Though it's only just begun, the coronavirus pandemic has been one of the most challenging times for the meeting and event industry. Not only has the outbreak forced almost all upcoming events to cancel or postpone, but now many of us are stuck at home with either a little or a lot of extra time on our hands.
I can certainly relate. Along with managing the Aventri blog, one of my main duties at the company is managing our presence at exhibitions and events in North America throughout the year. Now that many of our upcoming events are no longer happening, I'm finding there isn't much to do when it comes to my planner-related responsibilities.
Now many of you are keeping busy rescheduling postponed events or even taking them virtual. But if after that you have some time to kill or if you're already looking for something else to fill your days, then look no further. Inspired by this community forum post on BizBash, here are some suggestions for planners to maximize any downtime they have in order to maintain a feeling of productivity during the coronavirus outbreak.
Look Ahead to Events Happening in Late 2020/Early 2021
I'm sure many planners share the philosophy that it's never too early to start planning. While events later in the spring and summer are still feeling uncertain, there's no reason why you can't skip ahead to later in the year or even early next years. Take this extra time to spruce up your event website, brainstorm extra promotions, call for speaker presentations, or cross some items off your logistics to-do list.
Up Your Professional Development Game
Now is also a great time to brush up on your event planning skills or learn something new. Watch a couple on-demand event planning webinars or a few software tutorials on YouTube (I'm always wanting to learn more about Photoshop, for example). Download and read free industry guides or ebooks, or find free or low-cost online courses. Once event planning comes back in full-swing, you may be able to bring new skills or ideas to the table.
Research Event Providers & Vendors
Ever feel like you're not entirely happy with the tools you're using or the vendor you use for your events year after year? Use any free time you have to discover and research different options or schedule a few product demos. For example, you might just find a better event management software platform, a different venue that better meets your needs or a more affordable A/V provider.
Clean Up Your Email, Desktop, Files, Etc.
When a planner is well-organized, they're better at their jobs. Even though it may not initially feel important, taking a time to go through your inbox, organize your files, update your reports, etc. will help you feel productive and accomplished. Plus I guarantee stuff like this has been on your to-do list for awhile now and keeps getting pushed back due to more important tasks coming up. Now's the time to finally cross it off!
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Get Some Event Inspiration
From the latest F&B and decor trends, to ways to enhance onsite engagement, planners are always on the hunt for new ideas to impress attendees and get noticed in the industry. Use this time to research the hottest trends, discover the newest event technologies, or save event design ideas to your Pinterest board.
Organize a Way to Give Back
No matter where you are in the world, there's likely someone struggling due to economic effects of coronavirus. Whether it's within your circle of friends, your coworkers or others in your industry, brainstorm some ways to give back and make a difference. Some examples include collecting non-perishables for your local food bank, sending food to hospital workers, or donating to a charity in your event host-city.
Consider Sending Thank You Notes or Gifts
Everyone is stressed out or anxious, but it's the little things that can help lift our spirits and make us smile during times like these. From a fellow event planner to your keynote speaker, or even all your attendees, take some time to send them a personal email, a handwritten thank-you note or a small gift to let them know you're thinking of them and are here to help. Not only are you spreading some joy during a difficult time, but you're sure to make a lasting impression.
Obviously, having extra free time in your professional life is not really a major issue in the scheme of things, but it can take a toll on motivation and productivity. Try to turn this difficult time into an opportunity to get some things done that have been on your to-do list for a while or that you always say you never have time for. Once things start to get back to normal, you'll feel more on top of things and ready to get back to your usual busy and chaotic event planner life!
Are you finding that you have a lot more free time after several events were postponed or canceled? What are you doing with extra time in your event planning life? Share in the comments below.