Adapting in the events industry - 10 year milestone
10 years of adapting to change and diversifying in the events industry. From pig farming to festivals!
20th June 2022
It's now the middle of 2022, and here at ACF we are very excited to be in the middle of a bumper year after suffering heavy financial losses during the pandemic.
ACF Teambuilding and Events was on track for a record turnover in 2019 - before the outbreak of Covid, but lost hundreds of thousands of pounds due to lockdown and cancelled events.
Mark Fanning, who has headed the business for 10 years, said: “It’s been a tough couple of years. I’ve seen competitors go under and had to continually adapt to survive. But I couldn’t imagine doing anything else and it’s great to be able to host corporate events in person again. We have lots of bookings lined-up and are looking forward to a bumper year.”
The events industry - estimated at £70 billion pre-pandemic, took a huge financial hit and around 126,000 job losses. Mark had to furlough his team and all bar one, who took voluntary redundancy, has now returned to work for ACF.
The company also took the decision to pivot during the pandemic and go online for it's events where ever possible. At the peak of the second lockdown ACF were holding up to 30 professionally-run virtual events each week – from game shows to live music quizzes.
One of the positive changes that did come out of the national lockdown period, was the notion of looking after your wellbeing. Both physical and mental! The Lancet has reported Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of work in shaping population health and wellbeing. Now, the ACF team is focusing a whole portfolio of events on wellbeing in nature and team engagement - with activities ranging from axe throwing to ‘forest bathing,’ an immersive therapy developed in Japan.
Managing Director Mark said: “I know first-hand the importance of getting out, exercising and socialising for wellbeing. It helped me get me through tough times and brought our team closer.”
Pandemics and an end to quarantine throughout history has often led to people wanting to preserve their health and celebrate life. Mark said: “I think it’s in people’s nature to want to get out, socialise and do things again.
“Many people have felt the benefits of being close to nature during this pandemic, while companies want to increase engagement and wellbeing for their teams.”
From pig farming to festivals.
ACF headquarters is based at Aldwick Estate in Redhill, which was historically a pig farm. The previous owner, Farmer and businessman Chris Watts set up a clay pigeon shooting business on site - holding its first event in 1984. The company, previously known as ACF Hospitality, then grew and began to host a whole range of corporate days out.
But Chris tragically died in a helicopter crash in 2011. His sister, Sandy, took over the running of the estate, which now has its own wine label and successful wedding venue.
Mark, who had joined the ACF team in 2006, ran the events side of the business. He said: “Chris was a great man to work with and I learned a lot from him, including spotting changing trends. “The biggest lesson he instilled was to make every effort to put on a good show and so that people left an event happy.”
The company now hosts many of it's corporate events off-site, at venues such as Folly Farm in Somerset, De Vere Tortworth Court in Wotton-under-Edge and Celtic Manor resort in South Wales. And it has events lined up throughout the year – catering for company festivals, family fun days and team building days focusing on emotional fitness.
Covid-19 has led to many employees working from home or following a hybrid model, with the benefit of greater flexibility. But remote working has led to concerns around isolation, mental health and wellbeing issues, as well as challenges around communication and engagement.
Engagement has been shown to increase staff retention, improve performance by 20 per cent and enhance the bottom-line. Mark says: “We help firms, families and friends get together and build relationships. It’s a chance to try new things, socialise, enjoy nature and, of course, have fun.”
“It’s about bringing people together and ensuring they leave with a smile on their face. Happier people tend to be more engaged and effective in their work.”
To find out how we can help you with your next corporate event whether it's a company fun day, wellbeing retreat, team building event or Christmas party - call our friendly team on 01934 862305 or email email@example.com