Events production companies facing tough times, but staying positive

Despite taking a heavy hit from Covid-19, TomTom Productions managing director Hamish Edh says...
Despite taking a heavy hit from Covid-19, TomTom Productions managing director Hamish Edh says closing it is not an option.
A Queenstown event production company may be in survival mode, but permanently closing the doors will never be an option, TomTom productions managing director Hamish Edh says.

For over ten years, TomTom has designed and operated the visual elements of a range of large scale events, from conferences to music festivals.

Pre-lockdown, the company had plans to stage a major conference in April for a large American company from Silicon Valley.

However the pandemic sent this, and many other events like it, tumbling off a cliff.

“We are 90% down on last year,” Mr Edh said.

“Which is better than 100% down, and that difference from 90 to 100 kind of allowed us to keep more staff on.”

But Mr Edh said TomTom has invested far too much into the Queenstown community, and high-end equipment, to simply close the doors for good.

A major success story of his company in the Covid-19 era was being able to retain the TomTom team of six.

TomTom has been keeping busy the past few months with a range of maintenance and upgrade works, but also running live streaming conferences for groups like the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce.

On top of this, the company has been doing a lot of work free, while planning for what it hopes will be a busy summer of events.

“I think maybe that’s why I’m so positive — we’re so lucky that we even kind of have the sniff of the chance of being able to gather people in a room again and share an experience,” Mr Edh said.

A mass cancellation of events forced audio production company The Soundpeople, which has an office in the same building as TomTom, to make four staff redundant.

Co-owner Steve Roberts said the company worked hard to cut costs early in the lockdown.

This included moving out of a premises in Christchurch.

“Big costs like that were a part of what we were doing before then, so we had to rein those all in. And we did that pretty early on,” he said.

“We rely solely on mass gatherings. So if that doesn’t change, then that’s pretty much 100%, or near to, of our business.”

Mr Roberts said while he was positive about the future, he was also realistic.

“It’s just a realisation that this thing could be coming and going for quite awhile yet.”

However, it is not all doom for resort production companies.

Video production business Shotover Media has said the commercial side of its work was as strong as ever.

But the wedding video side of its work had slowed dramatically — the fourth quarter of 2020 was looking to be at 20% of the corresponding period last year.

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