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Planners Moving Forward Series- Shaina Scrimgeour, Gemstone Event Management Inc

August 5, 2022
Reading time: 4 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: Shaina Scrimgeour

Company Name: Gemstone Event Management Inc.

Job Title: Owner/Director of Events

Years of Experience: 8

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?
After so much time spent learning new platforms and technologies, reconnecting with industry peers and diving into all things hybrid and virtual, we're ready to take on Meetings and Events with all the new procedures and expectations in mind, while still focusing on the clients goals and objectives. This is an exciting time. We have experimented and learned so much in the last couple years and we're ready to continue providing solutions and new opportunities for our clients to connect globally. 
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?
Planning an in-person meeting has always required care and attention to detail through all planning stages and within every event process. Now however, there are additional things to consider that were maybe not considered as much pre-Covid. Processes surrounding the venues are where we've seen the most change. There's more focus now on ensuring food and beverage options are Covid friendly. There's significant planning to ensure that floorplans and event spaces are well circulated and have enough social distance measures in place, and a lot of thought around high-traffic areas and touch points. We've always been creative when it comes to our event solutions, but now we're really thinking outside the box to come up with ways to make attendees feel safe while maintaining a high-quality attendee experience. In the last few years we've been exposed to so many different and new technologies, and we've had the chance to compare and test a number of them. Primarily, we've found ourselves working with many different virtual platforms to keep our clients events up and running when meeting in-person wasn't possible. We've used both the self-build models and the AV Company provided solutions. We're likely to continue to use virtual options in our in-person events for various stakeholders that cannot attend in person and as an additional revenue stream for certain clients as well - offering post-meeting content. Lastly, you'll notice I didn't cover Risk Management! It goes without saying that one of the event processes that we've put the most time into for our business and for our clients, is our risk management process. Having plan A-Z and the steps to get there is key to planning an in-person Meeting! 
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?
Though hybrid meetings are now becoming all the focus, they've always had a role in the Meetings and Events Industry and I don't think that will change. In some scenarios, a speaker is simply not able to be in once place in the morning and another the same afternoon, and if they're integral to your meeting, you might have to stream them in. For this reason, I think hybrid will continue to be a solution for meeting planners and their clients. One thing is for sure though, when you're planning a hybrid event vs. a typical in-person event, you're planning two events - an in-person event and a virtual one! That means expenses for both, processes for both and engagement strategies for your hybrid event overall. It's important to keep in mind the goals and objectives of your Meeting to ensure that stakeholders participating virtually and in-person see the value in the Meeting and are engaged throughout. Determining how those two audiences will interact with each other, speakers and sponsors is also important because the same strategies that work for a traditional face-to-face meeting don't necessarily apply. I do think that there's value in an in-person meeting that just isn't the same as joining virtually, especially when it comes to networking, but it's our job as planners to ensure that for those that have no choice but to join online (for whatever reason), they're getting a great experience and are happy with their ROI! 
In your opinion, what do you think the biggest value for your attendees is in regards to returning to live events?
I know for me personally as an attendee, there's an unwritten expectation that when you're attending a virtual Meeting, you're multitasking! Even though you're 'out-of-office', we all see the email notifications popping up at the corner of our screen and if the phone rings mid-session, nobody knows, and you can take your call without walking away from your desk. The problem is the engagement is decreased because 'out-of-office' at a virtual meeting, isn't really 'out-of-office'. In fact, it's probably more like a virtual meeting from your home office with your cat on your lap, deliveries at your door and dinner to prep! Without all the distractions you might have as a virtual attendee, being in-person, in the room, surrounded by like-minded peers ready to learn and network allows for a much more engaging experience. In my opinion, the value for attendees in returning to in-person events is the level of engagement with all stakeholders and being able to enjoy, mostly undistracted, the education and networking opportunities. 
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?
With all suppliers, working more closely and being transparent through negotiations and planning has been key. I think that continued communication and teamwork will be essential to execute first-rate meetings and events! 

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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