My friend Meagan Strout (CEO of Tack Advisors – the leading provider of management consulting and recruitment for administrative professionals) agreed to share the recording of this recent webinar she hosted with Lacretia Adamski about planning events in a post-covid world.
Meagan and Lacretia (senior executive assistant at Salesforce) discuss the new paradigm for event planning, including pre-event communication, onsite testing, and creating a hybrid virtual experience.
If you, or someone you know, are getting excited about hosting in-person or virtual events this holiday season, I know you’ll enjoy their conversation.
Thank you Meagan and the Tack Advisors team for sharing this featured session with the Leader Assistant Community!
THIS EPISODE’S FEATURED SPONSOR
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CONNECT WITH TACK ADVISORS
- Access this webinar replay, and other on-demand webinars, at tackadvisors.co/webinars-on-demand/
Lacretia Caldwell Adamski has 15 years of experience in executive support across multiple industries including SaaS, health administration, higher education, and government. Throughout her career, she has also formed and managed administrative teams. Lacretia currently serves as a senior executive assistant at Salesforce, where she provides direct support to the President, Global Public Sector and leads an international administrative team of 15 that globally supports over 1,000 employees.
Lacretia also serves as a mentor/coach and has been a guest panelist for several webinars dedicated to advancing administrative professionals. She has been recognized by Salesforce Women’s Network as Woman of the Month (July 2020) and by WashingtonExec as a finalist for the 2020 Executive Assistant of the Year, cementing her reputation as a trailblazer within the executive support community. She is also a founding member of the DC Admin Awards Executive Board.
Outside of work, Lacretia is a savvy gourmand who loves dining out almost as much as she enjoys cooking at home. She loves to develop her own recipes and is working on a food blog. In 2019, Lacretia also earned a WSET 2 certification in Wine & Spirits. She often uses her love of food and wine in her third passion, event planning. A New Jersey native, Lacretia holds a B.S. degree in Public Health from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She currently lives in Northern Virginia where she and her husband enjoy hosting dinner parties at their home.
Meagan Strout is the Founding Partner and CEO of Tack Advisors, the only full-service Recruiting and Consulting firm that is dedicated to progressing the role of administrative professionals. Meagan has 6 years of experience recruiting for Executive Assistants, Personal Assistants and Chiefs of Staff to support the world’s most influential leaders. Prior to transitioning her career to Talent Acquisition, Meagan worked in luxury hospitality for over a decade with Four Seasons, The Ritz-Carlton and The Breakers. While working in hospitality, she provided ‘Five Diamond’ leadership and administrative support to clients and guests around the world; and recruited, on-boarded and trained highly efficient teams.
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Podcast Intro 0:03
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistants.
Jeremy Burrows 0:14
If you need to impress the board or your company’s clients, your favorite vendors, maybe the leadership team, maybe your admin team, maybe your families or your colleagues families, if you need to impress them this holiday season with a carefully and craftily packaged wine, and handwritten note gift pack, check out Elkhorn peak cellars. They’re a family owned vineyard and winery on the south end of the Napa Valley. This dynamic father, daughter duo of kin and Elise and their team can accommodate large or small orders for all of your holiday gifting needs this season. So visit ElkHornpeak.com/leaderAssistant ASAP to get your holiday wine packages ordered in time for the holidays. Now an important note for gift pack arrival before Christmas orders must be received no later than December 11 If you’re on the East Coast, and they can’t be received later than December 18. If you’re on the west coast. So December 11 Is your deadline to get things in before Christmas. If you’re on the East Coast and if you’re on the West Coast. December 18th Is your deadline. Oh and did I mention they sent me some wine a while back and it was very very delicious. Definitely check out Elkhorn peak cellars at Elkhornpeak.com/leaderAssistant now to order a carefully packaged wine plus handwritten note gift pack from Elkhorn peak. Alright, welcome to episode 142. Today I’m sharing a webinar replay from my friend Meagan Strout at attack advisors. She had a conversation with Lacretia Adamski at Salesforce, and Lucretia and I have known each other for a while. And I’m planning to have her on the show as a one on one interview in the future as well. But in the meantime, Lacretia and Meagan chat about planning events in a post COVID world. So hope you enjoy this replay. Check out the show notes at leaderassistant.com/142 to sync with Tech Advisors in Lacretia as well, but yeah, enjoy the conversation and we’ll talk soon.
Meagan Strout 2:37
Hello, everyone. My name is Megan Stroud and I am the CEO and tack advisors and today I’m joined by Lacretia Adamski, who is an executive assistant at Salesforce, and also a coach for attack advisors. And in a moment, I’m gonna allow her to introduce herself and share a little bit more about why we decided to do this webinar today. Awesome. So Lacretia, go ahead and just tell us a little bit more about you and your career and why we decided to do this webinar today.
Lacretia Adamski 3:04
Sure. Hi, everyone. as Megan said, my name is Lacretia and I’m based out in Northern Virginia, I have about 20 years of experience as an admin plus professional. And throughout my career, I’ve supported two presidents in one executive vice president in two different industries. Currently, I support the president of a global sales division at Salesforce. And I have managed in planned events and meetings in almost every stage of my career, ranging from executive retreats and offsites, to sales kickoff, and symposium, even doing bring your kid to work day programs. And after a year and half of virtual meetings, I’m so glad that we’re able to start planning and delivering in person events for our companies and teams. You know, but if I’m being honest, it was intimidating to organize my first executive off site earlier this year, the guidance around travel requirements and on site health and safety protocol has evolved a lot and it’s still evolving. And that can make the planning process more complicated, but not impossible. And the reality is everyone isn’t willing or able to travel. And so I want to talk about building flexibility into your event plans to accommodate remote and in person, attendees. So today, we’re going to focus on hybrid off site meetings, and how to navigate the planning process for a safe and productive event.
