Lately, I’ve been talking to my events industry colleagues about “reimagining.” While the idea has always been part of my business — I chose Events Reimagined™ as the tagline for Make It Happen Management™ — it has become more relevant than ever during the pandemic. When COVID-19 brought the industry to an abrupt halt last year, I was faced with event cancellations, money-back requests, and lots of uncomfortable questions about the immediate and longer-term future. So what did I do? I started reimagining. Adapting to change is something that I learned as a child, and it’s very applicable in the events world. Think of when sudden rain forces us to improvise at outdoor events or when lockdowns require us to find creative ways to bring people together to socialize or do business. I believe that welcoming change as a positive challenge is the key to reimagining what’s possible in any situation. And it’s the way to reimagine the future of the events industry as we start to emerge from the pandemic. One of the tactics that got me through 2020 was to open up my idea of what events are and can be. That started when I found myself helping to run a COVID-19 vaccination center in New York City, responsible for the flow of people throughout the process from arrival and screening to departure. What I realized was that my strategic events experience is very transferable; it allowed me to optimize operations and increase the amount of daily vaccinations from 250 to more than 750, something that brought me great meaning. I now call the vaccine center The Most Important Event of our Lifetime, and I’ve expanded my definition of events to include healthcare. Another important “reimagining” from the pandemic is related to how people connect and find meaning in shared experiences. Traditionally, companies have conducted meetings, conferences, and team-building events in person; after all, networking and “face time” have always been integral to doing business and building relationships. That changed suddenly during work-from-home, leaving us with the challenge of figuring out how to keep workers connected and engaged. Social events with friends and family — weddings, milestone birthdays, celebrations like Pride, everything — also stopped without warning. We were left to navigate staying in touch and sharing important life moments in a time when simple human contact was dangerous. How could we do that? Was it even possible? Well, as you probably guessed, I was up for the challenge and started reimagining. I thought about the importance of connecting with others in an everyday sense, as well as at work and socially. We all depend on shared experiences to give purpose and meaning to our lives. The COVID-19 lockdowns, however, meant I had to innovate and find new possibilities, namely virtual events. The possibilities for virtual events are endless, thanks to technology. I started by launching Chill & Connect virtual wine and cocktail tastings, which bring people together to enjoy a beverage and learn about wine or mixology while staying safely at home. Curated wine or spirits kits were shipped to the participants, who logged on to taste with a sommelier or mixologist, as well as to simply enjoy an evening of lively conversation with others. Reinventing the traditional meet-up at the bar for our locked-down lives was a much-needed salve. But the longevity of Chill & Connect will extend far beyond the pandemic. That’s because virtual events give us the ability to meaningfully and cost-effectively connect with friends and colleagues across the country and the globe. As we look to the future, I believe the events industry can and will emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever; I even refer to what’s coming as our own version of The Roaring Twenties. We just need to expand our definition of what events are, focus on transferable skills, and get creative. For example, why not approach the return of vaccinated employees to the workplace as an event? Companies will need to build and enforce Duty of Care plans, and events professionals have the necessary skills to seamlessly facilitate this kind of process. So let’s think of ourselves as “Reimagineers.” With that mindset, together we can all build the future, one event at a time. If you’re an events professional looking to partner and collaborate, or someone interested in creating a celebration of your own, or corporate event reimagined to be COVID-19–safe, I’d love to hear from you. Visit our website at Follow us: @MakeItHappenmgmt



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Make It Happen Mgmt, David Landgraf

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