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Getting to know Erin Vaiotu
Meet Erin Vaiotu. Currently the Meetings & Events Manager at PARKROYAL Parramatta, Erin started this new role in mid-March 2020 – just as the country went into lock down. Join us now as Erin shares with us what it was like to start a new role as the world, and in particular, the world of events went topsy turvy….
1. Give us a quick snap shot of what you were doing (workwise) prior to COVID-19 restrictions, and what type of jobs (events) did you have planned for 2020?
I started here at PARKROYAL Parramatta on the 16th March 2020 which is when the world as we knew it changed forever. Walking in on my first day was a Department Head meeting on the “COVID-19 Situation” while we listened to phone call after phone call come in of events cancelling for 2020. I couldn’t even tell you at that point what we had on the books – what a first day that was!!
2. How was your business impacted when the COVID-19 crises initially hit?
Being in the hospitality industry meant that all aspects of our business were impacted. We’re all about hosting guests that travel, creating memorable experiences, dining in the hotel and holding large numbers of people in any of our 13 function spaces. COVID impacted all areas and we watched as our numbers rapidly declined as people were told not to hold large gatherings and to stay home.
3. Have you been able to introduce new products?
We have changed the way we host events. Small meetings are now held in much larger conference rooms and buffets are a thing of the past. The introduction of Hybrid Meetings and online platforms has never had such a strong focus. For the first time ever we created packages solely based on Hybrid Meetings and have adapted our conference set up or packages depending on what’s important to our clients.
4. If your business has had to go into hibernation, what have you been doing during the lockdown phase?
We were in hibernation for a total of 10 weeks running on skeleton staff. During this time we had the opportunity to do a deep clean in a number of areas that are normally put on the back burner and re-visited all our menu’s, collateral and promotional packages. We used this time to hit the refresh button and prepare for the return of our guests and conferences!
5. What has been the biggest challenge on your business during this crisis?
The Government restrictions have been our biggest challenge and really kept us on our toes to keep up to date with the forever changing requirements. The constant unknown of when things will change, how things will change, and what the next step looks like has made it hard to plan ahead… for anything!
6. Have there been any surprise silver linings?
Work. Life. Balance.
While being reduced to less days (and my daughter still being in Daycare – thanks Mr Morrison) I had a little more time to myself. I could get on top of things at home if I wanted, or lounge on the couch and do nothing. What a rare occasion that is!
7. What’s next for your business? Are you starting to reopen? Will you continue with any new products?
What’s next? Getting people in our doors!! We are excited to be slowly welcoming conferences and some of our repeat guests back to the hotel. We are open, ready for business and for excited for whatever the next chapter brings!
8. On a personal note in isolation I…
Binge-watched Vikings every opportunity my two year old was asleep! And set up constant to-do lists for my husband while he was working from home