Meagan Strout 4:34
Awesome. Thanks so much. So you recently just did a one of your biggest hybrid offsite events. And so you had some people joining us from both, I think, Europe and then here and so, when you are tasked with this project, can you tell me a little bit more about you know, outside of the original stuff that you normally do for planning events in regards to like, you know, who, what, where, when and why, you know, what were some of the other steps that you had to take in considerations to make sure this was as seamless of an event as possible for those who couldn’t attend in person. And then also those had to, unfortunately, stay remote. Sure.
Lacretia Adamski 5:09
So first thing I did is to consider the transmission rates and trends in the local or the location of the event, that’s going to be determined by the CDC, state and local government, the CDC actually has a great tracker that breaks down trends across the US, it’s the CDC tracker by county view. From there, you would check the capacity guidelines for meetings and events, that’s something that’s usually going to be posted on a State Department, or your state’s website. And in some cases, depending on where you work, the company will have guidelines to ensure the safety of its employees. So you want to make sure you follow that to from there, you want to figure out who’s going to be attending in person, and virtually, because as I said before, some people aren’t willing to travel, especially on commercial flights, they could have an underlying health condition or be a caretaker of a loved one that does. And then on the other hand, there may be some attendees that won’t meet the vaccine travel requirements.
Meagan Strout 6:15
And we just actually shared with me and I dropped it into the chat, the CDC tracker, which I think is great. Now, in regards to some of these guidelines, were you instructed at all by Salesforce about what you know, within your company who could and could not attend? Or was it really solely based on what was going on with each country or each state?
Lacretia Adamski 6:35
It was primarily based on what was happening in the countries and the states where we were holding our events. And we have a team that is monitoring the trends all the time for us. So we’re very fortunate that we have that for us. But again, they were following the information that was posted on government and state websites.
Meagan Strout 6:56
Yeah. And then what I think is interesting in it is, is what I’ve been able to see, especially over the past few months is that, you know, testing, testing for people attending events, conferences, seems to be a little bit more accessible. So can you tell me a little bit more about how you would address testing for this particular meeting?
Lacretia Adamski 7:18
Yeah, I mean, there could be different sets of requirements for domestic and international travelers. And you can find that information if you’re working through a travel agency, or with the airline that your attendees will be using, even checking out the federal websites. Another great resource is test for travel. And what they do is break down the requirements based on the travelers city of origin and destination. And they also look at the reentry. And so that brings me to fit to fly testing. So a lot of cases, passengers are required to show a negative test result before they board the plane. Some are also required to do that when they enter the hosting country, or even for re entry into their home country. Some airlines also provide a list of approved test sites, or even a list of approved at home test kits so that they can test before they bought their planes.
Meagan Strout 8:20
Yeah, and this is great, because I know even for people who aren’t planning events this holiday season, there’s probably people who are starting to travel for the first time to go visit family members and friends or maybe go on holidays outside of the country. I know a lot of us are requiring these vaccines before you go. And so I’m going to have to take a look at this test for travel website because destinations I’m looking to go to that require that as well. So I think that’s awesome. Well, what else do we need to consider then for people who are you know, doing international travel?
Lacretia Adamski 8:54
Yeah, international travel can be tricky, because not all the countries accept the vaccines that are given abroad. So you’ll want to make sure that you compare what vaccines are accepted in the hosting country, to the vaccines that your attendees have been given. So I’ll give me an example where I had some of my attendees would have needed to quarantine because they were based in the UK and there was a specific vaccine that the US did not recognize at one point. I’m not sure if that’s changed or not. But because of that, you know, we really didn’t think it was right to have our attendees quarantine. So we made the decision to have them just attend virtually.
Meagan Strout 9:36
Okay, great. And then people who worked in mastic didn’t have to fly. What were you requiring for that?
Lacretia Adamski 9:41
Typically, you would just ask for proof of vaccination or a negative test result before arrival.
Meagan Strout 9:48
Okay, great. And so um, so now we’ve kind of talked about a little bit of what you took into consideration for physically getting people to the event. And so how did you approach the agenda? Under and building out what this program was going to look like, because he said like half of your attendees were come from Europe and couldn’t attend and how to be virtual. So how did you accommodate that to try to make that feel as inclusive and stunning of an experience as possible?
Lacretia Adamski 10:15
Yeah. So my event, one of my events had about 40 people, and it was about 5050, in person and virtual. So I made sure to discuss the flow of the meeting with the stakeholder in this case happened to be my executive. And so I really wanted to think through what the level of interaction for the meeting was going to be. And this is important when you’re planning your AV needs. So for example, if the meeting is going to be more of a strategic planning session with lots of brainstorming, you can expect a lot of back and forth and spontaneous dialogue. But if it’s going to be driven mostly by presentations and readouts, you’ll probably only have you know, a handful of speakers at a time. You’ll also want to go in to consider the time zones for your remote presenters, because you probably won’t want to have someone in Australia presenting at 12pm. Eastern, I think that’s like 2am their time. And so you should also make sure you build in enough breaks. A lot of times, you know, the people who are holding the meetings, they want to have all these things discussed. And you do have to push back and and make sure that you’re incorporating enough time to kind of step away from the screen. It’s it’s a toll on your remote participants. And I think we learned a lot from the past year with holding all these virtual meetings that it’s probably general best practice to break about every two hours. And so you’ll need to convey to your stakeholders and to your presenters, the importance of sticking to an agenda. And that’s really for two reasons. One is because your remote attendees may need to jump in and out because they have other priorities that are going to be competing for their attention. You’re also going to have some people that are participating remotely, that may need to attend only certain portions of your agenda. Either way, they’re going to have to rely on the times that are published. It’s also going to be helpful for you as the event organizer in coordinating when your food and beverage in the room is replenish.
