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Planner Spotlight Series- Nikole Sheldon, Amway North America

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December 21, 2021
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Reading time: 2 min

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: Nikole Sheldon

Company Name:  Amway North America

Job Title: Supervisor, North America Special Events

Years of Experience: 18

How were you able to adapt during COVID-19 when the meeting and events industry got disrupted?
 
It took a lot of patience, creative thinking and strong partnerships to get us where we are today. Our work is primarily incentive travel where our main event objectives are to recognize our qualifiers for their incredible accomplishments and foster a sense of community. Those don’t translate well in a virtual environment and we didn’t want to disappoint our audience. So we challenged ourselves to make sure we didn’t disappoint. We focused on what we could control. We refined the objectives for a virtual incentive program to focus solely on recognizing our qualifiers. Then we put our heads together to identify multiple solutions with varying degrees of budget for each impacted event. At the same time, we dove in head first to online learnings that were offered by industry groups and connected with existing suppliers to see how they were adapting. We used these learnings to refine our plans and identify the best option. Throughout this process, we communicated frequently and openly to our audience. Patience, creative thinking and strong partnerships continue to be critical as we transition from total shutdown to new challenges like the delta variant, vaccine mandates, and international travel complications. For every challenge that we overcome, there’s a new challenge waiting for us around the corner.
 
As a planner, what was the number one thing you learned over the past year?
 
So many things! If I had to pick only one…it takes a village. I’ve always believed that, but the last year has reinforced that belief. I’m so proud of what the team has accomplished in the past year. We all had our moments of uncertainty and frustration. Many of us were grounded for longer that we’ve ever been in our professional careers. Some of us couldn’t do our “normal” jobs and had to find other ways to provide value to the team. We all came together to produce the best experience we could under the circumstances. We even turned around some of the skeptics who said we couldn’t do it!
 
Is there anything you are changing in your planning process moving forward as a result of the pandemic?
 
We’re about to host our second live event since February 2020. Among other things, this program has been rebranded from being an event to an experience that spans over 1 month. Our business meeting will be held virtually for everyone 1 week prior to our live event and our recognition event will be held virtually for everyone 1 week after. Attendees have the option to attend live or virtually. Regardless of how they choose to attend, they will all receive their gifts in advance of the event mailed to their homes. We’ll see how the response is but these may become permanent features of our event. Like many in our industry, we’re also looking at contracts in a different way, especially when it comes to cancellation and pick up.
 

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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