Meetings

A Look At Some New Meeting Roles

By / Jul 9, 2020 (tadamichi/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

A lot has changed in the events industry, particularly in the past few months due to the impact of COVID-19. As the industry evolves, so will the skills and job roles required. A look at some possibilities.

A few weeks ago, I came across a blog post I wrote seven years ago about new staff roles for meetings and events.

In it, I called out three that I thought could benefit association meetings at that time: an attendee concierge who would call participants after a meeting to see what they liked most and least, a conference connector who would help attendees engage and network with one another, and an exhibit hall experience manager who would be dedicated to both the form and function of a tradeshow.

While some of these roles may still be useful to your association, a lot has changed since 2013—and even more so in the past few months given the impact COVID-19 has had on the industry. In the current economic environment, hiring new staffers is probably not on the table for most organizations, but here are two roles—one related to the pandemic and one not—introduced recently that may be worth considering if you do have the opportunity, even if through partnering or expanding a current staffer’s role:

Event health advisor. Earlier this month, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau announced that it was partnering with Dr. David Nash, dean emeritus of the Jefferson College of Population Health, to serve as PHLCVB’s chief health advisor. In this role, he will provide advice and guidance to meeting and event planners about health guidelines and protocols.

“By instituting the proper public health protocols, our hospitality industry should be able to safely and effectively support and protect travelers when the time comes …,” Dr. Nash said in a press release. “By incorporating the already sound and thoughtful guidelines presented by the CDC, as well as state and local public health officials, I’m confident we can develop a safe and healthy plan for all visitors.”

He’ll also work closely with PHL Health Advisors, an 18-member committee of experts from the city’s medical community. Together, they’ll relay updates to PHLCVB regarding medical information and local medical advancements in the fight against COVID-19. The team will also be tapped as an internal review board for the PHLCVB on public health and safety best practices and protocols.

Meetings accessibility coordinator. Last summer, the American Anthropological Association brought Nell Koneczny on board as its accessibility and meetings coordinator. In this role, Koneczny is responsible for accessibility and accommodation initiatives for AAA’s meetings, conferences, and communications. She also supports logistics and the call-for-papers process for several of AAA’s meetings.

In an interview with CEO Update last month, Koneczny said her role is about more than complying with the legal requirements for accommodating people with disabilities.

“My position actually goes a step beyond that, to include disability culture and to actually think about accessibility more broadly … instead of waiting for a disabled person to reach out to us and request an accommodation,” she said.

Since joining the team, Koneczny has done several things, including updating the associations’ poster session guidelines for accessibility, creating an annual meeting location accessibility and health information webpage, and expanding the accessible presentation guidelines.

In addition to these roles, as more associations host virtual and hybrid meetings, I imagine we’ll see current meetings teams learn new skills and take on new roles like event producer or virtual meeting concierge.

Whether pandemic-related or not, what new roles or skills do you think will become a part of association meetings teams? Please share in the comments.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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