Edmonton event planners prepare for chaotic, uncertain summer

Click to play video: 'Edmonton event planners prepare for chaotic, uncertain summer' Edmonton event planners prepare for chaotic, uncertain summer
WATCH ABOVE: Some event planners in Edmonton are scrambling following the province's reopening announcement. The pandemic initially brought this industry to a grinding halt. As Nicole Stillger explains, with no clear picture of how the summer will look, businesses are moving ahead with tempered optimism – May 29, 2021

The minute Premier Jason Kenney announced the reopening plan earlier this week, the phones at Infinite Event Service in Edmonton started ringing.

“Customers that had enough — they’ve hit their limit, they were frustrated — they cancelled their events altogether,” CEO Sheldon Fingler said.

“On the flip side, we’ve had some resurgence and some hope. We’ve had a few more new customers and we’re seeing a huge influx of calls and emails.”

It was good news after more than a year of 95 per cent income loss and without any idea of what’s next.

“We are 100 per cent preparing for chaos,” Fingler explained.

Read more: COVID-19: Kenney outlines Alberta’s reopening plan for summer

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Like many businesses, they’ve also had to scale back and have been operating with a skeleton staff and fleet — which is the new challenge.

“I think the new world is also going to probably give us more trouble,” Fingler said.

“We’re going to be busier than ever and now it’s harder to find staff — it’s harder to stay on top of things.”

Recently, Fingler said they also bought wedding rental service, ABC Weddings. The company has been around for more than five decades.

“Through the pandemic, they just weren’t going to see the other side of it,” he explained.

According to Fingler, it’s been the hardest time to plan during their 18 years in business.

It’s a sentiment felt around the industry.

Wednesday’s announcement gave them some much needed hope, but it didn’t exactly provide any certainty for summer.

The province anticipates almost all restrictions will be lifted by late June or early July, if 70 per cent of Albertans get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Read more: 60% of eligible Albertans vaccinated against COVID-19, next stage could reopen June 10

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“It is absolute chaos, talking to other vendors in the industry and venues,” Cocktails and Details owner and creative director Jenna Fisher said.

She also spent the week catching up on the influx of calls and messages.

“I knew it was going to be just panic mode for everybody, just because it’s been kind of two wedding seasons of the delay,” she said.

“There’s weddings on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. I’m just a little bit weary, to an extent, to see what we can do, so you just always need a backup plan.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta’s three-stage reopening plan to start in June' Alberta’s three-stage reopening plan to start in June
Alberta’s three-stage reopening plan to start in June – May 26, 2021

Fisher said last year they should have had 27 weddings and ended up with four. They’ve also had some weddings they’ve re-planned multiple times.

She’s happy her clients are feeling excited again, but is heading into summer with cautious optimism.

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“I think the 200-person, indoor weddings in July just doesn’t seem realistic to me,” she said.

“If they really want to move forward with the wedding, I like to always have a backup outdoor venue plan, because that seems to be where we got to last year as well.”

Ultimately, businesses in the industry are eager to get back on track.

“We are doing everything we can to work with every customer to keep their event alive,” Fingler explained.

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