MPI Chicago Area Chapter

The Floodgates are Open

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The Flood Gates are Open
by Jeff Durocher, President US Poker & Casino Parties

Before the pandemic, our industry was running 1,000 miles/hour. We did all we could to meet the demands of the client (and there were many). We were innovating to be better than our competitors or to bring something new to the industry. Money was being spent on overproduction, over-the-top, “wasteful” interactions. We were all busy and exhausted, but we loved it!

When we had to lock down, we were actually MAD that we couldn’t go to work. We had so much “wasted” or extra time. We had been running wide open for so long that we didn’t know any other way. Our lives came to a screeching halt.

After two years of lockdown, a slow recovery with businesses hesitant to get back together, we all got used to a different pace. A “better” pace. One that was a human kind of a balance (that’s what everyone was talking about). We got to work from home. Set our own hours. Step away to exercise midday. Wear comfortable clothes, Zoom meetings, online learning, shut down at 4 or 5 p.m…. or maybe even 3pm for the day. We started thinking “I could get used to this!” It was comfortable. It was healthy. We were productive.

Once business started to come back, we were all excited. We adjusted to a fuller schedule. More meetings. More deadlines. A nice step up. A comfortable pace and a pace that made us feel more useful and needed. A few more last-minute requests than we would have liked, but we were all hungry for work, so we made it happen. Our partners/suppliers also had capacity so they would jump with you when the client said jump.

Then, the floodgates opened! Now almost every business is back full-steam ahead and they all want to celebrate! They are all requesting the same dates. They are all coming in last minute and expecting miracles because, that’s all they’ve known for two years. We are all getting close to full capacity very quickly. It is forcing us to say no more than we are comfortable with. As venues or suppliers, we only have so many dates to hold events. We are still struggling with labor shortages. And we can only do so much. We are back to a pre-pandemic pace, foot on the gas, running downhill with someone chasing us. Zero to 50 to 150 mph! The adjustment was abrupt. It is disconcerting. And as “pleasers,” we do not like to say no. “Raise your prices,” everyone says. We all did that, but at some point, that doesn’t even cut it. “Hire more” is another common refrain, but there are fewer people to hire. There are just fewer people now.

Clients are still asking. They are still expecting a “Yes, we can do that.” But we just can’t pull it off—or do we even want to pull it off? This summer was a test. This holiday season will also be a test. Demand will far outstretch supply well into 2023. Prices will be peaked. We still will not be able to deliver 100% of the requests.

Now back to us. Do we really want to work that hard again? Should we say yes and figure it out like we did pre-pandemic? Do we want to go back to that unhealthy pace that is, quite frankly, unsustainable? Do we take the opportunity to reshape our business? Do we start saying no more? All great questions that our industry is being forced to make in real-time. Does anyone else feel this way?