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.
Now in its final week, here are the last 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, part 2 and part 3.
Tommy Waters, Senior EventCoordinator, The Renaissance
I’m positive that there is a huge windfall for everyone in the wedding industry that will come next year. There are a lot of couples out there that are hesitant, more than any other time I’ve ever seen in my more than 20 years in the industry. When that dam breaks, we will all be busy with excited and relieved couples looking to plan one of the happiest days of their lives. And we will all be right there to help make it possible. I’ve created proposals and toured (at The Renaissance) so many couples that are all ready to go, ready to sign, ready to get started planning ... but the threat of low headcounts, city/state mandates, and contractual obligations are slowing them down from doing just that. When that threat is removed, and it is going to happen, we will all be in a very good place—doing what we love and making every minute count!
Janice Carnevale, Owner, Bellwether Events
I am looking forward to a return to a focus on the guest experience in 2021. Our industry sometimes gets a bad rap for ideas like swans in pools, and I think 2021 couples (and beyond) will want to take that time, energy, and budget and reorient it to making their guests feel loved, appreciated, and safe. In the immediate future, guest lists will be smaller—either due to government restrictions or decreased travel on the part of the guests. This will allow couples to invest more into gracious hospitality for the guests that do attend in person. Weddings can be personalized to reflect the couple getting married, but the details can be customized to the guests in attendance. Guests will always remember the way the hosting couple made them feel while at the celebration, and that should be embraced.
Sandy Hammer, Co-Founder & CMO, Allseated
We are looking ahead with a positive attitude to 2021! We are really hoping to see the return of in-person events as we miss our industry peers who we really consider our family and close friends. And of course, we are hoping to see the pressure of entire event community’s financial situation improve.
As a tech company, we are beyond excited to see the advancement of technology and how it has taken over the world. I actually feel incredibly proud that as an industry, we are leading the way in virtual events powered by incredible technology. Augmented and virtual reality will be the next big part of our growth as an industry and our platform will be leading the way!
David E. Merrell, CEO/ creative director, AOO Events, Inc.
COVID-19 has opened up the possibility of more virtual events. Largely due to the fact that we were forced into virtual events being the only way you could celebrate and connect, the tools that existed for virtual events have had a healthy round of practice and adjustment. It is apparent that all of us are desiring that time when we can meet and celebrate again in person. When it does come back, I believe that there will be a place for virtual elements within many of the live events, as there is a value for including a larger audience. Hybrid events will become commonplace for corporations in the future!
Laura Maddox, CWP, Owner, Magnolia Celebrates
I truly think that the service industry has heightened the guest experience in a way that we will not go away from. Chef-attended stations instead of buffets, more bartenders, fewer people at a table, innovation of new outdoor/indoor spaces, and so much more!