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Two Minutes with Charlene Rabideau

A veteran third-party meetings executive with a newly expanded role talks about shifting to virtual formats and changes to the meeting-management landscape.

BCD Meetings & Events has promoted Charlene Rabideau to managing director of North America. Rabideau will oversee the company’s event management, media and production services, and meetings management solutions, bringing to bear her 25 years of industry experience, the last 17 with BCD M&E. Most recently, she served as senior vice president of meetings management for North America. We caught up with her to ask about the current industry landscape.

MeetingsNet: In-person meetings are returning, but virtual meetings are likely to have a bigger role in the meeting mix going forward. In the virtual-meeting realm, what is the most important role for third-party planning companies?
Rabideau: The dramatic shift to virtual formats since the onset of the pandemic challenged existing meetings protocols, procedures, delivery methods, skill sets, engagement strategies, and more. Most organizations have integrated specific virtual strategies into their overall strategic meeting management programs, which are managed, tracked, and measured in the same fashion as traditional in-person formats.

Beyond building knowledge and skill sets to provide flawless virtual execution, third-party planning companies have a significant responsibility to collaborate with customers as they adapt to more expansive SMM strategies. BCD M&E customers estimate that 20 percent to 30 percent of their meeting mix will remain virtual. We need to help them examine the most value-driven approach for managing virtual events while remaining in line with their organizational goals.

MeetingsNet: Can you name meeting-planning strategies that you’ve been happy to see go by the wayside?
Charlene Rabideau: The drive toward sustainability has positively impacted meetings programs in recent years, influencing strategy, design, and execution. Gone are the days of 300-page report manifests and on-site operating manuals. Technology has helped us move to a more streamlined and automated way of operating, not to mention the sustainable impacts of going paperless. Additionally, the gifting experience has changed substantially, resulting in a more personalized experience that has a sustainable impact. No more sourcing, shipping, and room drops: Companies are embracing performance-optimization solutions to personalize the gifting experience and opting to deliver either pre- or post-event, expanding the experience for their attendees. 

MeetingsNet: What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
Rabideau: I started playing soccer when I was 3.  I stopped playing in my twenties, but then in my thirties I started carting my kids around to soccer games and realized I really missed it. I picked it back up and now play year-round.

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