How We’re Overcoming the Challenges in the Meetings and Events Industry

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Episode description

Let’s face it… the meetings and events industry is changing daily and can get busy.

And through the busyness, hurdles arise.

In this episode, hosts Paulina Giusti, Alyssa Peltier, and Rachel Andrews sit down to chat about the challenges they've faced in the world of events during the peak seasons at Cvent. They also share insights on the difficulties of team resourcing, the shift from factory-focused to trial-and-error events post-COVID, and the struggles in justifying the need for more bandwidth and resources.

And through it all, they share advice and best practices to navigate these industry challenges.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The challenges faced in the events industry post-COVID and the need for flexibility in event planning and execution
  • The struggle with team resourcing and the difficulty of hiring new members
  • The importance of effectively communicating the true volume of time and expectations involved in event planning

Things to listen for:

  1. [02:48] Difficulties with Staffing and Hiring Strategy
  2. [03:39] Balancing Expectations and Resources in Event Execution
  3. [06:24] Pre-COVID vs. Post-COVID Event Planning Challenges
  4. [07:08] The Need for Flexibility and Creativity in Event Planning
  5. [08:11] Call for Best Practices and Crowd-Sourcing Solutions

Meet your hosts

Alyssa Peltier, Director of Market Strategy & Insights, Cvent Consulting
Rachel Andrews, Senior Director, Global Meetings & Events, Cvent
Paulina Giusti, Senior Manager of Meetings and Events, Cvent

Episode Transcript

Rachel Andrews: Pre-COVID, we were, like, very factory focused. We have tried and true events that happen every year. We knew how many hours usually went into it. You know, post COVID, we have done trial and error events, custom events, events that Paulina was alluding to, like, pop-up events that people are like, okay, we're in test mode. We've been in test mode for the last two years. And so, like, for me, who, like, I like data, and I like to understand not everything goes in these buckets like before. And so we're trying to figure that out of, like, that's the hardest part about asking for help or asking for more bandwidth.

Alyssa Peltier: Great events create great brands, and it takes a village to put on an event that engages, excites, and connects audiences to your brand. And we're that village. I'm Alyssa.

Paulina Giusti: I'm Paulina.

Rachel Andrews: And I'm Rachel.

Alyssa Peltier: And you're listening to Great Events, the podcast for all people interested in events and marketing.

Alyssa Peltier: Hello, everyone. What has been going on in this wide, wide world of events? My name is Alyssa, and welcome to this week's episode of the Great Events Podcast, a podcast by Cvent. Today, I am joined by my two amazing fellow co-hosts of the podcast, Paulina Giusti and Rachel Andrews. And today, we're just going to do a little bit of host Banter for you and talk about what's been going on in our world of meetings and events and all the things during our peak planning busy season here at Seavent. So, Rachel, I'm going to start with you as the head of events for this amazing but albeit very busy team. What's been going on with the group?

Rachel Andrews: We have so many events going on, it's hard not to just be so busy. It's hard to know when your day starts and when it ends, because it's all just blurring together. That's how busy we are. So we have, obviously, CVT connect Europe coming up, and we have a lot of VIP programming. We have budget season, we have headcount planning for next year. We have bandwidth charts, we have budgeting, we have roadmapping, we have all the things happening in addition to sourcing for 24, 25, and 26. So I don't know. I tend to live in future years.

Rachel Andrews: So my stress right now is about 24 events as well as the event coming up around the corner. So we're just like rolling with the punches, I guess is the best way to say it, but maybe getting knocked down and picked back up, but I'm feeling the pressure of event season.

Alyssa Peltier: How are you guys doing with team resourcing? I know there's, like, a huge push on hiring strategy. I think that's kind of common across the industry right now. Are we still trying to recruit right now for the meetings and events team?

Rachel Andrews: I think it's tough, right. We're still trying to project what we're doing for future quarters. And I'll speak for not just our team, but other teams in the industry we've spoken to. Staffing is really tough right now. Hiring is almost next to impossible. Business cases have to be rock solid as far as hours and number of events that you're doing and proving that we really need a full time resource. So I think the focus for us has turned to making those business cases number one, because obviously our primary goal would be to have a full time resource doing some of these new programs. But the focus has turned to, okay, how can we get agency support? How can we get contractor support, which I think is resonating in the industry? But Paulina's team, I feel like, is getting hit the hardest right now. So I'll let her comment.

