Technology Can Help Administrators Take on COVID-19

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Technology Can Help Administrators Take on COVID-19

By Mikayla Milburn | Mar 23, 2020

In an industry that relies on face-to-face interactions, our love-hate relationship with technology can mitigate the negative effects of social distancing and other stresses related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Top-of-mind for administrative planners during the COVID-19 outbreak is event cancellations, contractual obligations with a venue, and how to effectively restructure upcoming events to fit within minimal-contact parameters.

Sharon Ashton, events director for Eurordis, is working around COVID-19 by finding new online formats to avoid event cancellation.

“Our organization is facing a real challenge forced by the COVID-19 outbreak whereby we may need to run part or all of our European Conference, scheduled to take place in Stockholm in May, online,” she writes in MPI’s Administrative Planners community forum. “We're wondering how we can calculate a fair price for people to connect remotely rather than participate in person.”

Another event organizer has already turned to virtual for the Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibition, which recently implemented a plan to use technology to ease participants’ COVID-19 concerns.

“All of the speaker-authorized content from the technical sessions will be recorded and made available to technical registrants,” they state on their website. “Web links to access Zoom Rooms and other information will be included. Recognizing the global reach of OFC, and the possibility that some international registrants may not always be able to participate live, we will be recording sessions and posting them online within 24 hours of presentation.”

Communicate While Pivoting to Technology

The onset of COVID-19 poses major challenges for corporate and administrative planners, many of whom are pivoting to the virtual meetings realm while also having to initiate new work from home policies.

Gloria Sosa, executive administrator at Publishing Concepts Incorporated and previous event planner for Mary Kay Cosmetics and World Ventures, says that communication is the key to managing this new frontier while also using the many technological resources that are available.

“With all the coronavirus fears and precautions, [cancellations of flights and venues have] impacted us training wise,” she says. “Some venues are willing to work with us at this time to postpone some events, while others are going through the contractual cancellation policy.”

While Sosa acknowledges that the virus has caused many bumps in the road, she is facing those challenges by focusing on building relationships with venues, caterers and employees however she can.

“Relationship-building is going to be key, as well as keeping them in communication. Trying to keep the lines of communication open with the venues is so important,” she says. “It is hard when you have to build a relationship with a venue across the country, so those properties we already contracted are harder to negotiate with because they don’t know me face-to-face so they’re just dealing with a name. But we can reach out to them at any given time and keep them in the know be it an early morning email or late Zoom meeting. They feel they can reach us at any time even outside the office. I’ve had caterers call or text me so technology has played a big part in keeping those relationships going.”

While the logistics of events and meetings are currently in a state of uncertainty, technology and colleagues like those in the MPI community forums are great resources to keep in communication with venues and employees, or to find a new format for your meeting and event to avoid cancellations while we navigate these new challenges.



Mikayla Milburn
Mikayla Milburn

MiKayla Milburn is a freelance contributor who writes relatable, accurate and resolute content. In her personal life, she adores her furbabies and her husband, in that order.