Special events business at a standstill despite re-opening of the hospitality industry

Special events business at a standstill despite re-opening of the hospitality industry

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - “In terms of actually executing events, there’s nothing to do. There probably won’t be until late summer early fall at the very earliest,” said Michael Smith of Thyme Catering.

Roughly 90 percent of Ohio may be open for business, but the social distancing restrictions are too prohibitive for the special events arm of the hospitality industry, which counts on large gatherings, to operate at all.

“Live events, special events, we’re still essentially at a standstill. We get to plan and re-imagine events that are far in to the future but as far as ones that were supposed to be happening yesterday, today and tomorrow, that’s not a thing," said Matt Radicelli, Founder & CEO of Rock the House Entertainment Group.

L’Nique Specialty Linen Rental lends linens for party rooms, banquet halls and large events.

“In 24 hours we lost every order in March, every order in April, and obviously May. We thought June is going to be good. We might open up with some events. But they are ten person events. That doesn’t sustain us. We might have 10 percent of our business, not even,” said Angela Klodnick, Owner/Partner of L’Nique Specialty Linen Rental.

L'Nique Specialty Linen Rental is cutting retired tablecloths into masks.
L'Nique Specialty Linen Rental is cutting retired tablecloths into masks. (Source: L'Nique Specialty Linen)

When the state shut down they immediately pivoted and started selling masks made from their bolts of fabric and retired tablecloths.

They’re also offering their equipment for laundering services as everyone needs to sterilize and clean more frequently.

“We’re technically open, but we have absolutely no business," she said.

Rock the House is well-known event planning and production business that employs DJ’s and bands, and provides lighting and staging.

“We have events that are within the social distancing guidelines that are happening with safety precautions like every other company needs to have. But it’s certainly not anywhere close to being more than 5% of what it should be,” said Radicelli.

They’ve had to reinvent themselves to generate revenue rapidly.

“A product like virtual graduations, this is a product that in mass didn’t exist 3-4 weeks ago. And in the midst of last couple weeks alone we’ve generated dozens of customers all over the country,” said Radicelli.

They’ve brought their whole staff back on to work on their virtual agenda sets and virtual tool kits for weddings, corporate and non-profit events as well.

But the price tag is $15 per person for graduations, which is nothing compared to the revenue generated by in person events.

“In terms of actually executing events, there’s nothing to do. There probably won’t be until late summer early fall at...

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Smith says they’re focused on 2021 now.

“We’re already about 20 percent booked for next year and that never happens. People are starting to realize that next year is going to be crazy,” he said.

They’re also holding dates for next year for those on the book this year who haven’t yet postponed.

“In the fall I think we’ll see a surge in events for sure. But then I really don’t think our business will come back until next spring. Other businesses will come back like a light switch. But our hospitality industry was shut down first and it’s going to be the last to get back up, and that’s unfortunate,” said Klodnick.

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