The events of 2020 led to an exponential growth in virtual events. This, in turn, led to new opportunities for organisations and event professionals.

As the cloud cast by the coronavirus begins to dissipate, it is vital that event professionals prove their value to clients once more. A lot has changed during the last two years or so and catering to the needs of our clients and those of the wider environment at the same time takes more skill than ever before and the space between them is often narrow. Threading this needle is now a crucial skill for event professionals.

People’s Behaviour

People’s behaviour has changed. People are much more aware of how they spend their time. How long do they want to spend away from home? What events will be the most appealing to travel to? Or will some people just prefer to consume the content virtually? All of this is tied into their view of the health risk of Covid. And it’s not just whether they feel secure but whether they could also inadvertently impact their families by passing it on. You can be sure that they are making assessments on a regular basis. And this of course needs to be considered by savvy event professionals. An event professional that considers that behaviour is not the same as pre-Covid is one that is likely to do more business as a result.

Client’s Perception

Possibly in days past, some clients could have seen event professionals as people that just took orders, which then needed to be executed to time and to budget. The same approach that many people have when dealing with waiters or waitresses. However those days, in my opinion, are now over. I believe that event professionals need to be playing an even greater advisory role in client discussions. After all, the entire business of event design has changed. Just think of the social distancing impacts and what that means for budget and activities. This is where that advisory role comes into play. And let’s not forget the responsibilities that event professionals have for the safety and well-being of event delegates.

Offer More

Clients are smart, really smart. They understand what they want and they are not afraid to ask for it. Your job is to listen intently and then exceed their expectations by offering more. Offering new approaches.

For example, the offer of translation into other languages in real-time, the offer of being able to connect virtual and in-person delegates in a meaningful way and the offer of educating sponsors to the new world of events, are just three ideas that spring to mind. There are many more that could be added.
Looking at the requirements of clients, event professionals need to be looking more deeply at the backdrop of what’s going on globally, both politically, but also socially and environmentally. There is much change taking place on a regular basis and as we know, events do not exist in a bubble. How can you offer more, giving clients great choice whilst being a custodian of the planet? This is where the skill of threading the needle really comes in.

Standing Out from your Competition

Threading the needle is not an easy task. It requires diplomacy, skill and data to help you navigate some of the issues. The key thing to remember is that events have changed. There is no way back (even if you wanted to go) to normal. That in my opinion would be a step backwards anyway.
New opportunities abound. Event professionals should be seen in the same way that other professionals are seen. Think of the respect that is automatically given to lawyers, dentists or accountants. They inspire confidence because they understand their craft and are experts at threading the needle with their clients.

Event professionals that stand out and inspire client trust are those already skilled in the business of managing expectations and offering more value. They are simply threading the needle and winning business as a result.

Find Out More

This post was originally written as part of the build-up to MPI’s European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC) 2021. You can see more information on MPI’s first ever 100% virtual event by following this link.