ADAPTING IN THE EVENTS INDUSTRY – 10 YEAR MILESTONE

The demand for sustainable events has never been greater as more and more companies act on their social responsibility and reimagine the way they do business.

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.”

team building activity days

Covid challenges.

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.

OFFERING WORKPLACE OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.

ACF continues to support youth workplace internships, providing young people with the chance to kickstart their CVs and work on their transferable skills.

We’ve also facilitated work placements for university students looking to escape their student digs and gain valuable experience in the events industry.

Goal 4: Quality education. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities

PROMOTING WORKPLACE EQUALITY.

We’ve nurtured a fair workplace culture that promotes equal opportunities, dignity and respect, all thanks to our equality, diversity and inclusion policy.

ACF values the unique skill sets and insights of our employees. Team members are encouraged to use their voices and share their ideas, whether good, bad or just plain questionable. These ideas – well, at least the good ones – then get turned into fun activities for our clients to enjoy!

We also support fellow businesses with their productivity, efficiency and workplace wellbeing through our mindful event offerings.

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

ELIMINATING SINGLE-USE PLASTICS FROM OUR EVENTS.

ACF has committed to the Meeting Industry Association’s plastic pledge to eliminate single-use plastic by November 2023, and we’ve already made a significant effort towards achieving this goal.

In 2019, we swapped disposable plastic bottles for reusable cups and water tanks at our events.

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

USING GREEN OFFICE SUPPLIES AND PROCESSES.

Investing in green office supplies was another simple switch. We use 100% recyclable printing paper, which we recycle using our site-wide system, and we’ve swapped chemical cleaning products for eco-friendly alternatives.

There have also been changes to the way we operate. Notably, we’ve eliminated unnecessary printing and no longer keep physical files for each event. In terms of digital resources, the team use Ecosia, a search engine that plants trees, as their default search tool. We also use an online signing system that means our clients can sign contracts in just a few simple steps.

As ACF HQ is based on a farm set amidst the rolling Mendip Hills, we didn’t need to worry about sourcing green energy. There’s a large wood burner that keeps us nice and toasty in the winter, and we buy our wood from sustainable suppliers.

Goal 13: Climate action. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

ADAPTING OUR EVENTS TO BE MORE MINDFUL.

We’ve adapted some of our existing team building activities to be more mindful of resources. For instance, we now use recycled materials in our craft-based activities, and we changed the finale of our ‘One Tribe’ event from a cardboard-based challenge to a virtual photo mosaic challenge.

We aim to further expand our sustainable event offerings by developing eco-conscious event ideas that focus on workplace wellbeing. The mental health benefits of interacting with the natural world are well-documented. A recent survey by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that 70% of UK adults say being close to green spaces improves their mood.

In response to these findings, we now offer forest bathing. This super soothing activity encourages participants to immerse themselves in nature and enjoy some much-needed respite from the stresses of daily life. The perfect choice for companies looking to address their workplace culture.

Goal 3: Good health and wellbeing. Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.

Wellbeing focus.

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.”

forest bathing

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.”

Staff engagement

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 info@acfteambuilding.co.uk