Coronavirus: Event planners, event centres affected as event owners cancel booked events - Paul Ukpabio's Blog

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Sunday, 22 March 2020

Coronavirus: Event planners, event centres affected as event owners cancel booked events


By Paul Ukpabio and Biodun Adeyewa

The advent of Coronavirus has definitely not been good news to the hospitality and tourism industry; An industry that has a spill over to event management and event center sector of the economy. Caterers who also form a part of the sub sector has been badly hit as many of the events planned for most of the event centres have been suffering cancelation since last week.


The story seems to either be the same or similar in most of the event centres visited by our reporters in the last few days. From the car park of hotels which has got thinner and thinner, to reduced spaces in the number of guests that have been checking into hotel rooms for lodging and the empty halls reserved for meeting rooms and halls reserved for elaborate parties.

A director at events booking centre at popular Sheraton hotel at Ikeja, Lagos, revealed to us that some of the events have been cancelled, especially events that involved people that have to travel to Nigeria. For instance, there’s an event that we are supposed to host here on Wednesday but almost half of the people were to come in from abroad. So they had to call and cancel.

He also made us to understand that on an average, there are at least five events going on daily at the upscale hotel but this time around, as at this week, they had about three for some days and less at other days.
Also noticed at Sheraton hotel was the reduction in the number of airline crews who normally use the hotel for their lodgings.

At Airport hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, a hotel which usually has a beehive of activities on any day of the week, surprisingly wore a quiet, peaceful look. The car park which usually does not boast of space to cater for the high rate of vehicles that come into the hotel grounds had less number of vehicles. And at the booking office, the Manager on duty, assured us that we can be privileged to get any of their halls if we need it for next week. That according to him is because they have experienced some cancellations of earlier bookings.

At Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) a popular upscale event centre well patronized by corporate organizations, and known to host many big local and international events is now at lower patronage courtesy of coronavirus. An event that was held yesterday at the center, witnessed low attendance. One the organizers who spoke to us on the ground of anonymous said that they have to reduce the attendance because of the global epidemic that had crippled the economy of many countries.

“We had to reduce the number people that we invited and concentrated on those who are based in Nigeria because some people were going to come from abroad, but we didn’t want them to arrive and only to find that they are quarantined. It wouldn’t mean sense because, if they are quarantined, they still would not be able to attend our event. So what’s the point of inviting them?” He said and asked.

However, at the entrance to most events centres visited by us attendants are made to be on hand to attend to guests with sanitizer and guests temperatures are taken to ascertain if they can be allowed in or not! At some other places a hand washer bowl with water, soap, and sanitizer is kept on the side for guests to use before being allowed into the event complex.

Perhaps those who suffer the advent of the coronavirus outbreak most are the event planners. According to Bisi Olokun, an Managing Director of a growing event managing business, “this Coronavirus thing is trying to put us in heavy debt. Many people have approached us to handle events for them. Dates were fixed and part payments have been made. But meanwhile, the events have been cancelled because the government has announced that people should not gather and that has made a lot of people communicate to the event owners that they would not be able to grace their events, which made most of them to cancel their events. But we have already expended money in buying some things especially edibles. So who suffers that loss?” She asked.

On her part Chief Mrs. Aduke Jones who runs a popular event centre in Lekki area of Lagos simply said, after Tuesday, I might just as well go home to sleep! We have been booked till July but most of the events have been put on hold if not totally cancelled. For those who have already paid, some of those monies have been channeled to other investments. My prayer is that those people who have paid do not call for their money. This is quite unfortunate and unforeseen!”
Business at Metropolitan club has not been spared also. Only few people were seen going in or out of the club, while there were renovations going on at some part of the complex. An anonymous worker that gave his opinion on the coronavirus scourge, saith that many events had been shifted forward and rescheduled for future days depending on the situation. "It is a global problem and we have to manage the situation and move forward, no more clubbing for now, everything has been suspended until we overcome present Coronavirus scourge situation in the world.

However, as at yesterday, there were still popular events that took place in some major hotels across Lagos.  Two of the big hotels on Lagos Island the luxury Eko Hotel and Oriental Hotel still had colourful events but from what we were able to sniff from their booking departments, people are calling in to cancel some events too, and those spoken to, say they are only know of this week, they cannot say what events will look like next week.

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