Planner Resilience: Amy Heppe, American Society for Quality

Read how meeting and event planner Amy Heppe of American Society for Qualitybecame innovative in surviving and succeeding during the Covid-19 pandemic.



How were you able to adapt during COVID-19 when the meeting and events industry got disrupted?

As meeting professionals, we adapt, we adjust, we improvise and we make memories. The Event Management team at ASQ shifted immediately. We had less than seven weeks to reimagine our annual flagship World Conference on Quality & Improvement from an in person event to a virtual event. We notified the attendees immediately, reached out to our sponsors to refund or reuse their deposits and began ideating with our partners. Within a few weeks we created a one day, complimentary virtual event. We featured two of our original keynotes and offered over 40 on-demand sessions. Over 7,000 attendees registered and nearly 4,400 attended in comparison to the projected 3,000 in person attendees. The majority of attendees had no plans to travel to Columbus nor had attended WCQI in the past. We realized the virtual environment now offered so much more.

The team quickly learned as much as possible about virtual events, industry standards and partner capabilities. We reviewed historical survey results and then reached out to many of our ASQ technical communities to identify areas of interest. We created three new virtual conferences in a matter of weeks for full execution prior to the end of the year in addition to our regular scheduled events. We tracked key metrics for all events and as a result, steadily improved our overall satisfaction rates with each event. We rocked it!

We also realized it’s a significant amount of MORE work to execute a virtual event. We miss sending 15 speakers into a room to talk to a tech guru for a few minutes instead of meeting with each one individually for tech checks only for them to log in on event day with their home laptop on home internet instead of their work desktop on VPN. We’re creating Standard Operating Procedures for our team so we have more time to create FAQs for speakers, sponsors, attendees and customer care. We created a virtual event roadmap to communicate cross functionally in order to align all work groups with expectations and deliverables. These standards are time consuming on the front end, but invaluable as the months so by and events take place.

While I long for the simpler days of running out of guacamole and having to substitute salsa, the breadth of reach with virtual events excites me. We’re serving the needs of our members on their time, in their space. No travel, less expense, more time with family and friends while achieving RUs and continued education. 2020 will definitely go down in the books as one of the most memorable year ever.  They may not all be glamorous, but we’re still making magic happen.

This post is part of the HopSkip Planner Spotlight Series where we celebrate the positivity and optimism shown by planners across the industry when navigating the turbulent waters that COVID-19 has brought the meetings and events industry.   Keep an eye out as we release more stories like this over the next few months.

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