One of the business sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic has received extra support to help them generate new streams of income in a new Waverley Borough Council-led initiative.
In preparation for the reopening of the events industry, the council offered free specialist training to the borough’s venues, hotels and accommodation providers.
The pandemic led the council to recognise the need to rethink how events are held, so it teamed up with Godalming-based Selling Savvy to offer venues training on how to sell their space as a hybrid event solution where ‘in person’ and virtual experiences are combined.
Councillor Liz Townsend, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, Parks and Leisure, said: “Waverley has one of the highest business densities in Surrey and we want to continue to be a top place for people to live and work. Even before COVID-19, investing in training and development was vital for maintaining a competitive edge and that is even more important now.
“We saw the hybrid workshops as a practical way for businesses to learn how to generate more income, while responding to significant changes in customer behaviour and business practices due to the pandemic. Hybrid events are definitely here to stay and offer the flexibility that clients are looking for.”
Kate Plowright, from award-winning Selling Savvy, says: “Most of the venues that attended were wedding-orientated and, as a result of the training, they all have plans to begin offering a hybrid solution after the summer. Many of the attendees said that since the workshop they had felt so much more comfortable and confident when talking to clients about the option of ‘streaming in’ self-isolating wedding guests or those living abroad and that this had helped to convert enquiries.”
Waverley Borough Council has also offered practical support to smaller businesses that have been hard hit by the pandemic. Places on the free, five-part digital skills workshop were snapped up by businesses that want to be more visible online.
Partnering with Waverley Borough Council, Xav Anderson from the digital training firm Clockwork City, said: “The fifth and final session of the training was in person, and it went exceptionally well. The businesses were really engaged and everybody said that having completed the training, they felt much better equipped to promote their business to an online audience. Digital skills are essential for today’s world and I am delighted we were able to share our knowledge.”
One of the business owners who attended the digital skills workshop said: “As a small business with no background in marketing I had been stumbling along trying to pull together our social media presentations. I now have a set of skills I can use through attending your programme.
“I am now looking forward to working on the ideas I have generated through the course. The one-to-one session was also beneficial as it has helped me pull together the ideas I had been generating and crystalise specific actions I can now take forward to improve my social media and lead to more trade and profitability.”
Thanks to government funding aimed at helping the business community to recover, Waverley Borough Council was able to provide the training free of charge.
With more support for the hardest hit sectors to come, Waverley businesses can be the first to receive details about future training opportunities and information about doing business in the borough, by subscribing to a free e-newsletter at: www.businesswaverley.co.uk