How to Make Your Mark on the Meetings and Events Scene in 2023

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Episode description

The meetings industry has had to evolve over the past couple of years. Now more than ever, people are excited to get back to in-person events and continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible.

In honor of Global Meetings Industry Day, Paulina Giusti sits down with Manpreet Kaur, Director of Events for Cvent India, to reflect on the meetings industry and where it’s headed in the near future.

Listen as the two share their stories on how they dove into the world of meetings and events. Manpreet gives her insights on how embracing the technological advancements of the industry and doing away with the manual processes will help to create a more efficient work environment. She also touches on keeping up-to-date on the trends and technology and how implementing those learnings can help improve your day-to-day success.

Show notes

  • Insights on how to get started in meetings and events
  • How to overcome everyday challenges like an industry pro
  • The importance of mentor-mentee relationships

Things to listen for:

[03:37] Manpreet’s journey into the meetings and events industry
[09:13] Overcoming everyday challenges
[14:51] What success looks like for Manpreet
[20:28] Learn to utilize technology to its full potential
[24:19] Advice on getting started in the meetings and events industry

Meet your hosts

Paulina Giusti Cvent Senior Manager, Global Meetings & Events

Meet your guest speaker

Manpreet Kaur Cvent Director of Meetings & Events in India

Episode Transcript

Paulina: Hi everyone. What is going on in the wide, wide world of events? I am Paulina, your host for today's episode of Great Events. I'm really excited for today's episode because I get to introduce you to one of my favorite, favorite people on this planet. She is the Director of Meetings and Events at Cvent, and she is located in our India office.

Her name is Manpreet Kaur, and she and I are gonna be chatting with you today all about Global Meetings Industry Day, and what it means to us in our professional careers, what it means to us, um, as being a member of such an important industry. And, uh, yeah, just kind of read you into our experience, you know, being members of the industry and what we love so much about it.

So with that, I'm actually gonna start us off with a little history lesson, and I am gonna read a little bit about Global Meetings Industry Day and, and how it started and, um, how it's evolved to be the holiday that it is today.

So Global Meetings Industry Day, International Day of Advocacy. It's showcasing the undeniable value of meeting meetings and events, trade shows, incentive travel conventions, conferences.

There is so much business value that these events contribute to our day-to-day lives, the economy. Macroeconomics and this year's theme is meetings matter and we really wanna relish the opportunity to celebrate the wonders that the future holds for bringing people together in meaningful ways.

Global Meetings Industry Day began as actually a Canadian national meetings industry day. It was a 20 year tradition in Canada, created by the Canadian chapters of MPI and then expanded to North America meetings industry day in 2015. And through the efforts of meetings mean business in 2016, it became the first Global edition and was continued to be led by meeting SME Business, which is now an arm of the US Travel Association.

So GMID is an initiative of meetings being business under USDA, however, many, many, many industry associations, chapters, and organizations host events to celebrate the impactful and really memorable experiences that the meetings and events industry offers to so many.

So MPI has hosted an annual 12 hour broadcast since 2018. You can check me out there. I did a little 10 minute clip, with the help of some of my teammates. But now that you have an understanding of what Global Meetings Industry Day is, how it's evolved from being, you know, a smaller, more national program to a North America program, to now being this global scale, I thought it would be really fun to just hear from one of Cvent's leaders, her international perspective of what the day means to her and how she's become so involved is in this industry. So with the world's longest introduction, I would like to introduce you to Manpreet Kaur or MK, I call her MK, to just give our listeners a little bit about yourself, how you got into the industry, and then we'll just kind of continue our conversation from there.

Manpreet: Yeah, absolutely. Hello everyone. I'm Manpreet Kaur Director of Director of Meetings and Events at Cvent India. I've been in the event planning industry for over 14 years now. And my major focus is on the creation of unique event experiences and establishing quantifiable and integrated metrics to drive ROI to the total events program.

And yes, I'm very excited to be here to share some of my life-changing experiences. so to the question that you asked me, um, and I call Paulina P, you know, how I got involved and started my career in the events industry. There are countless avenues through which one can enter the exciting and dynamic world of meetings and events.

Right? Some individual possesses an innate talent for planning and organizing. While others may have pursued, you know, formal education in the field of, Hospitality tourism or event management. As for myself, I discovered my passion for events during my university years where I took charge of organizing college festivals and concerts.

Through this experience, I quickly realized, that I possessed a keen eye for detail, you know, exceptional interpersonal skills and the ability to juggle multiple tasks and deadline simultaneously, all of which are indispensable qualities in the meetings and events industry. Fortunately I was able to then secure an internship with, Configuration of Indian Industry, which is the biggest trade association in India, where I had the opportunity to assist in organizing one of India's largest automobile expo.

