Planner Profile: Q&A with Valerie Luporini

Valerie Luporini is the Vice President of Corporate Events at Inland Communications, Inc. and a seasoned meeting and events professional that spans more than 25 years. Her expertise, creativity, and experience is admired by the planning industry and she has shared that insight with us! Check out our first Planner Profile below:

What meetings and events trends do you see taking off in 2020?

Sustainability – I believe sustainability is becoming the norm in our industry instead of the exception. In the past, it was nice to see recycling bins at an event, it showed that the host cared about the environment.  Now, I’m happy to say, attendees are expecting sustainability to be a priority. From full-service apps that create paperless events to zero-waste lunches this trend is being taken seriously.

Experience Based Events and Venues Creating an event that offers a new experience to attendees is now necessary to hit registration goals. We’re living in a world where I believe the average attention span is less than 8 seconds and everyone is looking for instant gratification and constant stimulation. A meeting in a hotel ballroom with classroom seating and a detailed PowerPoint presentation is no longer productive. Event spaces need to be unique and planners need to create an interactive experience to maximize audience engagement and content retention.

MindfulnessI’m personally very excited about the mindfulness trend growing in our meeting and events industry. Whether it’s a short meditation, group run or an entire platform for larger meetings, mindfulness is front and center and attendee feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Helping the attendees disconnect from their everyday allows them to be more engaged.

What has been your biggest challenge in the meetings and events industry?    

Working with tight budgets and short turnaround times has been a challenge throughout my career. More recently, my biggest challenge is finding new venues that can provide different experiences for my attendees.

What is your biggest career highlight?

I have been blessed with a great career and have planned hundreds of events over the past 30 years. The one that will always standout for me is an international board meeting. I was a young planner and was tasked with hosting a week-long board meeting for members and their guests. There were many components and challenges that came with this event. Not only was it an international meeting for an elite group but it had multiple sessions running simultaneously. Meeting content had to be developed, normal logistics had to be coordinated and managed and excursion options had to be offered. One of the highlights from that project was using a set of famous stairs as the venue for our black-tie event at the end of the program.

What is your best advice for a newcomer to the planner industry?  

I always tell new planners to choose an industry that they are passionate about and develop their planning skills within that space.  If they like health and fitness, they should find a company that can use their skills and plan within that world. A good planner can make their skills work in any industry but it’s important to keep their passion alive. They should work in an industry they love.

How did you get started in planning meetings and events?

When I was 10 years old, I asked my mom if I could help with my little sister’s birthday party.  As soon as she said yes, I started planning.  I came up with a theme, handmade all the invitations, worked on designing the event (made decorations), and enjoyed watching it come together on the day of her party. Although it was put on hold for several years, my passion was discovered.

I was hired by Cirrus, a division of MasterCard International, to assist the Vice President shortly after I graduated high school. One of the main components of my job was planning meetings and events. The passion that started when I was a kid came alive again. I immediately started planning domestic and international meetings as well as corporate events and marketing programs. Almost 30 years later, I still love what I do.

What tools or technology do you love that can help other planners?   

I believe our relationships and the skills to develop them are the most important tools we have as planners. Technology is always changing, so the best advice I can give is to commit to working with peers and suppliers to help you stay informed.

If I had to pick one technology component, I’d say registration software. I have used a few throughout my career and now more than ever the process needs to be easy, quick and secure. It’s important to spend the time to research the multiple products that are available and work with peers to choose the one that best fits the project and budget.

What is the most interesting event idea that you’ve heard about or implemented yourself?

I am amazed every day when I open my email and see all of the events that our peers produce. I recently attended Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference and have to say I’ve never attended anything like it. Their attention to detail when planning the attendee experience was noticed and appreciated. They hosted over 170,000 registered attendees for this multi-day event and did it seamlessly. I loved the idea that they aligned it with their corporate core value of making a difference in the world and provided an environment that addressed the mindfulness trend through programing and extreme sustainability efforts. I felt that they provided an engaging, educational and entertaining experience that allowed each guest to maximize their experience and time out of the office.

What is the most important element to a meeting or event and why?

For me it will always be the overall attendee experience. Strong content doesn’t mean a successful event. Time is our greatest commodity and with so many options we need to make sure we’re hosting and attending events that offer the best return on our energy. If someone is taking time out of their busy schedule, they should be offered easy registration and an engaging event with an environment that makes it easy to retain the information that shared.