How Are #EventProfs Spending Their Time in the Wake of COVID-19?

From virtual happy hours and afternoon walks to sending hand-written letters to clients and planning for the future, here's how event and meeting professionals across the U.S. are grappling with the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

2020 Readers Forum Covid (1)

"Generating new ideas for clients while assessing how to move forward with cancelations and postponed projects, and keep our team, families, and communities safe. Business-wise, creating good ideas for communicating with people is what we do best. We have to put our most creative brains on this." 
Cara Kleinhaut, founder and C.E.O., AGENC Experiential & Digital Marketing, Los Angeles

"Team RJ Whyte is having daily Zoom check-ins, and have a running to-do list that's live. In addition, we're discussing ways to keep sane, like virtual happy hours."
Kirsten Gooden, event producer and brand manager, RJ Whyte Event Production, Washington, D.C.

"For mental health, I’m out walking a couple of times a day; tackling organizing projects that I never get to; following event groups to find out how we are all coping and what’s on the other side of this for our clients and events."
Kristine Horner Ortiz, owner and president, KLO Events LLC, Easton, Pennsylvania 

"Events should always have contingency plans. They aren't usually for a worldwide illness but the elements put in place should remain the same. At GDX Studios, we are still actively working with our clients on upcoming summer events. Stopping production for an activation that may or may not get canceled is not the right move. Our industry needs to be ready to execute amazing events as soon as this virus has cleared. Events have many planning stages, and with open communication, we can lower the financial burden. Expenses occur throughout the whole timeline and with a smart and realistic timeline, a conservative and low impact financial schedule can be created during this time. A project’s budget should be front-loaded with expenses on design, development, and production of assets that can be utilized even if the event is canceled. By being open and honest throughout the planning and spending phases of production, we'll help ensure brands aren't late to the party once we're past this situation."
Sean Pedeflous, creative director, GDX Studios, San Diego

"We are working on rescheduling postponed events, as well as coming up with language and policies for events and events contracts in the future, should something similar happen again. All of these brainstorming sessions are taking place digitally."
Jennifer Lucio Vargas, founder/president/C.E.O., 305 Communications and Events, Miami

"Planning fall '20 and spring '21 events. There's always work to be done!"
Aaron Heft, event planner, Jewish Federation of Cleveland, Ohio

"We’ve created virtual teambuilding events that can be done alongside a virtual meeting. As all of our partners and clients have been forced to cancel any in-person meetings they had planned for now through the end of April, their participants and employees are craving social interaction. Our virtual teambuilding events not only provide a way for people to connect while they’re remote, but they also increase their morale!"
McKenzie Kaufeld Counts, manager of making it happen, Wildly Different, Scottsdale, Arizona

"Daily half-hour check-ins with our team spread across the U.S., just to see how everyone is coping. Monday's hot topic was Netflix recommendations!"
Brenda Lyman, marketing coordinator, Kennedy Events, San Francisco

"I'm planning monthly themed events so when this is over people will have some human interaction—which is definitely going to be needed!" 
Tanya Sanchez, owner, Party Planning Mom Tanya, New York

"We are using this time to get organized, writing hand-written notes to our clients, and Zoom meetings. We are also setting up vendor meetings to showcase new entertainment and rentals via Zoom."
Jackie Lauver, account executive, 360 Destination Group, Los Angeles

"The Greater Houston Partnership is still running full-speed ahead. Instead of in-person events, we are providing digital content for the next couple of weeks (live stream, podcasts, and newsletters). We already hosted a live stream on coronavirus preparedness. The next resources we release will be on small business assistance, then the global impact of COVID-19, as well as insurance and risk evaluations."
Sara Roberts, member engagement and programs manager, Greater Houston Partnership, Houston

"With everything going on, we have decided to move all of our events to virtual meetings. Our firm has been using Zoom for the last couple of years, and we love the capabilities it offers. Our members are already at a difficult stage being in-transition. Now, with the uncertainties of what’s going to happen to our economy, they are at an even larger crossroads. We felt it was important to still provide them with the opportunity to network and engage with their peers, and to share ideas on how to move forward. Since announcing our move to virtual last week, we have seen an increase in attendance for our events. We also received a lot of great feedback from our members for taking the initiative to keep the events going, but finding a safe way to do so. Lastly, we’re launching a webcast series within the week to specifically focus on the topic of job search during uncertain times. We’re hoping to continue to give our members a way to engage and communicate so that they do not feel isolated."
Bianca Rodas, director of marketing and events, McDermott & Bull, Irvine, California

"Besides working with clients on postponing events, I’m spending extra time on business development. Redoing our website, creating a content calendar for marketing, fixing our long-defunct Facebook page, etcetera—all things I’ve put off during busy times. With events canceled through the end of April, there’s no excuse now.”
Marisa Flores, owner and lead planner, The Event Ninjas, New York

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