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Episode 86 / January 29, 2024

Cultivating event team success and longevity with Ashley Ronkowski

Hear Ashley Ronkowski talk about preparedness, team collaboration, and self-care in the challenging world of events.

In this episode, Event Experience host Rachel Moore interviews Ashley Ronkowski, a seasoned event professional with extensive experience in event planning and marketing. Ronkowski shares her comprehensive approach to event management, emphasizing the importance of being prepared and having a versatile event kit. She discusses her recent role at Calm and her journey through various facets of event planning, from managing social media to leading global events.

Ronkowski highlights the significance of building strong internal and external teams, detailing how crucial buy-in from all stakeholders, especially at the executive level, is for the success of any event. She also shares her personal strategies for self-care during high-stress event periods, advocating for a holistic approach to wellness. Throughout the conversation, Ronkowski emphasizes the value of community and collaboration in the events industry, providing insights on handling unexpected challenges and leveraging networks for success.

Here’s what you’ll hear about in this conversation:

  • The importance of having a comprehensive event kit to handle any unexpected situation 
  • Why building strong internal and external teams is key to successful event execution 
  • How to best leverage industry networks and embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and learning

Mentioned in This Episode

Transcript

[00:00:09] Rachel Moore: Welcome to Event Experience by Bizzabo, the podcast where we bring the best and brightest Event Experience Leaders together to share stories, tips, and lessons learned from creating some of the world’s biggest events.

I’m Rachel Moore, your podcast host. 

Our guest in this episode is living the mantra, “Keep calm and carry on.” Ashley Ronkowski joins us to speak to the stresses of the events industry we all know and love, and how building strong internal and external teams is crucial to ensuring success while maintaining sanity. In fact, we dig quite a bit into self-care, Ashley’s recent role at Calm, and a time at one of her events when things weren’t going according to plan. Y’know, all in a day’s work when we’re talking about Event Experience, and it all starts now!

[00:01:13] Rachel Moore: We have a great guest on today’s podcast episode. She’s got a vast experience in social media, in marketing, in event planning. She’s definitely really been immersed in the events industry, particularly recently, and we’re going to hear about how she continues to do that. She’s been the marketing committee chair for young professionals in Minneapolis. You’ve also been marketing global marketing, you had your own freelance social media management company, which is awesome. And most recently she has been heavily immersed in leading events for Anaplan also for Experity, and most recently Calm, which many of us should be familiar with the Calm app. Now, Ashley, I’m gonna pause there ’cause I know you have a little bit more to expound on that.

[00:01:56] But everyone please welcome as you’re listening, our guest, Ashley Ronkowski, thank you for joining us on the microphones.

[00:02:04] Ashley Ronkowski: Hi. Thank you so much for having me. I am super excited to be here today.

[00:02:08] Rachel Moore: I am very excited too and as I mentioned, and again, anybody can go look through your LinkedIn profile and see a lot of what I just shared, but we’re definitely diving more into you and learning more about you as we do this. 

[00:02:20] Can you name an item that you forgot for a work event that caused you some panic?

[00:02:26] Ashley Ronkowski: I can’t really name like a specific item, but I really like to be prepared for whatever might happen. So I have a little event kit that comes with me to every single one of my events and it’s got your basics like pen and tape and HDMI cord, like stuff like that. But it’s also got like Advil, mints. band-aids, deodorant, an EmerginC, like all these things, because sometimes you literally aren’t leaving. You’re not leaving your your room at the event. You’re not leaving to go to the store. You don’t have time to do a delivery order. Like you just need something right now. You can’t run to the front desk.

[00:02:58] So having some of those like little items, they always make me feel like I’m prepared. I’ve got it. And some of them are quirky, but it’s come In a really great way, come in handy, shall I say multiple times. And that comes with me to every single event and trade show. So I’ve got like a few of them if we have events at the same time.

[00:03:16] Rachel Moore: I think that’s great. People probably taking notes, being like, I got my thing too, but you just named off some stuff to add to theirs, so that’s awesome. How about is there anything that you’re listening to, watching or reading these days that you cannot put down? I.

[00:03:32] Ashley Ronkowski: I’m a library nerd. I know , a lot of people are probably gonna laugh at that, like you can afford books, but , in my opinion, you don’t need to spend money on a book that you’re gonna read one time. And your tax dollars are going to the library . I’ve been really into Ellen Hilderbrand lately.

