Interviews

Planners Moving Forward Series- Laura Lilley, Hootsuite

Laura Lilley, of Hootsuite, brings 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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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: Laura Lilley

Company Name: Hootsuite

Job Title: Global Experiential Marketing & Events Manager

Years of Experience: 13

How do you think you are positioned, after months of persevering with the pandemic, to take advantage of our new and disrupted meetings/events landscape?
 
The pandemic was a wake up call for the events industry. We had been doing things by the book for so long and then suddenly we threw the book out the window! The pandemic gave us time to test, learn, pause and reflect. As we begin to emerge (fingers crossed) out of the pandemic our events hold more intention, purpose and strategy than ever before. We are hyper conscious of the time we’re asking of people, so we’re wanting to be sure that we provide as much value as possible in exchange. 
 
As our community moves forward with planning in-person meetings, what new technologies or processes are you implementing that you may have not looked at before?
 
Even as we return to IRL events, the virtual audience now plays a key role in our events where it may not have before, and creating a valuable experience for them is paramount. Our virtual experience platform needs to be seamless. Everything from registering, to confirmation emails and calendar invites need to run like a well oiled machine. Early in the pandemic you could excuse a clunky user experience. Now the audience has a higher expectation for how they experience an event virtually. 
 
As we see virtual meetings transition back to face to face, hybrid meetings are beginning to be the vehicle to return to normalcy. What are your thoughts on hybrid meetings versus traditional fully in-person meetings?
 
It is very hard to replicate the intangible feeling you get when being face to face. However, priorities have shifted for our audience. We have to understand we need to access our audience where they are. While some people may want to attend in person there is now a significant amount of people who want access from the comfort of their office. In the majority of circumstances I welcome the hybrid model. It fosters inclusivity and reaches a wider audience. 
 
In your opinion, what do you think the biggest value for your attendees is in regards to returning to live events?
 
The value of face to face networking is priceless. Virtual networking can work but it is much more of a challenge. We’ve slowly been getting back to in person events and the energy in the room is infectious. People actually want to network and connect as they’ve missed it. 
 
As the pandemic fades away and we return to face-to-face events what do you hope changes, either for planners or hoteliers, in the traditional RFP and proposal process as a result of all of the learnings from the last 20+ months?
 
I’ve definitely felt the effect of short staffing, slow turnaround times and increased costs. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like this is going to be solved anytime soon. As a planner I need to get ahead of it as much as I can and try to start the planning process earlier than usual. Of course, this is not always possible so I have to be patient and understand when I may have to settle for a compromise. 
 

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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