Meagan Strout 12:22
Yeah, and I think we talked about that a little bit in this most recent event, because there were some of these meetings ran a little bit long, right. But you needed to stick to a very prudent beverage schedule. So you want to tell us a little bit about how you handle that when when you started to run over on time.
Lacretia Adamski 12:38
Yeah, I mean, that actually happens a lot even before COVID, right. And so as an event manager, you have to be able to rework the agenda right on site, communicate that with your stakeholder, and then also communicate it with your event staff. And so I had a situation where we were running, like 45 minutes over, and it was cutting into our lunch break, which then would have pushed out the rest of our afternoon. So I decided to call an audible. And I spoke to the event staff, I said, you know, instead of having lunch in our separate meeting space, we’re just going to have the server’s drop the lunch in the room, right. So just start dropping the salad, they’ll get the hint, they will say, Oh, it’s time to break. And, and that’s what we did. And, you know, I made sure that once people got through their first course that we got the second course down, had the desserts brought into the room. And I think we’re able to finish our lunch probably in about a little over 30 minutes, which is pretty good if you’ve run events before. And we were able to get back on track for the rest of the afternoon.
Meagan Strout 13:48
And great. And so what else did you discuss with your event manager at the hotel prior to joining for the actual event?
Lacretia Adamski 13:59
So I started my conversations with all of my venues with reviewing the COVID protocols. And you know, you want to make sure that you revisit that again before arriving on site, because they can change. And mine did change actually from when I first started building the program to about a week before we got there now,
Meagan Strout 14:19
and what can you give me some specific examples of things that maybe did change various times throughout the planning process and how you communicated that? Yeah, it
Lacretia Adamski 14:30
wasn’t too many things that changed. One being the mask mandate. I believe when we first started our event. There was no mask mandate, and then by the time we were ready to get there, they said they didn’t want all guests to wear masks. So you know that’s something that you want to prepare your guests for, so that they arrive with the mask. I also talk about what their check in procedures are. You know, throughout the pandemic, there have been different stages of life. Having contact list check in versus checking in at the front desk. Even housekeeping, right and making sure if there is a reduced or suspended housekeeping services, while your guests are on site, you may want to warn them about that. I also talked about precautions for servers and staff. In my situation, the servers were wearing gloves. And all staff was wearing masks, including the servers. And I believe they also provided vaccines to their staff, but it wasn’t mandatory. But she did mention that they had a pretty high vaccination rate. The other thing that’s important to talk about is developing a plan in case you have a positive case on site. Nobody wishes that but it’s just the reality of the world that we live in now. And so I wouldn’t recommend doing that on your own. You should coordinate with your operations team if you have one, your testing provider and your event manager.
Meagan Strout 16:08
Okay, great. And so, um, let’s talk about some contingencies you made in regards to the event phase. And then also, you mentioned about if you, if you ended up having a COVID positive test, you know, what we were going to do with that as well, and you had a false positive at one point, didn’t you?
Lacretia Adamski 16:27
We did have a false positive. And I’ll talk about that a little bit later on. But in terms of contingencies for the meeting space, you want to make sure that you have a larger space for AV at setup. And to accommodate for social distancing. I don’t think you need to do the six feet thing anymore. I mean, vaccines are readily available these days, three feet is plenty. And that’s not too far off from from what we were doing before the pandemic. But you may also want to consider having the room ventilated, especially if you have a smaller room, having access to a window or even outside door could be helpful. I think you should also think about considering outdoor space for your program. And that’s not just for meals and networking. But even for meetings, one of my colleagues held a two day meeting all outdoors. And thank god, she’s in California, so the weather was able to cooperate. And I don’t know if I could do that here in DC, especially in the fall. And then I would also talk about having a separate space for your on site testing. You really don’t want to do that in your meeting room at all.
Meagan Strout 17:45
Yeah. And so um, tell me a little bit more about how you ended up splitting up, you know, the space and where you did for like flow in and what for testing, because you had quite a extensive, like check in process for testing with COVID, where people can enter when people could exit and making sure people stayed in the bubble or very,
Lacretia Adamski 18:09
yeah, we did actually. For the testing, we made sure that everyone arrived masked, and we ask them to remain socially distanced. And, again, because of the situation where we had a false positive, you know, you don’t know until you run that test again, if it really is positive or not. So that’s the reason why you want to make sure that your attendees have masks and stay socially distanced, you can have them go back to their room, if the room is ready, you can have them go back to their car, or you can have them outside, socially distanced, we actually combined the check in process. So instead of having our guests go to the front desk to check in, we asked them to come to our testing site. And we not only did the COVID testing, but we also did give out their swag and their room key assignments if the rooms were ready. So that’s how we kind of made that check in process a little bit easier for our attendees.
