After a trying year for event professionals. members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2021 have proven resilience is a key skill in their toolkit. Carolyn Cooper, CMP, DES, Senior Events Manager at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., shares her thoughts about the future of the business events industry.
What has this year of disruption taught you about the industry?
The meetings and events industry’s response to this unprecedented year can be described in one word: resilient. I’m consistently impressed with the resourceful and imaginative solutions my peers are implementing to take their events to a virtual space in thoughtful, effective ways. I think the value of meeting — whether in-person or virtually — has never been more apparent, and our industry is stepping up to deliver a high-quality product regardless of the circumstances, challenges, or limitations that arise. Those of us in the industry already considered “make it work” a motto to live by, but I think we’re seeing that our ability to rise to any and all occasions goes even further than we could have predicted.
How do you see your job changing as a result of the pandemic crisis?
Once moving to virtual events, meeting and event planners had to learn a lot of new technical jargon very quickly. I think my job has changed and will continue to change on that front. Planners are often the go-to people for any and all questions related to the events they are working on, and that will apply to technical questions as well. Planners will be expected to at least know the right questions to ask and where to find the answers. Staying on top of industry trends will become an even more vital part of my job, as the technological capabilities for virtual events already have changed significantly just since March.
How do you see the industry changing as a result of the pandemic?
The industry was already heading in a globalized direction, and I think we will see more of that as we settle into a new, forever-changed “normal.” I think hybrid events will be the new standard in business events, and that we’ll see an increase in fully virtual events as well. During the pandemic, we have been able to expand our audiences and create new pathways for people around the world to connect in meaningful, productive ways. I think it would be a disservice to us and our audiences if we were to stop doing that once we’re able to return to in-person events, and I think our audiences will expect those capabilities to become a regular part of our programming. The pandemic forced us to make these changes, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t changes that will benefit everyone in the long run.