The pandemic flattened the business model of many small and midsize companies, but some businesses found opportunities in the crisis. We are thrilled to be included in this roundup of BC companies whose pivot strategies opened doors to new business, employment opportunities, greater community engagement and highly engaged teams.
From BC Business:
For some businesses, survival wasn’t something they could do alone; they needed their whole industry to make it through. Such is the case in the meetings sector, which depends on businesses and associations continuing to view B.C. as an attractive site for conferences after COVID worries recede.
The grounding of international travel “immediately meant the cancellation of all of our business,” Jennifer Burton says flatly. Her company, Pacific Destination Services (PDS), was a boutique event planning and incentive travel company catering mainly to U.S. companies and associations. After helping clients rearrange previously scheduled meetings in the spring of 2020, PDS staff held a brainstorming meeting.
They decided first to retrain the firm’s event production department in virtual meetings. Later in the year, PDS succeeded in staging a global virtual conference as well as a one-day speakers series. It also drilled down on small-group events for Canadian clients at off-the-beaten-track destinations like Nimmo Bay Resort, Sonora Resort and the Wickaninnish Inn.
But PDS CEO Joanne Burns Millar had a bigger ambition: to be part of the solution to the plight the meetings and events industry found itself in. She formed the BC Meetings and Events Industry Working Group, a coalition of event planners, venue operators and service providers dedicated to getting the sector back on its feet. The group worked with the Office of the Provincial Health Officer to create operational guidelines that have since been adopted in other provinces and devised a restart plan for when immunization could permit events to proceed.
As a side benefit of its work with health authorities, PDS was invited to help support vaccination clinics in different health regions. In the Lower Mainland, it helped set up and staff four ongoing clinic sites with parking attendants, patient service reps and other non-medical staff. In the Interior and Northern Health regions, it provided logistics for travelling clinics—everything from community outreach before the road show’s arrival to hiring and stocking trailers to scheduling the nurses’ shifts.
“Corporate roadshows are something we’ve done before. There’s never a dull moment,” laughs Burton, PDS’s President. And while she doesn’t expect the immunization work to continue beyond the fall, the experience opened doors to government and community work. Though not a profit generator, it has kept the core PDS team of seven together and employed through the pandemic. And the meetings work is showing signs of picking up. Canadian clients are going ahead with smaller events for the second half of the year and American groups are enquiring about 2022.