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How Event Planners Can Stay Ahead of the Competition Curve: 14 Best PracticesBlog
In 2001, futurist Ray Kurzweil predicted innovations would double every ten years. “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century–it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).”
Even before the pandemic, change was fast-paced, constant, and unpredictable. Then 2020 hit and the gas pedal sped up the pace of change even more.
In recent years, this constant state of chaos has earned a trendy acronym: VUCA, short for volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous.
As any event planner knows, successfully running a business requires tremendous flexibility and adaptability – anticipating and responding to new trends and finding new solutions to customers’ challenges. Unfortunately, post-pandemic, just managing your company, not to mention staying ahead of the competition curve, has become even more daunting.
With every industry – especially the events industry – experiencing disruption and technological innovation, here’s a look at fourteen best practices planners can use to stay ahead of the competition curve.
1. Adopt a growth mindset
Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck developed the idea of a growth mindset, the belief that skill and intelligence are something that can be developed. While people have inherent qualities and traits, success comes from continual personal development.
The last two years are a prime example of how the event industry has adopted a growth strategy. Rather than focusing on the difficult challenges presented by the pandemic, many have used the opportunity to view the situation more positively as a new opportunity to learn and grow. And that kind of mindset has helped many event planners move ahead of the competition.
2. Embrace disruption and innovation
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
It’s tempting to get comfortable doing the same thing that has proven to work for years (aka a “fixed” mindset.)
But companies that stay ahead of the competition in the events industry have an innate desire for ongoing improvement and aren’t afraid to uproot and disrupt the way business is done. You don’t have to look far to companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon to see the benefits of embracing innovation.
One idea to encourage a spirit of innovation and disruption is simply challenging internal team members to share better solutions. At Prismm, we make it fun with weekly internal competitions or brainstorms to solve an event planning challenge.
3. Set a customer-first strategy
HubSpot defines a customer-first strategy as “an event planning business plan centered around meeting customer needs and creating delightful brand experiences. These plans use special services or features that enhance the company’s value in the customer’s eyes. This builds a mutually beneficial relationship between the customer and the company, making all stakeholders happy in the process.”
Embracing a customer-first mindset requires frequent and open two-way communication, from formal initiatives like focus groups and advisory boards to informal feedback collected from customer service or social media.
For example, Prismm hosts regular think tanks with venues, planners, and caterers, runs software tests with customers and continually solicits input from our community. Strategies like these, combined with a strong customer service team, can keep companies responsive to customers’ changing needs and expectations, giving them a leg up on the competition.
4. Understand the generation shift
Generation Z – those individuals born between the 1990s and early 2010s – make up about one-quarter of the U.S. population. They are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation and are also on track to be the most well-educated generation. In addition, they have come of age during significant events, including the Great Recession, climate change, gun violence, gender equality, and the pandemic, among other highly influential events.
Just as important, they have also never lived in a world where the Internet didn’t exist. Gen Z’ers primarily rely on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat as their mediums for news, media, and entertainment. They spend 3+ hours on mobile watching video – more than any other activity.
With the rise of this digitally native group, to stay ahead of the competition, event planners will have to embrace authentic and personal messaging and leverage the generation’s tech-savvy skills, including the rise of gaming and Metaverse-based experiences.
5. Let technology work for you
No longer relegated only to back-end management, technology has become integral to every aspect of the business. Whether automating basic tasks or leveraging data to unearth previously inaccessible insights, technology can help event planners be more productive, efficient, and informed.
And being able to use technology to respond, collaborate, and communicate with event clients better, faster, and more personably will set your business apart from other competitors.
6. Find a gap and expand your offer/solutions
Another key to staying ahead of the competition is to create a list of competitors, what they offer, and their strengths and weaknesses. Then, combine what has been learned about the competition with the feedback and insights gleaned from embracing a customer-first strategy. Often, there is a gap – an important customer needs or want that isn’t met by anyone else in the industry.
Finding a solution or answer to these identified gaps is not only an effective strategy to expand your offer/solutions but also a unique value proposition that gives your customers a good reason to come to you instead of a rival.
Several years ago, as the gaming industry began adopting and embracing virtual reality (VR), our development team saw an opportunity to use the tech to redefine event and meeting venue site visits – and that’s how Prismm VISION was born!
7. Deliver on commitments and promises
Securing a new customer – especially one using a competitor – is always a great feeling. But keeping your company from being the one losing customers to the competition means never forgetting any promises made during the sales process.
An organization or individual that’s good with words and charm can convince customers to give them a shot. But it’s companies that deliver on their promises and commitments that win – and keep –customers’ hearts and soar above the competition.
Just like the adage, “actions speak louder than words,” keeping customers happy means delivering on commitments and promises made and continuing to do so over the long-term – something we take seriously at Prismm.
8. Have a future roadmap
While it’s important to stay adaptable and flexible to changing market conditions, it’s just as important to have a road map that visualizes where you want to be in one, three, and five years.
And the vision shouldn’t just live in your head or that of your company’s president or CEO. We’ve found displaying a large whiteboard in our development office provides a visual reminder of timelines, key initiatives, and ideas to keep the entire organization aligned on achieving our future goals.
Being open and honest about all aspects of your business operation has numerous advantages for your company. Customers understand what the company stands for. Employees feel like their work matters and work together to innovate or fix problems faster. Everyone feels invested and involved in the success.
10. Step up your marketing
There’s a good chance other businesses are vying for the same customers as you. But that doesn’t mean your company is like every one of them. Identifying a unique value proposition and communicating that story through your marketing efforts are effective ways to move ahead of the competition.
Stepping up your marketing efforts could be as simple as polishing your organization’s website and social media profiles to include images or videos from your latest events. Or perhaps it’s leveling up your event floorplans into realistic 3D walk-throughs that make a client feel as if they’re immersed in the space.
11. Be the best employer
In thinking about competition in business, this may not seem like the most obvious tactic. But your solutions and products are only as good as your team.
Skilled, motivated employees are the foundation of a vibrant, growing business. Being the best employer means attracting and keeping employees happy by creating a collaborative work atmosphere, ensuring they are invested in the company’s success, and having a respected voice.
We create an open culture through regular team brainstorming meetings and weekly calls with company executives to share new ideas or ask questions.
12. Prioritize and reward creativity
Staying competitive is a product of continually developing innovative ideas driven by creativity.
At Prismm, we encourage and reward creativity from our employees and customers. For example, we crowd-source floorplan examples our customers have created, rewarding them with fun giveaways and prizes for sharing. The practice keeps the creative juices flowing and gives users new ideas for using the Prismm platform – which is just one more way they stand out from the competition.
13. Keep up to date with the pulse of the industry
Keeping ahead of the competition means understanding overall industry topics and trends.
Read industry publications, blogs, online newsletters, and research reports, attend important industry conferences like IMEX, or experience other conferences and networking opportunities outside the event industry to identify macro trends that propel you ahead of the competition.
14. Don’t forget to keep stepping into the customer’s shoes
Too often, the day-to-day operations of an event planning business mean disconnecting from valuable customer interactions – making it easy to lose sight of what clients need to succeed or the challenges they’re facing.
Providing ongoing support is one strategy that keeps that valuable interface and makes customers successful. For Prismm, in-person training events with customers, access to an open 24/7 live chat, and having a six-week certification course keep our feet firmly planted in our customer’s shoes.
As each day passes, new businesses emerge, technology changes, and the marketplace becomes more crowded than it already was. Staying ahead of the competition may seem challenging, but as shown, there are opportunities to gain a competitive advantage.
Contact us for a demo to learn more about how Prismm’s event planning platform benefits your business.