In Incentive Travel, Special Events, Strategic Meetings

Experience matters – and that has become even more evident throughout the pandemic.  Even now, as we climb into our new and every-changing normal, the experience of the SDI team enables us to work effectively through the planning and a return to safe, in-person events.

Join the SDI team over the next few months as we work on one of our largest client programs of the year and navigate the challenges and considerations of events in 2021 and forward.

Managing Through Change

One of SDI’s long-standing client hosts a significant national sales meeting every year, welcoming between 1,500 and 3,000 attendees on an alternating annual basis. The pandemic in 2020 required the cancellation of the in-person event, and they quickly shifted the event to a virtual gathering that included a national broadcast to the entire sales force, coffee break boxes delivered to every attendee and an awards dinner with champagne and truffles delivered to winners. Hosted from the client’s corporate HQ and with the support of an experienced production company, our client made the most of a flawless virtual event, while looking toward a return to an in-person event in 2021.

Planning during a pandemic requires patience, experience and a significant level of flexibility. Staying on top of constantly changing regulations – by the state, the city, venues, hotels, transportation and the client company itself – is key to being efficient and productive.  Senior Account Manager Kim Findlay noted, “We’re typically planning far in advance for this event with sites booked several years out. In an ordinary year, we’d spend a full year solidifying the details. That level of advance planning isn’t possible in 2021.  We need to be ready to make changes continuously as requirements dictate.” The pandemic has thrown the planning cycle way off track – meaning the SDI team stays in constant communication with venues, suppliers and the client to accommodate changing program and safety needs, to ensure dates and destinations work, and to mitigate any financial burden to the client from cancelled plans and last-minute changes.

Planning for What’s Next

Post-pandemic life looks different for many cities, venues and clients – and the concerns of our client’s guests and employees are of particular importance. Step one of planning for future in-person events is to connect with the eligible participants to learn and assess their comfort and desire to return to travel. With that, conversations with risk management teams ensure attendee safety and expectations are met and given serious consideration in every decision.

In-person events also require both an in-person and a hybrid option, presenting additional challenges in planning, production and venue set-up. Room counts, transportation capacity and space requirements are in constant flux as we closely track local and hotel regulations.  With a shortened planning cycle, the SDI team leans into its flexibility and efficiency to accommodate the needed changes, to meet client business needs and to keep everyone safe and comfortable.

Strong venue partnerships, including the home for the upcoming national sales meeting, are key to successful planning – especially when site visits have been delayed. The SDI team, with decades of experience, is up to the challenge, as we walk the path together to this important in-person November 2021 gathering.  Want to follow along for the changes, challenges and triumphs?  Follow us here on the blog or on social media as we share the behind the scenes of planning post-pandemic.


About Us: SDI Meetings & Incentives is the global-yet-boutique meetings, incentives and special events partner driven by the basic truth that Experience Matters.  Creating custom experiences to reward performance and fuel growth, SDI taps decades of expertise to deliver solutions managed from concept through execution by one tenured point of contact. We’ve produced programs around the world, for groups from 10 to thousands, combining the exact right elements to support our clients’ goals and to motivate and inspire their attendees. Find out more and contact us at