Event cancellations are heartbreaking to most event planners.
We get excited for our client’s events, almost as much as they do, if not more! Yet, this has become the new norm.
We are adjusting to COVID-19 with urgency and resilience. Most of us switching to virtual events or renting our property to the average person looking to hold a 5 person birthday event.
Covid-19 came in abruptly.
It was full force with no invitation, and we certainly did not accept. Fortunately, we are all here to face this pressing matter together. As a strong knit community of Event Planners, we must stay informed on the ever-changing policies that affect our livelihood.
The event industry globally produces $1.1 Billion Dollars as of 2018, with an expectancy of growing to $2.33 Billion by 2026. Although Covid-19 has changed our way of doing business, we need to remember that events will never stop! We will always have birthdays, engagements, weddings and business conferences to attend.
In fact, the more we get used to this “new norm”, the easier it will become to see clients’ needs. We need to look digitally, market ourselves effectively and pivot so that we inspire people to continue celebrating monumental engagements.
If social media was the first thing you checked upon peeling your eyes open, then you should probably consider changing your routine.
Reading the paper, watching the news and even discussing what is going on with others will help you in the long run. As opposed to your daily check in that consists of Sally showing the world, she is having Avocado Toast, for breakfast (again!)
As facts are confirmed globally, while we sleep, it is crucial to know what has changed. That alone can be a full time job, at the rate we are going.
Furthermore, how it is affecting you as a business owner. We can manage running a business effectively and staying up to date on the worldly changes!
Believe me. Google Alerts will help. Wink, wink.
Think about you getting your next client without actually seeing them. Do you have the time to wait around for your last client to recommend you in six months?
Probably not. Be Proactive and change with the times.
Look Digitally, Market Effectively and Pivot
Networking has been taught to us as a necessity for a successful business. You might be asking yourself “How do we network while social distancing?”.
That is a great question.
Let’s look at some great ideas below:
1. Email Lists and Campaigns
Now is the time to cash in on your current email list.
You have been collecting them for months, maybe years, now let’s put them to good use.
Anyone that has had any type of interest in what you do and exchanged numbers for a “future occasion”. That time is now, ladies and gentlemen.
When they’re added to your email list, send them a friendly reminder that your company is still here through this pandemic and if they need anything at all, reach out to you.
This could be the opportunity of someone saying “That is so funny you reached out! My mom’s 70th birthday is in a few weeks. I don’t know how to go about it with the rules and regulations.” This is why we are the experts! It is our job to, yup, you guessed it, STAY INFORMED.
We do the leg work so that our clients do not have to.
They can sit back and enjoy the event, knowing we did everything we possibly could, to make their day special.
2. Use Social Media
Social Media is solely intended for interaction on a large scale. Why not take advantage of the possibility of reaching people across the world!
The key to marketing is exposure. You want to be seen and remembered.
Don’t forget to engage with your audience. They want to know who you are.
Here is your big chance to show them!
Through your event images, they will get a sense of your branding. Your content will be a significant part of blending, what they see versus your very own interpretation of it. Let them into your world, your mind and show them your passion for planning events. Every event planner has their own story. What is your story?
Posting relevant information is the golden rule of social media platforms for business. You want to gather organic growth. You can achieve this through relevant posts that resonate with your target audience.
Last but certainly not least, do not be afraid to get personal. Your followers want to know who you are and build a trusting relationship before they reach out. They need to see you have common ground with them. They need to feel like you will exceed their expectations, and understand their wants and needs.
Let your potential clients know, you are here to take their vision to the next level, and without giving them more work to do!
3. Networking Groups are not Dead
Everything we know and love has basically gone virtual, but has not stopped.
In fact, these business groups have increased their online presence. Now we have more access to Local Groups, National Groups and International Groups than ever before.
Groups such as:
Chamber of Commerce Chapters
National Association of Event Planner Professionals
The best way to utilize these groups is to volunteer, become a sponsor and look into leadership opportunities.
4. Partnerships and Community
Here are a few of the partnerships you are likely to encounter:
We are in an industry that thrives on partnerships and community. It is such a wonderful industry to be part of. Not only do you make venues beautiful and unique, with your own style and taste. You also have the opportunity to work with like minded individuals that share the same passion you do. Making the world a beautiful place, one event at a time.
“The New Norm” What to expect
Bride Point of View
We have all heard about the 2019 engagements that are now being postponed due to COVID-19. It’s sad and unfortunate.
I must say, there are some resilient brides out there.
Round of applause for these ladies!
They have waited their whole lives for the moment to find the person they love, walk down the aisle and say I do. I would be determined to make that special day happen at all costs as well!
Right now, brides are postponing their wedding until 2021 or later in the year. Study shows 96% of couples prefer to postpone their wedding, while 64% of couples are moving their receptions to later months of 2020.
Elopement is on the rise, at a whopping 11%. Wow!
These brides have had months of quarantine to sit and plan their special day. Now they want actionable results.
Have you heard about the bride that rented out an AirBnB, recorded the ceremony with friends and family on a ZOOM call? She mentioned that there were gentlemen in the wedding party that were in blazers and boxers! Hilarious.Yet, magical.
How about the other bride that posted pictures of her friends and family on cardboard cut-outs? A moment I assure you she will never forget. As you can see, these brides are still determined to make their wedding day happen, no matter what. You need to let them know that you are there to make it happen for them.
They want to know how to let their guests know about any changes to the venue or event.
As an event planner, you want to be sitting next to your phone, waiting for that call to come in. Am I right? We know to suggest email or postponement cards. We have vendors that we work with regularly and would love to give them business.
