From Marketing to Event Planning, Stacey Thorp Has Adapted to Change

The event industry has seen many changes in the planning process for events.

At first, things went virtual to increase productivity to market events, and now, events are fully virtual. For Stacey Thorp, she has used all of her knowledge to help make events better.

“Early in my career, I was in a Marketing role and had the opportunity to market our events, large meetings, trade shows, and road shows. I enjoyed that type of marketing more than the traditional avenues of marketing,” said Stacey Thorp, DES. “I made a choice to make a career change and purposefully sought out an agency where I could expand my experience and really learn about all kinds of events and the production of them.”

The transition from marketing to event planning was a smooth transition because with that marketing background she knew how to plan towards the event goals.

“Moving to the agency side and working with a variety of clients, I really got a great education and exposure. I learned how to produce all of those kinds of events plus more in a very compressed timeframe,” Thorp continued. “Looking at events and shows from the perspective of being a marketing tool; they are a way to further what you're trying to achieve with your marketing goals and objectives.”

To help her further her knowledge in the planning of virtual events, through her work with PCMA, she heard about their Digital Event Strategist certification course and decided to enroll.

“Last year I suddenly found myself with a little bit of extra time, as did everyone else. I decided this was a good time to invest in myself and now I've been working really hard for clients and for my company to advance their goals.”

“I think how the DES course really helped me was understanding how to best present it to our clients as the stakeholders. Being on the production side, a lot of decisions that we would make just seem like matter of fact,” Thorp said. “Explaining why and what they needed to think about and how they needed to approach things was really crucial. I think the DES course was helpful in that regard because there are definitely sections about strategy and communicating with your stakeholders and making sure that everybody has a plan before you start building.”

The idea of a hybrid approach is something Thorp understands can eliminate barriers for attendees. But, as the industry battles for an in person return, associations must consider what resources they have and what event model works best for them.  

“I think that a blended approach to shows is really something that is a silver lining that has come out of the past year and a half. You can reach a wider audience, people look to participate in different time zones, they can participate at a lower price point, perhaps. Even if the ticket is the same, they don't have travel costs and time away.” Thorp said.

“At the same time, there are some things that can't necessarily be as effective in that regard; they're more effective in person. I think doing the hybrid or blended model is something that is definitely going to continue. It's going to look very different depending upon your organization.”

The idea of hybrid has many definitions, but Thorp, coining the term “blended” rather than hybrid, has a different take on where the future of hybrid may go.

“I think hybrid has gotten overused a bit. I actually like blended because there are so many different ways that you can approach it. It can be at the same time; it can be somewhat overlapping; it can be on demand,” said Thorp. “Hybrid, while that is appropriate, I think that for a lot of people, they have an idea in their minds about it has to happen at the same time. Hybrid, period; the end, that's it. That’s not necessarily true.”

Whatever route the industry takes, Thorp believes technology should be at the cornerstone to advance events beyond the norm.

“We're not going to stop people from being on their devices during events, so rather than fight it, why not leverage it? Use the technology,” Thorp said. “When people are making a choice to travel to a meeting, to a show, to a conference, I think that because of the options for blended, because of the realization that you don't have to always go, you can do this from home, organizers are going to leverage the tools and be more intentional in their design of the program to appeal to that audience, so that audiences say this is worth my time; this is worthwhile.”

About Stacey Thorp

Stacey Thorp is currently the VP of Strategic Events at PERKS, The Employee Experience Company. Thorp has years of experience in marketing, event planning, and production for digital and in person events.

About this series

JUNO believes in the future of strategic events, delivered in hybrid, digital event, and in-person formats. As supporters of PCMA Foundation, we value reskilling for industry professionals and want to highlight Professionals Who Go Beyond.