Along with everyone else in the travel and hospitality industries, we have certainly struggled to stay afloat in the past year. Covid-19 hit us hard and fast.
"Pivot" has become a very popular word in our industry. I have seen agency owners lose their businesses and I've seen agency owners change their businesses completely. I've also seen friends and colleagues whom I've respected for many years forced out of roles they excelled at, simply due to lack of business. Nobody saw this coming.
Many planners have taken on the role of "virtual" meeting planners. I excel at using technology and did consider it. But, there are several reasons why I decided not to pivot my business in this direction:
1. I LOVE Planning Travel-Related Meetings, Incentive Trips and Events. Yes - I use technology a TON in what I do. And, I will continue to adapt to new advancements and enhancements in technology that help me to add value to my clients' events. But, I will not make this 100% of what I offer. When I entered this industry over 20 years ago, I fell in love. I fell in love with the creativity, the people, the travel and the A-Z process of planning an event. This is what I have trained my entire career to do.
2. I wholeheartedly believe that there is no substitute for Face to Face interaction. Virtual should be used as an enhancement to in-person events. It's a way to reach those who are unable to make it to an event. Focus is an issue for me personally when attending a virtual anything. Plus, there are SO MANY virtual invites these days. It's mind boggling! I attended an in-person conference in the Fall (safely) and it truly reminded me of what it's like to actually come away from an event with valuable take-aways, with useful connections and with memories that will last.
3. Instead of changing my business, I choose to use this time to improve. Training, enhanced company procedures, new visions for the future, enhancing skills and more.
4. If I sell my clients 100% virtual events, am I encouraging them to move away from face to face events? I believe in the value of in-person events. So, why should I sell something that I don't believe in? During Covid-19, virtual was the only option. I get that. There are tons of technology companies who have been able to step up and fulfill this need. My company is not a technology company. So, I leave that to the experts. And, when my clients are ready to return to face to face, those are the companies I will use to produce hybrid events, allowing those who cannot attend in person to still "attend."
5. When clients are ready to book their meetings, incentive trips and events again, they will look to us as event experts, not virtual experts.