2020 at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace
There is no doubt in our minds, 2020 has been a year that has thrown challenge after challenge at each of us, many of them unexpected, and sometimes daunting. There is no way we could have planned for what would happen, but we are in awe of how well people have adapted to the difficulties this year has brought.
For events in particular, this has been a year like no other. No event business expects to be shut for three-quarters of the year (or even longer still) so we’ve had to get creative in order to ensure we come through this pandemic safely and in a strong position to welcome our clients. It’s certainly not been easy at times, but there have also been opportunities to try something new or to develop things we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.
For 10-11, 2020 has been a year of advances. Whether that be the team’s skillset; to our product offerings; to our contract clauses and flexibility; even to our budget numbers. We know we’re not quite out of the woods yet and things won’t magically be back to normal by January, but we wanted to reflect on the year we’ve had and highlight what we’ve accomplished together.
January – March
2020 started on a high note for us. After the most profitable Christmas season we’d ever had, it put us on course to smash this year budget and it looked like it was going to be the best financial year we’d ever had.
January and February went as expected and included some particularly exciting occasions. We got to host some wonderful private celebrations, a wine tasting or two, plenty of meetings, as well as:
A luxury reception for AMAN Resorts
The annual Legally Disabled Conference
But by March things were starting to look more uncertain. By mid-month, mass gatherings had been officially banned and within days this was extended to all events including weddings, funerals and essential business.
April – June
The next couple of months were focused on facing up to this sudden and unknown challenge. Not only were the team suddenly working from home, but they also needed to prepare for all possibilities of what the future might look like. Whilst it wasn’t clear for some time after the industry’s closure when events would be allowed again, it became clear that regardless of when that was, COVID was still going to be present and that would need to be taken into account.
We began focusing on the development of thorough COVID procedures designed to ensure any and all risk was minimised at events. The catch was that there was a lack of blueprint for how to do this. Nevertheless, as eventprofs began to pick up pieces of best practice and new procedures, they were quickly shared across the industry to ensure everyone could operate safely.
As a venue, we worked hard to get the official industry accreditations ASAP and quickly earnt the mia’s AIM Secure award as well as VisitBritain’s ‘Good to Go’ mark.
You can find more info on exactly what measures are currently in place on our COVID page.
All this goodwill and solidarity certainly made us proud to be a part of such a wonderful industry and, as we now know, it only got more extensive from there.
Alongside this, we spent these months initially helping clients to postpone or cancel events that were booked for the next few months; then developing contact clauses to give clients a fair deal if future lockdowns meant they had to change their booking; refining new event types to cater to smaller crowds like micro weddings and most importantly, getting our COVID processes in place ready for when events could go ahead again.
We also gave our internal team the time to develop their skills and get involved in things they’re passionate about. That included:
- Our Sales & FOH Manager, Imogen learning BSL (British Sign Language)
- Our Sales &Marketing Coordinator, Tinique taking time out to attend a Project Management course
- Our BD & Marketing Manager, Amie, and our Head of Sales & Marketing, Catherine, were asked to speak at a range of webinars, hosted by Hirespace, Headbox and Unique Venues of London.
- Collectively having Equality, Diversity and Inclusion training, working on our sustainability credentials and team values (which you can find on our Meet the Team page)
After a number of months working for home and with an empty central London venue, July brought the first event back to 10-11 since March.
During late summer, we welcomed the Leverhulme Trust through our doors and into a totally transformed, COVID-safe venue. It was something of a pilot to ensure our hygiene procedures weren’t too intrusive, yet thorough enough that they didn’t leave anything as a risk.
The event was a small meeting for seven delegates. Strict social distancing measures were adhered to at all times, catering was done via individually portioned bento boxes, all staff were wearing PPE and all accessible areas of the venue were being constantly sanitised.
It felt fantastic to be back again – even if it was in gloves and visors! It was a small glimmer of hope that things might start getting back to normal soon. We know now that this wasn’t quite true, but it doesn’t detract from the excitement we felt in the lead up and on the day.
We were delighted that Leverhulme shared some lovely feedback from their day too. The full details can be found in our case study about it.
In late August we celebrated our first micro wedding. It was a beautiful, small gathering and we loved seeing the venue used in (what was then) a pretty unique way. We even got to see it featured in Coco Weddings!
But whilst we weren’t as busy as we might be during a regular August, that didn’t mean we weren’t busy with other things. In fact, we were excited to have the chance to train our entire events team as Mental Health First Aiders.
Stress Matters launched a campaign just a week prior under the hashtag #MHFAEveryEvent. They wanted to encourage venues and event planners to ensure that there was a mental health first aider present at every event, the same way you would expect a physical first aider to be there.
