The Newcastle-based company introduced food deliveries and online events in an attempt to find new sources of income for the suppliers on its platform after live events were cancelled.
However the demand for traditional afternoon teas has taken it by surprise. Around 2,000 people a day from around the country are visiting its website searching for suppliers and, while the company is currently offering the service in Newcastle and Essex, it aims to expand nationwide to meet demand.
Poptop is also benefiting from the trend for corporate team-building events to maintain morale amongst staff working from home. While quizzes are popular, the more adventurous are booking comedians and singers to replace the Friday office beers.
Meanwhile virtual birthday celebrations are on the increase – with magicians a favourite for children’s parties and singing telegrams for adults, ranging from Elvis lookalikes to rappers who make a surprise entrance on video calls. Poptop’s website now lists over 350 professionals available to book for online services or food deliveries.
Matei Baran, the former Masterchef contestant, is one of those offering afternoon tea packages. He said: “Afternoon tea is a great British tradition that is very popular at the minute and really helping to lift people’s mood. Friends and family are ordering it for loved ones as they cannot see them at this time. I even received a booking from a client in California to deliver afternoon tea to their family in Newcastle.”
Eugene Shestopal, co-founder and CEO of Poptop, said: “Maintaining social connections is even more important during a lockdown. While online services can’t replace live events, they help maintain morale and support people’s mental health. They also allow our event professionals – many of whom are self-employed – to earn a living.
“I suspect that some of the trends we are seeing now will continue long after the lockdown, especially amongst companies which are operating from different locations and families living in different parts of the world.
“However for weddings and other major celebrations, people will still want to meet face to face and the signs are the events market will bounce back. While bookings from March to May are on hold, only 15% have cancelled and the rest have rescheduled. Since Easter we have also seen more and more bookings for 2021 and 2022, which gives a lot of hope for the future of the industry.”