However, the process involved lot of manual tasks such as sending, you know, invitations, sponsorship documents through facts, and collecting feedback on paper. Which proved to be quite tedious for me, and I wasn't sure if I really wanted to do this. So, after completing my studies, you know, I was presented with a fantastic opportunity to join Cvent's marketing research team, which eventually led to a career path that allowed me to establish meetings and events process in India.

So to me, this was the most significant moment of my life and it felt as though the stars had all aligned to make it all happen. Um, so ever since then, I've never looked back. Um, I genuinely enjoyed every aspect of my work. One of the most significant advantages of working with Cvent's meetings and events team is that, you know, you feel important as you are the internal customer for the organization.

And secondly, you know, I no longer have to worry about those manual and tedious tasks. Um, you know, that I experienced during my internship as the technology provided by Cvent has automated and streamlined the entire process of meetings and events. So yeah, to summarize, I would say I was justine to be a part of this industry.

Paulina: I love that. I love to hear that you started planning festivals and memorable experiences during your university days. I feel like that might be one thing most event professionals have in common. You know, being at the root of bringing people together, whether it was for family activities, right, or for your friends, or like you did for university.

I feel like that's always sort of a unique characteristic that we all share is just this hunger and desire to bring people together. It sounds like your career experience has pretty much always been in meetings and events. Just to give the listeners a recap, if there's anyone new tuning in today, I started my career in marketing and communications, kind of doing traditional marketing and content development work for a variety of associations. And it wasn't until I also joined Cvent that I became really aware of the value that events and meetings offer to a total corporation or an organization.

You know, initially I always sort of felt like they were complimentary to larger marketing efforts, but never really considered a marketing initiative or a marketing strategy. So I think that's another thing about Cvent is that, you know, like you said, we are a reflection of our customer base, but we're internal employees.

And so, you know, our sales partners, our client success partners look to us to hear about our challenges and how they can help and solution for them.

It's not always rainbows and butterflies in the meetings and events landscape, particularly when you're planning through experiences that we've had for the last three years. Right? A pandemic recession, disparate work culture. Right?

And so I would like to hear MK and I'm sure our listeners would too, what are some of the challenges that you've experienced and maybe not using experiences from the last three years, you know, is there something that comes to mind pre-pandemic that you think back on and say, yeah, it was a huge challenge, but being, an event professional, I used it as an opportunity to sort of fuel myself, think about things creatively or challenge what's been done in the past.

Manpreet: Yeah, absolutely indeed. With every opportunity comes its own set of challenges, right? In my experience in the meetings and event industry has been no different. Here are some of the challenges that I've faced. Now, how I overcome, you know, this, these challenges. So first of all, like, you know, working long irregular hours right, which can make it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance, especially for those with, you know, personal responsibilities such as caring for children, elderly parents, or other dependents.

Second, you know, dealing with difficult vendors and stakeholders, who may have unrealistic expectations, you know, last minute changes or demanding personalities, and finding ways to build positive working relationships with them. And then managing tight budgets and timelines and, you know, finding creative solutions to deliver high quality events within the constraints.

Then I would say, you know, handling unexpected crisis or emergencies during events such as bad weather, you know, technical glitches or medical emergencies, and keeping the calm and level-headed approach to address these issues.

Then I also would say, you know, staying up to date with the latest technology and trends in the industry, uh, can also be challenging, especially in the rapidly evolving landscape, you know, and continuously seeking opportunities to learn and develop new skills.

While these challenges can be daunting and demanding, they can also provide opportunities for growth learning, and personal development. For instance, you know, overcoming difficult situations, can build resilience and problem solving. And then finding ways to balance work and personal life can help individuals develop stronger time management and prioritization skills.

So ultimately, it's all about finding the right balance, and approach to navigate these challenges and achieve success in the industry.

Paulina: I think that you just covered every challenge, probably any event professional has experienced. And I think there's just, so I wanna take like a moment to reflect on it even, even more. Cause you mentioned something about, you know, caregiving and, I mean, you are in India and we, it is 10:00 Eastern time for me.

And it is, what time is it for you? Let me do the math. 7:20 in the evening. Right? And I just think there is such a devotion that you have to your job and, and this industry, right? Working after hours. I feel like I still get emails from you a couple hours from now, right? And it's a reflection of how much you love it and you're committed to you know, the team and the success that we're all contributing to together.

We always talk about think India at Cvent, right? Particularly from an HQ perspective. And, you know, we really do operate as a global team and, you know, when we're sleeping, you all are, you know, starting your day and keeping things moving along in such a healthy pace.