Brides want to know tips on hosting smaller weddings, how to incorporate virtual components and what venues are still accepting wedding events.
Vendor Point of View
There is an emotional response to the pandemic.
Cancellation policies have changed in a big way. All vendors in the industry are more lenient with their cancellation policies at this time.
Vendors are thinking more compassionately than business driven. People are realizing that we are all in this together. Covid-19 has affected us all profoundly, despite being affected in different ways.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some vendors that have tightened their cancellation policies due to the lack of revenue. They need assurance at this time.
Deposit policies are similar to that of recent cancellation policies.
Like everyone else in the world right now, vendors are required to follow state and federal regulations. We forget how many things are communal such as buffets, cocktail hours and hors d’oeuvres.
How have vendors changed their approach to customer safety?
See our list:
- Delivering food directly to the table
- Wearing masks
- Wearing gloves
- 6FT social distancing
- Limiting number of people This has changed several times as the time has gone by
- Hand sanitizer throughout the building
- Temperature checks upon arrival
- Visual reminders to wash hands, user hand sanitizer, stay 6FT apart
- Sneeze guards at the table
- Providing tents, heaters and proper air ventilation to outside areas
Event Planner Point of View
If you read any part of this blog post, make sure it is this section.
Do not, I repeat, do NOT offer a discount.
Your services are still needed, as we uncovered in the earlier. During this pandemic, we have all felt a moment of helplessness, gratitude and the overwhelming urge to help others.
You will be helping them by making yourself available. Trust me! Discounting your services will reverse all of that hard work you ensued.
You may be asking yourself, how can I help without discounting my service?
Try scaling back weddings, introducing micro weddings, virtual weddings or elopement services. Whatever you do, don’t assume the clients budget!
They will tell you what they can afford and what their comfort zone is. Listen, they wouldn’t be calling you if the funds are not available.
Take this downtime to streamline your business. There are so many innovative ways to automate your processes. Make it easy for your clients to find you, book you and pay you.
Update your website if necessary. People are attracted to pretty websites and to a strong social media presence. This is a fact.
Get everything virtual, automated and streamlined. Your clients will absolutely LOVE this. For some, it might be the sole reason for booking you!
Imagine this: you are the only event planner in your area that has gone contactless.
Easy booking, easy payment system and without worrying about health. It’s the ultimate reason people hire us, to not worry about the details. If you can do this, you have it in the bag honey!
You can automate your processes by on-boarding new clients through your website. Lead them into an online booking system. Allow them to pay through the website, safely and securely.
Ask yourself, can people find me easily? If the answer is “Yes”, then keep up the good work!
If the answer is “No” then walk through the process as if you were the bride.
How would you go about finding an event planner? And what would you be looking for? Do a simple online check for your company. Incorporate ways to be easily accessible to your potential clients. This can be as easy as making sure all of your links to social media work and your calendar is updated regularly.
Crisis Management should be on everyone’s mind right now. Do not ask the venue or client what they want as far as health requirements.
Go right to the Department of Health in the county of the event. Find out the stipulations, and bring that to your clients as a minimum standard, or set bar. Yes, we are that good.
Always check with the CDC and local health authorities as well.
This is our new golden rule as planners. Live by it.
Inspire Clients to Continue Celebrating Life
Safety is a word that has been around for awhile. Instilled into our brains at a young age and enforced throughout our adulthood. However, it has not been used so much as it is being used now.
We are re-imagining the way we think of the word. There are new protocols, new things to think about, based on the way we live our lives currently.
For example, we have always had to follow rules and regulations. The same rules and regulations that would often be bent, from time to time and without a bat of a mink eyelash. Now there are lives at stake, should we not follow the rules that are given to us.
Visual reminders are everywhere to wear your mask, wash your hands, cover your cough and not touch your face. These are all things that we would normally do but with the circumstances, we must do more often and remind others to do.
There is so much more to remember. Maintaining records of all attendees for contact tracing purposes. This is HUGE.
If someone is found to be positive, it is our job to keep record of all individuals that were in attendance that day. Granted, we always have some sort of a guest list but it is crucial that we know every person that enters our events.
Thinking about it retrospectively, maybe micro weddings are the best bet for this sort of situation!
Not only do we need to think about the safety of our clients and their guests for face-to-face meetings, but also virtually. The essential Zoom app that we have grown to know and love, had a high level of hacks. The hackers would find their way into Zoom meetings in the beginning of the pandemic. Fortunately Zoom quickly patched the hacks and this is no longer an issue.
Technology has certainly evolved, maybe well beyond, what we were prepared for. The good news is that we have all had a crash course in technology. I mean, my grandmother knows how to use Facebook now. I am truly impressed by her advancements.
There are many events that will be resurfacing. Regardless of your type of event, every product has to be delivered at its own level of health requirements. There is an emotional impact. It is much different from other events we have experienced in the past. Children are not going to school and I can’t remember that last time that has happened. Families and friends are suggested to stay quarantined within their homes for long periods of time.
This is an emotional effect that we are currently facing together. We will be seeing the long term effects for an undetermined amount of time. We need to think about how we can manage our events safely and effectively for now AND in the future. People, our potential clients, need to feel safe.
We have the opportunity to reinvent our events. We can “trim the fat” so to speak and cut out what is not necessary to the event. This pandemic is forcing industry leaders to be innovative by asking “What is our goal?” and “What is our priority?”.
If you have taken anything from me today, it should be the following words: document, promote, promote, promote!