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: Meagan Sweeney-Hyde
Company Name: Make-A-Wish
Job Title: Campaign Events Manager
Years of Experience: 10+
How did you get your start in the events industry? What made you pursue this role?
An internship in college and through my sorority started my love for events.
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?
What was your number one challenge in hosting your first in-person event(s) and how did you overcome it?
No matter pre or post-pandemic, you always have to think strategically and have the mindset of having to problem solve. Post-pandemic was just a new layer of how we really need to have a handful of ‘worst case’ scenarios as a top priority. An advantage to post-pandemic planning is that I have seen more collaborative teamwork and communication more now than ever.
My first event early in my career, I remember having a difficult time with allowing others to help me. Now that I have been in the event field for 10+ years, I have learned that there is an art to empowering your team and allowing them to add their vision to the overall event/project.
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?)
Since I am in the non-profit field, having the hybrid component added to events has been huge! Not only can we reach our donors with where they are at but it has allowed us to future engagement with our sponsors and add more marketing benefits. It is a true win-win!
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 other options and don’t become dead set on just one venue.
Are you approaching contracting with hotels differently, post-pandemic?
The days of in-kind sponsorship and donated/lower-cost food for non-profit events is done, at least for the foreseeable future. In order for us to keep our expenses low, we have had to become creative about not having events on weekend dates or instead of a dinner host a brunch since breakfast food is less expensive.
Due to the pandemic, our events community had to evolve, adapt, and grow. Many planners started to embrace new technologies as a result of the pandemic. What new tech are you using today in your planning process as a result?
In 2022 Make-A-Wish implemented Salesforce, which could not come at a more better time to help us become more streamlined as an organization. We also use mobile bidding providers like GiveSmart and One Cause who make the giving seamless during our live events, for those in person or virtually.
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 pick up the phone and to use LinkedIn! I am self admittedly a Millennial, and I cannot tell you how many great connections I have made through LinkedIn, especially in pandemic times. Also, don’t hide behind text and email. I truly believe that as humans we need to connect and listening is a skill is imperative no matter what stage of your like or career.
This post is part of the HopSkip Planner Spotlight Series where HopSkip spotlights 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.