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Planners You Should Know - Dora Figueiredo, Meeting Protocol

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November 18, 2022
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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: Dora Figueiredo

Company Name: Meeting Protocol

Job Title: Head of Education and Events

Years of Experience: 12

How did you get your start in the events industry? What made you pursue this role?
 
I started my career as a high school teacher, which primed me to think deeply about keeping an audience engaged and practice with creating SMART goals. After leaving the classroom, I became a textbook editor, where I fell in love with designing conference experiences for our authors and teachers. I finally pursued full-time event planning in 2014 with Teach For All's Global Events Team. In early 2022 I went out on my own to work with Meeting Protocol, NEXUS Global, and take on side projects with my own event planning business.
 
How do you compare planning your first in-person event post-pandemic, to planning meetings/events pre- Covid? What was different and unique? What was similar?

The biggest changes are the number of attendees/planning for attrition and extra planning for attendee health safety. Now that strict mandates have dropped in most locations, events feel quite similar to 2019…but with more masks, individually wrapped foods, and way more last-minute attendee drops! The last 2+ years have also brought an increased awareness of climate change, so sustainability at events (a historically very wasteful industry - so much unused swag, discarded signage, tossed carpets from trade show floors, etc.) is much more front-and-center than it used to be.
 
What was your number one challenge in hosting your first in-person event(s) and how did you overcome it?

Getting people to trust that it was safe to be around others, especially for dinner events which have to be unmasked in order to eat. There was a bit of a ‘honeymoon’ period after the vaccines were first rolled out, but as cases increased at the beginning of 2022, we saw more sluggish registrations and ticket sales because they didn’t want to commit to coming to something that might suddenly seem unsafe as the time got closer. Mandatory at-the-door Covid testing or fumbling for vaccine cards at those early events made for long and frustrating lines to enter a venue.
 
What is the top learning that you uncovered from the last two years that you’re implementing in your planning process today? (any other tips or tricks you want to share?)
 
First, the world has changed in a lot of ways, but people still absolutely love being together! This industry may get hard-hit, and we have to stay on our toes and evolve constantly, but it will never fully die. Second, don’t plan your events in a silo - there is so much collective wisdom out there that you should tap into!! Network and find a community of planners so you don’t have to do it alone!
 
With hotels short-staffed, and RFP lead time shortening, what is your advice to other planners to overcome these obstacles when requesting hotels for proposals?
 
Have a lot of patience. Hotel staff are working just as hard as you!
 
Since education and relationships are two major pillars in the meetings and events industry, any suggestions on how other planners can learn and network with their peers across the industry?
 
Don’t be afraid to network! If you join webinars, reach out to hosts or other attendees on LinkedIn and actually follow up with them.  Join the Meeting Protocol community that hosts a monthly CMP study group. Join your local MPI chapter (if you have the funds).
 

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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