Tami Maynard, Executive Assistant, Agency Operations
Council on Occupational Education (COE)
Can you provide some of your background as a meeting professional?
I have been involved with meeting planning for the past 21 years with the same company arranging annual events for conferences, board meetings, committee meetings, training workshops, staff retreat and appeal hearings. My prior meeting experience years started with ETS (Educational Testing Services) in the marketing division of convention services and in test development for computer-based programs.
Why did you choose to become a meeting professional?
The position became available within three months of my employment after the former planner retired. I had previous experience with setting up training meetings and exhibiting software for ETS at conferences.
What was the most challenging/fun event you have been involved in to date?
Learning to arrange virtual meetings in a short time due to the impact of COVID-19. Our company started offering webinars last year to groups between 20 to 100 participants.
What are the greatest rewards of being a meeting professional?
I attribute it to gaining knowledge and professional skills to organize, executive, and host different types of programs with achieving the outcome of the organization and the objectives set for our membership. I learned early hard work and commitment lets our members know they matter significantly to the success of our goals.
How has COVID-19 affected you personally?
I am developing more patience with others during the implementation of new procedures we need to have in place for staying on course with the objectives for the association. It has been difficult to work every day from home with limited exposure to my family, friends, and colleagues. I truly miss the opportunity to see and experience new destinations that I would visit or work in.
Have you or are you in the process of planning any virtual/hybrid events? If so, which platform are you using?
Our summer conference in July was a virtual event using the Zoom platform for 350 participants. We were planning on holding our November annual meeting virtually through Zoom as well. No immediate plans are being made to hold any virtual/hybrid events but that could change if there are no improvements soon with the pandemic.
Are you in the process of planning any in-person events in the remaining months of 2020?
The COE leadership suspended all in-person travel and events for the rest of 2020. The only meeting held in-person in this year was the February winter commission meeting. Nearly all other meetings have been rescheduled for the same time next year with the exception of our annual meeting, which I am currently looking to move to November 2022.
What do you see as the future of the travel and tourism industry?
I believe the recovery will be a slow process to reassure travelers it is safe to meet in-person with protocols in place for social distancing in meeting venues, dining in less-crowded areas with healthier choices, upgraded guestrooms, and provisions to offer clean and open space with solutions to disinfect surfaces of common areas to all guests.