We don’t think any of us have been more eager to usher in a new year. Can you believe it?? 2021 is finally here! Like most of you, we hit the ground running with grand plans and big goals for 2020. And, like you, we were forced to shelve those plans, pivot on a dime, dig deep, and press on in order to protect and support our community. If the past 7 years have taught us anything, it’s to always do what feels right, grow organically, and always aim for the sky and set goals that excite us.
So Much to be Thankful For
2020 has, no doubt, been a demanding year for all. Although the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted every single one of us in so many ways, both professionally and personally, all of us at Aisle Planner agree there is still so much to be thankful for. Let’s take a look back at our 2020, a year that is impossible to forget:
To do our part in maintaining safe social distancing, our entire company began working remotely. As timing would have it, we had just signed the lease to our brand new offices in the Cedros Design District in Solana Beach, California when the state, and much of the country, went on lockdown in mid-March. Ten months later, the desks are still empty but we’ve found new ways to stay socially connected, motivated, and productive in this "new normal." Team meetings, happy hours, and even our annual holiday party went virtual this year; and though we’re far apart physically, it feels like our team has become closer than ever.
Rather than sheltering our business from the uncertain future, we took the leap and invested in it, adding depth to the teams dedicated to each part of our business. This has allowed us to create more structure and strengthen the support for our customers and community, which is one of the most important pillars of our business every year.
We were honored to be recognized as one of Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces of 2020. Building a company culture we love has and will always be a brand tenet and top priority for us. We've learned over the years that this crucial element doesn’t just happen on its own. In ways both big and small, each member of our team contributes to building a culture we all love to be a part of.
In further nurturing that culture, Aisle Planner will be making charitable contributions named by and on behalf of each of their employees. As a company founded on a mission to enable, empower, and encourage our community through our platform, we’re honored to pay a little forward and humbly share what we've been blessed with in supporting these organizations our team members are most passionate about:
- St. Jude Children's Hospital
- Humanity Forward
- Breast Cancer Research Foundation
- Environmental Working Group
- Just in Time Foster Youth
- Susan G. Komen Foundation
- San Diego River Valley Conservancy, Del Dio Acquisitions
- CURE Childhood Cancer
- World Central Kitchen
- North County Lifeline
- American Cancer Society
- C4 Foundation
- The Loveland Foundation
Finding our Voice
We’re all looking to the new year as time for transformation, but as 2020 showed us, we needed this entire year to invoke real, substantial change, and learn about what we value most. As a growing company fearless in the face of change, we made the most of the gifts 2020 has brought, including learning to engage socially and responsibly beyond our product to better serve our community and industry. Here are just some of the ways we dug in:
- Our CEO, Rob Farrow, joined top business leaders, elected officials, state lawmakers, and military leaders from across the country to voice the importance of protecting our coastlines during a virtual day of advocacy. Rob spoke on the environmental impacts of offshore drilling, including the economic and ecological consequences on the wedding and event industry in coastal communities. On behalf of the Business Alliance for Protecting the Pacific Coast (BAPPC) and Oceana, they urged Congress to block the expansion of risky offshore drilling along our coasts with the objective of ensuring the health and long-term sustainability of our oceans ecosystems, coastal businesses, communities, and clean energy future.
- This year, the Aisle Planner Diversity and Inclusion Committee was born from our desire to stand with and for our community, our industry, and the world to advocate and promote equality for all. We believe change is absolutely necessary, and that change starts from within. Our committee members from across the globe help keep us connected and educated while working collaboratively to advocate and support diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Our committee not only continues to keep us accountable to our commitment to this change, they also support us in so many ways that ensure we continue to fight and support human rights and equality for all with a constant focus and intensity. In this same spirit of allyship and commitment to the work behind the change we seek, our president, Trevor Wessman-Lavelle, accepted an invitation to join the Allied Industry Council for the newly formed National Society of Black Wedding & Event Professionals, an organization transfixed on the goal of providing equal opportunity in the wedding and event industry through representation, recognition, and exposure.
- We believe in the power of the vote, and that employees shouldn’t have to choose between voting and earning a paycheck. This year, we were proud participants in the Time to Vote campaign, a nonpartisan effort committed to increasing voter turnout. We declared Election Day a paid holiday for our employees to ensure their voices are heard through their right to vote. We took part in this movement to demonstrate the power of what the business community can achieve when it works to address the most significant issues of our time.
- We were proud to partner with VOW, an organization on a mission to end child marriage. We were honored to have this organization as participants in our virtual summit, Aisle Academy, and we look forward to a continued partnership with them in 2021.
We kicked off 2020 with the goal of changing how we approach product design. We’ve made big strides in refining our process and defining the direction we'll be taking our tools in the coming years. Here’s a look into what we accomplished this year, and a sneak peek into what’s coming in 2021:
- Editing and deleting comments within Aisle Planner tools because we know typos happen and plans change. Having the ability to course correct when that time comes is here.
- File preview, you no longer have to download each file just to view previously uploaded files and documents. Simply preview each file in the same space, every time.
- Automated numbering on quotes and invoices to speed up and simplify the creation process. Keeping all of your quotes and invoices organized from the get-go.
