Experience Creators You Should Know - Lindsay Krause, Special D Events, Inc.

Lindsay Krause, of Special D Events, Inc., 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: Lindsay Krause

Company Name: Special D Events, Inc.

Job Title: Chief Operating Officer

Years of Experience: 23

How did you get your start in the events industry? What made you pursue this role?
I have a Journalism degree from Michigan State University. My career began in Public Relations, and soon after, I was working in Corporate Marketing. Event planning was always a portion of my job and the part I loved most. When I became pregnant with my first son, I had to hire an events agency to manage the conference I was planning (as I would be on maternity leave over the event dates). I loved working with them so much I decided to join the team. I am still working at that agency today.
How would you describe your role or responsibilities as a professional event planner?
I see my role as a consultant, communicator, and relationship builder. It’s my job to ensure everyone plays their role as intended and to the best of their ability. Also, if something goes askew, I must be prepared to see how it impacts every event component. From the consultant perspective, I work hard to coach my clients through the process, sharing best practices I have learned over the years and working to simplify complex scenarios so we can bite off one chunk at a time together to keep moving forward.
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?
During Covid, we learned words like “hygiene theater." We frequented hand sanitizer stations, wore masks, and became accustomed to testing before an event. There was also (and still is) a big focus on Duty of Care. That is, outlining to attendees what they can expect when they attend so they can decide if it’s right for them. I think overall, COVID has helped shine a light on the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. The world became more empathetic, and planners must incorporate empathy into all event components to ensure everyone has a seat at the table and feels comfortable and welcome.
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?

I had one venue that lost its liquor license the week before our event. Another time a hurricane blew through 3 days before our conference. One venue ghosted me for four months because they did not want to tell me of upcoming renovation plans. I have had suppliers who were unresponsive or not detail-oriented. I have found that I can always find someone to get me an answer or take me to the next step if I am industrious enough. Sometimes that means calling ten people or reaching out digitally, via phone, or even in person. At Special D Events, one of our core values is to “Roll With It.” As a planner, I practice that every day. We are comfortable being uncomfortable. After a couple of decades in this industry, I trust myself to know that I can use critical thinking to arrive at a solution for what may come my way.
How do you determine which vendors are best suited for your stakeholder's needs while also finding those providing competitive services at affordable rates?
At the top of the planning process, I work with clients to establish event priorities. Everyone measures success in a different way, so it’s important to ask, "when you walk away from this event and think that was a slam dunk, what occurred to make you feel that way?" As for competitive rates, everything is negotiable. I closely scrutinize the terms and conditions. I think having seen some worst-case scenario situations unfold incentivizes you to fight for fair clauses on behalf of your client. To keep rates affordable, we often solicit up to three quotes from a vendor.
Are there any key lessons or insights that have shaped your approach to event planning over the years?
Pre-Planning- I communicate often and clearly—with suppliers, event partners, clients, and attendees. Write up conversation recaps and share them to keep everyone accountable. Have a strong project plan with deadlines and responsibilities. Make space for contingency in your budget! Understand that no amount of pre-planning will eliminate the need for on-the-spot solutions while onsite.
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?
Planners need to lean on each other and trade experiences. There are hotels out there that can provide the experience you are seeking, but you have to cut through the noise.
Are you approaching contracting with hotels differently, post-pandemic?
Some of our contract negotiations have changed. We book rooms conservatively and add in review dates, paying a lot of attention to cancellation clauses to ensure they are fair. We also pay very close attention to the room rental timing as things are not as flexible as they have been in the past. Hotels are buckling down on offering pre and post-rates for attendees, so we look closely at that language.
What is the biggest area of improvement that you think hotels can make when either responding to your RFPs or during the contract phase of your event?
Demonstrate partnership and flexibility.
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?
I now use Zoom all day long! I have used SmartSheet for years, but I feel as if I use it even more now that so many planning meetings have gone virtual.
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?
I would suggest planners attend industry events to network face-to-face, contribute to social media groups, share experiences, and read/support industry publications.
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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