Neil A. Carousso produces and co-hosts WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight series with Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments featuring advice for business owners on survival, recovery and growth opportunities.
  • Small Business Survival: Hospitality Company Develops Way To Stay Alive Amid Crisis

    By Neil A. Carousso

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – A New York City-based events company forced to shutter its operations temporarily after eight years in business due to the coronavirus pandemic has developed new revenue streams from adjacent services.

    “Everything was great, 2020’s a huge year for us, could not wait,” William Petz, founder of Quiet Events, Inc. told WCBS 880 of the upward trajectory for his business heading into this year. He has 120,000 people on his e-mail list and hundreds attend each event nationwide.

    That was the sentiment across the business community before the COVID-19 crisis forced the closure of businesses throughout the country. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index sunk 8.1 points in March to 96.4 – the largest monthly decline in the survey’s history – ending historic business confidence. The NFIB survey indicates business owners are bracing for further loss of revenue amid the rapid recession the global economy was thrust into with the fatal and highly contagious novel virus.

    “You’ll have workplaces that will be filled with different types of reminders and postings designed to change behavior and to ingrain certain type(s) of safe approaches towards how you even navigate the office,” David Lewis, founder of human resources consulting firm OperationsInc, told WCBS 880 Business Reporter Joe Connolly.

    Business owners are adapting and creating new services, some of which may be long-term offerings, as they struggle to stay afloat. That’s the topic on this week’s WCBS Small Business Spotlight focusing on small business survival, sponsored by BNB Bank.

    Quiet Events hosts concert-like experiences with disc jockeys for people to enjoy their favorite genres of music in headphones designed by the company.

    “You don’t have to fight about what club you’re going to tonight because all the clubs are in one,” Petz said.

    If you enjoy pop music, but your friend likes country, for example, you can both enjoy each other’s company while listening to your music of choice from the DJ you prefer.

    “You can enjoy having a meal or drinking with some friends or talking with them without hearing the loudness of the music behind you,” Petz said, adding, “But, then when you put the headphones on, you guys are just jamming out and you have your own personality.”

    Petz said his company is called “Quiet Events” because it is a “fun night out” when you will only hear partiers singing along to the music in their ears, if you aren’t wearing headphones.

    Hospitality businesses such as Quiet Events have been crushed by the coronavirus outbreak.

    “We started to see the impacts already by getting the headphones manufactured in China,” Petz said.

    He laid off 11 of his 13 employees and he stopped taking a paycheck three weeks ago.

    Then, he developed proprietary software to host his Quiet Events virtually as people self-isolate.

    “YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, it’s just one dimension. It’s basically, you’re watching content,” said Petz. “People’s attention needs to be engaged and you need to feel like you’re being social, so that’s what we created – a platform which is patent pending.”

    The platform features a virtual “DJ battle” in which three DJs vie for attention and likes. Attendees can switch between the DJs and can see the percentage of people watching each performer. Petz said that creates the “FOMO” or “fear of missing out” that his company thrives on with its in-person events.

    Quiet Events’ first promoted online shows were last weekend, but as Petz tweaked the virtual experience over the last three weeks, 500-1,000 people participated in each trial event. In the interim, the online events are free, but attendees are encouraged to tip the DJs.

    “They don’t just play; they really do interact,” Petz said of the DJs. “They look at the chatroom. They do shout-outs.”

    He hopes to re-hire his employees in the near future as he works on several adjacent services to bring in revenue while in-person events are banned to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

    “We did this for ourselves, initially for the DJs,” said Petz. “Dell, before we even broadcast it out, somehow, they found out [and they said>, ‘Look, we love what you’re doing and we’d love to create an experience for our employees.’”

    He then saw there was a market for leasing his software to other businesses and organizations to create corporate events on both the Quiet Events website and other companies’ sites.

    “We have a partnership with Crunch Fitness to do fitness events,” Petz said. “Quiet Events also used to do something called Quiet Comedy. It’s three comedians battling it out against each other. So, it’s really three of anything battling and we’re working on making that so it’s not just three but it’s more or less.”

    A traveling nurse company reached out to Quiet Events looking to hire it for a morale-booster as its staff fights its own battle on the frontlines of the COVID-19 health crisis.

    He has also received interest from a charitable organization looking to compensate the DJs for performing for their audience while providing a way for participants to donate to the non-profit’s cause.

    “It’s what entrepreneurs do,” Petz said.

    Hear how entrepreneurs like William Petz are developing solutions and adjacent services to stay afloat and re-hire workers on this week’s WCBS Small Business Spotlight Podcast available on the RADIO.COM app.

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