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: Sabrina Muldoon
Company Name: Seesaw
Job Title: Events & Experience Manager
Years of Experience: 20
How did you get your start in the events industry? What made you pursue this role?
I started out planning children's birthday parties. I ran a 3,000 sq ft indoor play place for kids and loved it!
How would you describe your role or responsibilities as a professional event planner?
Over the last 10 years, I have planned every type of corporate event. From Sales Kick-off, Trade shows, Virtual Events, Holiday Parties, and multiple-day All Company Offsites. Arranging all travel, lodging, food, activities, and vendors. Most times, I have worked independently in planning all of these events.
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?
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?
There was a lot more thought put into the comfort factor for all attending. I wanted to be sensitive to those who wanted to attend but may have still been cautious of Covid. We had all employee test before flying, they tested again upon arrival and before checking into the hotel, and then we had them test every morning before beginning the day. We also had outdoor seating available for those who felt more comfortable eating outside. Hand sanitizer was readily available, and we encouraged mask usage for anyone who needed/wanted to wear one.
I have had vendors cancel last minute and have had to find replacements in less than 24 hours.
How do you determine which vendors are best suited for your stakeholder's needs while also finding those providing competitive services at affordable rates?
REVIEWS, REVIEWS, REVIEWS! I do not book anything in general without word of mouth or a substantial amount of positive reviews.
Are there any key lessons or insights that have shaped your approach to event planning over the years?
Know your audience. What you may feel or think works may not work for the crowd. Always get a pulse check from those who you are planning for.
Follow up! If you do not hear back from submitting your RFP within 3 days, call directly. That has speeded up the process for me exponentially.
Are you approaching contracting with hotels differently, post-pandemic?
Yes! Always negotiate your attrition rate. This is an easy way to lose out on money if you get a handful of cancelations.
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?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?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?
A more timely response. I have sometimes submitted an RFP and gotten a response rate anywhere from the next day and delayed up to two weeks. The hotel with the best response and rate always gets the business. I can't imagine how many hotels miss out on business due to a slow response.
A hybrid approach. Not every meeting or session is streamed. But those relevant to the masses are shared over a streaming service
I lean heavily on LinkedIn. I find it is the best platform when you actually take advantage of it!