How were you able to adapt during COVID-19 when the meeting and events industry got disrupted?
When the pandemic hit I had program after program cancel, from small internal meetings to city-wide medical congresses where we would have supported hundreds of delegates for multiple pharmaceutical clients at each one. Months of work and thousands of dollars were going up in flames, but I also started to see how my career might also. I was furloughed very early on and then laid off a few months later along with colleagues that were like family to me. I had been with that agency since May of 2009, an 11 year career that I absolutely loved. One that brought me incredible experiences, let me constantly travel the globe, and one that challenged me as a planner. I was devastated to say the least.
As I saw fellow hospitality industry colleagues flea from the industry and grasp at everything from real estate to marketing, I knew that I would never leave the events industry. I just needed to figure out what that looked like now. I surrounded myself with as many articles, webinars and blogs as I possibly could trying to figure out what the industry would look like for the next year, how were companies pivoting with no in-person events, if there was anything I could try to specialize in that would be helpful in getting a job in this new world of pandemic events, and how planners were keeping virtual meetings exciting. I started applying for jobs that I felt like I would truly love, I had the mindset that I was safe and financially ok so I needed to take my time and not rush into anything I would want to quit 6 months later. I was extremely lucky because the first and only interview I had was with Innovatx Events and I was brought on as an Account Manager right away.
I dove into a world that was very familiar at Innovatx with DMC services, meeting planning and incentive travel but I was challenged with how to reimagine it all… virtually. I, along with many other planners, have had to figure out how to engage delegates and make the experience of virtual meetings enticing to register for and stimulating enough to stay online and engaged. I’m also focusing on building the Innovatx brand in the Dallas market as the first employee hired in this city. I’ve been able to take these slower times to be able to really work on building relationships in my local events community, attend more event association meetings and educational webinars, and really look at what my colleagues are doing – things that I felt like I never had the time to do before. Although the circumstances have been awful, this pandemic has caused me to reconnect with my passion for delivering exciting, successful events that leave a lasting impact while challenging myself to constantly educate myself on new trends, think outside the box, and rely on my peers more than ever for support and encouragement. This is one resilient industry, and so am I!
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.