Change in our industry is nothing new. It’s something event planners have been dealing with in every aspect of their job. But 2020, we saw some truly significant changes due to the dramatic impact of the Covid-19. Event design has changed, venue operations have changed and how attendees consume content has changed. It is a lot to deal with for event professionals. And we have no idea what’s coming next.
But as we start 2021, it’s important that organisers step back, evaluate and prepare to ensure success in these unpredictable times. With that in mind, we have put together seven post- pandemic skills that event planners should focus on today. Let’s take a look.
1. Sales, Persuasion and Negotiation
The ability to sell is within each one of us. It’s not just for the people that have the job title of Sales. We are all persuading and negotiating with each other throughout our day to day activities. Most of the time we don’t realise we are doing it.
And it’s a good thing, because whatever your role is, you are going to need your inherent ‘sales’ skills more than ever before. With clients, with stakeholders, with delegates. Selling, negotiating and persuading skills are crucial in a world where the events landscape has changed beyond recognition. Even selling in-person events will be different. For attendees to want to come to your event, it really needs to stand out, meet hygiene standards and focus on in-person experiences. And then there is the business of selling the virtual. Talking to clients about virtual and hybrid events will soon become part of the everyday language of all event professionals.
2. Social Distancing Design and Management
Social distancing and its importance in helping to reduce the spread of Covid-19 has been uppermost in the minds of venue managers and event planners for many months now. Even when a vaccine to combat the virus has been rolled out across the globe there will be a need for social distancing to continue.
Therefore, at least in 2021 social distancing management needs to be in place. And in-person events have to be more carefully and creatively designed with safety and sanitation measures in place. Event design is about to become more complex for planners. But, it also provides an opportunity for savvy event professionals to make a bigger impact.
Related read: 7 ways events will change in a post-Covid 19 world
3. Community Manager Mind-set
As virtual events bring event audiences more online – embracing the mind-set of a community manager is also going to be a key post pandemic skill. Whilst you do not need to have the role of a community manager, understanding what they do and how you can help them will be very beneficial.
Community managers are all about engaging with the community that is important to the organisation. It could be a community of staff or the community could be subscribers or viewers or potential buyers. However, understanding the communities that your organisation needs to engage with and then being able to assist with ideas on content and social media activity will certainly help.
4. Risk Taking
In 2021 more risk taking will definitely be required. We are not talking about big make or break risks, but experimentation is needed. No longer is there any set approach for events. Yes, the principles remain similar but making in-person, virtual and hybrid events become real successes will involve trying new approaches, testing what works and learning as you go. In many ways, risk taking can be quite refreshing. And as the events sector is known for its creativity, problem solving and entrepreneurial spirit there will be many people that embrace it. To succeed you will have to take risks. How else will you stand out from your competition?
Related read: How event planners can use this time to stay competitive
5. Seeing the Virtue in Virtual
According to a recent poll from Eventsforce, 53% of event planners don’t feel they have the necessary skills nor experience in running successful online events. This could be very worrying, especially as these events are going to be around for a while.
The good news is that many of the skills needed by event planners have already been gained by delivering live events. These skills can be easily transferred across to help deliver virtual productions.
However, whether you are a planner or have a different role, all event sector professionals need to understand what goes into creating and delivering virtual events. This is essential as virtual events form such an important way in which all organisations can keep in front of their customers and stakeholders.
On-Demand Webinar: How to become a tech-savvy event planner
6. Helping Develop Hybrid Events
Closely following on the heels of virtual events are hybrid events. Hybrid events are combination events that enable in-person delegates to meet at a physical venue and for virtual delegates to attend via a web-link.
These events are perfect for providing attendees with real choice as to how they can participate. And whilst many countries have lockdowns going on, hybrid events offer local in-person hubs to be created whilst at the same time they enable organisations to reach out across the miles to welcome virtual delegates. Hybrid events are important in helping organisations stay in front of their customers.
Therefore, they need to be understood and included in the event strategy mix. Critically all event professionals involved in hybrid events must make their programmes work for both the in-person and virtual delegates.
7. Data-Led Decision Making
As the events sector has been dramatically impacted by Covid-19 any old assumptions that were relied on to make business decisions are now of no value. Everything has changed and continues to change. Therefore, it is more crucial than ever that organisations study their data. Not their old data but the new data. The data that will give them clues and insights about what their customers actually want.
Whilst ‘gut instinct’ as a means of making decisions will never disappear (and neither should it), analysing data will become even more important. And that analysis needs to be deeper than before. It cannot simply be a cursory glance at some analytics. It needs to get to the root of understanding what is going on in different sectors and in different regions across the globe. People that understand how to analyse data and bring it to life in a way that the C-Suite understands are going to be in big demand.
Where to Find These Skills
Some of the skills highlighted may feel overwhelming. Or you may already have them in abundance. But, whatever your situation, it’s a good idea to be honest about what you and your team members are good at. For example, some people are much better at risk taking than others. The good news is that many of the key skills can be developed through your own efforts. There are numerous blog posts, eBooks, videos and podcasts that can assist.
And in addition, there are many options for developing skills through learning programmes and courses developed by industry associations, film schools and commercial companies. Many of these are available online which means you can learn in your own time. If you need to call in external consultants and training providers, then do so. It will be an invaluable investment
The post pandemic skills we have highlighted are quite specialist. You could decide that you want to become an expert in all of them and that would take a considerable investment in time. But that may not be totally necessary. What is necessary is that you understand that these key skills are the ones to develop across the organisation that you are part of.
Conclusion – Time for Action is Now
Event professionals had to deal with a lot of change and disruption in 2020. The events that we have come to know and love have been impacted. The reverberations of the changes can still be heard and felt. But, whilst it is hard for those professionals that wish for the sector to remain as it was, those times are gone.
Covid-19 pressed the pause button on many industries and allowed time for reflection. As we lean into 2021 that time is over. Now it is time to move forward and get as many of the new post pandemic skills as possible. It’s time to embrace the change and come up with new event formats for clients. After all, one thing is for sure they will be looking to you for new initiatives and new developments to help their business succeed. How much you help by becoming their go-to resource will in large part be down to how you adapt and develop.
Your journey may not be an easy one but it’s time to act now. Grab the post pandemic skills you need and delight your clients in 2021.
Running virtual events? Eventsforce VCD is a fully integrated virtual event platform that can support you with registration, live streaming, audience engagement tools, remote speaker management, networking and virtual sponsors and exhibitors. Watch video, book a demo or get in touch with the team to see how we can help!