On average, Total Excellence in Association Management (TEAM) has about 75 meetings planned during a calendar year for our clients. These meetings range from small board meetings with exclusive attendance to major multi-day national conferences with hundreds of registered attendees, sponsors and exhibitors. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, our team of expert meeting managers were faced with many challenges and decisions to make regarding the fate of our 2020 and 2021 meetings. Some of the most prevalent challenges our meeting managers faced included: deciding the fate of the already planned meeting, navigating new platforms, and creating a beneficial experience for attendees and sponsors alike. Read on to learn more about how TEAM meeting managers are navigating association meeting planning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Making a Decision on the Meeting’s Fate
Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, TEAM meeting managers already had many in-person meetings booked, planned and paid for. When the world started changing so rapidly, our meeting managers had to carefully assess client budgets and event contracts. Is our client financially stable enough to not host a meeting? What costs will they accrue if they postponed the meeting or transitioned to virtual? Will the signed venue contract permit postponing or canceling the event without any financial penalty? Because the nature of our clients are medical organizations, our meetings tend to provide critical continuing education to our members that is needed to maintain their license to practice medicine. This caused another problem for TEAM meeting managers, because if they were forced to cancel the event, they would need to determine a way to provide the continuing education opportunities our physician members so heavily rely on. Our meeting managers worked around the clock to propose the best course of action for each individual TEAM client. Because none of our organizations are the same, TEAM meeting managers were able to come up with personalized solutions that made the most sense for each individual client.
Navigating a New, Virtual World
Prior to COVID-19, it was not common for TEAM clients to host virtual events, especially not events as complicated as many of our meeting managers were now finding themselves planning virtually. TEAM meeting experts started by spending countless hours researching different platforms to deliver meeting content while taking into account that many clients had to accept budget limitations and the fact that many of their in-person meeting elements did not necessarily translate to a virtual environment. While some events were postponed or cancelled entirely, many of the planned events were being transitioned from in-person to virtual. Our meeting managers had to quickly become experts on virtual meeting technologies, train speakers and attendees on how to use the new virtual meeting platform technologies and troubleshoot issues all while hosting the meeting live. Each meeting provided new insight into the successes and failures of the virtual meeting world helping our meeting managers to learn and improve.
Making the Meeting Worthwhile for Everyone
As previously mentioned, many of our clients are associations in the medical industry with memberships consisting of physicians. For many of our events, Continuing Medical Education (CME) is a great value offered to members and something they depend on every year. Our meeting managers worked tirelessly with the CME Accreditation Office to ensure our member physicians would have access to these important CME opportunities, whether the initial planned event was postponed, canceled or transitioned to virtual. By working with the speakers and the clients volunteer planning committees, our meeting managers were able to provide the vital continuing education to our members in a variety of different formats.
Another important audience our meeting managers had to work hard to appease was exhibitors and sponsors. Exhibit and sponsorship dollars provide TEAM clients with thousands of dollars in non-dues revenue each year. The relationship between a client organization and corporate sponsors is extremely important to maintain, even through the pandemic. TEAM meeting managers were able to develop creative and beneficial sponsorships to offer our corporate sponsors who typically look forward to meeting with our members face-to-face during in-person meetings. By adding incentives like door prizes and giveaways’ for visiting the virtual exhibit halls, our meeting managers have been able to provide an engaging experience for our attendees in which our loyal sponsors and exhibitors were able to see virtual traffic similar to what they would have experienced at an in-person meeting.
TEAM meeting managers were faced with great adversity with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but their expertise and professionalism shined bright during the chaotic first few months. The experience they gained during this has set up TEAM current and future clients for success, whether future events are in-person, virtual, or hybrid. Learn more about our meeting management services by visiting www.winwithteam.com.