Every successful individual in the industry starts out with humble beginnings. Pamela Patsavas is a Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP) and serves as the Sales Manager for a company called FREEMAN. FREEMAN is a provider of integrated services for face-to-face marketing and brand-building events, which includes expositions, conventions, corporate events, meetings and exhibit programs. In this Q&A with Patsavas, she takes a look back at her experiences in the meetings and events industry.
Midwest Meetings: How did you get involved in the meetings and events industry?
MM: Have you always loved the meetings and events industry or was it a gradual process to find your place in it?
PP: I have always loved the industry. I think it comes from growing up working for my father’s drug store chain. I worked the perfume counter during Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. After the stores were sold, I worked for an oceanfront hotel as a desk clerk. Soon I was the front office manager and then assistant manager. From the hotel, I went to work for a restaurant chain in sales and public relations.
MM: How did you become acquainted with the meetings and events industry?
PP: I began in the hotel industry in the mid-80’s. I entered the meetings and events realm in 1994. I have worked for a few different production companies. I started my own event production company, Distinctive Event Productions, Ltd. in 2000. I sold it to Chicago Party Rental in 2006. I then went to work for a third party meeting and event planning company. After a year and a half I joined FREEMAN and haven’t been happier.
MM: What services do you offer and what sets you apart from others in the industry?
PP: Our technology services really set us apart as well as the top suite of services we offer for all aspects of face-to-face event marketing. The social media engagement with Twitter® walls and texting updates is very popular right now. Our creative team makes sure that branding is strategically carried throughout meetings and events with meaning and purpose. Presentation management has also become a key service for our clients. Not only can we help in the designing of amazing presentation templates for presenters, we also manage the presentations in each meeting room for a central server. This allows presenters to walk into their room, type a unique code into the computer and bring up their presentation. In addition, it also gives organizers the option to easily reconfigure room assignments without worrying about reloading the speakers presentation or having the correct equipment in the room.
MM: Have you had any memorable events during the time that you’ve worked in the Midwest?
PP: One of most memorable of my career just happened in a suburb of Detroit. A national gold medal ice dancing pair got married in the rink where they practice. We installed a professional concert caliber lighting and sound rig into the ice rink. We also covered the ice with 8000 lbs. of subwoofer and prestine white carpet. We spent three days in advance preparing for this wedding on ice.
MM: After all of these years in the industry, what have you learned?
PP: Relationships are what differentiate you from your competition. If you can be a strategic partner to your client, giving advice and direction even if it doesn’t give you a financial reward, you become the “go to” expert for them. They will seek you out first and give you their trust. And… always have a plan B! I often have said my entire life is guided by a plan B. No matter how detailed a plan you have, there are always variables you should incorporate that provide alternate options.
MM: Is there anything that you hope to see in the industry in the future?
PP: I want people to realize that face-to-face meetings matter! We need the interaction for learning, networking, engaging and marketing. There are virtual options that are appropriate in many instances but the face-to-face component is still crucial for business.
MM: Do you have any personal goals that you’d like to accomplish?
PP: I would like to earn my Certificate of Marketing Merit (CMM) in the next year or so.And I’d just like to add, I think our industry is one of the most inciting and fluid professions today. It is very exciting, especially with all the new technology that is being added to support our endeavors.