As the world still emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, event planning professionals are considering the necessary changes to make future events successful. The industry has witnessed a significant shift towards digital channels, however, simply hosting a meeting online does not ensure successful outcomes. Others still prefer in-person gatherings, so how do you balance these two? A robust event planning strategy must be developed embracing the new normal while delivering an excellent guest experience
To shed more light on this topic, we spoke with Meetingselect’s newly appointed Global Events Director, Jeroen de Hooge, a seasoned professional with years of experience of building successful event planning strategies.
“Well, that's a great question because the event business is not a one-size-fits-all, so there honestly is no typical event planning approach. It does, however, always start with defining the goals and objectives of your event. Deciding on a specific desired outcome at the beginning will benefit each step of your event planning strategy. The 5W’s will help you with that: why, who, what, when, and where. So, for example ‘Who is the audience?’ If we organize an event for first-time bookers of our platform, the goal is to educate them. Then it’s essential to ask what the audience wants, where I’d like it to take place, or better yet, what kind of location would complement the goal of the event? When you understand and answer all these questions, you’ll set appropriate goals and can plan your event strategy accordingly.
Of course, there are many more steps in this process. After you’ve set specific objectives, you’ll need to define your team. All stakeholders involved (or a representative of each) must be included in that specific team. The next step would be to design the event. You’d create timelines to ensure the entire process is incorporated and completed. Then you’d start venue sourcing, creating the program, LOGISTICS COORDINATIONS, Promotion, Coordination with vendors and suppliers, execution and, finally, evaluate and measure success and follow up. So, the event and event planning process consist of many steps.”
“Often, we see people starting their event planning process by determining a budget. Of course, it's crucial to accurately estimate all the expenses that are associated with an event and to do so you need to know the design of your event. For this reason, as I mentioned before, you must always start with defining the goals and objectives of your event, not the other way around. Starting with a budget, as I’ve seen many times, always results in unexpected costs. This leads to making compromises during the event, affecting its quality and outcomes, which could’ve been avoided had they achieved clarity in the beginning.”
As we discussed earlier, when the most logical steps in event planning an event are defined at the start. It's not a one-size-fits-all, which means the more complex the event, the higher the number of stakeholders involved. Aside from the overall event’s goals, they’ll all have their independent objectives too. Therefore, it's always important to create one team and determine which stakeholders need to be part of that team early on. This guarantees their alignment and investment during the entire process, evidently creating a memorable event experience.
“The choice of metrics depends on the nature and goals of your event. It's essential when defining your objectives clearly, to also select the appropriate metrics which align with those goals. Though, generally, there are several key metrics that can assist you in concluding the success and effectiveness of your meeting. For instance, you can measure your attendance rate and your engagement rate. Attendee satisfaction can be measured by means of a survey or you can analyze the Return On Investment (ROI). With all steps in the process accurately followed, you’ll have a clear budget and good insight as to the success of your event.
Another method can be the use of social media. When your attendees post on your event, you can ultimately measure the created reach to current or potential customers. Basically, everything can be measured with regards to the goals and objectives when done right. Thus, rely solely on solid answers and numbers, as guesswork will negatively impact the accuracy you’ve worked hard to achieve when defining specific goals.”
“Especially since COVID-19, the market has rapidly changed and there's a lot of going on. In terms of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, chat bots, etc.; all current technological innovations currently impact the future of meetings and events. Moreover, it's important to distinguish between, let's say, meeting technology for attendees and meeting technology for bookers and planners. Both require different needs and wants.
On either side, there's much development, for instance regarding sustainability. We see door-to-door, a well-known term within the industry, as a large trend within the market. We examine, quite literally, the sustainable impact of travelling from one door to another, e.g., your office to your international meeting venue. We contemplate the most economical solution to meet considering all attendees, their individual locations, and calendars but also means of travel, the best date and even time to meet. All is taken into account.”
“One thing that I’d like to add is that, although the market is constantly changing and it remains essential to future-proof your strategy as a company with constant innovations, we must not forget that this industry is fundamentally a people’s business. Therefore, it's always important to emphasize the people’s needs and wants in collaboration with the newest technologies to create personal and memorable experiences for your team and guests.”