Meagan Strout 19:14
That’s great. I remember back in my days working in hotels, we used to do satellite check and spot so that’s great that you can combine that when you have a group in house to make that kind of a one stop shop so so so now people are in the meetings, we talked briefly about food and beverage and how you had to sort of move the meeting along but just in general in regards to food and beverage what what are venues offering nowadays what you know, what is sort of best practice or what have you found to be best practice in regards to meal service for your attentiveness?
Lacretia Adamski 19:49
Yeah. So, you know, the go to for most meetings is buffet service. Right? And the hospitality industry is so accommodating that if you ask them to do buffet service, chances are they will do it. But you have to consider your audience right and so not many people are going to be eager to jump in the buffet line. And get it buffets are cost effective. But there are so many other options that you can consider bento boxes are a fun way for grab and go, especially 4am and pm breaks. plated meals are also a standby. But that can be time consuming. Depending on how many people you have. Interactive food stations are a lot of fun. I mean, who doesn’t like going to pick out all their ingredients and have it made to order right in front of them. So I used to incorporate that in my events even before COVID. And then if you really really can’t get away from having a buffet service, you can also think about having staffed buffet. So instead of the attendees serving themselves in the buffet line, you would have staff servers and mass serving them kind of like Kapha cafeteria style,
Meagan Strout 21:03
okay. Now, as far as thoughts around, people really do want to do plated sermons, you know, are there are there any things that you learned how to cut down on the time because you said that can be pretty timely in a meeting situation, if you are anything close?
Lacretia Adamski 21:21
You know, it depends on how many people you have in your meeting. Typically, if it’s about 20 to 25, people, you could get away with pleated service. And you know, of course, discuss this with your manager. But some of the workarounds that I’ve come up with is to do a prefix menu, because that’s easier for the kitchen staff to prepare, you know, four or five items, instead of dozens and dozens of items and combinations. You could also do a pre order for each person. So an example of that is, let’s say you have a lunch service at noon. So you would have your event manager, print out the order forms for your prefix, venue, whatever those items are. And then instruct your attendees to fill them out and to add their name or initials, so that the kitchen staff can mark their plates as they come out. And then collect those forms by mid morning. And you’ll have your lunch by noon, and everyone will know exactly what they got. Believe it or not, some people actually forget what they ordered, just like two hours before. So the other thing that I have started doing recently, which has been a lifesaver is to do expedited service. And so an example of that is like if you have a typical meal, let’s say you’re doing a salad entree and dessert, I would have the salads placed before your guests arrive. As your guests are seated, they’ll start eating their salads. And what happens is the server’s will then swap out their plates and move them on to the next course as each person is done, as opposed to waiting for the entire party to finish their first course. So that’s a good way of like moving things along without making your attendees feel rushed.
Meagan Strout 23:13
Yeah. And this is making me a little bit sad for the attendees because like part of my favorite one of my favorite things and going to conferences and meetings is the food when you stay at a great hotel or you have an awesome venue. So what did you do to try to bridge that gap? To work abroad, you did have to attend virtually,
Lacretia Adamski 23:34
you know, I didn’t do this, but I did think about it, and I just didn’t have the time to pull it together. But a nice touch would be to send snack packs or gift cards for meals to your virtual attendees. That way they still feel like they are a part of the meeting. Even you know, if you’re sending snack packs, you could send the same thing to all of your virtual attendees and they still feel like they are a cohort within your audience. So it’s just a nice touch to have.
Meagan Strout 24:05
Yeah, we did that we had our first virtual on site a week ago we gave everybody a per diem to eat for because we had like a brunch and learn and so we gave everyone a per diem so that they could go ahead and order whatever they wanted. Included
Lacretia Adamski 24:22
Yeah, Brunch and Learn I got
Meagan Strout 24:24
to learn we’re all across many different time zones. So for us is brunch or breakfast for everybody else. So it was like a good way for everybody to come together. Thank you. So so let’s talk about like AB and just technology in general right because it’s glitchy it’s already difficult enough when you’re in person. I feel for those guys that AV and hotels I feel like it’s always something that goes wrong. So what did you do? What did you do for audio visual? What system did you use? I get this question a lot of like, what are the best sort of technologies stands for streaming. And so I’d love to hear from you. Like,
Lacretia Adamski 25:03
you know, there are pros and cons for all of the streaming platforms out there, right, so pick your poison. Whichever one you choose, just make sure that you have the ability to mute your participants upon entry and deactivate the chime whenever someone joins. I tend to use Zoom for these types of meetings because I like having the ability to use dual screens. So in my meeting space, I had two large screens, one that was for just the presentation itself. And then the second screen was for the speaker or the gallery view. And that pretty much mimics the view that we’re looking at almost every day when we’re working from home on our monitors. And I actually don’t like running the presentations from my laptop, I tend to use a separate machine for that. Or if you’re using zoom, I had each of my presenters share their screen. And I do that so that I can preserve my machine for managing the Zoom call itself and engaging with our virtual attendees in Slack. Now, that said, I suggest using like a hard wired connection for the laptop that is running zoom, because it’s easy to get kicked off like I did once or twice during the meeting. But another tip is to have a dedicated network so that you’re not competing with other groups and guests for bandwidth in the hotel. Now, that probably will run you like maybe another 100 or $200 per day, depending on the speed. But it’s worth it, especially from all the money that you’re saving on, you know, the virtual attendees that aren’t traveling in a good point. I mean, with that said, like, if you think about the the investment that you’re saving, use that money towards getting a professional camera in the room. Because there are so many cues that you can pick up on by watching and listening at the same time, like body language and expressions and reactions, even just like figuring out, you know, at what point of the room a sound is coming from your virtual guests actually do appreciate having that additional context, especially if they’re going to be watching zoom for, you know, more than one day.
