An inside view of the meetings and events industry covering technology, services, best practices, trends, challenges, and more. World Meetings and Events is a subsidiary of World Travel, Inc.

It’s that time of year when we meeting planners determine what events are in the pipeline, decide how best to host them (in-person or virtual) and evaluate what we have learned from the past year. An understatement: 2020 was a doozy of a year, but we got through it together. Facing the future means revisiting what we learned and how we improved. The slow days of 2020 allowed us to review our processes to figure out what worked and what didn’t. We took time to examine how we communicate, what tools we use, what tools we need, and what processes we needed to update. We’ve become better meeting planners as a result and proved that we had the flexibility to adapt to such monumental changes in our industry.

Time for a reset, and how exciting it has been! Over the past few decades, the event industry has flowed and ebbed with historical changes and technological advances. I remember being excited about having an international phone when doing a site visit in Paris. Years later, I was texting my meeting concierge to say that I needed the temperature turned down in a general session. The communication gap had narrowed quite dramatically, and being a planner, these were critical and monumental advances to delivering even better events.

Over the last year, my coworkers and I earned several Cvent certifications in Event Management, Virtual Meetings, and Hybrid Meetings. Most importantly, we added Virtual Meetings technology to our wealth of services, which is a very exciting arena! We kept striving forward, determining what were the best virtual services we could offer our clients, keeping in touch with our suppliers and still planning safety-focused live events.

If you’re wondering what we have done since March, this article does a succinct job at covering Pivotal Trends in 2020 and what the future holds. Our meeting structures will continue to change alongside public health guidelines. The vaccine will totally change our lives for the better but, decidedly, the world will look unfamiliar for a while longer.

Some changes are here to stay.

Care Packages

Care Packages – why should it only be a pandemic thing? There are so many to choose from! One client sent their guests a package with all the ingredients to make a dinner; another sent champagne and glasses for a celebration. Who doesn’t like receiving a fun package at the door? Fun and Individually Wrapped Meals

One of the more popular aspects of attending a meeting is what fun and yummy items will be on the menu. Hotels are finding new and inventive ways to serve delicious meals and breaks. For example – Items will be in their own container or individually wrapped and buffets are one sided with hotel staff serving you. Hybrid Meetings

While planning live meetings is what we do, we now need to determine whether any event will be completely in-person or a combination of live and virtual segments. Two main benefits of hybrid meetings are safety and cost, and they often allow greater audience participation.

Over Communicating

A very important part of being a meeting planner is communicating all the details, like what the attendee should expect when attending the meeting, where to get transportation to the hotel, and what to wear on the gala night. Now, it’s more. We need to remind our clients and attendees of what we are doing to keep them safe and what they can to do to remain as safe as possible. Every hotel/destination has its own challenges and protocols, and we need to all work together to achieve our worthy goal: a safe and successful event.

Contactless Connecting

What would we do without our smart phones? Our lives are practically run by the appendage “attached” to our hands. From remote check-in to flashing the QR code to get your nametag, technology will keep changing the way we live, giving us easier, faster, safer, cheaper, better options than we had before.

Force Majeure

Does it really cover everything it should: relieving parties from performing their contractual obligations when certain circumstances beyond their control arise, making performance inadvisable, commercially impracticable, illegal, or impossible? Who hasn’t listened to webinars more closely to make sure you/your client is protected from every possible scenario and how best to negotiate their contract?

We recognize we are in a new world of traveling, meeting and hosting events. Let’s change this world for the better – making it safe, diverse, and exciting for everyone to meet live and working towards the day with no masks and fellowship hugs.

Kit Stanford

Written by Kit Stanford