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Planner Resilience: Dirk Smith, Sports Destination Network

April 28, 2021
Reading time: 1 min

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

Disrupted? That's a small understatement! Like most 3rd-party meeting planners, it was less about "pivoting" and more about "surviving" and "treading water".

I have spent the last year cancelling and moving programs while staying in touch with clients and hoteliers alike. Prior to the pandemic, we were working about 300 meetings a year, virtually all short term, so naturally those will likely be some of the last to return.

Simultaneously, I’ve been working on refining my RFP template to include many of the questions of our “new” normal; while contributing op-ed articles to various industry trade journals. I also have a Short-term Sales Training seminar that has been seen by 150+ hotels in 25+ states that I’ve been refining to prepare for our return.

As we collectively navigated through this pandemic, we have added perhaps one of the greatest oxymorons--Group Meetings while Social Distancing! More importantly, there is this unfortunate expectation we are currently in a “buyer’s market”. Yes, indeed hotels are hungry for new business, but that is not license to make unreasonable contract demands. There is a circle of life in all business relationships, and I discovered long ago that the best deals are a “win-win”. Maintaining good communication and reputable business practices will help ensure a healthy recovery.


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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