What makes a good event planning nowadays? What are the most popular tools and resources for setting up a conference? How can we find a balance between humanity and technology in these hybrid times? Realizing how you can start as efficiently and quickly as possible the path to your ideal event, is halfway to the success of your project. When the pandemic hit and event planners and marketers worldwide began to pivot to virtual, the whole “board” changed. During Cvent CONNECT Europe Virtual 2020, we discussed the future of events and research findings with Karla Pearce, Senior Marketing Manager for Europe at Cvent.
1) A recent survey by ‘EventMB’, identified that 47% of event planners believe that the venue influences whether or not an attendee joins an event. What makes a modern event venue great these days?
Given the current environment and the evolving restrictions and guidelines regarding in-person events, what makes a venue ‘great’ in today’s climate is fundamentally different than pre-pandemic and being committed and adhering to duty of care/safety are the overriding factors. In Cvent’s recent 2020 Planner Sentiment and Sourcing Report: Europe Edition more than half the planners said that the top influence for choosing a venue is whether it’s a safe space and every possible measure has been put in place to mitigate any health risks.
Many planners now expect venues to provide a clean, sanitised environment, offer daily temperature checks during the event, and provide on-site medical personnel. This may seem like an obvious checklist that most venues have covered, but there is a major disconnect in hotels and venues effectively communicating these protocols to the right audience at the right time. If venues are providing comprehensive safety measures, but no one knows, it’s a moot point. Venues must highlight their health and safety procedures on their website, on online sourcing platforms, social media channels and share them with destination marketing organisations (DMOs).
All in all, what makes a modern venue great these days? A venue that continually reassess and prioritises the unique challenges of planners and provides both guidance and solutions to deliver safer meetings, while also prioritising the overall attendee experience.
2) Venue selection often sets implicit expectations for attendees. They are becoming central references of cities and can be transmuted according to the characteristics of the events. Is it important that the venue sets the tone for its own agenda or is it preferable to take the opposite attitude and be more flexible with the event supply?
The key is balance. A venue can’t be all things to every planner. I’d say it’s important to have a defined voice, play to your strengths and USP’s but within this, set the tone for flexibility by going outside of the box to illustrate what the venue space is capable of. If you’re a historic venue, show how the space can be transformed into a contemporary setting, or if a space is traditionally used for meetings and conferences, showcase how the space can be transformed to host an indoor festival or concert. Help planners by being a facilitator and partner and not just providing them with a standard spiel of what you do well.
"Events will still need to deliver on three key elements: content, connection, and experience; and the metric used to measure success across these elements is attendee engagement because it flows through every stage of the event life cycle – pre, during, and post event."
3) Speaking about the digital transition, what can we also expect from a meeting planner with these new market solutions in place. Do you think that some of these professionals can be replaced by digital service providers?
Technology has undoubtedly changed the way we live our lives and with every advancement, there is often a fear of the negative impact it might have on our jobs and our industry. But technology often proves to be an enhancement to be utilised alongside of, not instead of. Likewise meeting planners and digital service providers will continue to work alongside one another as the roles require a different set of expertise.
What should be noted is the rise the event technologist role. While planners expand their knowledge pool to include video production and editing skills to create impactful virtual and hybrid events, they will also continue to manage the overall event planning and strategy. Event technologists will manage the technology side, including sourcing optimal tech based on the goals of each event as well as of the organisation. This frees up valuable bandwidth that planners can allocate to other logistical issues or higher-level event strategy.
4) After a year of almost zero revenue and an industry in full anxiety to get back on track, do you fear that the return of the events agenda will overlap their quality and a proper research finding?
I think organisations will actually be more strategic with their event programme approach in 2021. There won’t be all of a sudden hundreds of in-person events scheduled just because a vaccine is widely available. It will be a slow and steady return. But what’s really important for planners and organisations to remember is that whether these future events are virtual, hybrid, or in-person the value propositions do not change. Events will still need to deliver on three key elements: content, connection, and experience; and the metric used to measure success across these elements is attendee engagement because it flows through every stage of the event life cycle – pre, during, and post event. Organisers can use technology to leverage the wealth of data insights to create the right content, select the right format (virtual, in-person, or hybrid), and provide attendees with a more memorable, personalised, impactful experience.
"Help planners by being a facilitator and partner and not just providing them with a standard spiel of what you do well."
5) If we consider that many of the events that were suspended or postponed may be held in 2021, we can face a recovery year but also congested by the flow of events and new rules. What will this change in a meeting planner's routine?
2020 has been an unprecedented year for meeting and event planners who have been faced with re-scheduling, then cancelling, and then a nearly complete pivot to virtual events. As planners prepare for the return of in-person events, regulation will play an important role. Planners will seek to align event delivery with safety protocols, they’ll leverage technology more frequently (planners have already embraced digital transformation during the pandemic) such as event diagramming tools, to map out events to comply with social distancing and onsite logistics for safer events. Our research revealed that over three quarters (76%) of surveyed planners said that they would consider hosting hybrid events in 2021. This presents new considerations for planners as they need to create one event with two seamless and complementary experiences that provide both in-person and virtual attendees with engaging content. In short, there will be nothing routine about the planner process in 2021, but by nature, event organisers are incredibly resilient and are used to adapting and finding new ways to adjust. There is no question that they will be able to adjust and use their skillset to succeed in the new normal, it will take a digital-first mindset to do so.
6) Your gut feeling: what will be the scenario of the meetings industry in 2030 with all these premises at stake?
The future of business is sustainable business, and the event industry has an opportunity to lead the charge, leveraging event technology to source smarter, work with suppliers and venues with eco practices and green credentials, running paper-less events and reducing the carbon footprint with virtual and hybrid event options.
Karla Pearce - Senior Marketing Manager Europe (Head of Marketing for Hospitality Cloud)
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