Interview with Amy Devlin, Senior Director of Strategy, George P. Johnson

Kabir Uppal
• June 17, 2021
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his article is part of our new Future of Events 2021 Series which will interview a mix of event organizers, consultants, thought leaders, and other event professionals responsible for overseeing events put on by their organization. Our goal with this series is to help event organizers best prepare for the future of events.

The following is an interview we recently had with Amy Devlin, Senior Director of Strategy, George P. Johnson.

What are the top trends that will shape the events space in 2021?

AD: I recently saw a list of the top 10 things that will never be the same after 2020. On that list were big things and small things. Big things like permanent work-from-anywhere flexibility and small things like blowing out candles on a birthday cake. The list was made in good humor but as strategists and planners in our industry there’s a truth under it: everything has changed. There are a myriad of trends and thought provoking POVs on what will shape 2021 but the most interesting trends, in my opinion, are the ones rooted in human centricity. Events that succeed in 2021 will treat attendee time and attention as a premium, creating more purposeful and productive experiences.

What are the top mistakes you see organizations make with events?

AD: It’s important to step back and recognize that over the past year our relationship to technology, place, space, and each other have reshaped us. These external factors influence our behaviors, needs and decisions. For events and experiences, trying to go back to the way things used to be is a mistake. The future is much more interesting if we look at things from the attendee point of view. Start by going back to your audiences to uncover what really matters to them now. This is where good stories and journeys begin.

What are the keys to a successful event?

AD: Most of us probably experienced an event at the beginning of 2020 that was a lift and shift of a physical event put in a digital format. It probably felt unnatural, forced, and confusing. Now with a year of experimentation and learning, event planners are finding their stride. Whether digital or physical, successful events meet people where they are and play to the advantages of the medium. Digital experiences enable scale, reach, access and personalization while physical experiences offer engagement, social exchange, and active participation. The mediums are complementary, not competing for attendee attention.

What makes events such an important channel?

AD: The ability to harness the convening power of people to create change and motivate action is unmatched by any other medium. Organizations that understand how their brand plays a central role in bringing people together to inspire, not just sell will find unique ways to really unlock the power of events.

In your own words, what will the future of events look like?

AD : The future of events will look more connected over time and across channels. Live experiences offer moments of unity for attendees and technology enables events to become more ongoing, connected narratives. An event might look like a few hours or span a few days but the journey from the attendee perspective will not end when the event ends. Event planners and organizers have a much greater opportunity now to orchestrate these ongoing, attendee-centric journeys as they strengthen their connections across multiple departments within an organization.

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