Here at AAE, we’re looking back at last year and could not be more proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish. After 2020, we were hoping for a good year in 2021, which became a record-breaking year for our company. We are extremely grateful for those who’ve partnered with us to make it all possible. As we say goodbye to 2021, let’s recap some of the highlights:

No shortage of events, mostly virtual, with great results

Throughout 2021, we partnered with our clients on more than 1,600 events. Of all those events, 81% were virtual, and 19% were in person. We take pride in offering best in class service to meet the unique needs of each individual event producer we work with. 

After every event, we ask clients to rate their overall satisfaction with their experience. In 2021, the results were overwhelmingly positive, with an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars. 

Some of the hottest speaking topics that event producers booked for included diversity and equity, LGBTQ+ pride, cybersecurity, mental health, corporate culture, and gender equality, to name a few. Here’s what we expect to see as popular speaking topics in 2022.

AAE recognized and awarded for company success

In June, AAE was named to Business North Carolina’s “Best Employers” list in 2021 — ranking seventh statewide in the small business category. Award winners were selected based on both company submissions and employee ratings of workplace culture, benefits, and incentive programs. This was AAE’s first time being recognized by Business North Carolina.

That same month, Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) featured AAE in its latest course series titled “7 Change Actions.” The module, titled “Disruption & Adaptation,” features AAE’s success story of digital transformation and business recovery during the event industry downturn in 2020.

Continuing to be thought leaders for our event industry

Throughout 2021, members of our leadership were featured in various publications, writing about trends in the event industry, as well as business management and marketing strategy.

The list of bylines and features is long, but here are a few of our favorites. In January, we wrote about business strategy and event planning for Authority Magazine, as well as virtual events for Inc. Magazine. In June, we wrote about the way in-person events are changing for Forbes, and we were highlighted in a PCMA story on business success during COVID-19.

We dove into some digital marketing best practices for Authority Magazine later that month, and then in August, our CEO shared insights on measuring ROI for Entrepreneur. In September, we talked about virtual event sponsorship with Forbes and then closed out the year with a feature in an article all about hybrid events from BizBash.

Gained a deeper understanding of our clients

It’s no secret that our #1 goal is to serve our clients to the very best of our ability. A huge part of that is to truly understand what our clients need — and to care about how they’re feeling. So we decided to ask our clients. We surveyed hundreds of experienced event managers to gain a glimpse into their process around booking speakers and learned a few important things. 

  • The time frame to book speakers has shortened to around four months.
  • Budget is still a major factor in booking speakers.
  • When choosing a speakers bureau, client experience matters more than price.
  • When selecting a speaker, what they say matters more than who they are.

You can read a full review of our client survey results on our blog.

So, what did we learn in 2021?

Measuring the success of any given year is about looking a little deeper. It’s important to pause and reflect at how we continued to overcome challenges, how we adapted and fine tuned with new virtual and hybrid environments, and how we worked together with clients and speakers to exceed their expectations. 

The AAE team also grew by leaps and bounds in 2021, expanding our headcount by 35% last year. We’ve been fortunate to be able to hire more amazing people to help support you better.

By these metrics, 2021 has been a resounding success. Our team helped execute more events than ever before. Heading into the new year with the same philosophy of responsiveness, flexibility, and grit, we’ve got a great feeling about 2022.