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Planner Spotlight Series-Elaine Richardson, NBMBAA

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October 11, 2021
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This post is part of the HopSkip Planner Spotlight Series where HopSkip spotlight's 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: Elaine Richards

Company Name: National Black MBA Association

Job Title: Senior Director, Conference Operations and Special Projects

Years of Experience: 10+

How were you able to adapt during COVID-19 when the meeting and events industry got disrupted?
 
We had to completely scrap our 2020 (50th Anniversary!) event and pivot to virtual. Between May and August we had to completely re-sell our exhibit base into a virtual event, which we'd never done before, while figuring out how to take our very unusual event into the virtual space and make it work for our constituents. Our Career Expo is a critical job connector for young Black professionals and finding a way to do it successfully in a 2-month period really taxed our entire time. But by being proactive and reaching out to associations in our same space with shows earlier in the cycle to see what they did to help us going forward. We were able to pivot our entire event online and capture attendance of 9,600, in our regular live attendance range. We maintained 200 of our exhibitors and had an amazing event.
 
As a planner, what was the number one thing you learned over the past year?
 
Agility is critical. The ability to learn from problems and to look at creative ways to fix them. To continually break things down to the basics and rebuild from the ground up from a fresh perspective can show you new avenues for achieving things that were "always" done a certain way.
 
Is there anything you are changing in your planning process moving forward as a result of the pandemic?
 
 
Working on being a lot more flexible and concepting things from the standpoint of "I can change anything." Now is the best time to try new things. I am talking to more people, monitoring more message boards and really outreaching more on ideas and thinking.
 
This post is part of the HopSkip Planner Spotlight Series where HopSkip spotlight's 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. 
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