[00:03:49] I just enjoy like light beach reads, something that’s enjoyable. Maybe a little romance, but not like too mushy. I think I watch a lot of the Bravo shows, so if you’re a Bravo fan, hit me up. I probably watch most of them, although I did try to read the Housewives book that was written a few years ago by a blogger, and I just couldn’t get into it.

[00:04:10] Let’s see though. For podcasts, obviously I enjoy event podcasts like the Bizzabo podcast. On a personal note, the Blonde Files podcast is really interesting. It’s more about like holistic wellness. And she has some other tips in there. That’s great. And then I’m a long time fan of the Skimm. People, if you do not read the Daily Skimm, you are missing out.

[00:04:33] It’s not only a great like daily newsletter, just have high level news and keep you, in the loop with people, but also their podcast 9 to 5ish is awesome. And then lastly, I guess most recently my friend and mentor Nicola Kastner, she just spoke on a podcast I guess it wasn’t recent, but she spoke on a podcast about starting your own consulting business.

[00:04:53] And I just listened to that with Michelle Lieberman and I really enjoyed that. So I’m definitely working on, looking through that. And anything that Nicola is a part of, I’m typically probably reading it or trying to figure out okay, what can I learn from this? So if you don’t follow her, highly recommend. 

[00:05:08] Rachel Moore: So I wanna toss this over to you because I know you’ve even got some fresh updates about yourself and things like that for about what you’re into right now.

[00:05:15] So I will turn that over to you. Tell us a bit more about current day Ashley

[00:05:21] Ashley Ronkowski: That sounds great. Thank you so much. I think you touched on my background for the most part, but I like to call myself, or shall I say, a good friend of mine and a previous boss at three past companies actually calls me a Fat T marketer. Meaning there’s a lot of breadth there, but there’s a lot of depth .

[00:05:35] And I think that’s a special advantage to succeeding in the events industry as an events professional, particularly because I have a lot of breadth and depth within my knowledge of the greater marketing organization. And so I’m able to work really well with all of the different team members that you’re gonna work with on a marketing team as the events person, because I’ve done those roles .

[00:06:00] I’ve had your operations hat I’ve worn, your programs and your campaigns hat. I run social media, as you mentioned, I headed my own business years ago. 

[00:06:10] But everything to like also building field marketing and building field marketing globally, right? Field marketing is such a powerful piece of the, as I call it, marketing team puzzle, right? And you work a lot of times really closely with the events team and so being able to really understand all those other facets, while I’m for sure not a creative person by any means. That is not anything I have experience in. Although when I dabble in Canva, I call myself a junior design 

[00:06:36] intern, 

[00:06:37] Rachel Moore: Don’t we all? Don’t we all? 

[00:06:38] Ashley Ronkowski: I do really think that when you can really understand those other pieces, you can understand how events can fit into that. And it just helps your events to be more successful. 

[00:06:47] With that, a little bit about my recent background. So most recently I was at Calm, which I’m sure a lot of you have heard of this app. It’s a meditation app that’s very powerful. For me personally, it was such a joy to be there because it was professional and personal.

[00:07:03] Just really combining into one and that, like how special is that? I don’t think a lot of people can say that in their career. Unfortunately they had a pretty significant layoff recently, which, okay, it happens, 

Let’s talk layoffs and leaps of faith

[00:07:14] Ashley Ronkowski: I think especially the events industry, like we have gone through the ringer over the last few years. So I’m sure there are plenty of listeners that have either been affected by a layoff or been, one of those people that are still there. And that’s also equally hard, after a layoff, is picking up that team. So between that and I ran a social media business small business myself years ago. And between the layoff and between that, I realied it’s time to start my own gig!.

[00:07:43] I’m taking this leap of faith. I’m super excited about it. I have two projects already under contract and two in the pipeline. And for me as like a single, woman entrepreneur, I’m really excited and I’m super proud of that. I think just taking this leap of faith is exciting. And now’s the time.

[00:07:59] Rachel Moore: There are probably people listening right now who have been exactly where you are or even similar circumstances, but they took the same leap or are thinking about taking it. So let’s pause and reward that. That’s amazing. And recognizing that does take a lot of faith, but sometimes these circumstances in our lives lead us in that direction and they’re that’s the way you need to go and it sounds like this is the way that you need to go, which is super exciting and where. What great timing to be able to talk to you too, as you’re getting into that and learning more about that. But you obviously have a lot of experience that is gonna be super helpful for our listeners, not just from the standpoint of Hey, I’m gonna go out and do my own, business and be that marketing and events expert that people need.

