She created her own business fairy tale ending...
Faye Elizabeth Alexander wrote "Now if this isn't a story", in her LinkedIn article. It sparked our interest, so we kept reading! We would like to share her inspirational story with you.
It took a lot of courage, but Faye decided to share her business story with the world.
Like many of us in the industry, Faye and her business faced difficulties following the economic effects of the pandemic and the grave impact on the events and tourism industry.
What just happened? Faye writes...
Because it is all a blur of this fuzzy rollercoaster - highs, lows, ups, downs and TWISTS!
In the space of a few weeks I went from sitting in a pitch in London in my Heels and Lipstick for work on an International Awards Ceremony for 2021 after meetings with my Healthcare Client who was looking at events in Cardiff, China and America for 2020 to being locked up in the house, taking our baby out of the nursery, suffering from anxiety and going through a drive-through farm shop with people in full hazmat suits loading my boot with food for the family as I paid contactless through the window.
My Events Agency (www.alexanderevents.co.uk) which had just seen its busiest year yet with large events with the Royals, accommodation bookings for expeditions across the U.S.A plus a whole range of Dinners, Conferences and Expos, suddenly became a dark burden trying to find time with zero childcare to send emails about cancelling and postponing events.
KES International (www.kesinternational.org) that I'd taken over in its 23rd year in 2019 was our biggest source of income and if we couldn't make that work - we would have faced losing.....well, pretty much everything. KES - never having missed a conference and Academics still needing to publish their papers, was now our top priority and we started thinking about the very concept of going virtual - with our noses firmly turned up, it left us flat - the very thought.
So what next.....
We would be telling fibs if I said we'd tried every single platform on the market but it was beginning to feel that way. Why should we have to dramatically change our conferences to fit this vast virtual world? How on earth could that work?
We'd spent time and spoken to all the major players and yet still, nothing quite worked. Weeks of research, endless phone calls, mapping out every option, demos, questions and we hit a brick wall.
Sleepless nights, worry, in and out of the hospital with our poorly baby, the lowest moments of my life, no childcare, grieving our former lives, missing travel, I myself having Covid-19 symptoms, the emotional weekly clap for carers - we had one choice left - describe to a Designer and Developer WHAT WE NEEDED. We did not want to amend our events so much it didn't work, so it was a different conference, missing its vital elements, we wanted the virtual world to fit our events. I also knew my other conferences for the Alexander Events could work on what we had in mind as we could make it flexible, scalable, hybrid, brand-able and design something to bring all these elements under one roof, a conference with roundtable events and a small exhibition alongside Keynote Speakers and many breakout sessions and a multi-use networking lounge- could this be possible?
There we had it......
We needed to take KES International online. KES ONLINE was born.
We had the skills, event experience and knowledge to create a vision of something really special. Something with the customer journey at the core of what we wanted to do. Something that was designed from the EVENT MANAGERS PERSPECTIVE.....!!!
A Platform for Virtual Events created by Event Professionals.
A set of wireframes went to senior technology colleagues of mine in the BBC R&D team for opinions - these people had spent weeks and months already researching platforms and what was needed so we wanted non - bias feedback and then work started, branding, design and we found our perfect developer! 6 weeks later we had it.
COVID-19 - we will not be beaten.....
Our platform was ready and we were about to launch our first-ever virtual event.
http://sdf-20.kesinternational.org/ Our Smart Digital Futures conference was due to take place in Croatia in June 2020 and we ran it virtually. 170+Academics from every corner of the earth, most of them presenting papers, so instead we had an opening ceremony, International Keynote Speakers, Breakout sessions, Networking Lounges, Discussions and much more!
If that hadn't worked - I can't talk about the unthinkable - but we did it!
Then people started asking us about the platform - So it can be used to scale up and down as required? Can we have as many breakouts as we want and a Keynote Theatre webinar-style? Can we ask Questions typed/live? Can we network in the live lounge face to face or via type chat? We can scale the platform, add different elements and white label it? So my attendees can go from the conference space straight into the Exhibition Hall and meet the Exhibitors face to face in a live meeting room and also watch a demo/book an appointment? And the answers to these questions were YES, YES, YES... The questions kept coming and we kept saying yes.
Philadelphia, Belgium, UK, Wisconsin . . . .are a few places from where we have had interest from.... people asking us for demos and then quotes, there have been Corporates, Government Organisations, Universities, Scientific Organisations, we have back to back events this September from a monthly webinar series to a conference of over 450 delegates and have had to set up a new business for the platform work, get an office and staff, all in the last 3 weeks! What is also great is having people who attended our first event coming forward, impressed by our platform and asking for demos. https://www.kesonline.info/
A new office, A new Business, A new Employee, A new Platform and A new way of life......thanks COVID-19......
Because out of every black cloud comes a RAINBOW.
For a demo and to support the 'small guys'...please get in touch! x