Earlier this week, Cvent Europe’s Senior Marketing Manager, Felicia Asiedu hosted an Event Love Stories webinar, playing Cupid between live event professionals and their day-to-day planning, management and execution roles.
Joining Asiedu to discuss their passion for events and the positives from the past two years were Anita Howard, Co-Founder of ICE (a community for corporate event planners), Adrian Frantom, Commercial Director at Production Bureau, and Jodi Egan, Senior Events Manager at enterprise software solution provider, IFS.
ICE’s Howard got the love-in underway by telling the audience: ““The thing I’ve loved about the past couple of years is learning new skills. I don’t mind admitting that during the first year of lockdowns, I felt scared but by the second year, I was really energised by all the things I could keep learning. It’s been really heartening to know that our industry is so good at adapting and although it’s been a challenging time, I’ve had great fun learning new skills along the way.”
IFS’ Egan agrees: “I love the new skills and the experiences of virtual event planning, especially around the production side of being in a broadcast studio and learning to deal with online speakers," she says. "It’s been challenging but we’ve emerged in a stronger place with a broader skill-set and that can’t be anything but a good thing.”
Frantom found that the past two years has brought him closer to both the Production Bureau’s clients and to his own employees.
He says: “This whole situation has given us the opportunity to talk to clients more and to have in-depth conversations to uncover many of the challenges they face. So I’ve loved spending more time with clients, even though it has been through virtual platforms. Plus, I've loved spending more time with team members. I feel I’ve got to know the people I work with a lot better throughout these challenging times just by seeing their pets or their children on the video calls. We’ve all shared laughter and tears together.”
The panel then discussed whether or not this is the right time to move forward with confidence by returning to in-person events now that Covid restrictions are being lifted or relaxed across Europe.
An audience poll revealed that 35% of the Love Stories webinar audience didn’t believe they would need to postpone future events anymore, while 50% were confident of moving ahead but only with contingency plans firmly in place, in case of the need to postpone.
Egan says: “You couldn’t have foreseen the problems of the past two years so I believe we’re even better problem solvers than we were pre-pandemic. Event planners are now proactive problem solvers and in a stronger place with the skills that we’ve learned and the technology offer that’s finally caught up.”
Howard agrees. She says: “Positive collaboration has been a real plus-point between agency and client. It has been a joy to see the pieces of the puzzle falling back into place.”
As in most relationships, planners now face the perennial challenge of always keeping things fresh while balancing the increased cost of staging in-person and virtual events alongside each other.
“Planners should keep reinventing their virtual offer by assessing what the audience wants and reframing the various challenges differently. Don’t settle for the first solution that comes along - push for jigsaw pieces, which are a better fit to your puzzle,” Frantom advises.
On the challenge of cost, Howard believes that we can’t get away from the facts that hybrid event planning will be more expensive. However, just like in love, the expense will always be worth it if that’s what the audience demands.
She says: “Sustainability-wise it’s a no-brainer so we should all be looking at hybrid as a way of tackling our climate impact and developing our skill-sets so that we’re never caught off guard again for those unknowns that could be just around the next corner.”
For the final poll of the Event Love Stories webinar, the audience were asked how likely they are to fall in love with hybrid event formats.
Some 31% said they were ‘swiping right’ since they were interested to see where dating leads, and 11% said they were already in love and hearing ‘wedding bells’.
However, half the audience (50%) confessed they were either ‘swiping left’ and rejecting hybrid as a future event format, or that they were still undecided.
Despite a webinar full of positivity and reasons to fall back in love with the role of event planning, it appears that that the path of true love will never run smoothly.