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Goats: the next big meeting trend? You have to be kidding!

Go on, hands up. Who had goats as the next big meeting trend? Any of you? Didn’t think so.

Forget hybrid, Clubhouse, sustainability – any of that jazz. It’s all about goats now, after the news that a Lancashire farmer has made £50k over lockdown hiring out her goats for Zoom meetings.

Dot McCarthy, of Cronkshaw Fold Farm in Rossendale, thought up the ruse as a joke – after all, what could be funnier than having a goat butt into your Zoom call?

She put the service on the farm’s website back in April 2020 “to give people a laugh” – and woke up to 200 emails. Now the goats have taken off big time, making appearances in calls in the US, Russia, China and Australia.

For just £5 a pop, you can hire one of McCarthy’s goats to join your video call. You can choose from show goat Lola, Lisa “who CBA paying attention unless you’ve got snacks”, or Sebastian “who would be thrilled to join your Scrabble team”.

It’s a good way of checking if your fellow callers are paying attention, I suppose. And it is pretty funny.

McCarthy admitted that the number of people using the service had been “insane”. The extra cash has helped her keep the farm open and staff in work over the past year. The farm usually makes a bit of extra income as a wedding venue, but as event professionals will be acutely aware, that side of things hasn’t been able to operate for months. Also, as McCarthy herself says, putting goats on Zoom is “more fun” than selling manure.

Now, I’m not actually suggesting that anyone out there looking to find some extra revenue go out and buy a herd of goats. Remember; a goat is for life, not just for Zoom meetings.

The important thing to note is that the gang at Cronkshaw Fold Farm have form in this area. They’ve featured on BBC One’s The Great Staycation – and have a slew of other media appearances listed on their website, all across television, radio and high-profile podcasts.

In short, they’re good at this. They have a strong set of brand values that people respond to and want to buy into – that’s why people are queueing up to give them a fiver to let a farmyard animal into their meetings. And they’re clearly a creative bunch, thinking outside the box. Or pen, as the case may be. That’s what people want a piece of.

So on reflection, it seems goats might not be the next big meetings trend after all. But there are lessons for all of us event professionals in the tale of the Zooming goats. I kid you not.

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