Make the Most of This COVID-Induced Down Time

March 2, 2021

Christy Bareijsza

Christy Bareijsza, CMP, CMM is the founder and chief experience officer of Events By Red Carpet. A former Vice President of Corporate Events for one of North America’s top financial firms, Bareijsza has vast experience in contract negotiation, international etiquette, conference development and sports management. 


Dating back to local artisanal trading in medieval Europe and evolving through the Industrial Revolution to the 20th century, trade shows have survived war, disease, economic disaster and travel restrictions. So, why did the COVID-19 pandemic have such a devastating impact on a deep-rooted business practice?

Some may blame political direction or public disenchantment, while others claim the delay in preventative science or sensational media reports. Regardless, the virus has led to an undeniable amount of deaths, ultimately propelling the temporary, but prolonged elimination of face-to-face gatherings. Additionally, the lack of support from state and federal legislature to protect businesses from COVID-19 liabilities has caused additional delays to the industry’s return. 

As a professional who is financially supported by the production of trade shows, how do you realistically sustain your business during this unprecedented time?

Internal Focus

While the convention industry is known for its fast-paced, energetic and timeline-oriented design, we are now faced with the impact of unknown deadlines of global proportion. Therefore, shifting the focus to internal business will not only alleviate the stress of external elements that can’t be controlled, but also allow the time to fix processes that haven’t been ideal but were considered sufficient due to time limitations. Initiating a comprehensive analysis of your brand and sales strategy, administration, revenue streams, subscription technology, advertising, marketing and membership affiliations will not only streamline efficiencies,but  also help you develop a leaner business methodology. The combination of refinement will also initiate a more seamless process when applying for federally funded support.


Continuous learning is the key to keeping the mind active and creativity fresh, whether it’s required CE credits, certifications, business accreditations or indirectly related fields of study. Education is critical for overall career advancement and a necessary part of development. Rather than sit idle and ponder the latest media scandal, dedicate a larger percentage of your time to learning. From complimentary online classes and certifications, to reduced university tuitions and scholarships, there is no better time to take advantage of higher learning. The diversion of studying and new networking groups will temporarily put the mind at ease and help reduce stress.


Just because the ability to meet face-to-face has been put on hold doesn’t mean human connection has to be completely lost. Technology has ironically hindered the personal touch that solidifies most business relationships, so use this time to reach out to new and existing relationships with “traditional” forms of communication like personal notes, phone calls or small gifts from a local business. The hospitality industry prides itself on creating memorable experiences – rebuild that fond impression by initiating a genuine conversation. Don’t get in the mix of trying to schedule a Zoom call that has a greater probability of being canceled—just reach out at a reasonable time and say, “hello.” This time has been a stressful experience for all and having an empathic conversation not necessarily related to immediate sales or COVID-19 measures being taken will go the extra relationship mile. Also, sharing a proven success story, a complimentary service or mini brainstorm can help shift perspectives and open doors of communication. Loyalty and future business is not only based on skill, but also on genuine effort, mutual understanding and selfless acts.

Words and Actions

Social media provides a “free” platform to share immediate thoughts in conjunction with marketing business services. While these online applications are ideal conduits to remind clients of past successes, they can also be detrimental if used to enforce political views or engage in negative chatter. While freedom of speech is a constitutional right, personal or controversial views should not be a part of your overall business strategy, especially ones made in haste. Use the excess time the pandemic has created to build a weekly social content plan; engage, like, hashtag and comment on other pages; and share personalized photos, video tips or trends. This combination of social media interaction will increase audience participation, expand beyond immediate networks, and set the stage for a higher probability of current and future online sales conversions.

The only aspect of life that can never be recovered is time, so use it wisely, learn the lessons, pay it forward and keep forging ahead. COVID-19 is only a chapter—not a novel. Every page in this unprecedented moment will be far from perfect and will continue to have varying degrees of challenges. Acknowledging the pandemic’s advantages, understanding this time period is temporary, and remaining both positive and accountable will help set the stage for an accelerated recovery when business “normalcy” finally returns.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.