Forecasting the Future of Event Planning
What is the future of event planning? We have just experienced a unique time in history where all live events suddenly shut down because of a virus. There is no doubt that the future of live events will forever change, but how much and in what way? What will some of the main challenges be for event planning in order to make guests suddenly feel comfortable? Overcoming fear, logistics and communication will be some of the hurdles to overcome in order to produce any type of live event from a wedding to not-for-profit event and even stadium event.
There is no crystal ball to forecast the future, but there are some principles, mindsets and predictions that will help anyone who is looking to produce or attend a live event. After interviewing Peggy Kelley, with three decades of event planning experience where she shares her insights for the future, we’ll focus on three areas in this article. First, event planning content; second, event planning connection and third, event planning community.
Event Planning: Content
It is hard to predict when very large events will be back in the near future to the extent they were a year ago, but one thing is certain, there will be more emphasis on safety. In fact, protocol has changed with the addition of masks and hand sanitizers. There is an immediate challenge to communicate and educate not only those planning events, but attendees. There may even be disclaimers attendees need to sign upon arriving at an event.
The hybrid format of combining online events along with live events is a reality that will now be here forever. Even after the great risk of catching a deadly virus subsides, fear and anxiety will remain for many.
Party favors and swag of the future may include custom monogrammed masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and even thermometers. I’m not sure I’d be that excited about greeting wedding guests with personalized masks and thermometers, but times have changed and it may become part of the new normal. Innovation will abound with ideas for personalization.
Event Planning: Connection
Live events bring people together to connect. It’s why many conferences are so well-attended, creating opportunities for transacting business that would otherwise be more difficult. There are events for most every field and industry with vendors showcasing their wares all in a central location. The arts conferences I attended throughout the years created showcasing opportunities for artists to be booked all across the country and even picked up by agents. I successfully produced some of showcase rooms that not only got other artists booked, but myself as well.
It’s hard to capture the actual emotion of being together in person. Creating an event that includes not only the visual, but audio and sensory experience will be an ongoing challenge for many planners and producers. Some events already had a system in place for pre-sending conference or program syllabuses. Future planning possibilities will include packages containing swag bags, party favors and sponsorship materials.
The technical requirements for attendees, whether for a social or a non-profit event, are similar. With multiple generations using an online platform, whether Zoom or other, the addition of a short online-training session to make sure all attendees are able to access the event will serve to meet guests where they are. The last thing you’d want to happen is for grandma not to see her granddaughter married.
Event Planning: Community
There is no way for one person or event planner to stay on top of all the current information. It is truly a collaborative effort, using online tools available to help facilitate communication. Tools such as Facebook groups, online forums and shareable documents that can be updated daily online help planners help their clients by staying up-to-date with the most recent information.
Most planners are already familiar with venue sizes, but with restrictions on event size, this creates a unique challenge. So-called micro weddings with ten people is becoming more common, as a step above elopement with two to four people. Mini-weddings with up to fifty people will also be scheduled, adding an online access. Some who have already chosen a micro wedding will then hold a larger ceremony when larger group gatherings are feasible.
Clarify the Mission and Message
It is more important than ever to clarify and deliver a strong mission and message for each type of event. Doing this will actually help events continue to expand their reach not only locally, but worldwide. Some events actually grew during the shutdown, including churches and community events as they held meetings online. (See: Importance of Being Proactive vs. Reactive in Life & Business) I can see hybrid formats continuing to grow for many of those organizations.
To be timeless includes the willingness to change, pivot and serve. No matter what size and format of an event, there is the opportunity to celebrate now. There will always be time to party later!
If you are interested in growing and learning, check out our online courses here: Online Learning