Even in a pandemic, Hamilton events planner finds opportunity for growth

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Published March 29, 2021 at 7:54 am

Event planning has certainly taken a backseat to the pandemic over the past year, but one Hamilton business has taken the opportunity to reinvent itself.

Hub of the Hammer, a local trivia, games, and comedy-focused event management company, came to a complete halt in the early days of COVID-19 as in-person events and gatherings became a thing of the past.

The first month or so of last Spring’s lockdown was spent trying to figure out ways to make Hub of the Hammer viable in a post-pandemic world, said Matthew Surina, Hub’s founder and director of event management.

“The idea of virtual events wasn’t even a thought in my mind,” Surina said of the time in 2016 when he launched his business. “There was such a stigma about them.

When COVID hit, everything changed and while physically, Surina’s (and everyone’s )world shrunk, professionally, event planning in our new reality became a much more vast landscape.

“The competition wasn’t just local,” he told IntheHammer. “We’re competing with anything across the internet across the world.”

So, Surina buckled down and spent those first few months in lockdown learning about the virtual event landscape and making it work for the Hub’s particular brand.

“We hosted some free events to learn what works and what doesn’t and to guage people’s reaction to them,” he said. “A lot of family and friends helped with the testing.”

Over the summer, the Hub started hosting outdoor and virtual triva nights for local restaurants and bars which were a hit among participants. At Christmas, the Hub also started offering virtual office parties.

After they teamed up with Hamilton-based Trivia Rat, which offers a web-based trivia software that makes hosting and participating in trivia nights a breeze, Hub of the Hammer started mastering the technological component of hosting engaging and fun virtual events.

“We were working to find ways to give back to the community and still have that element of fun that we’re known for,” Surina said.

“This has turned us into a more well-rounded company.”

So much so, that Hub of the Hammer has recently undergone a thorough rebranding and has expanded their virtual services that will take the company to places that they never anticipated.

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Traditionally, Hub of the Hammer has worked with partners in the hospitality industry but now they hope to take their expertise outside of that scope by offering services like:

  • Team Building activities for corporate and enterprise partners
  • Fun and fundraising events for community groups and not-for-profits
  • Trivia and games nights for friends and family groups
  • Restaurant and hospitality online event services
  • And all the above offered in one-off, subscription, and DIY formats

“The pandemic has flipped our business model in almost the exact opposite direction,” Surina said, adding that while it’s a challenge that could never have been anticipated, he’s proud of the work Hub of the Hammer is doing.

“More than ever, we want to connect with each other, and in fun engaging ways, whether online or in-person.”

Surina expects to relaunch the new Hub in the coming days but assures local partners and trivia participants that once it’s safe to do so again, they will continue to organize the same fun in-person events they’re known for but with elements of virtual to limit person-to-person contact.

“We’ll be playing [trivia] with cellphones,” he said, to eliminate the use of pens and paper. “It’s a virtual element that wasn’t there pre-COVID.”

To learn more about Hub of Hammer and their services, visit their website or give them a follow on social media.

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