The pandemic has been devastating for many people and industries but none more devastated than the hospitality and events industry. The mission of the events industry is to create, manage, stage, and facilitate events all over the world. These events encompass hundreds to thousands of attendees at a meeting, special event or conference.
How has event planning changed? It has changed in numerous ways and impacted the meetings and events industry globally. Let us look at some of the major adjustments for meeting and event planners, some of the most resilient people I have ever known and worked with.
Event planners work in a global sphere creating, staging and delivering events globally. One of their most valued resources is their business relationships which are far reaching whether it is with an airline, hotel, venue, conference centre or destination management company. The pandemic has hugely impacted this resource for the planners.
Primarily, the pandemic has devastated a considerable portion of the workforce in a lot of industries but none more severe than the hospitality and events industry. Along with this devastation, has gone long-standing business relationships as a high percentage of the people employed in the hospitality industry, including hotels, airlines, event management organizations, changed jobs and careers and have found other forms of employment and will not be coming back to the event planning industry. This is a huge loss to the industry.
The pandemic’s emphasis on social distancing and avoidance of gatherings has drastically brought the events industry to a standstill. Event planners have had to stop the management of live events for the last 18 months, and it is anticipated that this will continue well into 2022. Event planners are a professional and adaptable group of people. The pandemic has impacted this group of talented people in many ways. One of the major impacts is that they need to upgrade their skill set in several areas including in the art of persuasion and negotiation as organizations and attendees need to be assured that the event is safe and will provide for a different and satisfying in-person experience.
Events have become much more complex with a higher emphasis on meeting and event design, engagement and safety to provide a high confidence level for attendees as well as to motivate them to attend.
There is a new skill that all planners will need to have moving forward – they must understand and deliver on virtual and hybrid events. Running successful online events will require further education and training in the various technology platforms and processes. This new and enhanced skill will be much more adaptable by the younger generation of planners and will more adversely affect the senior planners causing them to consider other roles in the hospitality industry and even leaving the industry altogether creating a drain on experience and knowledge in the industry.
Although planners have always had risk management as part of their roles, clients will demand that risk management in the future have higher complexity for all live events. Mitigating risk at events will go beyond what was the pre-COVID 19 normal. COVID-19 has introduced a whole new level of risk management, and meeting and event planning organizations will now need to add this additional important level of risk management processes to their teams.
The pandemic has also taken contract management in the events industry to a whole new level. Clients will demand a higher focus on terms and conditions for their events and in limiting their exposure to unexpected events. This is another talent that the meeting planner will have to augment in their supplier negotiation skills.
The global pandemic has changed forever the landscape of the meetings and events industry and along with it those of the event planners. This unprecedented global event has challenged the world and along with it how the meetings and events industry will prosper and grow in the future. Call it progress or an adjustment, but nevertheless the pandemic is a major impact in the lives of meetings and event planners.
Maria da Cunha, CTC, CMP, CITP, is principal at daCunha Voyages Inc. She is a subject matter expert in the meetings, events and incentives industry with more than 25 years in the creation and management of meetings, events and incentives.