I believe that the chance to be creative is one of the best things about being an event planner. Dreaming up a fun and engaging event concept, bringing it to life, and witnessing your guests’ surprise and delight is such a meaningful experience. However, even the most prolific of creative event planners get stuck for ideas at some point in their careers. Maybe it’s the fifth or tenth event you’ve planned for the year and you’re in a rut. Or maybe your client has seen all of your go-to ideas and wants something new. We all need sources of inspiration for event ideas when we get stuck. We’ve got your back. Here are five tried and true sources for event inspiration to reference whenever you need to.
If you need an idea that is modern, current, and on-trend, websites like Google Trends and
Trendhunter.com is an excellent source for up-to-the-minute topics, designs, conversations, and products that are hot right now.
Google Trends will offer you insights into what people are searching for online. You can drill down by location, topic, and related queries to find more information on how your prospective attendees are searching for events, topics they are researching, and what they are expecting to find at events. This can be valuable information when planning your agenda.
Trendhunter offers a huge database of current ideas and innovations for free. There is also a
subscription version that will provide you with more detailed insights and reports. You can view new ideas for experiential activities, design ideas for décor and promotional gifts, and new marketing strategies to promote your event.
Hashtags are an excellent source of inspiration. They are a powerful indicator of popularity and trendiness. It’s important to not only have a presence on social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter but to also make it a point to keep up with trending hashtags there as well. This may seem like a daunting task but there are free tools to help you make it easier. These include Tweetdeck, Hashtagify, and Hashtracking. These tools will set up dashboards and tracking lists for certain hashtags that you want to track over time. Or you can use social media platforms to research a hashtag at any given moment.
There are several avenues you can take to find inspiration via hashtag. Keep up with what your colleagues are doing through business-related hashtags such as #eventprofs or #eventdesign. Get local trending ideas with hashtags including the city of your choice. If you are planning a business event for a certain industry, find trending industry ideas with hashtags that include words that are relevant to your attendees such as #musicindustry or #marketingprofessionals. If you are planning fundraisers, follow hashtags that include words that appeal to nonprofits or donors such as #philanthropy. Inspiration can come in many forms and from many sources. Be open to the possibilities.
Wikipedia defines Popular Culture as “generally recognized by members of a society as a set of the practices, beliefs, and objects that are dominant or ubiquitous in a society at a given point in time. Popular culture also encompasses the activities and feelings produced as a result of interaction with these dominant objects.” There is no one place to visit research pop culture. It’s all around us. Your sources can include television, movies, music, books, journalism, fashion, interior design, sports, or celebrities. Keep your eyes open for new ideas or themes that keep emerging via these avenues and brainstorm how you can incorporate them into an event.
Leveraging ideas like these are called capitalizing on a cultural moment, according to Adweek. One of the most iconic examples of this happening is when Oreo tweeted about dunking in the dark during a power outage at the Super Bowl. This kind of connection to pop culture can be embodied in many ways during your event. For example, if there is a new type of music hitting the top 100 charts, bring in a local band to entertain during dinner. Or if a new meme is all over social media, incorporate it into your marketing campaign or event signage.
Let your event location speak to you for inspiration. Every city has famous landmarks, citizens, or customs. These are stories you can tell at your event. Your venue may also have a history that can be leveraged for event ideas. For example, if you are hosting a conference in New Orleans during the spring, planning a Mardi Gras theme would be a no-brainer. Or, if you’ve chosen a venue with beautiful gardens, bringing those flowers indoors by using florals and greens in your décor would be a beautiful and meaningful touch.
Or you can use a completely different approach and embrace a far and away travel theme. Bring Paris or Tokyo to your event with décor, food, activities, and entertainment. Make sure the theme works with your event goals and intended outcomes. For example, if your event is intended to appeal to the academic crowd, you can still use a travel theme, just tailor it to an academic setting.
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Of course, your colleagues are your best source of inspiration. They say an imitation is a form of flattery. We all share our great ideas in blogs, on our websites, and on social media. There’s nothing wrong with using those great ideas as a source of inspiration. Just make sure to put your own personal twist on any great idea you find. Great ideas should always be authentic to your brand and to your aesthetic. Then, pass along that great idea to inspire someone else!
Inspiration comes in many forms and under varied circumstances. Don’t let a creative rut bring you down. Take a breath and look around you. It’s there for you to grab. You just have to be open to see it.