Meagan Strout 27:25
Yeah, absolutely. And so what about audio T? Because you brought in some somebody just dedicated to your audio? Correct?
Lacretia Adamski 27:32
Yeah, yeah. So when you talk to your AV team about microphones and speakers, do you want to make sure that you specify if you’re doing it just for the streaming audience, or if you’re doing it to amplify the sound in the room or for both? My recommendation for microphones, after doing a few of these is to use a gooseneck, or a push to talk mic, or a lapel mic for everyone in the room. I did that because I needed to have a conversational flow. And, you know, we had a strategy session with, you know, 40 of our leaders. Most AV companies, I don’t know why this is, but they like to push the PCM or the flat mics. And those are the worst in my opinion, because they pick up so much ambient noise, especially in the larger rooms. And it usually just deteriorates the the experience for your virtual attendees.
Meagan Strout 28:32
That’s so interesting. I didn’t realize every single attendee physically in the space. So those that were watching it externally had a mic. So that’s really nice. So it does make it sound for people who are watching. Like they really are in the room. Yeah, great. Um, so you mentioned though, that if if you do get pushed to these, I’ve never even heard of this. So PCM or flatlines? Like how, how do you help sort of mitigate that ambient noise or that latterly, background noise? Yeah,
Lacretia Adamski 29:02
I mean, even with the lapel mics, and multiply that by 20 or 30 mics, it picks up a lot in the room. So I did a couple of things. If you have your beverage station inside your meeting space, you should have your servers swap out the ice buckets before coming into the, into the into the meeting space. The worst thing is when they come in and they dump all of that ice. Everyone can hear that. And if you’re doing a working lunch, I would say have the servers removed. Having the servers remove the dishes can be pretty noisy. So I basically asked for extra bus trays so that everyone can kind of remove their dishes as they’re done. Another thing that I’ve done is to avoid the use of a paper agenda or paper meeting material because when you start shifting papers, it’s like it doesn’t occur to you as an in person attendee, but have, you know your virtual audience to hear all of that? And even the same thing with having side conversations that that buzz and chatter add to the ambient noise in the room?
Meagan Strout 30:13
Yeah, it’s funny, you’re right, like having paper and hearing like the crinkle, or like that, yeah, I didn’t even think of that whatsoever. Um, and so like any other tips to try to accommodate virtual attendees, if they feel present, or, you know, just as, as important as the other people who are in the room.
Lacretia Adamski 30:36
Um, you know, you just want to make sure that they’re able to hear well, because it’s so annoying to be sitting on a zoom call when all of your colleagues are, you know, in a meeting space and having happy hour and all that stuff, the best thing you can do is at least make their the time that they are on the call as easy as possible. And so, you know, I would remind your in person, attendees to repeat their names, before making a comment or question, especially like in the beginning of the day, because that allows your remote attendees to get accustomed to the voices in a room.
Meagan Strout 31:12
I think you would also mention to me that you were using slack, right, you had a Slack channel, specifically for this event, so people can communicate if they’re having issues, hearing or technical challenges, right. Is it correctly? Thank you for bringing that
Lacretia Adamski 31:28
up? Because we are a Slack first company. So yeah, actually, I did have a Slack channel for my virtual attendees, because we wanted to, I wanted to make sure that they were engaged with with me, and if they had any questions about what was going on in the room, they were able to engage with each other. And I was also able to make some tweaks to the AV in real time. And as opposed to having them you know, send me text messages and emails and and having a disjointed, I was able to just walk over to my AV tech, and just show him the responses that I was getting. And he was able to make the adjustments on the spot.
Meagan Strout 32:08
Awesome. Okay, great. Um, and so as far as what you did with your at AV team to prompt them for all this in advance, or anything that you did differently than what you did kind of in this pre pandemic world.
Lacretia Adamski 32:21
Yeah, um, I’ve only done this once or twice before. But this time, I use a third party AV company, because the venue’s AV team wasn’t going to be able to accommodate my needs, in terms of the large screens and the cameras. So I paid for on site support to manage the soundboard and the professional camera. And because my AV person was in the room with us for I don’t know, two and a half days, I made sure that he signed an NDA because we were discussing confidential information. That’s not overkill. It’s actually pretty customary for AV staff to do that. And he didn’t bat an eye. The other thing that I did, because he is now in our bubble, is I asked him to get daily testing with us. And he was more than happy to, to do that. Because for him, that also meant that he was in a safe space. So he appreciated that. And then another like, good, good citizen thing to do is to include your AV person, especially if it’s someone that’s going to be there all day with you is to include them in your food and beverage headcount. You know, most venues, almost all venues have a negotiated, or a reduced rate for staff meals. And sometimes they also throw it in for free. So it doesn’t hurt to ask, and it’s just a goodwill gesture for your your staff.
Meagan Strout 33:52
Yeah, absolutely. And so speaking of testing, then you mentioned that when people arrive, you have the satellite check in and people got tested on site. But then, did you What else did you do for testing sort of throughout the program? Did you have to require any additional testing?
