Featured on The Sunday Times, Brian O’Reilly speaks about the events industry, the resilience of Irish businesses and the importance of support in these challenging times
With a nationwide and European service, Fusion Events is a leading full-service events solutions provider, supplying both packaged and bespoke services to the corporate and private sectors and also to the wider events industry. Our journey started 20 years ago. In fact we, safely and separately, celebrated our anniversary in April — we originated as an entertainment agency, MCE Events, in 2000. Entertainment is still one of our core competencies, but we have evolved considerably particularly in the past two years, when we undertook a rebrand.
Like most businesses, the current emergency came at us hard and fast. Initially, it was an unpredictable firefighting situation that constantly evolved. With no action, we would have failed as a business within weeks.
Prior to the pandemic, we delivered our services in person to large groups, facilitating engagement, interaction and entertainment. That would contravene the current advice these days. When the initial restrictions were announced, we postponed events, set our staff up to work from home, and went back to the drawing board.
We looked at how we could use our current portfolio in a novel and safe way. We made this our priority, didn’t get too bogged down in “analysis paralysis”, and found that online was the obvious choice.
While we had already been bringing an element of our services online, live- streaming events and so on, our offering was still mainly in-person events. We had to ramp up our efforts to “virtualise” our portfolio.
Our production team quickly implemented the supports and methodology required to make our portfolio virtual and we tested rigorously to ensure everything would work smoothly. We launched it in April and it has been received very well.
One of our key objectives at Fusion Events is connecting people and ideas, the key element being “connection”. As people stay separate, that connection becomes all the more important. Identifying this issue prompted us to look more closely at our clients’ evolving objectives. Many have large workforces and therefore have a huge challenge of keeping staff engaged, interactive and productive in a remote working environment.
Their willingness to evolve with us in response to the new reality and continue to engage with their own communities, using our new online tools, assured us that there was an ongoing appetite for events, entertainment and, importantly, fun.
We have already implemented several successful events online to hundreds of participants, and we have capabilities for thousands of attendees at any one time, internationally.
We looked externally for support too and are very lucky now to be part of Ireland Together and Event Industry Ireland, our own industry group, of which Fusion Events is a founding member. Formed from a joint concern for the future of events post-Covid, the group provides resources and advocacy and a collective industry voice to ensure our multibillion-euro industry gets its due consideration.
What ours and the wider business community’s innovation has shown, however, is the ingenuity in the world, that the desire to survive is there and we can make life easier for ourselves through collaboration and a willingness to engage and share knowledge and resources.