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Planner Spotlight Series- Patricia Olejnik, Maritz

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November 5, 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: Patricia Olejnik, CED, DES

Company Name: Maritz Global Events

Job Title: Senior Meeting Event Manager

Years of Experience: 33

How were you able to adapt during COVID-19 when the meeting and events industry got disrupted?
 
When March 2020 hit, I was with an association and we packed up our laptops, a few office supplies and thought we'd be working from home for three or so weeks. Boy, were we wrong! It quickly became clear that we needed to pivot our entire mindset so we could continue to provide valuable education to our members. Our 2020 Annual Conference that was supposed to be held in May was canceled and we created a virtual conference in June. We canceled our in-person fall events and offered new options online. We started to think about "purposing" our content instead of "repurposing." We designed education with a plan in place for offering it following an event, making it available to a wider audience. In early April 2021, the association reorganized and two departments, almost 20% of the staff, were eliminated, including mine. (You think you made it through a pandemic...) So I had some time to consider what I wanted to do next. I knew I missed corporate events, but I still loved association work. I decided to apply to companies where there were opportunities to do both, and I landed with the best, Maritz Global Events. It's my third week and I've been getting training on all of the Maritz return-to-live operations and COVID emergency plans along with the basic Maritz procedures, tools and programs. I'm looking forward to designing my first event in my new job, and it will be great experiencing all of the onsite thrills once again, as well interesting implementing new processes so everyone feels safe and comfortable being together again.
 
As a planner, what was the number one thing you learned over the past year?
 
Besides learning more than I ever wanted to know about virtual events, and surprisingly finding it a great way to present content to a wider audience with more options that once thought possible, the past year was more of a confirmation that flexibility and resilience are key attributes in our industry. If you didn't know it pre-pandemic, you sure did figure it out during. To be successful and outstanding in our field we need to be open to new things, to listen to new ideas, to implement new processes, and to continue to create and design new experiences that shower our audience with awe and wonder.
 
Is there anything you are changing in your planning process moving forward as a result of the pandemic?
 
Determining the objectives of a program is still number one in planning but what is changing are the questions we ask. We ask the venues what their safety protocols are, how they are feeding groups of people, what they are doing to help social distancing and follow local guidelines. We ask our clients what they want to do onsite so their colleagues are confident, do they want to enforce masks or vaccinations, or keeping three or six feet apart, will they provide wristbands or stickers that let others know a comfort level from just waving to one another to hugging. We ask potential attendees what they need to be able to participate, are their companies allowing travel, do they need a virtual option. 
 

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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