The State of Crewing

Jarrod Bischoff (Partner at Commando Crew)
"As a business, we've seen about a 90% drop-off in work..."

As a business, we have seen about a 90% drop-off in work compared to 2019 and the pipeline for 2021 doesn't really fill us with confidence.

Like any other business, we've had to adapt and also look elsewhere to bring money through the door in the short term. You may not be surprised to know that whilst at Commando we've always kept costs low, both Dylan and I have had to find other work around what little events have come in.

Dylan has picked up project management work in landscaping and construction and I have been terminating RJ45's in a role as a wifi, alarms and CCTV engineer, as well as working as a PM for a Rapid Covid Testing events business, trying to get our #eventprofs back working! Dylan and I have been able to get some of our boys work as a result of these efforts and we're both extremely grateful to be in a position to do so.

We've been lucky in that regard. There are many others out there who have not had any work at all. With a lack of support from the government it is no surprise that the events industry is currently going through its own brain-drain.

Like many of our event industry peers, we've never known a period to be more challenging.

When things do start to come in, how much work can we expect?

We believe there are a number of factors that will influence how much work we can expect once the tap turns back on, namely:

  • Virtual vs. live: how much corporates (end clients) rely on virtual events against live events in their marketing mix, i.e. what percentage of their events are virtual vs. live? It's well known that virtual events simply require less crew and if a big portion of the virtual event world doesn't flip back to live, well I think many of us face a bleak future.
  • Survival: how many of our clients are still around by the end of it, having seen the likes of Blitz and others fall by the wayside? We think it's a totally realistic reality to say that there may be a few more go into administration when all is said and done. Our thoughts are with all those who have been effected by this, of course.
  • Freelance clients: of the clients that were freelance project managers and worked for many different production based companies/agencies, how many of them have been able to weather the storm and are still around? We can all name industry peers who have decided to start something new.
  • Venues: have all the venues within your geographical remit managed to come out the other side? A decrease in event venues in your area will impact the number of events that take place, especially in those smaller districts.

Whilst we've been having positive conversations with our clients, we don't expect the year to be a favourable one and will be lucky to see business return back to 30% of the pre-COVID level. This work should only come in towards Q3/Q4, and only if things from a testing and vaccine perspective fall in our favour.

What about the crew?

Over the course of the last year we've gone from "don't worry, this will be over before you know it" to "holy crap, we all need to find something else whilst this pandemic runs its course."

If you're a crewman in this industry, you've been in a very similar place as the rest of us, which is that your future outlook is uncertain.

Every crewman I know has either gone back to their home country, found manual labour work in construction or removals. Ex-crew are now working for companies like Deliveroo, Tesco, Amazon etc. with some of these companies paying slightly better than the crewing world. The work/life balance of some of these jobs are often also better, with no more late nights, short-calls and unpaid travel.

It's a wonder where the crew will come from when the event world comes back, which should give the crewing world a few points of inflection in terms of how businesses are run and how their crew are managed. Luckily, we've been recruiting over the last year so have been able to provide a strong, trained reliable service over the course of the last few months.


Like the rest of the events industry, the crewing world looks grim. Whilst I've not known any crewing company to fold officially, I've heard of some cutting it fine. Luckily we (crewing companies) tend to manage our businesses tightly so I personally hope to see us all back fighting when the tap turns back on.

"For some reason and a point that still baffles me today, crewing companies are often insular, overly competitive and protective of their businesses."

I also hope that crewing companies work together on improving the way we run our businesses so that crew and clients can benefit. We have all sorts of challenges to face in the coming years: debt, COVID restrictions, IR35, recruitment challenges.  Point of inflection: for some reason and a point that still baffles me today, crewing companies are often insular, overly competitive and protective of their businesses. The crewing companies still alive will do well to work together to overcome these challenges.

Unfortunately, we don't have all the answers but what we do know is that those that don't actively try and adapt to this brave new world simply won't survive. In summary, 2022 is the year when we believe we'll bounce back!

If you want to understand how we are overcoming these challenges, please give us a call or send us a mail. We'd be happy to talk you through some of our strategies or simply just chew the fat.

Stay healthy, keep low and move fast!

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Company Number: 09521841