- A top event planner told Insider how he plans parties that are as safe as possible amid the pandemic.
- Edward Perotti has found creative ways of entertaining and shared some noteworthy tips for hosts.
- Vaccinated-only and mask-only parties are likely to become more common, he said.
The pandemic has done a good job in “kicking the events industry in the behind,” said Edward Perotti, one of Hollywood’s most in-demand event planners.
But despite the disruption, his business, Edward Perotti Events and Experiences, is still thriving.
For nearly three decades, Perotti has managed thousands of events including dazzling ones at the Louvre in Paris, the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul, and the Great Wall of China. He told Insider the budgets of the events totalled more than $150 million.
His celebrity clients include Ariana Grande and Nick Jonas.
Throughout his 27 years of event production, Perotti’s central ethos has been to create an immersive experience. This helped him navigate the events industry during the pandemic, which, like other hospitality businesses, took a big hit.
“A $7 trillion industry had to come to a halt,” Perotti told Insider. But that’s when he shifted his thinking. “You can take virtual and somehow create this experience for people where they are immersed into it,” he said.
The biggest challenge? “Educating the clients on what could still be done,” he said.
This was particularly the case when Perotti was designing an online corporate event. “We had a four-day event that normally would be live. We had to make it engaging, knowing that 95% of the attendees would be attending from home,” he said.
Perotti built a virtual amusement park for the company. “We created a virtual environment, like a Disneyland, of five different lands.”
Content and gamification were embedded into the event, Perotti said. He even created a comic book, which he sent to attendees to mimic the swag normally provided at a live event.
It was a big success, he said. But Perotti doesn’t consider virtual events an ultimate replacement for real-world ones. “This digital environment is a temporary fix,” he said.
Perotti has risen to the current challenge of party planning by creating events that are fun and creative but still deeply mindful of COVID and its variants.
“I’m pushing hard in contracts with vendors, talent, and catering companies, that all the team they supply working on the event, has to be vaccinated. If they’re not vaccinated, they’re not working the event,” Perotti said.
For Perotti, there’s a responsibility that comes with planning events. “Not only do I need to have a duty of care for the guests, but I also need to have that mentality when it comes to the staff, the catering group, and my team ,” he said.
In fact, Perotti said vaccine requirements are likely to change the landscape of the events industry. “There is now a certain etiquette where you can do a vaccination-only party.” Mask-only events will likely become more popular too, Perotti said.
To plan for COVID-safe events like this, Perotti shared a few more tips with Insider.
“Have fun with the masks. Build them into the experience. Be a little playful with them so that people don’t feel forced,” he said.
Serve individual portions
“Remember individual portions and individual ways of serving food,” Perotti said. “For example, if you’re doing a cocktail party, why not have a little fun with it and get the sealed three-tiered bento boxes?”
One layer can be filled with appetizers, one with salad, and another with sweets. That way there’s no food sitting out and it’s presented to guests in a way that becomes an experience and is also safe, he explained.
“I’m looking at the silver lining of COVID — that it’s allowing me to look at new and interesting ways of doing that kind of gathering,” Perotti said.