“May you live in interesting times,” is a phrase often cited as an old Chinese proverb. I looked up its origin to find that it is neither Chinese nor a proverb. It appears to be one of three parts to a curse (the other two being “May you come to the attention of those in authority” and “May the gods give you everything you ask for”.) But what caught my eye was when it was said by Robert Kennedy in a speech in Cape Town in 1966, when he added, “Like it or not we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty, but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.”
We’re all quite aware that we live in times of danger and uncertainty, but when we look back on this period years from now, we will also note that it was marked by intense creativity and innovation, as our industry transformed more dramatically – and quickly – than at any time in recent history. Virtual events have opened up an entirely new distribution channel for us, and the constant uncertainty of a changing landscape made the need for trusted advisors in our field more important than ever before. Event professionals have forever been clamoring for a seat at the table where decisions are made; for the past two years we’ve not only been AT that table, but we’re the ones everyone else at the table is looking at for advice.
As I write this, the Omicron variant is blazing through the world at warp speed, and to many of us, it feels like we will never get off this merry-go-round of nightmares. I know many of us are burnt out. I know how badly we’re yearning to be on solid ground for more than a few weeks at a time. However, I am here to say that this is the beginning of the end. I’ll be sharing more Omicron insights and industry predictions in our State of the Industry webinar on January 19th, but for now, I want to pause and reflect on what we’ve accomplished over the past year to help set us up for success in 2022 and beyond.
In 2021, ELI continued to lead the way in helping the event industry adapt to the constant changes being thrown at us, by curating new resources, sharing key insights and strategies, and developing training content to drive the upskilling needed to continue to prove the value of our events, our jobs, and our teams. We set a blistering pace in 2020, and haven’t taken our foot off the gas pedal since.
- As industry roles shifted, we launched 4 new Certificate Courses: Pandemic On-Site Protocol, Hybrid & Virtual Event Director, Advanced Event Design & Strategy, and a CMP Exam Prep Course.
- We had 4,239 event professionals register for our courses, 3,667 of which passed their exams to earn digital credentials.
- 155 organizations set up team learning plans for over 1,050 people, with groups ranging in size from 3-65.
- We launched 2 new conferences: the Business, Design & Strategy Summit in June, and the Event Agency Growth Summit in December, featuring over 60 speakers, 34 of which are C-suite leaders of their organizations.
- In June we rolled out a curated sponsorship division, creating dynamic sponsor partnerships with 15 companies, including Array, Bizzabo, Buzzcast, Cadence, Convene, Encore, Hopin, Hubilo, Redstone Agency, Socio, Swapcard, Twine, Unbridled and the Vibe Agency.
- In September we released the Event Professional’s Guidebook to In-Person & Hybrid Meetings, Events & Conferences, a free eBook with 30 articles, templates, best practices and other resources, which has become an indispensable resource for over 1,000 planners.
- 9,930 people attended our 13 webinars (averaging 764 per webinar) which featured 43 expert speakers from inside and outside the event industry. Topics included On-Site Covid Testing, Upskilling & Talent Development, Contract Updates, Risk Management, Vaccine Passes, DEI, Hybrid RFPs and more.
- Our Membership Library added 38 new videos, including our Event Tech Test Drives, which featured curated demos of 11 virtual event tech platforms; a Trusted Advisor blog series; and downloadable guides on Duty of Care, Masking Requirements, Covid Testing, and other topics. As a result, our membership doubled from a year ago.
It’s said that we overestimate what we can accomplish in a day, but underestimate what we can accomplish in a year, and that certainly feels accurate from our perspective.
To be sure, 2021, like 2020, was incredibly stressful for us, like it’s been for everyone. Every time we think we’re out of the woods, another surge would scuttle our hopes for an end to this madness. On a day-to-day basis, it can feel overwhelming. We can’t control COVID, and the havoc it wreaks on our plans, but we can control how we respond to it, and we focus on absolutely nailing that response.
In the end, for all the work we’re doing learning new skills and facing down new challenges, we will come out of this stronger, more resilient, and more valuable to our clients and stakeholders.
Here’s to a successful 2022, and an event industry full of thriving, vibrant and innovative professionals designing, planning, and executing outstanding events.