Owner and chief event officer, The Event Lounge
Describe your job.
Since I started the company 11 years ago, my talented in-person and virtual event team has produced more than 5,000 meetings, conferences, events, and activations around the globe. We offer live and virtual meeting management and production services, so we have a warehouse full of props, décor, and linens, as well as a fulfillment warehouse.
The last 18 months have required some innovation, resulting in the formation of a new company, Virtu-Meet. The pandemic forced us to begin focusing on supporting virtual meetings and events. Before long, we created and trademarked our own event technology suite of solutions called Virtu-Meet. It’s a three-pronged technology solution equipped with a fully customizable virtual meeting and trade show module. Virtu-Meet also features a full event registration module and will soon include a mobile app module.
How did you get started, and what got you from there to today?
In 1992, I headed off to college thinking I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. But after doing a summer internship at a radio station, I changed my major to business administration with an emphasis in marketing. Later, I answered an ad for an office assistant position at a local event and concert production company. Two months later, management chose me to become a junior event producer. When the production company I was working for in 2010 closed their doors, I decided to start a full-service meeting and event production company. Hence, The Event Lounge was born!
Do you have a favorite type, size, or style of event to plan, or do you like variety?
I am a creative and innovative person, so I love being a part of any event or conference featuring new, unique, and highly imaginative components. I love creating unforgettable and compelling connections among attendees. I thrive on helping my clients create a themed message we can thread through all components of an event to reinforce goals and objectives.
What’s your best experience of turning lemons into lemonade?
During the pandemic, after losing $2.8 million worth of business and working from home, I suggested to my controller, who wasn’t having luck finding the right virtual meeting software solution for us, that we build our own. With that, I embarked on the quest to build a software platform, and Virtu-Meet was born.
What’s your proudest moment so far in your career?
Turning the key in the door of the first large building we leased, perhaps? Having the trademark issued for Virtu-Meet? Or, maybe it’s how hard my entire work family knuckled down so we could thrive through COVID. Many things make me proud. But there’s nothing like the moment a ballroom door opens, and the attendees see an event space for the first time, or when a client tells me that we produced the best event they ever had.
How has your business adapted to the ongoing uncertainties and challenges of the pandemic?
One word: Innovation. Whether it was the creation of Virtu-Meet or our ever-evolving suite of VIX—virtual interactive experiences—my team is always on the leading edge of the next industry trend.
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 watch current events, pop culture, and social media trends very closely and read industry publications and blogs. I am a member of MPI and regularly attend their virtual and live events. I also pay close attention to what is happening with technology.
I love that people are realigning their lifestyles, so there is better life balance and more focus on family, friends, and creating memorable experiences. The technology movement is also exciting and has impacted how we produce and attend events. Event and meeting planners need to stay current about technology trends, offerings, and the various solutions that exist to enhance events.
What are the essential skills every newcomer into the industry should possess?
Early on, I understood that this is not a career: it is a lifestyle. You must be passionate, focused, flexible, and people-oriented to be a truly great meeting and event professional.