Event Staffing

How to Balance Live Event Staff Morale and Client Experience

Explore how industry peers nurture event staff and guide clients when planning live events.

Two years after the pandemic, live events are back and getting better than ever.  As a customer success manager in the industry I have seen projects coming in and amazing event opportunities arise. 

I had the opportunity to sit down with production and event staffing experts to get their insights on how they have been navigating the change in the industry after the pandemic. 

 

Meet the guests: 

  • Peter May, owner of MayCo, has 43 years of experience working in one of the biggest markets to provide production labor in New York City.
  • Kim Oskam, co-owner of Tried and True staffing, 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry conference and security staffing. 
  • Mike Aubry, LASSO's Director of Operations with 25+ years of experience.

 

TL;DR

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John Barron:

How do you keep your staff motivated during busy season and prevent burnout? 

 

Kim Oskam:

Sometimes, it’s not a problem. There’s excitement and enthusiasm. It’s more so avoiding the burnout. it’s more so trying to get them to be healthy and trying to get them to take care of themselves, so they do not get that burnout.

We communicate making sure that they eat right and drink and have plenty of rest. Um, but the camaraderie is great. It's more so on the downtime of trying to get them motivated to say, "Hey, you know, this is the time to regroup." 

We try to communicate them in the downtime or slower season to get ready for the busy times ahead. Encourage them to get your uniform set and if you have the money, get another pair of your black slacks. 

 

Mike Aubrey:

To echo what Kim said earlier, the crew seem pretty motivated and willing to work right now. It's almost that they're too willing to work and then we have to kind of rein them in a little bit just based on the fact that, you know, We're coming out of a slower season.

It's also about respect. Pay people on time. We try to get the right people and put them in the right positions.

It’s that they’re too willing to work. We’re coming out of a slower season. We try to manage that and make sure we’re not letting them burn themselves out. Encourage them by sharing events that are coming up so they understand it’s not a “hey we’re busy this week so get all the money you can.” We communicate what events we have coming up, so they can spread out their work hours in a healthy manner.

 

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JB: 

How have you built on your company's work culture or family atmosphere?

 

KO: 

We treat them like they’re family. I know who is sick, whose daughter just graduated, who is a new grandma… We promote a healthy work environment. They do the rest.

My husband JC and myself, we love what we do. We live it, we breathe it. 

Hospitality is hospitality. If you can promote that feeling of family and taking care of your staff, and you appreciate them, they will nurture those relationships among them themselves. 

 

Peter Mayco:

At Macco we actually are a family. I have both of my sons work for me. My son Jeremy, runs our New York operations. My son Sebastian runs all of D.C. and all our travel operations.

So we are family and everybody who works with us was a referral from somebody in the company. We've grown it, you know, generically through the company, turning to our guys to find the next wave of crew.

Now we've dated a lot of guys that were, you know, worked in warehouses. We bring them in, we train them, we show them the different types of gear, the different cables, the terminology. But right now, the biggest thing is respect. 

The best way you can respect your staff is pay them on time. We try to pay them early, like we guarantee you're gonna get paid within 30 days. We try to pay within a week. As soon as those invoices come in, we're processing them because if they have the money, especially right now coming out of this, this craziness of covid, they're happy.

They're going to want work for you because you're paying them faster. There are a lot of companies trying to pick people. We just try to get the right people and put 'em in the right positions.

 

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JB:

What challenges are you facing when it comes to finding, recruiting and keeping good talent?

 

KO:

I'm a believer in that when you are good people, and you hire good people, more people follow! We always go onsite to see our clients and see our staff, say thank you and see what’s going on. Most of the planning happens via emails, so it’s nice to “see” who you’ve been working with. Communication and transparency.

 

PM:

Communication is everything. Everybody we bring in, they get my cell phone. They get my son's cell phone, both of them. I will get phone calls at one o'clock in the morning. "Mr. May/Uncle Pete/Uncle May I can't make this one gig." We have to keep that family atmosphere. 

