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Planner Resilience: Lauren Dunnaway, Reach Meetings & Events

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March 26, 2021
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Reading time: 2 min

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

My 2020 started out like most executives in the meetings & events industry. Our global company was rocking along in early Q1, poised for year over year gains and growth with new accounts and services. By the second week of March, it was clear that COVID-19 had come to America and was making gathering in the rest of the world difficult. The reality that this would affect our industry and my livelihood greatly set in over the next few weeks. As President of SITE Texas, I worked diligently to get a handle on the effects of COVID-19 as it began to ravage meetings & events. On a personal level, I waited for the other shoe to drop as I knew it was only a matter of time before I would surely be laid off as a high wage earner and executive within my company. From March to November, I began to prepare and identify other streams of income. I purchased a flip home and began work on that project as a means to keep some cash coming in once I would eventually be laid off. When I received the news that my position would be cut in November, I launched my own company – Reach Meetings & Events.

As a 20 year industry veteran, leaving the industry and starting over simply wasn’t an option for me. While many smaller meetings houses were unfortunately being forced out of business, I felt bullish on the return of meetings and believe now is the ideal time to pick up top talent as so many have been laid off and are considering their options. Our company has offices in Dallas/Fort Worth, The Woodlands & Austin, TX and has grown to a team of eight people in three short months. The Reach difference is all about approach. We are business consultants first. Our differentiator is the effective marriage between executive business consulting and meeting & event expertise. In a post COVID landscape, many companies are looking to bank the travel and entertainment savings they realized in 2020. Our team, as consultants, works with C-Level executives to identify how meetings & events support their overall company objectives. While we’re not yet executing many meetings, we are actively forging client relationships and have recently seen in uptick in meeting requests for late Q2 and Q3 of 2021. In business, like in life, there is great opportunity in times of adversity. I’ve doubled down on the future of meetings and my company if gaining market share and building out a quality team to service our client needs!

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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