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Getting to know Marissa Scuteri from HostCo Sydney
Meet Marissa Scuteri. Currently the Sales and Events Executive at HostCo Sydney, Marissa shares with us what life has been like as an event professional in 2020 – COVID-style…
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?
All systems were a go workwise! Enquiries for new events were consistently coming through the door, we’d just held our showcase event with key suppliers and clients. I had lots of smaller conferences booked up until May as well as large scale events booked well up until the end of the year. Both small and large events had many months of work put into them to get the details all right and contracts signed – which now seems a little pointless!
How was your business impacted when the COVID-19 crises initially hit?
We felt the impact of COVID-19 hard and fast, I had events as early as mid-February cancelling due to overseas speakers and attendees. Things then seemed to level out for a couple of weeks and then March hit and all of our events were cancelled or put on hold until everyone knew what was going to happen next.
Have you been able to introduce new products?
Yes! So far, we have introduced Private Dining Experiences to our repertoire – reducing our minimum numbers down to cater for more intimate events which was vital with the current 4sqm rule. We’re busy working on other ideas too that we look forward to bringing to market in the future. Our parent company, the University of Sydney Union (USU) has opened up a delivery site for our other cafes and restaurants on site at the University.
If your business has had to go into hibernation, what have you been doing during the lockdown phase?
I have been hibernating since March, whilst working with reduced hours. At the beginning of lockdown, I got into a puzzle craze and completed six 1,000-piece puzzles in about a month! My Netflix account has gotten a decent workout as well. I have also been doing a lot of home workouts since gyms have been closed for the majority of the last few months.
What has been the biggest challenge on your business during this crisis?
The biggest challenge has been keeping people engaged and reminding them that we are still here, and open for business. Trying to keep our current clients as well as picking up new ones is especially difficult when there are so many restrictions! People are wary when holding events and booking in future events when we all don’t know what is going to happen next. Along with both having their thoughts on other things or facing budget restrictions – which we are facing right alongside them!
Have there been any surprise silver linings?
The biggest silver lining has been how much I have learnt about myself, what’s important and what things I really want to focus on. My health – both physical and mental have been a big priority and I have enjoyed having the time to focus on both. My surprise silver lining was learning how productive I actually am when I have been working from home, admin work is a breeze with no office distractions!
What’s next for your business? Are you starting to reopen? Will you continue with any new products?
That’s a loaded question! We never really closed per se but are all working limited hours and face limitations in what we can do due to government restrictions. As restrictions ease it will become easier for us to get back to the new normal (hello events with a bigger virtual focus!). Being based on the University of Sydney campus means we’ll start to see more interaction with some of our key clients as they open back up again. So, we will continue operating as we have been, engaging clients and reacting to new enquiries. If our Private Dining Experiences continue to prove a popular option, we’ll definitely be continuing with those – although once the 4sqm rule ends they’ll be in the Chancellors Room rather than our bigger spaces.
On a personal note:
“In isolation I…
a. always had a shower and got dressed for the day ahead
b. binge-watched…. Tiger King, Dead to Me, Babysitters Club
c. perfected this recipe…. Burrito Bowls and Honey Chicken
d. ordered…. new gym clothes (Rockwear)
c. secretly loved the slower pace
To connect with Marissa, you can find her on Linkedin here.