Tips and Trends for 2021 Event Planning

96_3568_med2Contributors: Julie Froehlich, Event Director and Sydney Underwood, CMP, Event Producer

There was an uninvited guest that crashed almost all our events this year: COVID-19. In fact, it put us in a full stop for a few months while the world regrouped.

But we put our uncommon collaboration and creativity to work and found some unique solutions this year.

96_3602_med2Check out our earlier blogs here and here for more details.

As we look ahead to 2021, our team is leading the way for event planning in this changed world.

We asked them what trends, tips and tricks marketers should be keeping an eye on as they plan their events for 2021.

Here are a few things they had to say:

Virtual Personal Touch

Going virtual doesn’t mean you have to lose the personal touches of a top-tier event. Recently, we pivoted an Incentive Sales Program experience from in-person to virtual. While the event went virtual, we made sure our guests still felt like VIPs—sending them personalized invitations, gifts prior to the event, post-event thank you notes, and more. And of course, we managed all the RSVPs and event coordination with as much detail for this virtual event as we would for an in-person event.

Don’t Just Default to Virtual

That being said, virtual events aren’t the answer to everything. Sometimes events that used to be in-person just aren’t going to be engaging enough to warrant a virtual event. Recently, a client wanted to transition a three-hour, in-person business conference to a virtual “event.” We knew that a three-hour business presentation wouldn’t be engaging enough to keep attendees’ attention in a virtual setting. So we found a more creative solution in a custom, professionally produced, high-energy informative video. It included all the various business elements that typically take place in a hotel ballroom but condensed to a video that is more readily consumed by our audience.

Live Events Aren’t Dead

Consumer activations (and events) are definitely still happening, just at a smaller scale with fewer attendees. We recently held an in-person event very safely with a few displays for consumers. Everyone involved wore masks, stayed six feet away from guests and used all appropriate sanitizing measures. These are the types of things we need to think about now: moving events outdoors, reduced capacity/increased space requirements, planning ahead with socially distanced seating charts and check-in procedures, etc. All in all, the Events Industry isn’t dead. Event professionals are many things, and creativity is one of the top skills that they possess. While the pandemic isn’t exactly ideal, it’s given everyone the gift of time and allowed us to think out of the box to bring our clients and guests the best and safest experiences possible.

In addition to these great examples, they also shared their top tips for 2021 event planning:

  • Get creative. Virtual events aren’t always the answer, and with enough planning and safety precautions, your event can still happen!
  • Think domestic vs. international. International travel is still unknown, so we can assume that more events or activations will be taking place stateside.
  • Make sure you include a virtual option, even for in-person events. People are going to be less likely to travel from now on, so plan for the tech and associated costs for a virtual option.
  • Research and plan safety measures for high-contact, in-person activities. Food and beverage, giveaways, check-ins and other person-to-person contacts all need to be planned safely and accordingly for sanitation.
  • Social distancing is here to stay. Make sure the space you are utilizing is set up for six feet of distance between attendees. Consider moving your event outside.
  • Be ready to engage. For those who do attend in-person activities, they are going to be much more engaged, and there is more opportunity for deeper dialogue. Take advantage of smaller crowds to engage more deeply.
  • If you are hosting a virtual event, consider engaging your audience with something tangible, sent through the mail, that goes with the theme. Not only is it engaging, it will hopefully ensure that they log on and interact.