December 30, 2021

Event Planning in 2022: Ask These Questions When Choosing an Event Partner

As we head into the new year, choosing an event partner who meets the needs of an evolving industry is critical. Get started by asking these five questions when choosing your next event partner.

There will always be core components that go into creating an event—maintaining your budget, knowing your audience, and engagement are key. But a lot has changed in these last two years both in how we interact with each other and how the world of events has responded to those changes. Today, events are rarely just in person or just virtual but as combination. This hybrid/ parallel experience model means that as we head into 2022, considering the myriad shifts in the industry is a critical part of any quality event strategy—especially when choosing your next event partner.

To help with the selection process, here are five questions every event planner should ask when deciding who to collaborate with on their next event.

  1. How did your agency respond to the pandemic?

The impact of the pandemic has been hard on everyone, but the event industry was especially hard-hit. Gathering is the most fundamental element of an event, and when isolations and lockdowns ensued, events were momentarily brought to a standstill. By asking this question, you will discover how an agency handled the effects of the pandemic and its agility and creativity in dealing with a complicated situation, along with its culture and goodwill.

Events and experiential campaigns are complex, finding the right agency partner you can count on in any situation is vital for your brand’s success. Look for an event agency that came out of the pandemic with innovation and a continued drive to bring people together. Transitioning from in-person to virtual/ hybrid events involves many moving parts, but how your partner handled uncertainties and responded to client needs is important to understand what made the pivot successful.

One of those companies is VDA, Inc which recognized early on that they had to devise new strategies outside of in-person experiences. Known for its ability to create highly customized live experiences, VDA took these strengths and brought them to the digital realm with VDA Virtual, a state-of-the-art 3D virtual event platform for online conferences, fundraising events, trade shows, and more.

Besides being an innovative and creative event agency, VDA also has a reputation for a strong company culture and goodwill. To that end, while other companies were forced to lay off or furlough employees, VDA has kept its team working and intact. Read on to learn about their success story.

  1. What is your process when designing and producing events?

Innovations in the way events are hosted have come a long way, so knowing the process your prospective event partner takes is a part of getting on the same page. Find an experienced agency that takes their responsibilities as industry professionals seriously so that they can guide your thinking along successful paths. Getting to know how they approach achieving your goals through experiential design is an excellent way to gain an insight into their creative process that goes beyond conveying concepts and bringing ideas to life. The answers will help you gain a better understanding of their expectations coming in as an event partner, how to craft feedback and collaborate effectively.

A strong working relationship helps to ensure a smooth experience from start to finish. Ask the agency what communication techniques will be employed, what your involvement will look like, and what reporting tools you will have available.

Additionally, this question can provide insight into an organization’s ability to adapt. Partnering with true experts means not only staying current with the latest technology, trends, and times to remain relevant, but also pushing the existing limits of experiential event design and production.

  1. Do you have any other complementary capabilities?

An experiential marketing agency should be able to draw on a strong depth of knowledge and expertise. Choosing a partner with capabilities beyond creative design can help give your event the fully customized edge you’ve been looking for. Each agency offers its own blend of creative talents. While some firms focus exclusively on creative treatments, others may have both internal creative teams as well as production divisions. Generally, companies with additional internal capabilities provide more technical expertise than companies that are strictly creative. For example, fabrication and production expertise display an understanding of the creative process that extends beyond design, encompassing knowledge of materials as well as fabrication and logistics.

It is also important to find an event partner that has experience running and creating the type of events you are looking for. Do they offer full hybrid conference production services, or do they only design small corporate events? The company may design and build trade show booths, but do they also offer expertise in experiential marketing strategies? It’s crucial to understand an agency’s core competencies to determine whether they are a good fit for your business and your next event.

  1. What is your approach to innovation and staying cutting edge?

Is your future event partner pushing the envelope of the new event landscape or does it rely on traditional methods? The agency’s response will not only give you a greater understanding of their commitment to creativity, innovation, and staying on top of trends, but it will also give you a better sense of their processes and working style. Take note of the agency’s forward-thinking attitude before you decide to work with them. Learn about their trend-casting procedures and how they integrate the latest innovations into their creative processes. Do they engage with other industry focused events? Do they maintain a strong belief in growing their team’s knowledge and staying current?

Change is a surety in life, but with change comes opportunity, event pros working in an ever-evolving event industry must be willing to embrace the opportunity as it unfolds. Look for a partner that cares for and invests in their employees. For instance, members of the VDA team are always encouraged to continue their education in experiential marketing, design, event technology, UX design, and coding. Having a team with skill sets in a wide range of event verticals, VDA quickly adapts to the industry landscape to meet clients’ needs. Customization is a key part of VDA’s fully integrated approach to both hybrid/ parallel experiences and in-person events. VDA’s team of executives, creative event designers, producers, and production managers create one-of-a-kind brand experiences that generate engagement, drive high ROI, and spark meaningful connections.

  1. What is the course of action in case of emergency?

Catastrophe can strike at any time—whether it’s the weather, illness, injury, or violence. Seasoned event pros know that creating an actionable plan leading up to an event is critical to ensure attendee and employee safety, which is why working with a trusted event agency partner is so vital. Select a partner who has a strong track record of extensive experience that is backed by detailed case studies. Inquire about how they dealt with difficult situations in the past, what went wrong, how they solved the problems, what they learned from the experience, and how they revamped their processes to prevent such errors in the future. During your selection process, having these conversations with your potential partner can help you determine if they are a good match for your event, your business, and the goals that you are looking to achieve.

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