Throughout the past year, everyone has had to think creatively about how to keep their businesses afloat, while still finding a reason to get out of bed every day. While some event professionals have found success with virtual or micro events, others have found alternative revenue streams through other business ventures–party boxes, tutorials, rentals, virtual event design, and in some cases have even embraced something entirely different.
“Needless to say, the last year has been quite the roller coaster,” said Renee Sabo, of Urban Soiree, during the Small Business Development Center Network’s recent webinar “Side Hustles for Wedding Pros,” which is part of the Wedding Industry’s Road to Recovery & Rebuilding webinar series. “Fortunately, this opened up doors for professionals to explore a new passion project since they had the time.”
These supplemental businesses, or “side hustles,” have opened up opportunities for event professionals to not only stay busy, but also find success in new and exciting ways.
“It’s very natural for us to be drawn to ideas and concepts that are always evolving outside of our main business,” Sabo said.
My City Safari
PartyWorks Interactive is a turnkey special events company that specializes in interactive entertainment, so as you can imagine they encountered many of the same challenges as other event companies once the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“As we all know, the pandemic has brought our industry to a screeching halt,” PartyWorks Interactive owner Eric Elkaim. “But it has also put people on edge and divided neighbors and families.”
Which is why, early on during the pandemic Elkaim decided he wanted to try and bring joy to the families who were stuck at home with nothing to do.
“To create light-hearted comedy, I started putting giant inflatables from my event inventory in my front yard,” Elkaim said. “I just wanted to make people laugh. All of a sudden, I had droves of cars passing by my house.”
And thus My City Safari was born.
My City Safari is a family-friendly scavenger hunt where participants follow a map in search of giant inflatable animals or other installations, which were all part of PartyWorks Interactive’s pre-pandemic inventory. Many of the events have incorporated themes into the scavenger hunt, such as Jurassic Park, Lunar New Year, Fourth of July, and coming soon, an Easter Egg Hunt.
“This event just started off as a fun idea to get people out of their house with the kids while theme parks, movie theaters, bowling alleys and more are closed,” Elkaim said. “We were determined to find a way to bring much needed diversion and some fun to stressed out and locked down families.”
However, what started out as just some silly fun, has grown beyond anything that Elkaim had initially expected. Since its launch, My City Safari has had over 250,000 participants in nearly a dozen cities, with more on the horizon.
“I cannot describe for you how it feels to make thousands of children smile and to have parents thank us,” Elkaim said.
My City Safari has even taken on a life of its own now that surrounding school districts have turned it into an assignment by tasking students to pick an animal found on the scavenger to do a book report on. And it even became a badge for local girl scouts on how to read a map.
“We have been amazed and humbled by the response,” Elkaim said.
Putting your skills to work
My City Safari is just one example of a side hustle that has come out of the pandemic. If you are interested in branching out into a new side hustle, keep in mind that the key to success is tapping into the skills and knowledge that you already have. Maybe you are a frequent speaker at conferences, so why not look at starting your own podcast. Do you have a markground in marketing or editorial? Think about tapping into the content market. Love creating custom favors or decor? Maybe something like Etsy or an online shop is more up your alley. The possibilites are truly endless for what your next side hustle can be, it just depends on where your skills are.
“My City Safari took a lot of chutzpah,” Elkaim said. “And, as you would imagine, being an event planner, designer, and activation company, all our experience and skills came into play.”
Not only do side hustles provide an opportunity to put your skills to work, they also open up doors for new partnerships, an additional revenue stream, a larger network of clients and vendors, while also benefitting your position in the marketplace, Sabo said.
“I am confidently able to say the event business is not dead,” Elkaim said. “You just have to reimagine your business and redeploy your assets to fit the current situation.”