Lacretia Adamski 34:08
Um, no, I mean, we had the daily testing, and that was the requirement that we had at the time for our company. But I’ve seen where other people have decided to do every other day testing or just the first day testing. When it comes to a COVID testing you could either do at home testing kits, which basically means they’re going to be sent to your attendees home in advance. You’ll have them register in the portal, and they’ll do like a virtual appointment with a nurse to verify who they are and that they are the one taking the test. Those kids get sent out to a lab and depending on which test you took, those come back in about 24 to 72 hours. We did the on site testing. And so what you want to do is to make sure you provide the patient health information so that your technician can all the pre printed paperwork and labels ready for your attendees. The setup for that was pretty minimal. They just need access to like a trash can and tables and maybe some power. And then I would say the, the setup time was probably about 30 minutes to unload instead of all of the machines. The thing that surprised me the most was, you know, after you take the sample, it takes about two to three minutes to prep each test. And if you multiply that by 10 people, that’s 20 minutes. So make sure that you space out the testing, if possible. And if I haven’t, I can just throw in an example where I prioritize my VIPs, because I knew that meeting couldn’t start without them. So I gave the names to the test collector in advance. And I scheduled my VIPs to attend about 30 minutes before the general attendees. And I also added like a 15 minute buffer to allow the technician to prep and then run the tests before collecting samples from the next group.
Meagan Strout 36:11
Yeah. And what did you end up doing in regards to sharing results? Because obviously, it’s personal information. You have to there’s a lot of rules and regulations and just also respect for people’s, you know, personal stuff. So how did you go ahead and manage that?
Lacretia Adamski 36:30
Yeah, so it’s true, when you get the results back, they either come up, they always go to the attendees, and it’ll go through a portal or text or an email. So if the test provider is uncomfortable in sharing the personal health information with you, as the event organizer, just put the onus on your attendees to show you their negative test results before entering the meeting space.
Meagan Strout 36:57
And that was something I believe you told me that you communicated in advance when preparing for people to come. So they knew that this was this was going to be happening about what could be part of the protocol, or any surprises, if that’s
Lacretia Adamski 37:09
right. That’s right. And so people, you know, were able to have it already pulled up on their phone, as opposed to like, Oh, I gotta log back in and figure out where it was. They just came in, and they were able to show it.
Meagan Strout 37:21
Um, any other considerations or things you think people should know if they’re going to be doing testing on site?
Lacretia Adamski 37:28
Yeah, I definitely would have a separate room for testing and not do it in the meeting space, especially, it’s just unnerving. If you get a positive test result back and then you’re like, Alright, folks, let’s come in and sit down for the meeting. I would also make sure that your attendees arrive masked and stay socially distanced. You know, with the example I mentioned before of having someone with a false positive, you know, it’s still positive until you test it again. So that’s the reason why you should not allow your attendees to congregate until the test results are back in. And I would allow for extra time to retest an inconclusive or a positive test result. And I will also keep track of all your attendees when their test results are in at that part, the testing provider can tell you whether it’s in or not. Whether they release what the test result is. That’s that’s another story.
Meagan Strout 38:28
And this came up in the chat and thought we could talk a little bit more about what your communication plan look like and how often you were checking in with attendees prior to them coming in. So what was your approach for communicating what to expect before and during the entire meeting?
Lacretia Adamski 38:47
Yeah, that’s a lot of communication. There’s just no way around it. Because things are constantly changing, and you’re learning as you go. I think one of the main things to focus on is just setting those expectations for your attendees, especially the in person attendees, because the experience is going to be different than anything they’ve experienced before. And I would just keep emphasizing the fact that you want to keep everyone safe, and thank them for their cooperation. Part of my communication plan also included a registration form. We collected the patient health information for the testing, also the flight information, and all the other typical things that you would have in a registration form. I also threw in accessibility accommodations at Salesforce. That’s something that’s important to us. And I actually had one attendee on site that didn’t see well. And so his request was to be seated, you know, pretty close to the screen. In terms of on site testing, you know, you want to make sure that you send that schedule out so everyone knows exactly With time they should arrive and remind them to please be prompt and to arrive during their testing window. You don’t want too much of a backlog in that space. And I would also encourage people to self report with some sort of an attestation form, remind them of the symptoms that they need to be looking out for. And keep it top of mind that if they do test positive, or are exposed to someone who has tested positive within that 14 window before your meeting, to have them report that to you and or to their manager.
Meagan Strout 40:37
And there’s some other questions on here that have been asked one person asked how far in advance were you requiring people before Weibel? To have a negative test? Did you guys have a requirement of like 48 hours, 72 hours, five days, I’ve kind of seen it kind of run the gamut with different companies?
Lacretia Adamski 40:56
Yeah, I, we talked about this a little bit for my team, we did not have the requirement at the company level to do it. But we talked about it at our team level, we decided to not do it. But we did test people on the first day, I have seen where people have required a negative test result within 24 to 72 hours of arrival.
Meagan Strout 41:20
Great. And another question that also came up was, did you send any resources specifically to people to help them find sounds like you didn’t require them to do any testing in advance, but have you had to do that where if people needed to get tested, that you would send out resources of like local areas or places they can find testing sites.
Lacretia Adamski 41:42
So one resource that has been great for me, and I didn’t use it for this particular event, but I’ve used it before is vault health, they will send the kick tone to your attendees. And, you know, that’s, again, what I explained before, your attendee will go into the portal register, and set up a virtual appointment with the nurse, they come on, they show their identification, and they, I think, break the seal for the test in front of the nurse to confirm that they are the person taking the test. And they they actually do the swab right there on the Zoom call, that test has to be dropped off. I think, by that that same day. So you want to make sure that you look for the you know, which shipping carrier your testing provider uses and determine, you know, how far that drop off location is from, you know, whoever may be taking the test, I have an example where someone lived about two hours from a their closest FedEx or Dropbox. And so, you know, that’s, that’s ridiculous to have someone drive for hours to drop off a test. So they ended up joining that meeting virtually. But it is possible to do and I would highly recommend vault health.
