We’re stepping into an exciting time for the events and meetings industry; and as I write this piece, I’m filled with confidence and delight. March 1, 2022 was big day for us in the events world here in Toronto as venues went back to operating at full capacity and all of a sudden a huge piece of the planning puzzle just fell in to place!
While we move forward in our planning process with a sense of optimism, it is still pivotal to assess and take with us lessons learned through the pandemic to create better efficiencies as we plan for in-person events making its way back.
Our team works closely with our clients and stakeholders to create exciting and engaging events; while our team has focused on planning digital events most recently, we continue to strategize and guide our clients on best practices and creating safe in-person events.
As we look to the future of event planning and continuing to stay on top of our game here are a few key considerations:
Event Design – Designing events to suit the needs of your audience and stakeholders is going to be at the forefront of your planning matrix. Identifying your event goals and objectives, knowing how your audience consumes their content, their flexibility to adapt to new technology, finding engaging ways to connect audiences across different platforms and media are all factors that meeting planners didn’t necessarily have to cater for pre-pandemic, a result of your audience being in the same room.
As we plan a mixed bag of hybrid, virtual and in-person events, event design will help you create that structure and framework for your event. One of the most important aspects of event design for 2022 is making sure your event is scalable, giving you as the planner opportunity to have a number of contingencies in place – have conversations with your venue about how you can scale back if you need to, what that means for your room blocks and F&B. If you did need to pivot what would that look like for your production team? It’s important to start having these conversations early in the planning phase to ensure that you can adapt your event design into any format should the need arise.
Event Production – Having a good production partner has always been a significant consideration in the event landscape, but as we plan ahead no longer are our event production needs what they used to be, this applies not only to what is being done in-person but also to how your event is being delivered and packaged for your remote audiences. Teaming up with a production partner allows the event planner to create a visual experience that speaks to the different senses, creating special moments and a more immersive experience for any attendee whether in-person or virtual.
Health & Safety – Although it is exciting for many of us to return to in-person events, for the next little while you can be sure to face a bit of apprehension among attendees. Paying attention to health and safety guidelines and ensuring that event organizers create safe meetings will continue to be crucial to the planning of events. There are several techniques to implement health and safety protocols which have been successfully used such as contactless events, vaccination proof pre-event, onsite testing etc. Identifying these protocols and communicating these measures to your attendees is what helps create and foster a feeling of a safe and well-planned event.
Event Marketing & Communications – We live in a world where sometimes we over communicate. Developing a focused event marketing strategy aligned with your event goals will help you define how and through what mediums to promote your event. While promoting your event is a core facet of your marketing campaign, having a timely and a well thought out communications plan will help promote and provide your attendees with important updates. Having started my career in event marketing, one of the lessons I learnt is that being transparent with your audience is equally important as promoting your event! Having communications templates in place to give your attendees the not so good news can save you a lot of trouble.
Contingency Plans – There isn’t an event professional out there without a contingency plan, but with the uncertainty of planning an event in 2022 it is important to take those contingency plans one step further – read thoroughly your contracts with your venue; have an internal drop-dead date in mind to make final decisions on whether to proceed with certain aspects of planning; review your dated cancellations plans, and can your program be delivered virtually are some of the considerations when building out a contingency.
If there’s anything the last few years has taught me, is that our industry is evolving and will continue to do so for some time to come and the only way to stay on top is to embrace the change and to continue to be resilient, so while I share these considerations and event planning strategies with you, I encourage you to continue to develop and build your framework through having open and frank conversations with your clients, vendors and partners to help you develop your own guidelines to create unique, engaging and safe events.
Sneha Shenoy is an event manager with Redstone Agency Inc., one of Canada’s most innovative event and association management companies with a strong focus on digital events.