Last year, our CEO, Ali Lord, joined David Koch for a ‘Lunch and Learn’ digital event. Joining fellow panellists, Alexi Boyd, CEO of COSBOA (Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia), Stephen Pendergast, VP and General Manager of Global Commercial Services at American Express and Taryn Williams, CEO and Founder of multiple innovative ventures including WINK Models, the group discussed what the post-COVID world looks like for small businesses in Australia. 

As experts in their respective areas, the panel explored changing consumer habits, how disruptive business models will continue to grow, future-proofing products and services as well as how industries are poised to bounce back post-restrictions. As businesses get stuck into 2022, we have broken down the key points from the panel’s discussion:

Changing Consumer Habits and Supply Chain Issues

Overall, the common trend across all industries that businesses are having to overcome, is supply chain issues. As the COVID pandemic has highlighted, if you don’t have an online presence in Australia, you are putting your business at risk. With the huge growth in online traffic, supply chain issues of delivering to that traffic have emerged.

We are already seeing serious impact to supply chain networks and this is set to worsen over the next six to 12 months. ‘Not only have online sales grown exponentially throughout lockdowns and restrictions compared to pre-COVID times, but there is also a restriction on movement of workers and logistics companies being able to move between borders. In addition, we are seeing a massive skills shortage across many industries.’ – Alexi Boyd. 

In the events space, when the pandemic hit, we saw an immediate downturn of $37 billion. Whenever there is a lockdown, regardless of length, it takes six weeks for consumer confidence to return. Corporate confidence takes even longer.

At HeadBox, we have seen a substantial increase in consumer enquiries for events to be held in 2022, with people keen to spend more on a lavish event. There has been a shift in the consumer mindset and increased spending habits are indicating that people are after quality experiences and are eager to rebook special events that had to be delayed. As a result, the supply chain issue we are facing in the events industry is venue availability for 2022. With an increase in consumer and corporate events projected to be booked in 2022, the supply issue will become more challenging.

Supply chain issues are not solely an Australian matter. Globally, the pandemic has disrupted supply chains due to large scale shutdowns of industries around the world. Supply will likely play catch up for some time, particularly as there are bottlenecks in every link of the supply chain amid higher consumer demand.

Automation is the Key to Future Proofing Products and Services

Looking forward, businesses will need to shift their mindset and pivot as we adapt to the ‘new normal’. Stephen Pendergast says technology has been at the heart of adaptation with small businesses. Automation is set to be even more prevalent moving into 2022 and beyond, but Stephen points out that technology, innovation and human relationships should work hand in hand, rather than cutting out the human element altogether. 

At HeadBox, we are future-proofing our business by using a combination of human-kind event technology. In the event space, you can never eliminate humans (nor would we want to) but incorporating a level of automation can help to free up employees to focus on activities that are going to drive business. 

While the creativity and conversations that happen are so important to create truly memorable and impactful events, where we are going as a company is automating the mundane elements. As a business, our goal is to support venues both in acting better and reaching their customer base better in a digital landscape and also promoting their brand in a premium way.

For corporates, we have built technology that supports companies in tracking their annual events and giving them rich data to assist them in making intelligent decisions. Our technology supports companies and takes away the admin and legwork, allowing them to operate in a more efficient way. This year, we predict that companies may have less resources than they used to have, so we are stepping in as a partner with a digital service, in addition to retaining the human element, which is crucial in the events space. 

There’s no doubt automation is going to be the key to helping businesses operate efficiently going forward, so it’s important to think about how you can incorporate API’s into other platforms you use. In fact, Stephen noted an interesting stat – over the past year there was a 12.4 per cent increase on average spend on automation. So, as a business, if you aren’t adopting automation into your processes, you will get left behind. The more you can be reducing mundane processes, the more time you will have to focus on your customers.

Bouncing Back Post Restrictions

As many small businesses re-evaluate where they are at, Taryn Williams highlighted it’s the ones that are able to be nimble and responsive that are best placed to tackle changing consumer habits. Australian businesses are generally early adopters of new technologies and while the ‘new normal’ will still have some levels of uncertainty and the requirement to be agile, there is an overwhelming sense of optimism returning in Australia.


1. Who can use HeadBox?

Anyone! Whether you’re a corporate booker looking for a private dining room, meeting room, Christmas or EOFY party venue or you’re a social booker looking for the perfect spot to host your birthday party, hens night or wedding – HeadBox has you covered.

2. What is HeadBox?

HeadBox connects corporate and consumer bookers with venues and suppliers and is the easy way to book, manage and deliver everything in one place. No long searches, no stress, no hidden costs.

3. How do I submit an event brief?

Submitting an event brief is an easy process. Our intuitive brief builder will take you through a series of questions collecting all the necessary details needed to host a great event. We want to know details such as where your event will take place, on what date, how many people are attending, and what your total budget is. Once you submit this information, relevant and available venues will respond to your brief!

4. How long will it take for venues to respond?

Our venues are super quick to respond! You should receive responses or a proposal within 24-48 business hours.

5. What are the top 5 things to consider when choosing a venue?

The cost, the location, style, capacity & catering options.