After a trying year for event professionals. members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2021 have proven resilience is a key skill in their toolkit. Byanca Ellul, CMP, Coordinator of Meeting Services at the Healthcare Information & Management Systems Society (HIMSS) in Chicago, shares her thoughts on what the pandemic fallout has taught her about the business events industry.
What has this year of disruption taught you about the industry?
This year has strengthened the faith I have in the hospitality industry and the resilience of the workers within it. This global pandemic has hit a lot of industries, families, and individuals extremely hard. While many businesses were able to switch to a work-from-home schedule, hospitality businesses had to shut their doors completely. The creativeness of take-out orders, new outdoor seating, etc. has been amazing to witness. Now more than ever, people in our industry are coming together to get back to in-person meetings and being able to dine out or stay in hotels — all while keeping everyone’s safety and health at the forefront. This disruption is not the first our industry has seen and I am positive this will not be the last, so I am grateful to see us working toward being successful on the other side.
How do you see your job changing as a result of the pandemic crisis?
My job has already begun to pivot to more online meetings/events. Even when we are able to have in-person events again, digital aspects will be more prominent than ever before. We will be forced to think of scenarios and situations we may have not have faced prior to the pandemic, such as temperature-taking stations, an abundance of sanitation stations, etc. I believe this can be viewed as a positive, as meeting and event planners we must always be thinking ahead and of ways to change and adapt. Although a pandemic is pushing us in these directions, we should be thinking about ways to improve the safety and wellbeing of our attendees regardless.
How do you see the industry changing as a result of the pandemic?
As much as the industry is taking a hit during the pandemic, I do believe once it’s safe to meet again, our industry will thrive. This year was so hard on so many people — financially, mentally, and physically — and I do believe people will be more than ready to get back to personal interaction once it’s safe. This year has reminded people how special and important it is to just be able to go to dinner with friends and family. Not being able to hug or be close to one another or not being able to see an employee’s welcoming smile when you walk through the door are very small things, but when they’re taken away, they leave a huge gap in our day-to-day lives.