The team loved this initiative and got on it straight away. In fact, 10-11 quickly achieved the benchmark Stress Matters set out and became the first venue recognised as able to offer a MHFA at every event.
By September we were quietly ticking along with a handful of micro weddings and small business meetings at the venue, but this was still a much smaller volume than we’re used to at this time of year.
However it was still more than we’d had for most of the year, so we were pleased to see the venue and team back in action again. We even hosted one of the few team away days Hirespace organised – giving us a chance to show off our hybrid credentials.
By October we began to look back on the last few months at how far we’d come. Pivoting like our lives depended on it, we’d implemented countless hygiene procedures that until this year, had never existed in an event setting (or really any setting!). We developed our event offering to include micro weddings. Our catering partner Searcys completely redesigned their menus and serving standards to fit the ever-changing guidelines, and we quickly became familiar with it all.
However, towards the end of the month, ‘Lockdown 2.0’ was announced which would mean most events would be off limits again. After a month of exciting photoshoots and film productions, we got ready to close our doors again.
But with another quiet month looming, our team started thinking of what little opportunity we’d had to support our event supplier ‘regulars’. Disappointed by this, we started wracking our brains for ways to help…. And came up with #SupportEventSuppliers.
We started reaching out to all of our preferred suppliers and asked if they’d like to get involved. The answer was a resounding yes! Then as November approached, we began to develop the idea…
Now with Lockdown 2.0 fully underway, only essential events were allowed to go ahead. This included anything business-related that couldn’t otherwise be done remotely, but group limits still applied and there were no social aspects allowed, like private dinners or drinks.
Whilst still hosting the odd film and photoshoot, the team also continued to develop the #SupportEventSuppliers campaign. The idea was that any event supplier could post their offering on social media with the #SupportEventSuppliers, and anyone who wanted to buy from event businesses could browse the hashtag to find gifts for Christmas. Alongside this, awareness for the campaign was raised through industry press and a dedicate webpage was built to host all the suppliers in one place to make it easy for people to see what was available.
It was fantastic to have a project for the team that was designed to help the industry. And whilst the #SupportEventSuppliers campaign is far from a permanent fix, we’re pleased to help in whatever way we can.
November also delivered another pick-me-up for the team - we had been shortlisted for the miaList 2020 team award! This was one of the biggest highs of the year and much needed after a long eight months(!). Public voting opened and we got ready to present to the miaList judges to share why we deserve the top spot this year.
By this point in the year, we’d usually be getting ready for our first Christmas parties but it’s no surprise this festive season was looking a little quieter than usual. That didn’t mean we didn’t have things to keep us busy however.
The miaList’s virtual award ceremony was on the 8th and whilst we didn’t claim Team of the Year this year, we had a lot of fun and it was an honour to be shortlisted regardless. We still had plenty to look forward to for the month as the industry had a big win at the start of the it. Areas in tier 1 and 2 could host events of up to 1000 (given social distancing could be adhered to), and London was placed in tier 2.
We had chance to officially launch our virtual and hybrid event studio which was an exciting addition to the venue. Built and run in partnership with production experts Oxygen Events, our new studio fixture is designed to make it even easier for planners to host hybrid or virtual events with us.
On top of that, we were also kept busy with planning an internal Christmas party for the British Academy, hosting two festive micro weddings and continuing to host photoshoots and film productions. It has been a busy month for enquiries too, and we’ve got some very exciting shoots and events already lined up for next year with major brands – including a reservation for London Fashion Week.
Looking forward to 2021
There is no doubt 2020 has been a difficult year, but we’re hopeful about the next. We don’t expect things to magically return to normal on 1st Jan, but we can see signs that things are starting to move in the right direction.
Since March, we’ve seen incredible courage from hundreds of thousands of regular people as they stepped up into key worker positions, and we want to share our thanks and admiration for the sacrifices each of them have made.
It was moving to see the events industry play a part from the very beginning too. The creation of the Nightingale hospitals relied on hundreds of eventprofs to construct them in a matter of days, and venues like ExCeL London and Harrogate Convention Centre giving up their spaces entirely for the foreseeable. At a time when the industry had been forced to close, it was still a vital part of the protection and recovery of the country.
Event businesses who were suddenly out of work pivoted hard and adjusted their offerings to meet new demand. And as the months went on with seemingly no hint as to when events could return, the industry rallied together and made as much noise as possible. Yet despite not always being noticed, the industry never stopped working to be heard by those making the decisions.
We’re confident we’ll see the industry we love make a comeback next year and with so much more gratitude for the simple things, like sitting in a coffee shop, going to visit family or just seeing someone else in person at events. With any luck, we’ll see you here in the near future!