Ahhhh…that little taste of freedom. Reduced mask use. Unencumbered shopping. Eating indoors at restaurants. Shaking hands at an event.

Then, wham! Just when we thought it was safe to go back into the water, the variant.

And with the variant, endless variables:

Will companies lock down again?

Will every state implement mask mandates again?

How will venue capacities change?

What is the impact on the structure of in-person events?

How do you navigate your company through this?

Is hybrid really an option?

How is the virtual landscape looking?

Is a digital campus the answer?

What do attendees want and how are you going to deliver it?

Well, the answer is “You’re gonna need a bigger boat…”

And you’d better be a darn good sailor. According to the American Sailing Association, there are seven traits that define a good sailor. Funnily enough, those seven traits match up to those you need to navigate events in the time of this new variant.

At the top of the list is INTUITION. That innate ability to understand something immediately without the need for conscious reasoning. You know how to anticipate; you understand the situation on another leve l .And yes, some of this is based on your experience, but intuition is what pulls you through. What is YOUR intuition telling you about where we are right here, right now? Mine is telling me to hunker down and stay focused – and not to move too quickly. I know where the wind is and where it’s going to be. I’m ready for it.

Next up – a SOLID UNDERSTANDING OF FUNDAMENTALS. This is not a time for holes in your game. You need to be sure you have all the facts you need to inform your decisions. You’ve got to know the knots, points of sail, weather, the vocabulary – and all the other basics second nature to sailors – or in this case, event planners. And what you don’t know, you want to have access to. Shameless plug – this is where POP | X comes in. We have been navigating these waters for 15 months. 80 events later, we’ve got some great fundamentals down pat to help you with.

JACK OF ALL TRADES is the next trait and no one is a better McGyver than someone who ideates, markets, produces, and manages events. Things will go awry – they always do. So you’ve gotta be able to think on your feet, trust in that intuition, and figure out solutions based on what you’ve got on hand. Innovation reigns supreme. According to ASA, “some of the most ingenious creations in the universe have been developed by good sailors on long passages in small cruising boats. ”

Channel your inner CALMNESS. Despite the stormiest seas and most daunting weather conditions, you’ll never see a good sailor sweat. You’ve got to be clear of mind and don’t forget to breathe !

A BOAT IS A BOAT IS A BOAT. This can’t possibly be your worst nightmare. If you’ve been in this industry as long as I have, you know how to make things hum no matter what the situation. Take stock of your surroundings, do a quick inventory of what is and isn’t working, consult others, and adjust course accordingly.

EXPERIENCE is critical. If you don’t have it, buy it. Nothing is a substitute for it. Not budget. Not ego. Not title. Nothing.

And last, HOLD YOUR RUM! Have fun but stay cognizant. Even if you’re riding the rhetorical wave, you need to be sure your anchor is holding. Keep your team together and focused on the end game .

And that bigger boat? Well, maybe that’s us.

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