Tara Zeravsky, CMP, Senior Association & Conference Manager
Can you provide some of your background as a meeting professional?
I entered the hospitality industry 22 years ago as a registration coordinator for Tupperware Brands. I then became a planner for the same company, responsible for regional and national sales meetings, incentive trips, and educational programs. A few years later, I became the manager of the events department. I then accepted a position as a meeting planner with Meeting Expectations, and have also spent time managing an association for industry professionals.
Why did you choose to become a meeting professional?
I had no plans to become a meeting planner. In fact, I was working on my master’s degree in with the intention of making a career in HR. As opportunities continued to present themselves to me in the hospitality industry, I realized how much I loved planning
What was the most challenging/fun event you have been involved in to date?
My most rewarding program was a corporate social responsibility program in Atlanta. An HR association that I was working with partnered with Hope House to spend a day on a beautification project in one of their communities. Eighty HR professionals came together to paint rooms, landscape, plant a garden, enhance a children’s play area, and stock a food closet. Though this was not a traditional planning experience, there was still quite a bit of logistical planning involved.
What are the greatest rewards of being a meeting professional?
One of greatest rewards of being a meeting professional is seeing it all come together. The months of planning, researching, strategizing, and negotiating, all pays off with an amazing event and the satisfaction of exceeding a client’s and their attendees’ expectations.
How has COVID-19 affected you personally?
Personally, I have lost a former colleague to the virus and another very close friend recently recovered from it. Professionally, most of my in-person events for 2020 either canceled or went virtual. Additionally, many and friends have lost their jobs and are struggling to find new positions. My hope is we all grow from this experience, learn new techniques and skills, and come out stronger on the other side.
Have you or are you in the process of planning any virtual/hybrid events? If so, which platform are you using?
Just recently I assisted in planning a three-day virtual event and we used Zoom for all sessions. I am also working on another association’s virtual conference which will also be using Zoom. Across our company, we’ve planned or executed more than 50 virtual events so far this year, with many more to come.
Are you in the process of planning any in-person events in the remaining months of 2020?
Our September educational luncheon was a hybrid event with up to 50 participating in-person, and we are also planning another event for November, an outdoor bocce tournament for approximately 75 to100 participants.
What do you see as the future of the travel and tourism industry?
There is a great need for virtual events and I am all in favor of doing what is needed to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, our clients and attendees are missing out on making valuable connections, memorable experiences, and sharing best practices with other attendees. Nothing replaces a live event.