A Journey From the Air Force to the Event Planning Course – Part II

What changes in events do you anticipate we’ll see in the next 5-10 years?

I see many areas where I think events will change in the next 5 to 10 years. Our population is aging and many of the people attending events today will soon be retiring. This means we need to market our events to a new demographic who are heavy users of technology and social media. Conversely, we still want to keep our more seasoned participants engaged.

Technology is changing so quickly that the way we deliver events will evolve from year to year.  While hybrid events will enable those who absolutely cannot attend an event to participate, I think the value added from face to face interactions will never eliminate the need for live events.  In person events create stronger lasting relationships.

Still, virtual participants need to be engaged. Simply having a video link to a speaker doesn’t accomplish this. As much effort needs to be directed into planning hybrid program as it does into on-site experiences if you want your virtual participants to be engaged. Both live and hybrid  events need to be more experiential. Gone are the days of a booth with a freebie of some kind and brochures for distribution.”

Where do you look for inspiration when doing creative planning?

I read many of the event industry publications, such as Meetings and Incentive Travel, Smart Meetings and Convene Magazine. I also attend many innovative industry conferences and look to them and my colleagues for ideas and inspiration. I’m constantly learning and exploring many ways to save my clients’ money at the same time!”

What advice do you have for the next generation of event planners?

“The biggest piece of advice I would give to the next generation of planners is to network, volunteer and learn! I have met so many wonderful people in this industry through the associations that I volunteer for. I’m currently the Vice President of Education for the Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners (CanSPEP), a member of the Membership Committee for the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), as well a member of the holiday party organizing committee for the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE). 

I also belong to Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and Senior Planners Industry Network (SPIN).  I don’t think that up and coming planners need to belong to as many associations as I do, but they need to find one or two that cater to their niche in the market and get involved. We have so many wonderful, motivated leaders in this industry that I am proud to say I met through my involvement in these associations. They all offer top notch education that will help them stay current too!”

What is your biggest challenge as a leader in events?

“One of the biggest challenges is working with events that require sponsorships.  Many events today wouldn’t be able to continue without the support of their sponsors. Many sponsors have less and less sponsorship dollars available, yet more and more organizations are asking them for help. You have to demonstrate how the promotional opportunities at the event are valuable to them and stand out from others vying for their ad dollars. 

Keep in mind that more work has to go into maintaining your existing sponsors than trying to find new ones. Don’t forget about them once you’ve received their cheque. Introduce yourself to them once they have agreed to sponsor your event and maintain a relationship. Try to find them a mentor for the on-site portion of your event who can introduce them to participants during networking periods.  Follow up with them after the event and see what they liked as well as what suggestions they have for next year. When your sponsors are happy, they will be first in line to sign up for next year.”

What area of your business has grown the most in recent years?

“I would have to say it is a greater focus on social media marketing as well as writing our bi-weekly newsletter and monthly blog.  It has been so much fun to take my IT skills to the next level and has definitely helped me develop superior programs for my clients. Writing a regular blog means I have to keep up to date with current trends too!”

What motivates you?

I have two headstrong, independent daughters, Rachel, 20, and Victoria, 17.  I want to be an inspiration to them to show them that hard work, dedication to your industry and loving what you do is a fulfilling way to live their lives. And, of course, I want them to be proud of me!”

Please share, how people can find out more about you and your business?

I have an excellent white paper, called “7 Steps to a Successful Conference” that is free to download on my website: www.sgpconferences.com

I also publish a monthly blog and a bi-weekly newsletter which you can subscribe to today when you sign up for the white paper.

Lastly, you can call me today for a complimentary discovery call at (647) 219 3866 and mention that you heard me here on this podcast.  I’d love to explore how SGP can help your organization save money, reduce stress and deliver a great event!”

Contact Susan Phillips and her team today and benefit from their decades of experience producing professional conferences and events. 

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