Though it started off as a banner year, 2020 quickly slid into the ditch as COVID-19 hit. The economic fallout of the pandemic hit the special events industry particularly hard, as you know all too well. But special events professionals are nothing if not flexible, forward-looking, quick-learning survivors who, as Aleya Harris, CPCE, Owner, Flourish Marketing says, “Change is neutral. How we relate to that change determines if it is ‘good’ or ‘bad.’”
Harris is just one of the 22 top industry thought leaders we asked to share their perspectives on what they have learned through these extraordinarily tough times for this industry—and what they are looking forward to as we round the corner into what hopefully will be a much better 2021. From building a side hustle into a new revenue stream, to retooling both products and services and how they are delivered, to developing new business models that may just completely transform their businesses for good, here are just a few of the ways they have coped, and the ideas, trends, and positive perspectives they have for the future.
Every other week we will be brining you just a few of the ways our industry peers have coped, and the ideas, trends, and positive perspectives they have for the future. Take a look at part 1 of this series here. Check back on January 29th for part 3.
Christina Matteucci, Executive Director, David Beahm Experiences; TEDx Speaker
If I know one thing about my colleagues who represent the special event industry, it is that they are the best problem solvers, artists, and operational masterminds in the professional world. I also know (because I see it in myself) that special event professionals are creatures of habit. We all have our own ways of doing things and sometimes we like to keep those furtive strategies to ourselves. However, during COVID-19, I’ve witnessed imaginations forced to spark; operations pushed to become infinitely streamlined; technology throttled forward; areas of expertise driven to expand; and a global ecosystem come together and share those ideas and information to ensure our collective survival. Therefore, my positive prediction is that all the above will fuel a reinvention of the special event industry, and the innovation emerging from that reinvention will yield a stronger, faster, and more unified global network that will carry us forward into 2021 and beyond. In other words, the tenacious and resilient event world will emerge from COVID-19, and when we do, we’re coming out swinging!
Kevin Dennis, CPCE, Owner, Fantasy Sound Event Services
As an industry pro that’s huge on tech and entertainment, we’re going to be keeping an eye on new trends and developments for 2021. Virtual weddings have been introduced, of course, but in this new era of social distancing, it’s high time that we incorporate more technology into amping up the guest experience. Small, in-person events are making a slow return, so it will be interesting to see which entertainment or lighting trends become the new norm.
CeCe Todd, Owner|Principle Designer, CeCe Designs and Events
The biggest positive takeaway from the changes we’ve all experienced in 2020 leading into 2021 is that clients have refocused on what is important. This is a great opportunity as wedding professionals for us to remind them of the importance of a wedding day that meets or exceeds their vision and expectations. People will continue to reduce their guest counts at the beginning of the year, but that does not mean they are reducing the lushness and lavishness of their designs. In our experience, it has been just the opposite. Our clients are still giving us the freedom to create beautiful designs with the same elaborate detail that we have become known for over the past few years.
Kristin Wilson, Owner and CEO, Our DJ Rocks
I’m looking forward to getting back to grass roots everything! Being forced to make major financial cutbacks makes a CEO not only rethink operating expenses and marketing dollars, but also payroll and the value that a team member brings to the culture and to our clients. We are so excited and already seeing big results from innovative, grassroots marketing with social media and using reels to reach new clients. As events continue to build on our calendar, and needing more event staff, we’re also digging in deep to which new applicants really fit the brand and can bring it to life.
We’re looking for top talent and passionate humans to really elevate us in every area.
Leah Weinberg, Owner & Creative Director, Color Pop Events
In 2021, I am looking forward to seeing all of my vendor friends and colleagues in person again at events. You know those memes about people who give hugs for too long and it gets awkward? Yeah, that’s going to be me, and I cannot wait. I’m going to be especially mindful about savoring those moments and never taking them for granted. I am also looking forward to clients who have a renewed sense of joy and happiness about their weddings since 2020 brought them so much uncertainty and grief.
Kylie Carlson, Owner,The Wedding Academy
If you were to think of a wedding in 2019, some general elements typically followed a formula: row seating for the ceremony, grab-and-go hors d’oeuvres, mingling without social distancing, and more. This year completely shifted everything, and couples and industry professionals alike have surprised everyone with avant-garde concepts. Mixologists, table-service catering, and unique rentals are just a few that have found their place, and I’m looking forward to more innovative trends.