Event Planning in a changing world

By Sonya Callan

Planning ahead elements that are in your control.

According to the Institute of Event Management, event planning is the process of managing a project such as a meeting, convention, tradeshow, ceremony, team building activity, party, or convention end-to-end. ­­Of course there are many other types of events that need planning that won’t necessarily fall into this definition, but it gives us a good starting point.

In the ever changing world we are living in right now, perhaps the most frustrating element for Event Planners is the ‘not knowing when this will end’.  These uncertain times are a planner’s worst case scenario, with many citing the ‘lack of control’ as the most difficult element to deal with. ­­­

However, a critical skill for any proficient event planner is the ability to change and adapt, to stop the panic and start clearing the way for constructive as opposed to destructive thinking.  As event planners we should never become complacent and believe that every event will go as planned, AV won’t shut down mid-presentation, venues won’t run out of chair covers, or performers won’t show up late. Being prepared for all eventualities and providing quick solutions is foundational.

 “These uncertain times are a planner’s worst case scenario, with many citing the ‘lack of control’ as the most difficult element to deal with.”

Being prepared is one thing, but looking back to the start of this year nothing could have prepared us for the times we live in now, or the impact the virus is having on our daily lives and the world of event management. The wide scale and sudden cancellation of large gatherings has stopped us all in our tracks, with clients and planners scrambling to make sense of what is happening and how to plan ahead.

So what can an Event Planner do while we are waiting for the world to turn the right way up again? After the initial panic any planner worth their salt should kick straight in to constructive thinking, providing a steady hand and supporting their clients through this uncertain and often emotional time.  Now is the time for those expert planning skills to kick in, to stop and think, to look at alternative ways of running events when the world starts to return to normal.  This period of ‘limbo’ is actually giving us the luxury of extra time to re-plan our events to meet customer needs and budgets.  Working closely with our clients and assessing their needs will identify alternatives that may turn out to be actually more successful than the original event and not just financially.

This is also a time to be more open minded to the new technologies available to us, live streaming, online webinars, online staff training.  It is a time to show your clients that you are flexible, adaptable and innovative.  Below are just two examples of events we are working on with our clients, events which have completely changed format due to the current restrictions.

In conclusion, the past few weeks have taught us that even with all the planning and decision making that we do on a daily basis that normally ensures our events run smoothly, we must always be aware of the ‘what if factor’ and be prepared to exit our comfort zone and search for alternatives for our customers. Who knows these alternative events may teach us something too and continuous learning is always a positive thing.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr.  Seus