By Gina Guerreso
With the New Year upon us, preparations for events in 2019 are well underway. Still, we find it’s important to hit the pause button and reflect on getting to this point. We celebrate our successes, but can’t forget the challenges, the times we were pushed outside of our comfort zone. What have we learned that can help propel us into this next event season, stronger, more prepared and ready to produce events that exceed our goals?
Let’s hear from some of the Event 360 team on their greatest lessons learned in 2018.
Janelle Benuska, Account Director
Pause, Think, Proceed. As someone who loves to be as responsive as possible, I’ve learned over the past year that pausing to think before proceeding is not only important but paramount, especially when we are busy. I love a “clean” inbox, love to check items off my list, love volleying the ball back to the other team (colleague or client…you get the point). But there are times when doing that in the name of responsiveness results in lack of thoughtfulness and quality. There’s no point in responding to an email if the response won’t move things forward, even if the forward motion is additional questions and information gathering so that the project can proceed along the most effective trajectory. Overall, I’ve learned that action isn’t always progress, and speed isn’t always efficiency. These things require time and attention, so let that email loom in the inbox until you are ready and able to give it the full contemplation required.
Robin Shapiro, Volunteer Operations Manager
This year I learned the value of a detailed job specific on-event checklist. Over my 13-year tenure with the 3-Day, I’ve staffed nearly 40 3-Day events. This year I had the opportunity to experience a position brand new to me. I filled in for a co-worker as the Participant Experience Manager, lovingly referred to as the PEM. I always knew that the PEM was responsible for making sure a lot of event goodies and incentives get to the right people, setting up experiential elements at camp and helping make sure the Opening and Closing Ceremonies run smoothly. What I didn’t know was how much detail goes into making all of that happen. The co-worker I filled in for set me up with a super detailed check-list that clearly outlined everything I needed to know from where I needed to be at any given time, what I needed to do there and where I could find all of the needed SWAG and supplies. Would I have gotten it all done without the detailed checklist? Probably. But it would have been much more stressful for me and the participants would have definitely experienced the bumps and stress. The time my co-worker took to set me up well benefited everyone in the end. My goal is to pay it forward to make sure all of the job specific timelines and checklists that I manage are detailed and thorough, so my colleagues get the benefit that I experienced.
Molly Fast, Local Operations Director
During the Susan G. Komen Dallas/Fort Worth 3-Day which took place the first weekend of November, I learned how important it is to communicate with participants even if you don’t have all the information. On that Saturday, just after all the participants crawled into their tents for the night, we watched from our Command Center as a pretty intense rain and lightning storm was making its way to our campsite. The decision was made to get all participants out of their tents and move them into a nearby community college to wait out the storm and see if it would be safe for them to return to their tents to sleep for the night. After an hour of heavy rains and crazy lightning, we checked in with the participants and let them know that we were going to assess the campsite and see if it was safe for them to return. Then we told them there were a couple of options for how this would play out if the coast was clear: either they’d sleep in their tent or they could come back into the college and spend the night there. When it came time to allow them to go back to their tents, we made another announcement and let the participants know that we’d be taking them in three different groups. While people waited for their group to be called, we provided updates so they knew how long they’d be waiting. It was a long few hours as we got participants resettled inside the college with their belongings (some of them wet). But by the time participants were settled in for the night, they were dry (a huge win!), warm (we went out and got blankets and pillows knowing some participants would need a replacement due to the intensity of the storm) and satisfied with how the relocation played out.
The next morning, while people were tired and some were frustrated that their belongings got wet (despite the fact that they were tucked inside their tents during the storm), not a single person was upset at how it was handled. They took the time to tell us that they were appreciative of how we handled the situation and that we kept them updated throughout the process. It was such a great reminder that participants want to be kept in the loop, even if you don’t have all the information.
Kat Thomas, Event Production Manager
One lesson learned (or I should say relearned): 5 and 5 rule: if it’s not going to matter in 5 months don’t spend more then 5 minutes thinking about it. We can all obsess over making the “right” decision when it seems like it’s going to make or break an event. In actuality it’s usually best to take a step back and remember the big picture, your client needs and most of all the participant needs.
We are certainly grateful it was another successful year for the Event 360 team. Hopefully the lessons we’ve shared are helpful moving forward into 2019. What are some lessons you’ve learned in the past year? Please share with us so we can learn from you!
Gina is going into her 15th event season with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®. She is honored to work with the fabulous Crew and Volunteers who give their time, energy and passion to the 3-Day. When not wearing her Event 360 hat, she loves spending time with her family, especially her two little ones. Her word for 2019 is “trust.”