Meagan Strout 43:07
And for the vendor that you used for this particular event, was that a vendor that you researched and found on your own and brought in? Or were they recommended vendor by the by the hotel for the conference place?
Lacretia Adamski 43:21
Um, that is something that I’ve seen internally and externally used by colleagues.
Meagan Strout 43:27
Okay, perfect. Awesome. Just getting through all these questions. Lots of people have questions about this. Okay, so now that you like did this event like in upon reflection, is there anything that you would have done differently, or that you want to do, you know, proactively next time.
Lacretia Adamski 43:46
Um, you know, I think the, this, the snacks for my virtual attendees, if I have more time to really build that part of the program out I’ve would have, but there’s just so many things, so many logistics to run on the ground. You know, separating a regular in person, like a completely in person event to a hybrid event. There are some other things that I did do differently. And that would be sending daily summaries of what to expect for the next day for all of my in person, attendees. So you know, after dinner, I will have a communication go out that talked about the times and locations for the testing for the different cohorts, the locations of the meeting space and meals, and any changes to the agenda. And then for my virtual attendees, I would send out the Zoom link for the next day, along with a detailed agenda with all the changes and links to the Slack channels that I mentioned before.
Meagan Strout 44:52
Yeah, okay, great. Um, so as far as anything else that you think is relevant to share, otherwise, we’ll go through some of the additional questions that we had from people, but I think this was super helpful. I think we’d also talked about just in general, like interacting with staff at these hotels and, you know, did you did you see any differences in the way that that you interacted with the staff or the staff interacting with you should be aware of at these locations?
Lacretia Adamski 45:22
Um, no, I don’t think so. Um, you know, most of the venues that I use I’ve used for years. And so it was nice being able to see people again, one thing that I’ve always tended to do is to like, give a little something to the staff, whether it’s a gift card, or a little thank you package or something, because you want them to be excited for when you come back to the property.
Meagan Strout 45:49
I remember when I worked in hotels, I would get so excited when we have we have a lot of these like regular groups that would come and house and I get like, a leftover koozie or, or, you know, it was so fun. And you ended up building relationships with these people who, you know, hold meetings, sometimes 234 times a year, which is really, really nice.
Lacretia Adamski 46:11
Yeah, I did a sales kickoff a couple of years ago. And somehow I ended up giving the general manager one of our Salesforce vests, he was thrilled. Those things really do go a long way.
Meagan Strout 46:25
Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, I think we have still a couple more questions. So one person wanted to know if you’ve seen any reliable vendors for snack packs, or just like swag to send people internationally or for those who can’t attend? Do you have any like that? Are your go twos? Oh, my goodness,
Lacretia Adamski 46:44
I can’t think of the name off the top of my head. I can see their website. But whoever asked a question, I will share that, that link with Megan, and she’ll send it out after the call.
Meagan Strout 46:55
Yes, I will send this recording and then any other things that you guys want to know that in the link afterwards. So perfect. So So another question somebody had a do, did you get any pushback on buffet or plated service? This one person has used a lot of individually boxed meals. And she’s hoping to stop that soon. So have you received any feedback in regards from from attendees or otherwise about their satisfaction with changing the meal service?
Lacretia Adamski 47:26
No. The question was, did I have any pushback about changing to buffet or changing to boxed
Meagan Strout 47:32
to plate yet depleted or boxed meals? No. I mean,
Lacretia Adamski 47:37
I use the bento boxes for my am and pm breaks. And so the, the venue that I use, they had these really upscale ways of delivering the food, whether it was mason jars or literally bento boxes. So the presentation was really nice and appealing. And then for the buffet, I did do a breakfast buffet on one morning. And that was on the second day, we had already had two rounds of testing. So I felt comfortable that we had already been in the bubble. And it was it was for breakfast Not ever. Everyone even eats breakfast. So you know it felt safe. And there was no pushback.
Meagan Strout 48:18
Great. I actually this is we didn’t talk about this at all, but I’m just asking for back in my days working Hotel. Did they do anything like folks gonna be talking about coffee service and tea service and reusing glassware? So a lot of times people will do like coffee and tea break? So did was everything disposable? Or are they back to using actual China,
Lacretia Adamski 48:39
they’re back to using China. They actually have both in the room and so people have their pick of what they use.
Meagan Strout 48:47
Perfect. Um, so did you have any issues? Or have you had an instance where you’ve had to confront somebody who’s not abiding by the mask wearing How did you handle it?
Lacretia Adamski 49:02
There’s always one there’s always one you know, I did have someone who arrived at the test site without a mask and you know, they come in Good morning talking and I had some masks available some additional masks that I brought from my own personal stash at home. And so I’m just talking back to him and we’re having great conversation. I passed him a mask he looked at it smiled and put it on so you know you just have to know how to get people to comply Fortunately, that wasn’t an issue but I understand that it could be an issue for other people.
Meagan Strout 49:38
Yeah, okay great. Awesome. Um, awesome. And then another person asked if there’s a you can share which venues since it sounds like you’ve had such a great time there and if not that many just top venues that you worked with, that you feel really comfortable recommending for in personal in person events.
