observe proper social distancing, Abrie Events has reduced the usual number of attendees of birthday parties and nuptials it organizes from 1,000 to 100. Also, it now offers an option to hold these special affairs and company events online.

“With the modern era, we were able to connect worldwide through the Internet and other channels involving online media, streaming, etc. With just a simple click on the phone we can already travel with our eyes,” said Padiernos.

She added that they have also started doing marketing for startup businesses during the pandemic and now promote Christmas cyber events. But their “bread and butter” does not end there, as they have diversified to the retail of specialty meats for the past five months already.

“The past eight months we really did not know what to expect since we are still continuously evolving and adapting to the new norm but what we have found amidst the situation is to venture out into other ways to earn. What the pandemic pushed us small start-ups and small business owners to do is to try other things to survive and earn,” she shared.

Confident of their continued existence and that they will bounce back better once the gloomy days are over, the event organizer revealed their plan to continue leveraging on web-based gatherings and providing unique customer experience.

“We are pushing for online events involving Zoom, Google Meet, etc. This is how we connect to the audience. And to the guests, we will be pursuing creating gift boxes or ideas that we can send to the attendees to make them feel like they are participating in the event even virtually,” Padiernos said.

“For events, the clients are now more into sending ‘participating kits/event boxes/food trays’ to make it somehow manageable to attend an event. The kits or event boxes often engage the audience to spruce up their own homes to feel the vibe of a specific event. We will be still tapping our trusted suppliers to promote this idea which keeps everyone afloat,” she added.

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