Three key special events resolutions for 2015

So all the partying is over. Memories of New Year’s resolutions about losing weight, having better relationships and calling your mother more often are quickly fading. Now is the time for seriously reflecting on your resolutions as a special events professional.

It has been my experience that the fewer resolutions, the more likely they are to be achieved. So here are three that I would like to suggest.
special events resolutions for 2015

1. Use technology and social media to reinvent your practice.

There was a recent study at Oxford University predicting that almost half of all current jobs will be significantly disrupted by new technologies over the next decade. The jobs impacted will not be just the obvious ones of menial or repetitive tasks. More highly skilled areas such as medicine, law, accounting and teaching will all change dramatically.

They will affect not just how we work but even how we travel to work. As a measure of the rapidity of change, it is possible that by the end of the decade automobiles will be driven autonomously – without a driver. Indeed these vehicles are being tested on the road now. Ten years ago it would have been unimaginable that this technology would be seen in our lifetime. Now it looks like you may actually travel to your 2020 New Year’s Eve party in a self-driving car.

There is probably no profession more capable of actually taking advantage of all the new technologies than that of special events. Technologies such as Google translation are advancing with breathtaking speed. Soon people will be able to speak and write to one another instantly in different languages. Imagine the possibilities of easily and affordably organize large and small multilingual events in a virtual hall.

In a previous article I discussed the need to have staff available to answer questions. Many people now ask Siri on their iPhones questions about any number of things. Imagine a trade show where you could have a multi-lingual Siri as a virtual staffer accompanying every guest at the event answering questions. Of course the ultimate question to Siri will be, “Who organized this event and how can I hire them?”

Apps are now available to guide people to an event and even have the ability to track them in case you need to find them quickly. Finally, no more running around madly at the last minute to find the keynote speaker or the caterer!

I have just scratched the service. There are innumerable examples. The point is that new technologies will make the management of special events more engaging, more affordable and more important.

A key 2015 resolution is: To learn more than ever about how to use new technologies in your special events practice. Ride the horse, don’t chase it.

2. Redefine what a special event is.

Given all the advantages that technology is providing the special events industry, it is important to redefine what a special event is. A directive that used to really irritate me was “organize a party for us.”  To me a special event is an occasion for people to come together to better understand and appreciate one another. It is the skills of the special events professional that facilitates this goal. That is far more than just organizing a party.

It is vital not to abandon your core business. It is also important to ask yourself, what are other activities whose goal is improving contacts and relationships between people where your professional skills would improve the likelihood of success? Is it in the classroom? (We are always learning.) Is it in the virtual space? Is at the community level? Human relationships are more important and complicated than ever. You have the skills – and now the technology – to make those relationships better.

A key 2015 resolution is: To think of ways in which special events can be redefined. It is not only special events but people’s events.

3. Don’t take things personally.

A characteristic that I have found in most successful special events professionals is their empathy. They sense what people are feeling, and they care about it. If things go well and their client is happy, so are they. If the clients are distressed or unhappy, so are they. It is this empathic ability that makes the special events professional so uniquely important to their clients and the people they serve – whether it be a bride or a CEO.

The challenge is that it is difficult to turn off that concern when you go home. More challenging, there is the risk of sharing those emotions of worry, sadness or anger with family and friends. Yet, at the end of the day, it is a business. That is what it means to be a professional. It is not easy but leave those emotions behind when you go through the front door.

A key 2015 resolution is: No matter how good or bad my day was, when I arrive home I will not be a manifestation of all the concerns and tribulations of the day but rather the person that I have been and always will be.

Have a happy and prosperous 2015!

About the author:

George Bothwell has spent a career leading marketing and communications strategies to build corporate reputations in North America and Europe. He has acted as the senior marketing and/or communications officer at Bank of Montreal, Barclays Bank and Atomic Energy of Canada. In these capacities, he has held the corporate responsibility for special events including annual meetings, franchisee events, media conferences, financial analysts’ briefings, employee meetings and major sponsorship programs such as the Olympics. He began his career in the Government of Canada where he was Departmental Assistant to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce; Secretary to the Foreign Investment Review Agency; and Vice Consul and Trade Commissioner at the Canadian Consulate in Philadelphia. After leaving the Government of Canada he was Vice President of Communications and Environmental Affairs for Coca-Cola Canada and Director of Packaging for Coca-Cola Europe. He has managed marketing and communications programs in Canada, the United States, Europe and Asia. During his career he has lived in Ottawa, Toronto, Philadelphia, Brussels and London. He currently runs a consulting practice focusing on marketing and communications issues.

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