One of the top challenges event professionals face is finding time for continual learning. In a fast-moving and constantly changing industry, it’s vital to keep your knowledge current with the latest insights from publications, conferences, podcasts and event blogs. One of the best and simplest ways to stay effective is simply to ask a variety of event professionals—planners and others who’ve been deeply enmeshed in the industry—for guidance.

When seven experienced event pros, most of them members of the Women in Event Tech community, were asked, “If you could give event planners/marketers one piece of advice, what would that be?,” the answers were enlightening.

Though each answer was unique, a few interesting themes did emerge:

  • Look outside your industry for new ideas and inspiration.
  • Optimize attendee engagement and incorporate selected guests during the event planning phase. They know what appeals to them and can draw on a variety of experiences with other vendors and gatherings.
  • In order to create fun, have fun. While organizing an event is a lot of work, it doesn’t need to be drudgery. Making the process fun for employees will more likely lead to fun for the guests.
  • Your people matter more than your venue. While your choice of location and facilities is certainly important, it’s the expertise and hospitality of your team that ultimately creates positive, memorable guest experiences.

Here are the full answers from the group.

Dahlia El Gazzar, Tech Evangelist, DAHLIA+ Agency:

“Co-create your events, experiences and content. Don’t depend solely on  your internal team to come up with everything. Bring in people who are not related to your industry, or who know your attendees, and have them help you co-create new areas, session formats and ideas for your events. You are competing with a far broader range of different experiences now, so you need to cater to your event participants differently.”

Corey Fennessy, Creative Director, DAHLIA + Agency:

“Have more fun! From the pre-event marketing to during and after the event—think about how you can inject some fun and humor into what you do. While not everything can be light-hearted, just thinking about it can help make decisions that will have a great impact on your attendees. Creating fun experiences at your event will have attendees energized and keep their attention fresh.”

Kahshanna Evans, Founder, Kissing Lions Public Relations:

“Innovate, lead, refine, design, co-create and build based on the core dream, concept or mission of the brand or cause behind any given event. Sure, use research and metrics to help intimately understand what delights, inspires and motivates guests, but information is nothing without allowing a passionate team to artfully apply their expertise and allowing them to add the final human touches.”

Stephanie Selesnick, President, International Trade Information, Inc.:

“Communicate personally. You still have to talk to your clients, on the phone or face-to-face, no matter how cool all of the technology is.”

Pauline Kwasniak, Founder, Female Event Planners:

“Invest in the training of your staff and hiring the right people—the people who are in love with this business and care about the others. Love your clients and you will never go wrong. People will forget what they saw. People will forget what you told them. But they will never forget how you made them feel. Focus on making people feel good. This is how you provide a truly luxurious or first class service events service.”

Donella Muzik, Brand Manager, Concierge and Experience Designer, Muzik and Muzik:

“Look to adjacent industries for inspiration, and don’t hesitate to use emotion to engage an audience!”

Paula Rowntree, Head of Events & Experience, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)”

“Future-focus your surveys and data. So many event planners are still following the traditional path of post-event surveys that focus on what’s been. A simple shift in focus to create three stages of surveying—registration, during event and post event—with questions that focus on the future and on gathering more relevant data on the delegate experience, will help you create a more personalized experience for attendees.”

Editor’s Note: This story originally published on May 17, 2019. Some answers have been edited for clarity and conciseness.