Meetings Pro Tip: Get Creative to Navigate the Labor Shortage

A mix of scenario planning and quick thinking may be necessary to make it through the coming months, as a tight job market and higher costs complicate the events landscape.

Hiring has been a challenge in many sectors, events included, for some time. Now, along with other economic factors such as inflation, labor shortages are putting a pinch on in-person events, often making them much more expensive to put on.

As a recent report by Yahoo MoneyWise noted, resignation rates in leisure and hospitality (sitting at around 5.7 percent) have outpaced other fields, making it hard to bring in replacements.

Combined with other factors, such as increased food and beverage costs, it means that in-person events are going to be tough to navigate for a while. And that means trying to figure out creative ways to make it work, even if you don’t have the staffing you’d like.

What’s the Solution?

Look toward a mix of rethinking your hiring strategy and shifting your approach to contingency planning.

With regard to the former: If you don’t have the same personnel needs as you did before—something highlighted by the diverse number of roles that have popped up after the pandemic—you shouldn’t be hiring like it’s 2019. Hiring that has adapted to the current climate is more likely to bring in employees who will help your association execute.

But what if you’re still short-staffed? In a post on the Bizzabo blog, the company makes the case that event orchestration needs to be considered well before the event takes place, and then built for. This means creating a contingency planning team that can manage the process, along with run-of-show exercises that can help make the most of the team you do have.

“We are particularly attentive to areas that are more likely to not go according to plan, and we ensure we have backup plans in place that enable us to keep our event on track in the event something goes wrong,” noted Devin Cleary, Bizzabo’s vice president of global events.

What’s the Backup Plan?

What if you can’t bring in the people you need—or worse, you lose some key players right before the event? Well, that’s when you need to get creative.

A recent Skift Meetings story highlighted the ways many event planners have had to get more hands-on in managing even the small parts of events due to staffing challenges, including helping with dining services and handling issues like luggage. Some things might even need to be put off to the side in service of the larger event.

In an interview for the piece, Steve Kinsley of the firm Kinsley Meetings suggested a just-in-time approach to managing problems as they emerge.

“We are patient until we get to the point of immediate need, and then we engage with a director of sales or general manager to help us get things done prior to program arrival,” Kinsley told the outlet. “We are very vigilant onsite, and if we see an issue arising, we move quickly to alert the hotel so that it does not have an effect on attendees.”

(gautier075/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!