Experience Creators You Should Know - Loren Maisels, LOMA Marketing Agency

Loren Maisels, of LOMA Marketing Agency, 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: Loren Maisels

Company Name: LOMA Marketing Agency

Job Title: Founder & President

Years of Experience: 20

How did you get your start in the events industry? What made you pursue this role?
After graduating university with a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Marketing, I was offered an event internship opportunity at an agency. I had no idea events was a career option until that internship. I loved everything about it and began pursuing it as a career.
How would you describe your role or responsibilities as a professional event planner?
Equal parts strategist, experience creator, lover of surprising and delighting, chess player/thinking steps ahead, problem solver / therapist, managing many stakeholders (clients, vendors, attendees), part endurance athlete (we sometimes walk 25 miles in a week onsite at an event).
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?
It was very clear to us that venues/hotels are still struggling with staffing levels which has an effect of overall service. We have had to be even more on our game and looking at staffing up on our side to ensure we can cover any gaps the venue/hotel may not be able to address. Hopefully we'll see this get back to pre-pandemic service levels in the near future. Similar is the excitement and energy on all sides, around being back together in person. As an industry we were all hurting, so to be back to business, together, doing what we love - good vibes all around!
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?

Being clear on budget and expectations from the start. Referrals and site visits are key. Regular touchpoints/check ins to make sure things are progressing to plan and nothing gets missed. We say that our job is 80% planning and 20% reacting to what you can't plan for - so having the ability to problem solve and have great partnerships to solve / address whatever arises is key. Sometimes you enter into a relationship with a supplier/venue where your gut says this isn't what I was sold or expecting and you have to decide to either pivot or reiterate your expectations - revisit agreements -- always have things in writing especially if it is a new partnership.
How do you determine which vendors are best suited for your stakeholder's needs while also finding those providing competitive services at affordable rates?
We value our existing partnerships and have a roster of vendors we work with depending on stakeholder needs, but we also love to discover new vendors/suppliers and sometimes that happens through word of mouth, referrals, industry associations/publications and their research/articles/news. We also like to get multiple quotes/bids to ensure we are getting the best service for our clients at the most affordable price.
Are there any key lessons or insights that have shaped your approach to event planning over the years?
Someone once told me "Loren, we're not saving babies here" which had an impact on me. Event planning is very stressful and while it definitely plays a valuable role and is very important, its also important to monitor your stress levels and remain healthy. You're no good to your team or your clients if you're sick. That phrase sometimes helps keep my stress in check when things get hectic and allows me to take a step back and reframe things. You also cannot do this job in a silo. It is very collaborative and so having an amazing team, delegating and leaning on your suppliers/vendors is key. You also have to LAUGH (have lots of stories) and have FUN! We try and schedule a really special dinner at the end of our events at a popular restaurant in the city we're in to regroup as a team and often with our clients to celebrate a successful event, our hard work, and collaboration.
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?
Have an RFP template that has all the details outlined for the hotels ready to go. More information is more. If you can give it to them all at once it saves back and forth questions and gives them a really great overview of the program need right at the beginning.
Are you approaching contracting with hotels differently, post-pandemic?
I think we all have a bit of PTSD post COVID and, being even more intentional with cancellation/rescheduling policies and attrition is key. Flexibility is a valuable differentiator.
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?
We've learned about and worked in a variety of virtual event platforms over the last few years and have had to adapt our best practices to the virtual environment. This new tech is not going away so its just become part of our new normal and it's fun to find ways to change and improve the experience for a hybrid event experience.
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?
Subscribe to industry publications, join associations like MPI or PCMA.
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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