Lacretia Adamski 49:57
Well, you know, I have to remind Everyone that I am based outside of Washington, DC. And so I don’t know how many of you are in this area. But the venue that I personally always love and have a great time is at the init Perry cabin. It is very remote place in Eastern Shore, Maryland. It’s actually I don’t know if you’ve seen the Wedding Crashers, but that’s where their wedding crashers was filmed. And it’s just a beautiful property. And they have wonderful views. And it’s a really small and quaint town. And so we always feel like we are at a retreat when we’re there. Yeah, I think that but there are so many so many great properties all over. So,
Meagan Strout 50:48
yeah, I’m gonna give a personal plug to my old hotel or seasons Orlando. event space, I am only slightly biased because I used to be on there. But one person did ask what are your plans? Like? What do you recommend for people who are in the Northeast or in colder climates that are moving into now winter who can’t have necessarily so much about indoor outdoor and so my recommendation is book in Florida? Is it sunny and warm? Your your reference? But what do you do for that like visa,
Lacretia Adamski 51:22
you know, with the past year, and how outdoor dining has kind of been transformed, and all of our communities, a lot of restaurants in other hospitality outlets are buying these really impressive. Heat space heaters, you know, the outdoor heaters, or even building these little igloo bubbles and like there’s just so many different things that the hospitality and meetings and event industry are coming up with. To accommodate that. Yeah,
Meagan Strout 51:59
absolutely. Now, I have another question that came in. So one of our attendees is saying that they have a group of more senior execs that are tech savvy, and he recommendations on how to tailor a lot of these suggestions to those who may not be as savvy using a smartphone.
Lacretia Adamski 52:20
Now, are you talking about in terms of getting their test results?
Meagan Strout 52:25
That’s an excellent question. Julie, do you want to clarify? I mean, obviously test results. And then also maybe even for people that are physically attending, maybe aren’t as savvy with Slack or with Zoom. Is there anything that you did to help prepare for those individuals?
Lacretia Adamski 52:45
Yeah, I mean, in terms of the test results, you can work with your testing provider to have the test results sent by email, right? So it’s not going into a portal or going into? Yeah, so it’s not going into a portal, they can also probably do it by text message. So that’s pretty low tech right there. In terms of slack, I mean, I’m biased. So slack is super easy to use. And other than that, I’m not really sure if I had more specifics about where that technology issue is.
Meagan Strout 53:28
Yeah. So she said it was for the test results. And she said, a text message would work. So that’s great as they have an option to just text the test results. I’ve had another two people ask, What have you done for morale or team building values, especially with a hybrid component, and some people physically being in the room together and other people being on video?
Lacretia Adamski 53:51
You know, I haven’t had to do this yet. And it’s something that I’ve been kind of percolating on. But I don’t see why you can’t do a V to event. All right, so that’s something that’s a that’s a Salesforce term, volunteer time off. So you could do something, you know, in your in your space and have your virtual attendees do an online virtual volunteer opportunity. There are a ton of resources out there for online volunteering. And so I don’t know that you necessarily have to have everyone doing it at the same time. And I don’t even know if it makes sense to have your virtual attendees watching the people in the room and vice versa. But you could set up two concurrent events.
Meagan Strout 54:45
Okay, great. Um, let’s see. This may be just sort of a high level summary. But do you have any major guidance from someone who’s sending an event for 35 people abroad, and 16 of the parties is being involved in cross border travel?
Lacretia Adamski 55:04
Hmm. Any suggestions? I mean, following some of the protocol that I mentioned today, just looking at, you know, where are you going to have your event? And starting there, what are the transmission rates. And then looking at your attendance list, who’s traveling from where and what those requirements are, if you have a lot of attendees that are flying in, and they need a fit to fly test in order to return to their home countries, figure out what those testing requirements are. Some of them are 72 hours before boarding, some are 48 hours before boarding. So you may want to bring on an onsite testing provider to make it easy for them as opposed to having them you know, complete the portable testing kits. Those would be my biggest two is making sure that people arrive there safely and can get home and not get stuck at customs.
Meagan Strout 56:07
I don’t agree with that. I think that’s the probably the trickiest part is the customs fees. Yeah. Well, this was amazing. Lucretia, I really appreciate your time today. We’ve been talking about doing one of these for quite some time. So I’m so glad we finally got it on. But anything else that you want to share, before we wrap up for the day?
Lacretia Adamski 56:27
No, I mean, I would love to work with anyone who, you know, is planning an event. And I know it can be challenging. Some people just don’t have the stomach for it. And I get it. planning events. And being an event manager is nerve racking that just comes along with the territory. But it truly is a passion of mine. And that’s one of the reasons why I love coaching, too. So I’d love to help anyone who is interested in getting more coaching on event planning and management.
Meagan Strout 57:00
Awesome. Yes. And as a reminder, for all of you that are joining us, I will be sending out an email, also get a glimpse of some of those recommendations from like Rachel, including that email. I’m going to walk through this recording. And then also if you are interested in working with apprecia she gives it a coach here at Tech Advisors does an amazing job. We love her. She’s She’s a mentor of mine as well. So we’ll put that information so you can get in touch with us if that’s something you’re interested in. Thank you so much for your time. I hope you have a great rest of your day and I hope all of you have to as well.
Lacretia Adamski 57:32
Thanks. Bye everyone.
Jeremy Burrows 57:35
Thank you again to Megan Strout from Tech Advisors for sharing that conversation with Lacretia. Please check out the show notes at leaderassistant.com/142 And don’t forget to check out our sponsor for this episode. Elk Horn peak sellers, Elkhornpeak.com/leaderassistant
Unknown Speaker 58:05
please you on Apple podcast goburrows.com