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. Christina Pino, CMP, DES, Conference Logistics and Design Manager at Stellato Meeting Solutions, LLC, in Olney, Maryland, shares her thoughts on the business events industry and what new skills she has learned as a result of the pandemic.
How do you see your job changing as a result of the pandemic crisis?
I’ve seen my role expand and shrink in so many ways since March, and I am fortunate to have remained employed. The impact of COVID-19 has me trading in some of my favorite tasks, such as creating custom menus and helping develop renderings for our show-floor structures, for new ones such as generating a digital event experience that gives the attendee a feeling of being in-person. I’m now focused on connection and how each individual experiences the conference from their home, with a goal of making them feel like they aren’t alone. This pandemic has rocked everyone in different ways, so the sense of community they gain while at our conferences gives them the normalcy we all are craving. So, in a way, my job has stayed the same in that I am driven to have each person who participates gain an experience that they find valuable. This time, it’s through their computer screen and not in a meeting room.
How do you see the industry changing as a result of the pandemic?
The pandemic gave the industry and its professionals an opportunity to take a hard look at processes and those implementing them. While we all are ready for 2020 to end and the crisis to diffuse, I am hopeful a few changes will stay. There has been emphasis on the well-being and comfort level of every individual who comes in contact with their service, whether that’s an airport, hotel, or restaurant. Email communications, signage, and word-of-mouth messages have given people peace of mind, knowing that you went the extra mile to ensure their area is clean and that their safety is a top priority. This is something that I hope will remain. Being in the hospitality industry, we know we always push for the best experience. In the past, what we did to make that happen is not always understood by those receiving our services; now it is.
What new skills has the pandemic led you to pursue?
Outside of securing my Digital Event Strategist certification, I’ve been using my time at home to strengthen my Greek speaking skills. Our day-to-day activities have been focused on staring at a screen, so I wanted to find something that took me away from it. In 2019, I ran a conference in Chicago and many of the catering staff spoke Greek. I spoke enough to know what they were saying, and we built a wonderful relationship being able to communicate in their first language. Ever since then, I’d been wanting to push myself to purchase workbooks but never made the time. This pandemic has given me the chance to finally do that.