- Style guide templates to speed up the process of creating your most commonly shared image galleries, such as venue galleries, floral guides and equipment rental options - and the ability to drag and drop to organize style guides in a project helped to keep our customers and their design studios perfectly organized.
- Additional download options to enhance the lead manager and contacts. No more copy and paste, simply download the editable spreadsheet and use wherever and however, outside of Aisle Planner.
- To better support the volume of event rescheduling throughout the pandemic, we made it easier to automatically adjust checklist due dates when a project or event date changes to keep all due dates relevant with the new, rescheduled event date.
- We implemented a new user feedback portal to make it easier for users to provide feedback and feature requests, helping us understand, in real time, how we can improve our platform to better support our community of wedding and event pros.
- We refreshed all terminology within the suite of Aisle Planner tools and across all brand touch points to be as inclusive as possible. We firmly believe that love is not bound by any one set of definitions. We celebrate and support every member of our professional community, and every one of your team members, vendor partners, and clients regardless of race, creed, color, gender identity, or sexual preference. We have and will continue to strive to ensure that everyone feels welcome and that all are represented in and throughout Aisle Planner—always.
- We continued to make infrastructure and security updates to better protect the privacy and security of your account.
Onward in 2021
We are coming out of the gates swinging in 2021! In the first months of the new year, we’ll officially launch The Aisle Guide. Designed to amplify your expert voices and extraordinary work through a completely revamped publishing portal, this new online experience will inspire, inform, and connect wedding and event consumers from around the globe with you, helping grow your business like never before.
We've got lofty goals when it comes to providing best-in-class tools that empower wedding and event pros to do their best work, so we're beyond thrilled for what the new year has in store for our platform. We recognized that trying to sustain a business-- let alone run one-- in a pandemic forced many business owners to get to know their companies inside and out. It’s more vital than ever that you move forward prepared for change, understand how to leverage the power of technology, and excel at meeting the expectations your customers have of their experience working with you throughout the process. That’s why it’s more urgent than ever that we work to provide the best solutions for you to not only get the job done, but have the greatest view of your entire business, in one place, any time, and all the time.
You’ve probably noticed our new logo and brand style rolled out this past year - an exciting sneak peek at our fresh, new look and much improved design launching in 2021. Our tools are getting a complete overhaul and we can't wait to show you!
Supporting Our Pro Community
If it hasn’t entered into your daily lexicon yet, you’d probably better start using it, “Evolution”. This is going to be a key word for all of us as we look onward forging ahead on personal and professional paths coming out of this pandemic. Aisle Planner has certainly been forced to contend with a sort of evolution, specifically in how we respond to community needs. We know how important it is to keep you informed and up to date of the changes happening around us in our industry, in business in general, and with our product. Amplifying the voices of the best in the biz, we’re increasing our focus on our Pro Blog, where you can find information and resources on everything from business trends and industry insights, to design tips, work-life balance advice, and practical guidance on how to get the very most from our software.
Despite all the challenges of this past year, we have remained dedicated to giving back and supporting our Aisle Planner Pro Community. We helped thousands of customers navigate their needs as the Coronavirus pandemic regulations changed and evolved. In such challenging and difficult times, having the ability to respond with empathy and impact to the lives and businesses of our customers is something we will always be grateful for.
2020 was supposed to see our Marketing and Customer Success teams off on an exciting, year-long, cross-country education and networking tour called The Aisle Planner Experience, or AP|EX. With in-person events no longer an option, our team quickly pivoted by hosting webinars with industry leaders and educators, and creating virtual learning opportunities like our Refresh Series. These live events, hosted by our Customer Success team, ensured our customers were given the time and attention to maximize all of the Aisle Planner tools to their fullest potential.
This fall welcomed our first and incredibly successful summit, The Aisle Academy. It was an honor to host this event and present it to the industry. After a year of so much loss for our customers and in education to the industry, we were privileged to work with so many talented educators to provide 3 full days of content to thousands of virtual attendees from all over the globe!
Looking into 2021, we are hopeful to resume in-person events though we also have plenty of virtual content to keep us busy. We will be creating and participating in webinars, podcasts and summits with some of our favorite industry brands, influencers, educators, and thought leaders, and presenting our next hosted event kicking us off this spring - stay tuned for details! Needless to say, we have a lot to look forward to!
Hope for the Future
There is no doubt that our industry has been one of the hardest hit this year. The work we do together is all about bringing people together in celebration of life’s most intimate milestone moments. We are the antithesis of “social distancing”. The resilience you have shown through this has been beyond remarkable. It not only gives us hope for the future of our industry, but inspires us daily to work our hardest to build better, deliver faster, and engage and support you, our community, in every way you need with everything we have. Thank you to everyone who has supported us and each other through the many challenges this year has thrown at us. It certainly didn’t go the way anyone might have intended, but you can’t suppress creativity and inspiration. These core elements of our community hold the key to healing, change, and a fresh start.<
Our hope is, together we can create a better future. As we close out a year that’s been unlike any other, we take this moment to say, “Thank you.” Thank you for being part of our family.
Thank you for your never-ending passion, hope and optimism for the future.
ONWARD to 2021!