As layoffs continue to make headlines across industries, the events industry is also bracing itself for an economic downturn. More and more companies in the events industry announce layoffs, downsizing, and consolidations each week. According to Brandt, the industry should have taken preventative action before reaching this point.
Join Will and Brandt as they discuss how we got here and how to navigate layoffs and consolidation in the events industry. While they can’t predict the future of events (as we’ll find out), they have been discussing this topic for months and are ready to offer actionable advice and support.
How Did We Get Here?
Brandt begins today’s discussion by emphasizing the seriousness of today’s topic and citing recent layoffs in the industry. “Bizzabo announced about a 30% layoff. Hopins did a couple of rounds of layoffs. There was a 12% cut earlier in the year and now another 30%.”
“All of this surrounds the conversation we’ve been having these last few months about mergers and acquisitions in the event tech community. I’ve been nervous this was going to happen,” says Brandt. “Anytime you see investment money coming in, at some point, those investors want their money back. As we come out of the pandemic, the income numbers are coming down, and the fastest way to add money to the bottom line is to lay off staff. People are expensive.”
Will brings up an important point. Many companies making layoffs are private, which means some data regarding the company and layoffs won’t be publicly available. But that’s not the only concern he has. “I’ve seen a weird mix of specific positions and styles they’re laying off. I see a lot of marketing folks getting laid off, but I’ve seen operations people too. That’s not good because that means they’re under capacity, the operations aren’t going well, or they’re not profitable,” Will explains. “I worry when I see marketing people get laid off because it usually means they believe the market isn’t there, that there isn’t enough demand to do it. So, it may feel like demand is going down potentially.”
Brandt finds it hard to believe that companies weren’t more prepared for this decline after such rapid growth. “I’ve never had any illusions that this online platform boost was anything other than a bubble,” he says. “I’m thankful for the boost it gave to that side of the industry. We did catapult forward 10 or 20 into the future. There’s a silver lining there. It’s just a little frustrating to me that nobody saw this coming. As someone who brews in this space, it’s frustrating to see so many people losing their jobs because somebody thought this would be an infinite party.”
How to Navigate Layoffs and Consolidation in the Events Industry
You can’t always ensure your job security, but there are things you can do to position yourself should the worst happen. Here are some recommendations and resources that Will and Brandt believe will help you make it through layoffs and come out better for it.
Will’s first recommendation focuses more toward companies in the industry. There are companies in need of event labor. He thinks it will help the entire industry if those companies absorb employees laid off in other parts of the events industry.
“We went from an explosion of growth to a drop of growth, to now shaky ground. It’s not a confidence-inducing industry to be a part of,” says Will. “I think there’s an opportunity to do some reshuffling around. The best thing we can do right now is, the companies that were struggling to staff people will pick up these people. I think my hope out of all this is that there is a lot of experience and learning gained from it. And now, that experience spreads across the whole industry rather than just being with whoever has the most VC money.”
Brandt agrees. “I was going to try and close with a couple of positives. That’s one of them. All of the folks that are unfortunately being let go, try and stay in the industry,” recommends Brandt. “There are a lot of folks hiring right now. It might mean shifting from the digital world to the in-person world. It might mean shifting from customer service for an online platform to customer service for a hotel. I strongly encourage you to stay in the industry.”
Diversification is an Asset
Will encourages people not to let the act of getting laid off discourage them as they consider their future in the industry. “Similar to how in 2020 a lot of people got furloughed or let go had gaps in their resume, don’t be afraid to say that you wanted to stay in the industry but went to work at a hotel or something like that. This will all solidify, and the market will recover. If you had to say, ‘I was part of the layoffs leading up to the recession for this gigantic tech company, and I decided to go work inside a hotel as an event manager or customer support, but I’m trying to get back into event tech.’ No one is going to look down on you. In fact, I might have favored that more because you also have such a diverse amount of experience across the industry. Exposure across this industry makes you so powerful,” Will concludes.
Endless Episodes and Other Resources for You
“People who are laid off, have faith,” says Brandt. “Try and stay in the industry. There are plenty of job openings and places that are hiring. There are plenty of places that need help and need technology people. If you can’t find anything in the industry and want to stay in the industry, check out the SEARCH Foundation. That’s a foundation by event people for event people in need of monetary resources or mental health resources.”
Brandt continues: “On the planner side, we know we’ve asked for a lot of grace over the last three years, please, please, please continue to try and understand that people are going to be understaffed. They may be working outside of their primary discipline.”
Will adds a new episode for recommended listening, The Current State of Event Technology Labor. He also has advice. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the community for anybody who’s lost their job. I see it all the time on LinkedIn.
In Conclusion: No one Can Predict The Future.
Just when Brandt and Will thought their predictions were solidified, recent events inspired them to rewrite the ending of today’s episode.
“We were done with this episode when just a few days after recording, Twine comes out and says, not only are they not laying people off, they actually just closed a bunch of funding,” says Brandt. “It’s interesting. It’s not all doom and gloom out there.”
“I think it just gives a little bit of hope that there is some good stuff still happening,” adds Will. “I also think it reminds us that as much as we try to create macro trends to justify our feelings, everybody has a different scenario. It all depends. There’s tons of stuff out there that no one is talking about. I think the important thing is to stay focused on your world and do the best you can. That’s the best you can do. Try not to let too much of the outside world affect your energy levels because anything is possible.”
Will and Brandt want to hear from you! If you want to get involved, reach out. If you have some knowledge you’d like to share, they’d love to have you on as a guest. And finally, don’t hesitate to reach out if you need new opportunities. We might know people who can help you out. We’re a part of your community and want to be a part of your network too.