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. Jean Thomae, CMP, a residential real estate agent in Arlington, Virginia, shares her thoughts on what innovation brought about by the pandemic she hopes will remain a part of the business events industry.
What has this year of disruption taught you about the industry?
This industry is resilient and powerful. The hospitality, tourism, and event-planning field is filled with incredibly strong characters who were already demonstrating innovation and problem-solving on a daily basis, prior to this disruption. While this crisis is devastating, this group of professionals was born for this. We are creative, thoughtful, calm under intense pressure, intelligent, quick on our feet — and we are very determined. Every event program has both challenges and accomplishments — this pandemic is the same. It has presented us with both highs and lows and our industry should be proud of how innovative and successful we have been during this time.
What new skills has the pandemic led you to pursue?
Little did I know going in, 2020 would be a year of growth and learning I could have never imagined. I trained on a vast number of virtual event experiences and virtual event platforms. Not only have I developed new skills in digital-program planning, but I have taken a step back to connect with clients on their 2020 experience, and their newly crafted team goals on a larger scale. Both the technical training and the strategic understanding have been eye-opening to say the least. I have also decided to utilize my great passion for customer service and love for making people happy in another market sector as well. As of this fall, I am now a licensed residential real estate agent. This added competency in my life has many parallels to my event-planning expertise and I look forward to developing this path and fostering this new skill. It has been a wonderful year of growth and development.
What creative initiative or innovation have you seen this year that you believe should remain after this crisis passes?
I suppose it goes without saying that enhancing sanitation procedures is an excellent step forward. Additionally, I feel that our use of technology has been incredible this year. Our recent innovation and dramatically improved virtual experiences for our participants will make for a better future. Attendees who could not attend events due to travel restrictions or expense previously will now be impressed by the online experience. These individuals will be significantly more inclined to join as a remote participant, driving attendance numbers and exposure overall. This will expand networking capabilities, normalize hybrid events, and drive our industry in a progressive direction.