• #HeresWhy Q&A: Alexandra Adsit

    In our next installment of our #HeresWhy industry Q&A sessions, we interviewed Alexandra Adsit, Meeting Planner for the Association of American Medical Colleges and IAEE 20 Under 30 recipient:

    Can you give us an overview of your career and what led you to the industry?

    I graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in political science, and had absolutely no idea what the events and meetings industry was about. My introduction came through an internship at the AAMC, the summer after I graduated college. While interning, I was able to observe a wide variety of work and gain a better sense of what a career in meetings and events looked like. My career now spans 7 years, and I’ve continued to progress. I really enjoy our department at AAMC because it’s a big team, fast-paced and our internal program staff are awesome to work with!


    What do you find most interesting about your career? Do you have a favorite part about it?

    I’ve enjoyed doing site selection and contracting for meetings the most but not the paperwork and legal part. One of my favorite parts of my job is sitting down at the beginning of the planning process with my program staff contact, seeing how far along they are in their planning process, and figuring out what they want to achieve onsite at their event. We brainstorm how to adapt the space, the venue, the city, the registration fee, and the expenses to fit their needs and the needs of their constituents. Putting work in on the front end, during site selection, gives us a better sense of what they want to do at the meeting, where things will be placed, and if the cities will work for that particular group and meeting.


    Does the value for each attendee vary for each meeting or do you see an overall trend?

    I typically plan eight meetings a year, ranging anywhere from 50 to 600 people, with audiences of early career faculty and staff to more experienced senior executives. I also assist with the exhibits and sponsorships process for our annual meeting. I’ve definitely noticed trends and separate goals of the different groups attending. I think the more junior, early career audiences want to explore what the group and the AAMC has to offer, they want to dive into the education and content, and learn more about the different facets of their role. The more senior attendees have specific goals for attending the events. They look to network with their colleagues and collaborate to enhance their professional roles in their industry and at their institutions. Our exhibitors are most often concerned about traffic and interaction with new and existing clients. There are many different expectations to balance for each of the events I am involved in but that’s what keeps it interesting!


    How do you measure success from an event?

    We have an internal evaluation team who focuses on the execution and value of our events. They usually start off with a needs-assessment for a group and meeting, and are then able to develop registration questions and highlight content areas that can address those needs. They develop and distribute an evaluation that’s sent to all the attendees, allowing them to evaluate anything from how their hotel experience was, to whether the program met their expectations. I would say that we look more to our constituents to tell us how we did. Their feedback is everything!


    Do you keep trends in mind when planning meetings? Have you seen any major differences in the shows over the past seven years?

    We’ve seen a lot more exhibitors in our annual meeting looking to increase the quality of their face-to-face conversations. To do this, exhibitors are striving to connect with attendees before they get on site, allowing them to skip the standard introductory elements that could waste time on the show floor. These pre-introductions to contacts gives them the opportunity to immediately dive into their demos and what sets them apart from their competitors while they meet with clients and potential clients onsite. I think this is different from what it used to be, when attendees walked on to the show floor to start that introductory process, having no prior knowledge about any of the companies. Attendees now can do so much research online, on their own or simply crowd source for suggestions in social and professional networking groups. Today, our attendees are almost half way through that researching process before they even get onsite to the meeting.


    Do you think there’s anything missing from the industry or shows you’ve attended?

    The industry events planners go to for professional development are constantly pushing the standards of event and meeting management. I always love that these shows try different things and push the envelope for décor, menu selection, and audio visual. They also have top notch speakers and select amazing venues for offsite events. But I always want to know more about the pricing! Knowing the price tag is crucial for event planning. I’d like to see more transparency in pricing, so we can decide if certain elements are options for our own meetings and events.


    Why would you encourage people to pursue a career in this industry?

    I’ve been very happy with the course that my career and life have taken from joining the events and meetings industry. I’ve learned there’s always a next level and another facet of the industry that you can become more familiar with. That’s one of the reasons why I got my CMP and CEM. Overall, there’s this comradery and supportive mentality within the industry. Every section of our industry has a common understanding that we are here to “make it happen.” We know there’s always going to be challenges but there are also unbelievable opportunities. If you can establish partners and friends in the work that we do, it makes it easier to achieve those higher expectations.

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