7 Event Planning Tips the Pros Are Leaning on in 2021

July 6, 2021
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Let’s face it, planning an event is never as easy as 1, 2, 3. It’s not a “one size fits all” kind of process, as each occasion presents its own set of challenges and opportunities to be addressed, managed and executed.

In 2021, that notion has never been more prevalent as event professionals and brands find themselves teetering between online events, in-person events and something in the middle (aka hybrid events).

But with change comes growth, and if the last year (and a half) has taught us anything, it’s that events are more transitional than ever. We caught up with a few of our friends in the event world to ask them what their top takeaways have been, and the event planning tips they are leaning on for successful event management this year and years to come. 

Keep reading to find out how today’s event specialists are making events work for them from planning and organizing, to design and production. Who knows? You just might learn something.

Want more event industry insights straight from the source? Catch the latest episodes of The Event Marketing Show!

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7 Event Planning Tips to Host Successful Events in 2021

1) On planning and organizing hybrid events…

“As we move from purely virtual to hybrid and live events, I think it’s important to take what we learned during the pandemic and put it to good use. Clearly, adding a virtual component to an in-person event is so much more than adding a video camera to the back of the room. We’ve confirmed that virtual events can be engaging and productive, but only if the meeting design is truly participant driven and takes into consideration the needs of that audience.  As we move into hybrid, we can’t lose that perspective.

When Special D Events plans hybrid events, I advocate for at least one member of the planning team to participate through the lens of the virtual participant, and another to represent the in-person participant. Then, during every step of the planning process, those representatives are empowered to speak up and identify when the needs of that audience are not considered.”

– Carol Galle, CEO of Special D Events

There’s a lot more to do when it comes to producing a hybrid event. Read Event Production for Hybrid Events: Why It Matters and How to Turn Up the Heat in 2021 to make sure you’re prepared.

2) On accessibility when it comes to choosing event technology and tools…

“We recently helped run a virtual event for one of our clients. The client had the choice of the platform. Some clients prefer to choose their own platform if they’ve used a particular platform before, or maybe they’ve been recommended it and want to give it a go.

When we have a client who requires the full set up and delivery, we go through their full strategy with them, build an agenda and plan for the event before we set up the platform so we understand what they are expecting. After going through this stage, we began setting up the virtual events platform. Now, this is where it all started to go a bit downhill.

Before we could even set up the platform, we had to complete a series of ‘quizzes.’ Don’t mistake the word quizzes for fun though. Think back to school when you had to do comprehension tasks (when you watched or read a task, then answered questions on it). For each potential section of the platform, there was a quiz on it. Sounds easy, I know, but there were over ten modules to complete, and each module was about an hour long and you had to pass the module to unlock certain features… You get where my issue is now?”

– Rhian Berry, Marketing and Events Manager at EventMind

3) On creating engaging in-person experiences post-pandemic…

“As meetings and events start to take place in-person again, event professionals need to consider that their content and agenda needs to be focused on peer-to-peer learning and the ability for people to have conversations. Over the last 16 months, since the pandemic began, there was a huge rise in education being viewed online through webinars and digital events. 

Now that we can meet again, attendees are craving strong networking opportunities and being able to have meaningful conversations with their colleagues. If they wanted to watch a speaker deliver 60 minutes of content without engagement, then they could have stayed home in their pajamas.

Participants are craving live music, incredible food, dancing, and incredible experiences. Move the attendees out of the conference rooms and take them on learning journeys where they can share experiences and explore cities they have missed since the pandemic. There is so much excitement around the return of meetings and events that expecting people to go back to the status quo prior to the pandemic is unrealistic. You must be able to entertain, connect, and surprise your participants.” 

– Lori Pugh Marcum, Events Content Director at Path to Purchase Institute and Retail Leader at EnsembleIQ

Attendee interaction is key! Check out 20 Interactive Conference Ideas To Increase Engagement With a Virtual or Hybrid Audience to make sure your event delivers the experience your guests deserve.

4) On developing live content AND on-demand content…

“Live content should be meaningful and purposeful — an attendee’s engagement time is more valuable than ever.  Offering content on-demand allows attendees to access at their convenience, shifting the focus to delivering live content that is most relevant to the overall goals and objectives.”

– Corinne F. Roskopp, MPA, CMP, SEPC, Founder of Detroit Production House

5) On planning and designing events that are uniquely catered to the audience…

“Now, more than ever, we have an opportunity to design experiences that truly cater to our audience’s needs, from top to bottom. Is our content relevant? Do people feel safe and comfortable? Are we offering an experience that in no way could be replicated online if we decide to host it in person? 

We hold an influential position of leadership as conference organizers and content creators as we bring our isolated and sometimes divided world together after a year of global adversity. 2021 will be the year of the comeback. It will be the moment we show the world how incredibly powerful our industry truly is.”

– Courtney Stanley, Event Emcee

6) On building events that deliver results…

“The easiest way to start building these skills is to start with what you have, start with what your organization, your company, your brand does well, and then look for ways to maximize that. So maybe that’s getting in touch with your marketing team, to understand what it is they actually look for when they are measuring the ROI, and then see how you can pair that with the experience you are looking to deliver. 

I feel like everything has been siloed for so long that we’re missing out on the opportunity to truly be collaborative and build the right customer experience or event experience. Have a look at where you sit in the gamut and where your events sit. Start with that and build from there.”

– Mahoganey Jones, Founder and CEO of Event Specialists

7) On using an always-on content strategy to support events…

“The prominence of editorial has been proven ten times over in the last year. Event companies or event organizers that used to only think of event content in discrete units over one, two, three or more days, now need to think in a 365 day fashion. 

A lot of large event companies over the last ten years have actually sold off their media assets and focused just on events. Many of them have been rethinking that now because the pot of money for virtual is smaller. So you need more money, but you need more touch points for that to happen. That touchpoint is the media part of it. That’s why in many ways media organizers like us that have events as part of it, seem to have adjusted faster to this new world.” 

– Rafat Ali, CEO and Founder of Skift

Check out our full discussion with Rafat Ali about the power of content in events on the Event Marketing Show:

There is always more to be done after an event to continue connecting with your audience. Here’s everything you should do to maximize success with post-event engagement.

Put These Event Planning Tips To Good Use With the Right Virtual or Hybrid Event Software

There’s no denying that the way we plan, design, execute and attend events is constantly changing. The best thing you can do as an event planner, manager or professional is keep up with the latest trends, take advantage of tech and tools available to help you achieve your goals, and test, test, and test again. 

We may be biased, but finding the right event management software is a good place to start. SpotMe’s platform is fully customizable, allowing you to match your in-person branding and style online to create a beautiful and cohesive experience for your attendees, no matter how they attend.

Keep your in-person and mobile audience engaged with our event app, allowing guests to participate in polls, Q&As, networking opportunities, and also watch live streams and access on-demand content.

Want to take SpotMe for a test drive? Contact us to start your free trial, and learn why G2 called us “the complete engagement platform.”

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