Since coronavirus restrictions began in March, Janice Boes, the owner of Pierpont Place & Premier Events in Salt Lake has been doing a lot of canceling.
“We've been dead in the water for four months, pretty much our entire calendar postponed or pulled out,” she said.
Pierpont Place & Premier Event is a full service venue and can provide everything from photography, to floral arrangements to bar and food service to a DJ. They also do on-location events.
“We've been actually busier there because we're able to work in outside locations and work with other venues, backyards, etc, where people are feeling a little bit more safe," Boes said.
But even with the increased demand for on-location events, Boes said she has spent a lot of sleepless nights worrying about how to help her business adapt to current circumstances. For example-- what happens when the seasons change and it’s too cold for outdoor gatherings?
One solution to continue bringing in revenue is a VIP concert series featuring local artists. In planning this, Boes said she has worked with the health department to ensure they follow safety guidelines and will have ample space for social distancing.
Additionally, they’ve also been selling flower arrangements and for every 19 orders they receive, they donate an arrangement to a first responder. While it’s been a fulfilling way for Boes to keep her workers creative, it’s only sustainable if they receive at least 100 orders a day.
David Hunter owns Venuse 6SIX9 in Salt Lake and has faced similar challenges. In the past four months, he has lost over $200,000 in revenue as about 40 events have had to be postponed, moved or cancelled.
Recently, he’s started throwing small events again that follow CDC safety guidelines. But it won’t be enough in the long term since the majority of his profit comes from corporate events that just aren’t happening right now.
“The business is not profitable simply because we're not doing enough of the events at scale, in order to be able to be profitable as a business, but each individual event is obviously profitable," he said.
Boes said she and her business are lucky to have the support of their property management company who has been working with them so they can stay in business. As they continue to work to stay afloat, Boes said the hope is for more government support.
“What businesses need to stay in business is business bill assistance," Boes said. "We can't pay our bills because we can't work because we can't conduct that. And the events that we are doing, like I mentioned, are generating very little revenue. So the assistance that we need is grant money to pay the bills.”
Hunter agreed this is helpful, but said it is won’t provide the funds necessary for long-term sustainability.
“The PPP money was legitimately a band aid, like it was a drop in the bucket of what is needed, simply because this is going a lot going on much longer than people anticipated or that the government anticipated or that, you know, the Senate and Congress anticipated," Hunter said.
And when it comes to bouncing back from the financial challenges caused by the pandemic, Hunter said it could take three to five years for his industry to recover.
“We were the first things that were shut down and we will be the last thing that comes back," he said. "And what a lot of people don't understand is that with events, we're not like a restaurant so we can't get you know, we don't go to green tomorrow. And we start making money tomorrow, the way that a restaurant more or less can win. Events, fares, you know, weeks and months of planning in advance and choosing a date and choosing a venue and choosing vendors and etc, etc the list is fairly long.”
“We were hit the hardest because our whole model is to gather to provide joy and an experience for people," she said. "Which by human nature, that's what we love. We need human interaction.”