And I think that's something that perhaps might unique to this industry, right? You know, there are so many ways for a global partnership and a global team con that contributing to one end goal. I don't know if that's necessarily the case for all industries, it certainly is the case for many, and I think it allows us to feel a lot more connected even though we're so far.

I think we can thank technology to, you know, afford us that opportunity to have this sort of one team, one massive global team that's executing and contributing to the same programs and able to, um, at the end of the day share in our shared successes. I think, you know, I keep thinking about how global meetings industry day started as a Canadian holiday, then grew and that it is such a testament, um, that I can see how the industry is impacting, you know, just our team, right? You're talking about all of these learning experiences. You oversee a team of 10 plus people, right? And it's afforded you such great learning experiences when it comes to managing tight schedules and budgets, but also just engaging with people, right?

And retaining top talent. And, yeah, I just think there's so much there that is kind of a reflection of the industry itself, the growth and evolution of it that we've seen over these last, you know, let's say two decades or so.

You know, speaking of sort of celebratory nature and the global team working on similar things or the same projects as you look at where you are in your career right now, director of meetings and events, overseeing a massive team able to report on insanely successful metrics across the total event program that you manage. What does your end goal look like? What does success look like for you in five years? Is there something that you're working towards in particular, whether it's a title, is there a particular program? Let our listeners in, you know, in on what your goals are.

Manpreet: Yeah, absolutely. I love this question. Every day I ask myself of like, you know, what exactly is my end goal? So I feel like, you know, every day presents new opportunities for growth and learning. Especially in a field as dynamic as event planning. I'm very passionate about, you know, expanding my career horizons, and exploring new event avenues that can have a significant impact on organizational growth and strategic direct.

To achieve this, you know, I plan to expand my skillsets, you know, by earning industry and technology certifications, such as digital events, strategies, certification or Cvent certified, which will not only enhance my professional credibility, but also demonstrate my expertise in the field.

My focus will be on event strategy and innovation. Moving beyond, you know, the day-to-day event execution and developing creative and impactful event concepts that aligns very well with the business objectives and engage attendees.  I'm also very committed, you know, to making a meaningful impact on the industry, such as, advocating for sustainability, diversity and inclusion, or using events as a platform for social change.

As a part of my commitment to the industry, I also plan to become involved in mentorship programs, sharing my experience and knowledge, you know, with new aspiring event planners. So I would say ultimately my goal is to create memorable experiences for attendees, make a positive impact on the industry, and achieve personal and professional fulfillment. And by staying adaptable and open to new ideas, I believe, you know, we can grow and excel in this dynamic field of event planning.

Paulina: Wow. I'm so impressed with everything you just mentioned. I feel like that's a lot to look up to. You know, it's amazing to hear how you see events as vehicles for social change. I think there's so much opportunity in, you know, really packing the events and meetings that we host with really amazing, valuable content learning opportunities for new generations.

I think that's certainly something that's of interest to me. I love the people management aspect of our roles on our teams, right? And being able to see and learn from you know, younger, event professionals in their careers and, and figure out how all of the evolution that we've lived through and helped be a part of how that continues to move forward with these new generational voices, I think is something that's of certain interest for me.

I love, you know, I manage, a smaller team, but I think a goal for me would be you following in Manpreet's shoes, being able to manage a bigger team knowing that, you know, the strategy that we're working on as, as leaders of the team is, you know, impacting people younger in their career and them being able to take hold of it and, and own so much of, of the planning puzzle, but also really be contributing to the strategy in their own right as well.

I think, yeah, the meetings industry is a great case study for mentorship and mentees because it is all about connecting people, right? Irrespective of, you know, what your experience has been, how old you are, where you're from. There is just this sort of vital desire to connect with one another.

And of course, the notion of mentoring and mentorship, I think is critical to the evolution of the industry. Um, love your answer, MK. I think that's amazing. I think you're right too about staying in touch with trends and insight industry insights. If you were to think about a trend, and I'm really shooting from the hip here, if there was one particular trend in the meetings and events industry that you would like to see go away, what would it be?

Manpreet: Okay. Go away. Um, that's been trusting. Yeah, so it's a cliche, but I feel like, you know, there's still some organization, you know, that I feel like you are so addicted to the manual process. Right. Seeing organizations when they collect the post-event survey where like, you know, they would send out a yellow sheet, asking the attendees to fill it up and you know, I just feel like, oh no. In today's world, I think we absolutely need to get rid of like the manual processes when it comes to event planning. As I mentioned, like, you know, when I was doing my internship, I literally was like, I cannot be doing this, you know, it's not a good use of my time.

