COVID Continues To Challenge The Event Industry
In the 20+ years that I have been executing events, I’ve encountered more than a few hurdles on event day that caused the sweat to flow. But on May 13, 2022, at the launch of Ford Motor Company of Canada’s All-New Ford Maverick, we were thrown a curve that threatened to derail the event.
Event planning during COVID-19 comes with a unique set of challenges. So, when your Client has had to delay launching the first standard full-hybrid pickup in Canada, on multiple occasions—because of restrictions—when it finally comes together, it’s a big deal. We could not have been more prepared and eager to get Ford’s Canadian Drive Event underway.
Most of our consumer media participants were from Eastern Canada. As a logistics manager, we had arranged for them to fly into Vancouver with a connecting flight to Victoria. The participants were then to drive the Ford Mavericks to Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal for the crossing to Fulford Harbour, Salt Spring Island.
Travel Challenges During COVID-19: Every Event Managers Worst Nightmare
Well, our participants arrived in Vancouver as planned. But…the airline cancelled their connecting flight. Not good! Nor was the airline’s most helpful solution to the situation. They could fly them to Calgary. Then Calgary to Victoria. Now, I don’t need a map to know this made no sense whatsoever. It was an absolute disaster.
Fortunately, one of my favourite things to do is to work a problem and did we ever have to work on this one. Therefore, rather than fly our participants 1057 KM in the opposite direction of our event, we had to get them to Victoria. So we arranged for a taxi to take them to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, in Vancouver for the 3:00 p.m. departure to the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, in Victoria. But they would miss the Salt Spring Island Ferry to Fulford Harbour we had originally booked them on, so I had to get them on a later ferry that day.
Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. Did you know online ferry bookings close two hours before departure? Well…let’s just say, that deadline had passed. I immediately called BC Ferry Customer Service and put my negotiation skills to work.
Thankfully, BC Customer Services let me purchase the tickets online, but there was still some maneuvering to do because the Salt Spring Island Ferry departed at 5:00 p.m. And at this stage, I knew that every minute counted. Not only did the participants still have to arrive at the Swartz Bay Terminal in Victoria, but they also had to be escorted by the JGK Team to the four Ford Mavericks we had lined up for them in the Swartz Bay parking lot, so they could drive them on board. It would be tight.
But…by the end of our call, BC Ferry Customer Service had confirmed our ticket purchase. And our fast-thinking Adam Ingram had arranged to delay the Salt Spring Island Ferry departure to Fulford Harbour until 5:10 p.m.
Throughout this fiasco our media guests were fantastic. Although, there was a huge sigh of relief when they had finally arrived at the ferry terminal in Fulford Harbour; we still had one obstacle to tackle. The JGK Team had 30 minutes to shuttle our participants to the welcome dinner at Salt Spring Wild Cider at 6:30 p.m. But, we did it!
What Event Planning During COVID Continues To Reinforce
Now that the Ford Canadian Drive Event has wrapped up and all the media participants have returned home safely, I can stop sweating and appreciate all the craziness that went down before our guests even climbed into the Mavericks for a test-drive.
I’d like to conclude this post with a shout out to BC Ferry Customer Service—they were great. And I will add…much more helpful than the airline carrier. And a huge thanks to the entire JGK Team who were integral in pulling this event off.
This experience has reinforced that no matter how many obstacles are fired my way—what can be accomplished by the power of teamwork and a lot of tenacity. Wow!…just a day in the life of an event planner during COVID.
Up next, executing unique destination events in Canada.