Experience Creators You Should Know - Brianna Seidule, Aircall

Brianna Seidule, of Aircall, discusses how she honed her skills over the pandemic to now be in position to overcome the challenges that the new meetings/events landscape brings.



This post is part of the HopSkip Planner Spotlight Series where HopSkip spotlights planners across the industry to bring awareness of how they adapted to COVID-19, communicating and lessons learned and sharing how they are viewing the meetings and events industry in a post-pandemic world. 


Name: Brianna Seidule

Company Name: Aircall

Job Title: Events Marketing Manager

Years of Experience: 10

How did you get your start in the events industry? What made you pursue this role?
My very first job was at a wedding venue in southern Maryland. I took the opportunity thinking it would be a fun summer gig. I quickly realized that I totally loved caring for guests and enjoyed all of the little tasks that added up to the event: napkin folding, polishing silverware, passing out glasses for a champagne toast, and everything in between. I loved being able to physically see all my work come to life and being a positive part of someone's day. Over 10 years later, this work is still so meaningful to me, and I feel very privileged to be able to do this every day!
How would you describe your role or responsibilities as a professional event planner?
As an in-house B2B event planner/manager, I am involved from the very beginning of the event through the post-event wrap. Responsibilities include:- Creating an activation strategy based on the company's goals for the events (to capture X amount of leads, connect with X executives, book X demos, brand awareness)- Sourcing/negotiating with vendors- Creating and managing documentation: budgets, contingency plans, timelines, roles + responsibilities, Know Before You Gos, event marketing emails, social plans, tracking ROI, etc.- Leading internal and external communication with stakeholders- On-site lead to manage all pieces and step in for any resolution. Event Coordinator: This role is usually brought in at the tail end of the event to execute the day-of. They support aligning with vendor contacts on-site, keeping stakeholders to the timeline, and managing staff, for example. Event Producer: I see this role as a showrunner, where they would manage live content elements like stages, speakers, and show graphics.
How do you compare planning your first in-person event post-pandemic, to planning meetings/events pre- Covid? What was different and unique? What was similar?
Contingency plans are always important, but they've become even more crucial for post-Covid events. Event professionals have to anticipate multiple backup plans: if an attendee arrives Covid positive, if an event team member gets Covid prior to the event, if there's a spread after the event, etc. Now is definitely the time to explore all those "what ifs" and have some kind of plan for most of them. Attendance is also much harder to predict post-Covid. Pre-Covid, it was standard to have a 50% show rate at in-person events. Now, I've seen anywhere from 20% or even over 100%, usually relative to current Covid rates in that particular city.
What challenges have you faced in your work as a meeting and event planner, when working with suppliers or sourcing a venue and how did you overcome them?

From an agency perspective, sourcing venues was challenging because very rarely did a venue have everything the client was looking for (usually a pick 2: location, capacity, appearance). We usually overcame this by asking our fabrication partners and other vendors for recommendations. Fabricators are a massive resource and usually know where all the little gems are in major cities with almost everything we're looking for. For a B2B marketer, we usually support events that have already identified venues, so we are not part of the sourcing conversation. We get in front of any obstacles by communicating early and often with the venue, and pushing their limitations to take advantage of any wiggle room.
How do you determine which vendors are best suited for your stakeholder's needs while also finding those providing competitive services at affordable rates?
The first few touch points with vendors set the tone for the relationship. I find that if it's difficult to communicate with a vendor early on, it usually won't get any better throughout the event process. After we receive proposals from 2-3 vendors that can support our program, we tend to move forward with who has been easiest to communicate with and whom we trust the most. Most clients and brands are happy to spend a little more if it makes the planning process significantly easier.
Are there any key lessons or insights that have shaped your approach to event planning over the years?
EXPERIENCE: - Attendees are more selective with what events they are attending this year, so the stakes are a bit higher to ensure you're providing a meaningful experience- Aim to include one element for each of the five senses to create a more impactful experience- Scent is especially important because people strongly correlate smells with memories- Theme parties are always fun. Communication:- Always over-communicate, the more context, the better! - Keep event resources in one central location so your internal team is always aligned- Keep your copy simple and use as few words as possible- Trust your team, especially on-site- Be a nice person to work with, even when it gets stressful on-site. Thank your stakeholders during and after the event. HABITS:- Leave things better than you found them (if you see a piece of trash at the event, pick it up. If swag is low, restock it. If print material is messy, organize it)- Never ask an event staff member to do something you wouldn't do yourself- To-do list too long? Categorize tasks, and start with the smallest ones first to gain momentum
With hotels short-staffed, and RFP lead time shortening, what is your advice to other planners to overcome these obstacles when requesting hotels for proposals?
Get in touch as soon as you've identified your event's details and must haves. Leave yourself ample time to accommodate for any short-staffing on the hotel's side.
Are you approaching contracting with hotels differently, post-pandemic?
Legal is involved in everything now, we partner with our counsel on every contract to ensure we're set up for success.
Due to the pandemic, our events community had to evolve, adapt, and grow. Many planners started to embrace new technologies as a result of the pandemic. What new tech are you using today in your planning process as a result?
Given the tech industry climate, a lot of B2B event marketers are having their budgets cut. We haven't been able to try out new tech, so we're in the process of auditing tools we already invest in and exploring how we can maximize their impact.
Since education and relationships are two major pillars in the meetings and events industry, any suggestions on how other planners can learn and network with their peers across the industry?
Being curious about others' work is the best way to connect with new peers and gain real takeaways. I love to follow agencies and event planners I admire online. If there's any activation that I'm interested in, I'll reach out to the contact and ask how they did it, what takeaways they have from planning, if they'd recommend the vendors they used, etc. Here are some accounts to follow for new inspo!
This post is part of the HopSkip Planner Spotlight Series where HopSkip spotlights planners across the industry to bring awareness of how they adapted to COVID-19, communicating and lessons learned and sharing how they are viewing the meetings and events industry in a post-pandemic w,orld. 

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