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At IMEX, Industry Veterans Share Their Best Covid-Era Lessons

Planners and suppliers offered the wisdom they gained professionally and personally throughout the 18-month interruption of in-person meetings.

During the Smart Monday educational track at this week’s IMEX America show in Las Vegas, one breakout session saw small groups of planners and suppliers tap into each other’s Covid-era experiences to become better able to thrive in the post-pandemic environment.

At a roundtable comprising two planners, a vice president of sales for a large hotel chain, two former hoteliers who were furloughed and moved on to convention and visitors bureaus, and a corporate gifting specialist, here were some of the observations and lessons shared:

Most difficult professional challenges of the past 18 months
• Keeping expectations in check and moving past disappointment as initial plans, and then backup plans, changed significantly or simply fell through. In short, developing resilience.

• Becoming less confident in what they are told by business partners and even colleagues because the unprecedented situation kept even the near future uncertain.

• As hotel companies downsized on the group-sales side, reps with less experience and lower salaries were often retained while more-experienced reps were furloughed. This caused great uncertainty for mid-career and late-career hotel salespeople as well as complications for planners trying to fulfill their organizations’ backlog of in-person meetings.

Best things to happen professionally in the past 18 months
• Defining more clearly what they want to do in their work, and the specific impact they want to make. In short, figuring out the “why” that gets them out of bed in the morning.

• Increased personal confidence in their ability to pivot successfully, in ways such as adapting to different event formats, shorter lead times, and fewer team members.

• Understanding technology better and being less intimidated by it, which creates new possibilities going forward.

• Having workplace flexibility.

Most difficult personal challenges of the past 18 months
• The constant tension of not being in a familiar environment anymore, but without knowing what the future environment will be. As a result, they don’t know how to proceed in an environment that is still in flux while having no clarity on when the new environment will become settled.

• Getting back to socializing effectively in person while making sure the people you interact with are comfortable with that event’s in-person environment.

Best things to happen personally in the past 18 months
• Developing the ability to say “no” more often when it comes to work demands that bleed into family and personal time.

• Becoming a more-proactive networker and using connections wisely to move along on a specific goal or project.

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