Meeting Spotlight recently caught up with Cheryl Rogers, executive assistant to the CEO of Solara Medical Supplies, to see how business has changed as a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and how it will change going forward. Rogers leads meetings and incentives team for the company, which is the largest independent U. S. supplier of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and insulin pumps and carries a full line of diabetes products, supplies and services.
How has your segment of the industry (meetings and incentives) changed since March?
When we were asked to quarantine in March, the first initial thought was this may only be for a couple of weeks. We soon realized by mid-April there would be a need for new strategies as they related to meetings, events and incentive travel. With regard to our meetings, we shifted to using Microsoft Teams, Zoom and even FaceTime at times, depending on who was involved. Our incentive program, we have been able to do a number of online gifting options (Maui Jim, Wet Paint Group, Cashmere Counter) and as of recent partnered with Fiesta Americana to create an incentive option for our employees to book for a later date when they are comfortable and ready to travel.
What are some trends you have seen in recent months? Do you think these trends will last? How are you adjusting to those trends?
Some of the trends that are most notable are virtual and hybrid meetings. I believe those will remain in place for some time to come. As a result, the need for user-friendly platforms, expanded Wi-Fi and ways to increase engagement will grow. One of the ways I have been increasing engagement in meetings by providing incentives through gamification.
How has your businesses adapted to the new normals?
Our business has adapted remarkably well to going almost totally virtual. The new normals involve being virtual for meetings and events (team building, retreats and happy hours), but I have been charged with keeping things engaging. For happy hours and team builders, we have taken to hiring different vendors to do tastings, cooking demonstrations, and paint and sips.
Have you used this time to develop new strategies for the future? If so, what have you developed?
During the last eight months we have created a Facebook-like intranet for employees to remain engaged and connected. They are able to chat, post photos, share stories of how they are coping, and provide ideas on implementing activities that will keep us all connected and in a positive mindset.
How are you structuring your meeting strategy moving forward in terms of virtual events vs. in person events?
Because things are still very fluid in California with regards to restrictions, I am sourcing outside of the state and even the country for certain programs. For meetings, we remain using platforms like Zoom, Teams and Remo. Our goal is to get back to having in-person events in a safe manner all while following the recommendations and guidelines set forth by the CDC. We will meet again!