I'm not justifying the salary that I'm getting, right? So I feel like, you know, this trend that people still follow in some organizations, you know, adapting, or using the manual processes needs to go away. They need to start trusting the technology, and automating the process. Um, and automatically they'll see the beauty of using the technology, and how this can affect your ROI.

So yeah, like, you know, I would definitely want, like, you know, the manual processes to go away, vanish completely.

Paulina: Yeah, I love that. I think kind of tied to that, I would add that, removing of the manual process, but also establishing a total event perspective. Right? A total event program perspective. What are the events? That are really generating business, whether your business is in, you know, lead development or leads generated, or is it membership growth?

Right? And I think it's a matter of looking at your total event program and saying, you know, this may have worked pre pandemic, but what is the right mix now? I think a lot of organizations are starting to say, okay, in-person events are back, let's just do what we were doing in 2019. And I think as strategic leaders and thinkers, we need to be thinking about a really healthy mix of what event types need to be a part of your total event program and your marketing strategy.

Right? I think, you know, we are all so excited for in-person events to come back, but it does not mean just leaning on those 2019 planning logistics and processes. We owe it to ourselves to keep pushing the envelope and continuing to iterate off of, all of the learnings we've seen over the last few years.

So I know I'm super excited about the return to in-person really kind of taking the front place in terms of event types for this year. But I think it's really important for event professionals to say, not every event has to be in-person. And oh, by the way, let's double down on our planning for some of these in-person events because they are converting at a scale that is not comparable to virtual events.

So it's kind of taking stock of the last few years and really, really thinking about what the right mix is for your total event program.

I'm gonna ask you one more question. It's kind of a generic one. What are, what would be some final advice or advice that you would give to someone that's just starting out in the meetings and events industry, and something that if you could have told yourself all those years ago right before you started your internship, what would it be?

Manpreet: Yeah, absolutely. I think I would say, find your passion. Find your purpose and calling as people say it, right. Once you know what you love doing, once you have identified what your callings are, it's gonna be so easy to align, you know, with your end objective.

And automatically like, you know, things would fall in place. You know, as I mentioned previously, I started organizing events in university. I did my internship, but I did not like it because of the manual processes. I joined Cvent event as a part of the marketing team. Uh, I wasn't doing Cvent events, you know, I was part of the research.

But because I was so aligned and I was so passionate about Vans, it automatically like, you know, um, came, came to me. So, yeah, I would say like, you know, it's very important to find your passion. Um, you know, what you really wanna do. Um, that's one. And you know, once you have identified like, you know, you really wanna get into the meetings, events.

Industry, like, you know, keep yourself updated, you know, uh, and this is what I used to do back in those days. You know, I would always like, you know, open up Google, like, you know, and start reading articles like, you know, what's happening in this industry. Like, you know, what's the TAM size? You know? Um, you know how this event, uh, industry is expanding.

So keep yourself up to date, like, you know, with the industry trends, um, and then start eventually using those trends, you know, into your day-to-day activity. So yeah, I would just say like, you know, um, it's very important again to summarize, to find your passion. Keep updated to the latest technology industry trends, and then make sure that you implement, you know, the learnings or the latest trends into your day-to-day activity in order to be successful.

Paulina: I love it. That's awesome. Yeah, I think staying on top of this ever-evolving industry will always put you in a good position, no matter really where you are in your career, whether you're starting out or if you're an industry veteran, we kind of owe it to ourselves to stay in tune, to maintain relevancy with our, you know, experiences that we design that bring people together.

I think just to kind of wrap up today's episode, the Global Meetings Industry Day. I wish it wasn't just one day. I think we, as event professionals do celebrate it, all year round, I think it's an opportunity for us to say this industry really does have macroeconomic impact. It is not just the party planning, that, you know, some people kind of dilute it down to be, but rather, you know, we are changing the face, across the industry for meetings and events, but across other industries as well. Right. And, and we are continuing to grow and evolve with it, um, by leaning into technology, by maintaining the understanding of how impactful in-person events are, that having a healthy mix is really impactful to your total marketing strategy that it will always be important to connect people together and create memorable experiences, and so I'm really proud to be a part of this industry. I'm so glad Manpreet was able to join me today and share her perspective all the way coming all the way from India. We hope you enjoyed our chat today and found inspiration or takeaways that will inspire your own career or event programs. And yeah, if you guys listening in have any topics or speaker recommendations that you'd like to add to our 2023 season, feel free to DM us on LinkedIn, on Instagram, or send us a note at greatevents@cvent.com.

I'm Paulina, thank you so much for tuning in to today, and I'll see you on the next.

Manpreet: Thank you.