In Any Event 

It’s déjà vu in 2022 for event planners

Maria McHale

We wrote in 2020 and 2021 about how to pivot to virtual events during a pandemic and had high hopes that the topic could be retired in 2022. But the coronavirus and its assorted variants had other ideas and here we are.

So, I checked in with Maria McHale – Marias stick together – for some expert advice on how to continue to cope as an event planner in a persistent pandemic.

McHale, a senior account executive for Moxley Carmichael, has brainstormed, planned and executed dozens of events ranging from open houses to large-scale benefits.

“We work with clients in different industries from commercial events to nonprofit fundraisers,” McHale said. “Across all of these businesses, typical timelines no longer apply, and event planners are scrambling to pivot yet again. However, we advise our clients to think of this as an opportunity for positive change.

“Did you always dislike one aspect of your event but felt tied to tradition? Were you overspending on décor and could redirect those funds to a more compelling speaker? Now is the time stay flexible yet again and still take your events to the next level.”

While the latest variant, known as Omicron, is expected to peak and begin to subside in February, it is still an estimated timeline. Also, it will take time for all of your event’s target audiences to feel comfortable again about gathering in large groups to drink, eat and socialize after spending nearly all of 2020 and 2021 trying to maintain distance.

Businesses and event planners still have to make quick adjustments – and the best way to do that is to have a game plan now.

Maria McHale raises a toast at the 2021 cookie exchange during a small and festive gathering. (Blue Streak photo)

As a seasoned event planner, McHale has the following tips for how to host a successful event amid the continued uncertainty of a pandemic:

  • Choose dates carefully by checking EventCheck Knox. With events moving frequently, make sure no other conflicting events are on the same date.
  • Create a backup plan when you begin structuring your event, so you aren’t scrambling if you need to go virtual or postpone.
  • Consider having a hybrid event with a virtual option and do the planning ahead of time. Not only will it allow attendees to be safe, but it also gives you the option to bring in more attendees than you may have in person.
  • Don’t forget about East Tennessee’s mercurial weather. While in the past you may have easily shifted to a new location indoors, the current situation means that not as many venues are available, especially as everyone tries to catch up in 2022.
  • Local equipment rentals are trying to keep up with demand amid constantly shifting dates and circumstances, but the giant tent you need may not be available on short notice. Be flexible and have various dates as options.
  • Beyond direct communication with your supporters and donors, post frequent updates to social media channels and your website, so that followers can stay up to date.
Last November, with the Delta variant pretty much swept away, Young-Williams Animal Center supporters gathered for “Cause for Paws.” We all want to return to events like this in 2022. (Blue Streak photo)

We will now pivot to the other Maria – the one who writes these blog posts. There is no such thing as overcommunication when it comes to EventCheck Knox. Submit your events HERE or email her at [email protected] with any questions or updates.

Last year, we posted a blog entry titled “It’s déjà vu all over again on EventCheck Knox.” And, as stated earlier, here we are. That post had plenty of helpful information with tips and links about how to pivot and can be read HERE.

McHale is an eternal optimist with a cheerful disposition, so we’ll let her have the final word.

“This will end,” McHale said. “We will get back to gathering again and telling stories about how event planners survived a pandemic and emerged with our sanity still intact more or less. Better days are coming in 2022!”

Maria Cornelius, a writer/editor for Moxley Carmichael, populates the EventCheck Knox calendar. Her event world is sports, so she is ready for this pandemic to end once and for all. Email her with any EventCheck Knox questions at [email protected].

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