Planning Ahead in 2021 – how to prepare for the unexpected

Interface Worldwide - Planning for 2021Navigating the turbulent seas that were 2020 seemed bad enough, but 2021 has not provided us with the clear path to recovery we were hoping for. There was a bit of us, just a little bit, that thought midnight would strike on the 31 December and we would magically be transported into a 2021 where we were all back to normal.

As a business we have been keeping busy with our commercial fit outs and branding; in offices, retail and more, not forgetting the rise of virtual events. We are still looking forward to getting back to live events in 2021, nothing beats meeting people face to face and networking in a room rather than over screens. We hope to again see the landmark industry figures that we saw in 2019; a direct spend of £70 billion, accounting for over 50% of spend in the UK visitor economy, providing over 700,000 jobs and generating in excess of £165 billion in trade facilitated at business events.

The events Industry is such a vital part of the economy; we were involved in the European ‘COVID safe’ events that did go ahead last year, and they were great! We know our clients want to plan for events and conferences this year so they are ready for when we can get back to live events and realising the business growth that comes from them. We know that this can only be done by remaining agile, reacting as quickly as possible, and keeping on top of all the latest guidelines.

Planning when timelines are far from defined can be tough, so we thought we would share our top tips for how to prepare for the unexpected and plan when you can’t plan!

  1. Regularly Define (or redefine) your Goals – Identify specifically what you are trying to accomplish from your event or marketing activity and do it again. Regularly checking your direction and ensuring that you adjust activity to meet the new goal. If your main activity has been stopped what are the alternative platforms that you can capitalise on to meet those goals short term.
  2. Find your Dependable routes to Market – Even when nothing seems certain there will be elements of brand building activity that can be depended on to remain unchanged. Identify what these are and focus on them as your foundation marketing and sales activity. Plan for activity in the less certain channels and you can add these in as they become possible. Meaning you are ready to move quickly but you are not reliant on activity that might not materialise.
  3. Don’t Stop – In uncertain times there can be a tendency to shut down and wait. Don’t allow yourself to become indecisive, especially if you are assessing new opportunities and data. Develop a few likely scenarios and their implications, based on the data you have. This will help you figure out what actions you can take immediately that will make sense irrespective of which scenario plays out.
  4. Develop Mini Plans – You may have been used to short, medium, and long-term projections and strategies. Instead try 2 or 3 mini plans, based on your potential scenarios. This will keep you from getting overwhelmed with too many eventualities and from losing momentum when something changes. Think more checklists with 2 or 3 steps over a short timeline. If one plan isn’t used at all you haven’t wasted too much time crafting it.
  5. Acting Amid Uncertainty – This is not as easy for everyone; becoming comfortable with being unable to figure everything out ahead of time is a key skill right now. Evaluating the information, you have and moving forward, with incomplete information, in the knowledge that you may have to adapt as you go. Be open to new solutions and remember to use your instincts and experience to move forward quickly.
  6. Regularly Share – Communication is key in a fast-changing environment, regularly update the team with the direction you are heading in so that they move with you. By using your mini plans, you’re never more than a couple of steps away from reaching an interim objective, the small wins count! This is a time to gauge progress, adapt and continue.

While this is broken down in to separate points, they won’t always happen in order, often there will be cross over. We may not have chosen this unfamiliar situation, but the skills we develop from this will help us be ready for anything in years to come. Hopefully these tips can help you better flex your plans and still strategically deliver results no matter what gets thrown at you in 2021 and beyond.

If you want help in bringing your vision for an exhibition stand or a branded space to life contact our design team today for an initial conversation, we are here and ready to adapt with you.