There’s no doubting that the COVID-19 pandemic has touched almost all aspects of our lives. For many of us, what was once unimaginable is now a reality and no more so is that true than in the events industry.
To put things into perspective for you, since the start of the pandemic, a whopping 15 new job roles have cropped up. That’s a lot of change in a short amount of time, especially if you’re an aspiring event planner, looking to get into the industry for the first time.
What’s changed? Where do you get started? What’s on the agenda for an event planner in the post-COVID era? And what new skills do you need to succeed? Let’s take a look and find out.
What is an event planner and what do they do?
The role of an event planner is to ensure that everything event-related is taken care of, from initial ideas to logistics and attendee management. Event planners handle a variety of different tasks with one objective: making the event successful.
To give you an idea of what this looks like in terms of day-to-day duties, here’s a list of the roles and responsibilities that are expected of an event planner:
- Meeting with event stakeholders to gain an understanding of the event’s purpose and goals
- Outlining the scope of the event, including time, date, location, and budget
- Scouting and inspecting event venues
- Working with vendors to get bids and determine best fits for the budget and goals of the event
- Managing the budget and ensuring the event stays within guidelines
- Coordinating event logistics and services, including technology and equipment needed to run the event, catering, transportation, AV, etc.
What skills are required?
So we’ve set the scene with a list of day-to-day duties, now it’s time to dive into the different must-have skills that all event planners need.
Organisation: As you can see from the list of tasks above, event planners have to juggle multiple duties at once, which is why having exceptional organisational skills is essential. This equates to staying on top of everything including time, budgets and all your stakeholders.
Communication: Given the different stakeholders that an event planner interacts with on a daily basis, strong communication skills are extremely important. Here, strong interpersonal skills come in very handy to ensure that everything runs smoothly without any hiccups.
Relationship building: It’s vital that you can build strong relationships with vendors and partners to create a reliable network of contacts that can help make your event a success. This is why you need to possess strong networking skills and plenty of charisma to go with it.
Problem-solving: As an event planner you’re always going to find yourself in sticky situations where you have to think on your feet. That’s why an event planner should be able to make decisions during unforeseen challenges – all while staying calm and collected.
Negotiation: Event planners need to be able to drive a hard bargain when negotiating a contract. This requires a mix of preparation, tact, and confidence. On top of this, every event planner needs to have a good sense of budgeting to track every penny that’s being spent.
Multitasking: Being able to multitask is a non-negotiable for any event planner. You need to manage multiple tasks at any given time, covering anything and everything from event promotion and finances to logistics and attendee management.
Event planning post-COVID: What’s changed?
So up until now, we’ve been talking very generally about what an event planner is, what they do, and what’s needed to be a successful one. The good news is that everything mentioned so far remains extremely relevant, even the mention of venues, catering, and accommodation will be returning with hybrid events.
With this in mind, it’s time to take a look at the important considerations that you’ll need to make as an event planner in this new post-COVID landscape that we find ourselves in.
1. Follow government guidelines
To control the spread of coronavirus, governments around the world are imposing restrictions on the number of people that can meet in a group and whether certain events can go ahead. Even now with vaccination rates on the up, it’s likely that these restrictions are going to remain for the foreseeable future.
As an event planner, you must adhere to these regulations and stay up to date on the latest developments, as they are constantly changing.
2. Safety first
In the current climate, hybrid and in-person events are going to be under huge scrutiny to show that they have adopted high standards of hygiene. From the venue to catering and travel arrangements, allocate plenty of time to go through every aspect of your event, making sure it adheres to the high standards that your attendees will be expecting.
When it comes to the day of the event, give each attendee a hygiene kit with hand sanitiser and face masks.
3. Social distancing
The most effective way to limit the spread of the virus is to keep a minimum distance of 2 metres between each attendee. No matter how big the venue is, this can be a challenge to enforce, especially in hotspot areas such as restrooms and corridors.
To overcome this, draw up a map identifying the areas that will have the highest footfall, and identify what social distancing measures you’re going to take before the vent takes place.
4. Risk communication
With attendee confidence at a low point, it’s your responsibility as an event planner to restore this. And this is where clear and consistent COVID-related communication comes into play. From the off, right through to the end of your event it’s important to provide attendees with regular updates.
This goes through outlining the action and safety protocols that you’ll be taking right through to contacting attendees if there has been an outbreak.
5. Availability of Technology
Technology can play a massive role in mitigating the spread of COVID between attendees at events. Leverage it to help you lower waiting times, avoid queuing, and reduce human interaction. And be sure that all of your attendees have downloaded the government’s track and trace app for the event.
What new skills do I need?
Beyond the skills that we mentioned earlier, here are some extra post-pandemic skills that event planners should be focusing on for today and the future.
In today’s world, plans can change in the blink of an eye. Like it or not, for the time being there’s no avoiding positive cases, altering government restrictions, and last-minute cancellations, which is why you’ve got to be flexible and adaptive.
The ability to think quickly on your feet can make or break an event. Planners should have a long list of backup options whether that’s for plans, ideas or vendors. Finally, be prepared for anything to happen.
Today, event planners need to act as the bridge between their company and their attendees. And without the inability to do this in-person, it’s now down to event planners to add a personal touch to nurture their audience.
Beyond running events, it’s vital to engage your community and keep them informed on what’s going on. This also comes in handy for your organisation, as you’ll have plenty of ideas to feed your marketing team.
Following on from the last point, post-COVID event planners need to be marketing savvy. Specifically, this applies to social media and content marketing, both of which are key to standing out from the crowd.
Promoting events will always be a valuable skill to have, and being able to do so will help expand your reach and attract new attendees.
Events have moved online and the format is here to stay, which is why event planners need to have a solid understanding of virtual events. In this aspect, it’s important to be tech savvy, and understand what aspects go into the production of an online event.
And in addition to this, understand how to engage attendees online. This is essential as virtual events form such an important way in which brands can continue to engage and nurture their audiences.
Moving forward it’s going to be vital that event planners cater to both in-person and online attendees. And this is where hybrid events will come into play. Importantly, this format of event gives attendees the option to choose how they participate.
The challenge as an event planner, will be to create interactions and experiences that connect both sets of attendees. Again, a strong knowledge of event technology will be key in facilitating this.
As we enter into a new post-COVID landscape, with all change that has come in the past 18 months, now is the time for event planners to learn from this crazy time, move forward and start learning new skills.
By following these new initiatives and developments you will become a better event planner capable of running successful events whatever’s thrown your way.
Discover how Eventtia’s event management platform can help you plan better events.