Michelle Manire opened the meeting and event planning company Coast to Coast Conferences & Events (CTC), based in Long Beach, California, in 1994 following a career in the hospitality industry.
She has pivoted to adjust her business through numerous recessions and catastrophic events. The COVID-19 pandemic was not different, and Michelle received her certification in Virtual Meeting and Event Management through the Event Leadership Institute.
Michelle believes in social responsibility and community involvement and she serves as a mentor for other women business owners.
We asked her to share her insights and industry expertise.
What skills have you needed to learn or develop throughout your career?
I always found it interesting that an event planner/coordinator always ranks in the top 10 most stressful jobs year after year. As I ponder why that might be, I had an “aha” moment. We are orchestra leaders relying on the musicians to play in key. If one of the musicians is out of tune it can cause problems for everyone!
There are too many tangible and intangible skills needed to be a successful event management company owner to list. The eight most important skills that to succeed and excel in the events industry are:
- We are not event planners but strategic client partners
- We are our client’s advocate
- We have to be an effective team leader while having fun
- We must have the ability to analyze, assess, and solve
- We have partners, not vendors
- Time management is key in achieving deadlines and keeping your sanity
- Organization is critical in managing the multitude of details and not letting anything fall through the cracks
- Clear written and verbal communication reduces repetitiveness
How have you pivoted your business to adapt to the pandemic?
When in March of 2020 the events industry ceased to exist due to COVID-19, so did CTC’s business. We immediately acted, knowing to be of value to our clients in transitioning their in-person events to virtual events, we needed to immediately learn all aspects of the virtual and hybrid event space. We called it “flex courage”: the ability to face reality and “grow” through it, not “go” through it.
In April 2020 I received a certification in Virtual Meeting and Event Management through the Event Leadership Institute. Knowing that when in-person events would take place safety protocols and hybrid events would be required, I received a certification in Pandemic Meeting and Event Design.
We have been producing virtual conferences and events for a year. To produce a professional event that has production value requires an event platform, which is expensive. Nonprofits, small businesses, and associations can’t afford the cost of producing a professional event. To fill this void we produced a product, Virtual Event Depot, which provides all the services and products needed to create a professional event at a fraction of the cost.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to new event professionals?
Step into learning. In the pandemic there were three types of planners: planners who jumped into the unknown feet first, planners who sat on the sidelines thinking that the pandemic would be over soon, and planners who were frozen and didn’t know where to turn, so they stayed put.
Be a lifelong learner. Learn the skills that are needed in today’s environment.
What are you most excited about for the future of the event industry?
The unknown! Our industry is evolving, and it is exciting to be on the ground level and be a part of shaping the future.
How has being an ELI member benefited your career? I give ELI credit in assisting us pivoting quickly to virtual events. At the beginning of the pandemic, I attended every webinar dealing with virtual events. There were no programs that provided comprehensive education on virtual events. In April I opened my email and there it was, ELI’s Virtual Event & Meeting Management certification course. I felt like I hit the jackpot and immediately signed up. The icing on the cake was Brandt Krueger. He provided the step-by-step process that we needed to be confident in transitioning our clients’s in-person events to virtual events. It’s been a blast.
You can reach Michelle on LinkedIn or ctcconferences.com.
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