Paulina Giusti: Yeah, to continue your boxing metaphor, we are definitely on the ropes right now, and our backs are kind of against a wall. I think what's important for us is there are some mantras at Steven that we are expected or wholly embrace, depending on your mindset or your work ethic. But embracing that 80% is the new 100%, and that's really tough. I think for those of us in the industry who are meticulous, we have high expectations of ourselves, our customers have high expectations of us, and so kind of reducing that overall output to have a sort of less than 100% successful or rated experience is kind of a different mindset we have to go into. But I think Additionally, there is this sort of friction point where I think we need to kind of clarify all that goes into events and all that we do. And yes, there is this sort of bandwidth hours exercise that so many people embrace to kind of create the business case for supplemental headcount or backfill resources. But I think still a lot of stakeholders, a lot of decision makers see a number, okay, you're executing 40 events a year, a third our tier one, a third our tier two, a third our tier three for simplicity purposes. But that doesn't mean the volume of deliverables, the volume of steps, the volume of meetings, stakeholders tied to each is any less.

Paulina Giusti: And I think that's one of the biggest things that Rachel and I are partnering together on. Literally this week. It feels like is identifying or articulating beyond the data. There's so much more. So we could tell you until you're blue in the face that the team is executing a couple of hundred hours on a single event. But it doesn't tell the full picture. It doesn't tell the full story. You don't look at a content marketer and assume, oh, their goal is 50 blogs a quarter, right? Are you saying, are they 300 word blogs? Are they sponsored blogs? Are they ghost written blogs? There's a lot of detail within the expectations or the responsibilities that I feel like gets kind of lost at the top.

And so it's kind of really digging into a balanced approach of, this is the true volume of time and expectation. But then beyond that, there are some skill sets that only a person in this role can execute.

Alyssa Peltier: Do you have a means to kind of manage that productivity? Like certain data points that you would pull into as you're kind of telling those stakeholder stories to justify the.

Rachel Andrews: I have one more thing to add Alyssa, to that, and I think that pre COVID or PC, whatever we want to call the eras here, pre COVID, we were, like, very factory focused. We have tried and true events that happened every year. We knew how many hours usually went into it. Post COVID, we have done trial and error Events, custom events, events that Paulina was alluding to, like, pop up events that people are like, okay, we're in test mode. We've been in test mode for the last two years. And so for me, who I like data, and I like to understand not everything goes in these buckets like before. And so we're trying to figure that out of, like, that's the hardest part about asking for help or asking for more bandwidth is because you're not allowing.

Paulina Giusti: For the space of the creativity. Right?

Alyssa Peltier: Like, you don't know what you don't know. So you want to pad that time. You don't know that demand gen wants.

Rachel Andrews: To do eight different custom programs that we're testing for next year, and then we don't know what the hours that are going to go into that are. We can buffer it, but you just never know because we're doing all these new programs, which is exciting, and we're learning from it. It's just like, it's a lot, and it's hard to do with limited resources.

Alyssa Peltier: And that resonates with a lot of what I've been instructing the market, which is be creative, try new things, test out these new formats, try all these pieces. But there's a disconnect between that sort.

Rachel Andrews: And we love that.

Alyssa Peltier: Yeah, totally. It puts you in a strategic seat, for sure, but it doesn't put you in that kind of formulaic bean counter widgets, if you will. How do you treat these programs as factories if you haven't actually perfected a process yet? It makes it hard to fill in the role. So it's not necessarily an answer for you, but an interesting dialogue that we're having in this industry, for sure.

Rachel Andrews: Hey, listeners, if you got an answer for us, please let us know, because we're dealing with this stuff, too.

Paulina Giusti: Actually, you know what? That's a good point. I would love to use today's episode to solicit advice for us. I feel like by no means do we mean to be standing on a soapbox preaching best practices all the time. Right now, I'm kind of soliciting best practices from you all. So if you have a scenario that this conversation is resonating with you and you've approached it perhaps a particular way, we would definitely love to hear from you. And you don't have to join us on the podcast. You can literally write it in. And if we get some of these examples, I'd love to follow up and just sort of spread the good news, spread the awareness, or how to approach it.

Alyssa Peltier: Well, I think that's a perfect way to kind of wrap this up, even though it's a short, sweet kind of planner, pulse check kind of a conversation, but it puts the ball in our listeners court. So thanks, everyone, for listening to this quick kind of pulse check on the industry and what we're grappling with, but certainly are looking to crowdsource some feedback from you guys. So if you do have any thoughts related to this conversation, and how you guys are tackling this kind of interesting dynamic that we're seeing within the meetings and events industry, shoot us a DM on LinkedIn. Send us a note at greatevents@cvent.com find us on all the social media platforms. We're here for you guys. We want to have that conversation. So once again, thanks for tuning in to Great Events. We'll see you next time.