So what does an event photographer do when the entire country goes into lockdown and the event industry comes to an almost-overnight halt. In this episode, I interview my father, Trevor Connell. Trevor owns an event photography business and publishes Australasian Special Events, a news and information service for the event industry.

Trevor shares with us how the pandemic affected his business, how it’s affected the industry as a whole, and how it showed him a great opportunity for the industry to be able to hold live and recorded events through online delivery.

In this episode:

  • Who Angela Connell is and what she does
  • Owner of Vivacity Coaching and Consulting
  • Primary business in the past was helping Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) get compliant and stay compliant
  • Now Vivacity is also helping trainers, coaches and consultants get their training online
  • Services include providing the tools, techniques, and technology to get their training up online. 
  • Angela’s transition from desktop publishing and graphic design to the training industry, starting off as a training coordinator then moving into a trainer assessor role, ultimately working with an RTO (Registered Training Organisation)
  • Angela ending up buying the second RTO she worked at, specialising in training for hospitality and aged care
  • The business had 8 qualifications in its scope when she started and grew to 35 qualifications by the time she sold it three and a half years later
  • The business grew from two training rooms to 14 training rooms across two sites over the same period
  • At the time of the sale, Angela had 40 trainers and eight administrative staff on the team
  • When she sold the business Angela studied psychotherapy
  • She has since returned to the training industry, with Vivacity providing consulting and coaching
  • Vivacity was well prepared to pivot when Covid-19 restrictions hit as they already had plans to increase their digital offerings
  • The team pulled out all stops to help their clients pivot
  • Angela could see that the impact of Covid-19 restrictions would not be short term
  • Angela also foresaw opportunities arising as the training industry always prospers during terms of high unemployment
  • Within a week Angela launched an Education in Isolation Webinar to help inform clients and others in the training industry
  • The webinar focus was tools, technology, and techniques to get online. 
  • Vivacity had six years of digital training experience to call on
  • They also had recordings of existing training workshops that were able to put online
  • Vivacity also had a regular schedule delivering RTO and CRICOS compliance webinars online
  • They have also added a weekly online mastermind webinar to support clients
  • One of Angela’s favourite ‘pivot’ stories is a dance studio that switched from face-to-face training to online training, using Vivacity’s Education in Isolation program
  • Covid-19 restrictions accelerated many projects that Vivacity already had in the pipeline
  • The situation has also seen an uptick in organisations seeking RTO status
  • Vivacity’s experience means that non-accredited training organisations can transition from face-to-face to online training quite easily
  • Vivacity is also helping many RTOs with recovery plans as they are allowed more face-to-face interactions
  • Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) audits have continued throughout the pandemic so aspects of Vivacity have been ‘business as usual’ but with a twist
  • Many RTOs that have shut down might have been able to continue had they had the right strategies in place
  • Other RTOs are combining online training with face-to-face assessments using physical distancing where necessary
  • Online training has given a lot of people some purpose where they haven’t been able to perform normal duties
  • Some students have opted for phone-based training
  • Many organisations had training staff doing alternative duties when they weren’t delivering training
  • Angela’s doubts about being able to service non-accredited training organisations proved to be unfounded
  • “Where the focus goes, the energy flow” – Tony Robbins
  • In amongst all the chaos Angela was able to launch the Education in Isolation Podcast
  • Vivacity also had a membership program in place to service clients
  • Vivacity surveyed clients last year and found industry members were concerned with compliance, time, leadership, automation, marketing and finances
  • These are now covered in the Vivacity mastermind sessions
  • Marketing is a particularly weak point for training industry providers with very fiew of them using Google Ads
  • Angela knew that Government funding would flow for the training industry as a result of the Covi-19 restrictions and was proved right
  • Safe work practices will need to be updated for many industries
  • Vivacity’s Online Training Superhero Course
  • An 8-week program includes tools and technology, how to build a portal, course structures, lesson development, marketing, sales
  • The package also includes strategy sessions with Vivacity consultants
  • Vivacity also have a done-for-you model where they build out membership or course portals for customers
  • This includes design of PowerPoint templates and branding and a landing page and website for the client to sell the program
  • It’s not too late for business owners to make the move online with their training programs
  • It’s actually necessary for business owners to make the move online with their training programs
  • A good place to start with Vivacity is a consultation session or one of the many free resources
  • Putting the focus online has created international opportunities for Vivacity and their clients
  • Many Vivacity clients have international students so moving online has enabled them to continue servicing them
  • In some cases they will be able to service international clients even better than they did before
  • The future is bright for the training industry
  • Australia’s reputation for compliance excellence will generate international opportunities
  • Vivacity will have another 10 courses online within the next 12 months
  • Angela expects Vivacity will have at least 50% of their business operating online even when face-to-face training resumes
  • Vivacity is now more nimble now that they have a remote team
  • Training people and organisations on how to work from wis creating additional opportunities