So I mean, communication, working with the guys and communicating with them. These guys will work 48 hours straight if we don't cut them. Yeah. And it's, you know, we have to look at the schedules to keep going. "Peter, I can take it.' No, you need to go get eight hours sleep before I let you go to another job, because it's safety.

 

MA: 

I think that our technicians are our biggest recruiting poster. The technicians love working for us because they have a positive experience. They also work for other companies. And when they're out there working for other companies, I mean, not everybody, obviously, but they're, there's a, sense of, Hey, you know what? I know you're working here today. If you would consider working for LASSO, they offer, you know, better pay etc. 

We do have a referral program, so the more people they bring in, you know, they get, they get a little incentives, but I find that a lot of those people, they're not even necessarily concerned about the incentive as much as they are about, Hey, I want to get you involved with our team because you're good and I want you to be part of the team. 

 

📚 Related: Why We Need Mentors in the Live Events Industry

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JB:

How do you manage your client's expectations? 

 

PM:

Communication with your client is key. Find out what they really need, what they are doing and lead them in the right direction. 

In New York City, we're the guys who know what's truly needed. We understand how trucks are gonna get in and out, how to deal with union. The last thing a client needs is a bottleneck situation with guys standing around with nothing to do. 

Work smart. Not hard. Now, that's the biggest thing. You're coming to New York, you're coming to our market. We're gonna tell you the right way to work in it. And what are the union, or are you in a union venue, are you not?I get phone calls and I go, "We can't touch that, Joe. It's a union venue. You know, you need to call XYZ." 


It's busy and we're trying to keep it busy. I don't see it slowing down anytime soon. I'm looking at October and November bookings. We're back. President Biden said it best, "The pandemic is over. We're gonna deal with Covid for the rest of our lives, but the pandemic is over," meetings are back, and that's the most important thing.

 

KM:

We ask for client's expectations and we give them ours. If an event is too large or if they're looking for a skilled fat that we don't have in our database we're politely declining and not taking that business. We try and help them we try and work for them but once the expectations are there that they were getting at we have a lot of rain. 

So all these you know these clients they got rid of their staff and with them for years we have a huge event in October that we do every year this person is. Looking to offer guidance so we actually love that because we can help okay well you know in the past this is what you have. So we can kind of shape what we're telling our what we think they need a lot of time that does not happen the client has no we need the finesse. 

Orlando is kind of unique because we are still having vaccinated events. And [clients] are not telling us even though we are asking them up front. We got notice a week before this one event saying that “you all have to be vaccinated.” Full vaccination right now means the vaccines AND the booster. We have staff that are not vaccinated. We can’t give the full availability… many times clients don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes of what goes into filling these positions.  

Our standard is sending the same person out through the whole event. We’re not going let the client train two different people. That's what makes us unique, and that's what makes people want to come to us. Other agencies will put somebody in on Monday somebody else in on Tuesday and Wednesday which leaves the client training someone new every day on the same thing.

 

MA:

When we’re not able, or we even feel that we're not able to print the call it's very important that we communicate that as soon as possible. and set the expect for after the call. For example, “Hey we barely made it to the numbers so if something happens and you want to add people. The likelihood of that happening is going to be pretty slim"

So it gives them a chance to plan their events around the fact that they might be short. Or they might not have a forklift operator available on a certain day. They’ve got to manage their onsite project and if they have an expectation from us that is unrealistic, then they’re going to manage it differently. You can move and shift things around to manage with the crew that you have versus the crew that you expect.

 

PM: 

Mike and I just did an event with you guys and another LASSO partner. No one needs to be the rockstar. It’s a band. Play together. We don’t need to rule the roost. Make money for all of the guys. Keep everybody working. No is never an answer. We need to give them a solution. Turn to another company.  

 


Enjoyed this article? Check out this podcast episode 👇

Handling More Shows With Less Crew feat. Susan Conner & Aaron Merkin

 

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