President & Chief Event Strategist, Every Last Detail Events
Describe your job.
I’m a professional “connector.” I create optimized spaces and opportunities for people to come together, virtually or in person. Also, I connect questions to answers, problems to solutions, needs
to fulfillment, and messages to audiences. On another level, I connect individuals to communities, knowledge, and motivation.
How did you get started, and what got you from there to today?
I was an English major at the University of Georgia and then got a post-graduate certificate in publishing. After 9/11, my plans to work in publishing in New York never materialized. After a few years of freelance, I saw an opening for an event planner. I didn’t even know that event planning was a job. I applied and got it! From the first day, I knew I was ‘home.’
Do you have a favorite type, size, or style of event to plan or do you like variety?
I love variety. Any given day, a new client or program can cross my desk and deliver an opportunity for something different, whether it’s a new destination, group size, special component, or team structure. I value the growth that comes with “stretching” myself with each client and event.
What’s your best experience of turning lemons into lemonade?
For a program this past summer, I ordered—well in advance—branded lanyards for a sponsor. They were being shipped from overseas, but we couldn’t track them and never received them. To give the sponsor the value they expected, I revised their benefits proposal to include having their logo printed onto the individual name badges instead of lanyards. For more perks, we gave them a full beverage registration “welcome” station. Lemonade was on the menu! It was a nail-biter, but it worked. Our solution generated even more exposure and value for the sponsor. It also let them know that we would do all that we could to make them successful.
What’s your proudest moment so far in your career?
I had the honor of being named to the inaugural #BizBash500 in 2018, recognizing the ‘Top 500 People in Events.’ I was floored to see my name among so many industry legends.
How has your business adapted to the ongoing uncertainties and challenges of the pandemic?
I acknowledged early on the best way to continue hosting engaging, productive events was to switch fully to virtual mode. I made a full conversion back then and invested my energy and efforts into learning all I could about leveraging technology, collaboration, and production to the fullest. Now I have a renewed confidence in providing the best options for clients and helping them determine if virtual, in person, or hybrid is right
How do you keep up with industry trends and cutting-edge developments in the convention and meeting business? What new event industry trends are you excited about?
I stay involved, read all the posts and articles I can, and actively participate in webinars/conferences. Industry Facebook groups are wonderful, too. Right now, I’ve been really interested in learning about creative engagement methods that give participants the best experience possible.
What are the essential skills every newcomer into the industry should possess?
Be as detailed and comprehensive as possible. We don’t want to become micromanagers, but we should never take anything for granted. We must see every aspect of the event and execution through. Strong communications skills are essential and mindreading comes in handy.
What is your main takeaway from navigating the events industry during a pandemic? What changes made during the pandemic do you think will still be around in a few years?
It’s helped forge some very powerful partnerships and collaborations. Planners and production experts are working in tandem much earlier for event design and strategies to create exceptional events. The same is true between planners and CVBs/DMOs, planners, DMCs, and others. Hopefully, this teamwork will continue to grow.
What is your best advice for industry newcomers, and what was the best advice you received as a newcomer?
Embrace these times, learn all you can, explore all possibilities, and go with the flow. The best advice I received was to
plug into industry associations as soon as possible.