HTS Highlights: The Changing Role of Meeting & Event Planners

“The industry has changed more these past 6 months than ever in our lives,” our very own CEO, Tim O’Malley stated in opening remarks. He was joined by a panel of industry professionals which included NHS Global Events President Sean Lynch, Michelle Durpetti Events Chief Planner Michelle Durpetti, and Huron Consulting Group Meetings & Events Manager Matthew Bohn. They each shared their thoughts on a variety of questions from a sent out survey. Topics discussed included virtual events, pricing, and tips for future or current event planners during this difficult time. 

When discussing the future of meeting and event planners, all four professionals agreed that hybrid models are not going to end anytime soon. Furthermore, the question was asked on how to generate excitement using hybrid models, so participants don’t get “zoomed out.” Lynch says the key is to broadcast these events by using production value. This component includes assets such as lighting and sound that were crucial before the pandemic. Now, It’s important more than ever for an event to have fluidity and simplicity. “Remember it’s about the audience, the right content in front of the right people,” stated Bohn. A useful tactic used by Huron Consulting Group during a virtual event was to incorporate a Q&A in the live chat. They also created polls that would keep the audience engaged and had the sales team speak with people on the chat by responding to what they had to say. 

Another engagement tactic that was discussed was “how to layout the experience” virtually. For example, In terms of a gala, if there was a certain meal, beverage, or gift that would be provided in-person, that same commodity can be enjoyed virtually. It can be sent out through mail or participants can have the ingredients to create it on their own and be able to some-what enjoy the same type of experience. 

The conversation continued by discussing pricing and business appeal. “Everyone’s budgets have been slashed,” stated Bohn. He mentions revenue-driving and the consciousness for outpricing and the need to work within budgets during this time. Lynch adds to not be discouraged, “value is 10% of what it was, but buyers are still getting high quality. Event planners are still worth the hours they put in.” He then emphasizes to be proud of your product and the services you’re selling. If there was one aspect of business appeal that was mentioned by every person in the panel was to have clear and updated websites. 

O’Malley ended the discussion by asking what qualities are needed to work in the industry. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” Durpetti stated. During this time it’s necessary to continue learning & cultivating communication, working on professional development, and leveraging strengths. 

Written By Marla Chavez Garcia