Senior Manager of Housing, Visit Knoxville; Knoxville, Tennessee

Members of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties class of 2019 see a bright future for the business events industry, a future to which they plan to contribute. Erin Simcox shares her impressions of and expectations for the industry.

What do you like most about your job?

I love working in a fast-paced industry that consistently offers a variety of unique experiences, both professionally and personally. Both are of great value to me.

Professionally, I have endless opportunities to customize and enhance the overall event experience for partners, planners, and attendees. From start to finish, I enjoy being responsible for the many moving pieces that go into servicing an event’s hotel needs. Each new event feels a bit like solving a puzzle, and I embrace the challenge of putting those pieces together to create something extraordinary. The only constant in this industry is change, and I love the freedom that gives me to try new things. I appreciate any opportunity to grow.

On a personal level, I find a great sense of purpose in cultivating relationships and learning from people from all over the world. I thrive on new experiences, and I consider myself lucky to be part of an industry that encourages growth in this way.

Where would you like your career to go?

I find my motivation by creating detailed processes, implementing new ideas, and coming up with beneficial solutions for event needs, specifically pertaining to convention housing services. I like variety, and in an industry that is constantly evolving with new opportunities, it is challenging to choose one direct path. However, contributing to the growth of convention housing services at a higher level is a goal that is extremely close to my heart. I want to use my knowledge and experience to help advocate for the service that I am so passionate about, and hopefully some day educate organizations that are new to the idea about the many benefits that event housing technology provides to planners, hotels, and attendees. I am so eager to see what developments are introduced for housing services in the future. I have a feeling we’re just getting started. I know I am.

What’s the best day you’ve had in the meetings industry so far?

Being onsite for the opening day of any event is a perfect day in my book. Yes, it can be stressful. Yes, you’re hoping everything you’ve worked so hard on comes together flawlessly. And yes, the hours are always long. But there is just something so special about seeing the attendees’ enthusiasm when they arrive. You see first-time attendees walking around with that unmissable look of anticipation. You see returning attendees excited to reconnect with the friends they’ve made in the past. People from all over the world revel in the opportunity to explore a new city. The mood and atmosphere at the beginning of an event simply cannot be recreated.

They say that everyone needs to find their “why” for doing what they do. Contributing to new experiences is mine. It seems simple on the surface, and maybe even a bit broad, but I am so inspired by witnessing the journeys of others and getting to be part of their stories, even if only for a few days. The days that I get to see that investment come to fruition are my favorite.

What will be the biggest change in the industry over the next 20 years?

I think we’re going to see vast improvements in event technology, and I’m optimistic about the effect it will have on the conventions industry as a whole. The introduction of new technology in the future is a given, but I know we are going to also see significant changes with existing technology, specifically relating to integrations among established leading solutions. While many systems already are “talking” on some level, we’re on the verge of major developments in seamless integrations, which will lead to an improvement of data flow and an overall more flawless process and event experience for both event managers and attendees. The evolution of event technology will undoubtedly bring major changes to conventions as we know them.

Despite the uncertainty some may have regarding the effects technology could have on our industry’s future, I don’t think technological advancements are anything to be feared. Instead, I think that event managers who embrace creativity and think outside of the box will thrive more than ever before — we’re just going to have to shift our focus a bit. Historically, conventions have often been used primarily as a platform to provide content of some kind. Content always will be of utmost importance to any worthwhile event, but in a world where information has become easily accessible to us 24/7 (and often for free), we are going to have to alter our mission beyond just prioritizing content alone. In the future, we’ll see a much larger emphasis placed on the unique experiences an event can offer that attendees would not be able to replicate from behind their laptop. I think in the next few years, we will see fewer single-venue events with a lecture style set-up, and instead opt to use venues more creatively, selecting spaces that provide opportunity for interaction while also showing off the host city’s character. Our industry is in the unique position to offer attendees hands-on, shared experiences that will provide them with the opportunity not only to learn, but also to find their tribe and cultivate relationships with like-minded professionals — something technology can enhance but cannot produce on its own to the same extent.

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