[00:08:40] But I will just say too, I mean if you think about Calm being like a mental health app, I feel like, just what you were saying with the events industry going through the ringer, I feel like

[00:08:51] sometimes this podcast is a bit of a therapy because we’re all able to like, relate and talk about, where so many of our guests have been, the journeys, the dips and the turns that they’ve had to go through.

[00:09:02] Which, you certainly are mirroring that as well . Let’s all have some therapy together, but also learn during this episode from an awesome career marketer. So Ashley, I’m just really excited and thank you too for sharing just where you are and where you’re going, and that’s really amazing for our listeners and for you.

[00:09:21] We wanna learn from you, from your experience in working in events, which obviously you’re gonna continue to do and support but you’ve got a ton of experience, which you just alluded to a little bit about how having all that marketing experience, it’s all interwoven with the ecosystem of events and marketing and, there, there’s so much of that crossover. And something that I think we’ve always hinted at, or even sometimes really focused on with a lot of our guests on this podcast is the power of teams. And we talk about the internal team members. The external team members, again, you might have a brand or a company or business.

[00:09:59] You’ve got people hired that are employees that work on things, but of course you’ve got partners that are, and vendors that are external. But everyone is key to making it possible to pull off a great event. I would love to let our listeners hear from you. How do you view a successful internal team? First we’ll tackle internal team, but then segue too into external, who are all the players that you think are super crucial to have great events for your business and brand and your goals. Let’s kick off with internal. Tell us about how you view that.

[00:10:34] Ashley Ronkowski: So I think that having a team of strong performers and SMEs or, subject matter experts as you can call it as well, is incredibly important to the success of your overall event. And I noticed quite a lot in the industry that there are a lot of different organizations that you’re gonna be working on for your events.

[00:10:51] And obviously they’re gonna scale up and down depending on the scope, and depending on if you’re running a 300 person executive event versus, a thousand person incentive trip or a 50 person board meeting, right? Whatever the scope is, it’s obviously going change who you’re working with and those partners that are includEd within that. I think we have to kind of view it as, there’s a few different components to it. So you’re gonna have different organizations, you’re gonna have different agencies, you’re gonna have individual contributors, you’re gonna have your fulltime employees. So people like underneath you on your team or your partner, teammates as well, potentially contractors.

[00:11:25] Right. And I think that. remembering that your team is made up so many different people and not just you and your full-time emploYees.

[00:11:33] Rachel Moore: Yeah.

[00:11:35] Ashley Ronkowski: I think if we start with the iNternal teams..

Get executive-level buy-in

[00:11:39] Ashley Ronkowski: I think the biggest piece of advice that I’ve given and honed is buy-in and really making sure that you have that buy-in from all of your stakeholders throughout the organization. Obviously, starting with that executive level, so making sure that your executive team is very bought in to what you are trying to accomplish with this event, what the goals are, the metrics, the strategy. 

[00:12:09] Once they are bought in, and a lot of times that’s not simple, not easy, right? Takes a lot conversations, lot of presentations. A lot of back and forth, a lot of feedback. Once you have that buy-in, then you can start working with their sub-teams, if you will, throughout the organization, because a lot of times they’re gonna be pulling a lot of weight and they need to be really involved, right?

[00:12:32] Like they’re gonna be, let’s just say it’s the product team. They’re gonna create content for you, probably, they might be some of your presenters, okay? All the way down to like your sales team. They’re gonna have to drive those registrations with you, right? And so you have to really make sure that you have the buy-in from each one of these groups, that they all feel like they have a stake in the game.

[00:12:50] Because at the end of the day, they have to be a part of getting the goals together with you in order for the event to be successful. So I’d say that’s really where I feel like it starts. And I think that if you don’t have that back and forth, a lot of times things are just gonna flop. They’re gonna fall to the wayside.

[00:13:11] Teams aren’t really interested, they’re not gonna hit their goals, and then you are not able to hit your goals, right? Like you cannot do an event by yourself. And I also think it, it’s equally important when you look at your event team to have a strong group of teammates. Whether that’s just one person or it’s a group of people.

[00:13:28] Most within the last few years I was at a software company in San Francisco. Ha. There’s about a thousand of them so many, but it was a pretty typical, Silicon Valley startup.

[00:13:40] Let me tell you, this was a fun ride. We not only, I built out their entire trade show portfolio globally. I know we went on to take the company to IPO and do that whole process, and it was really only a handful of us that were part of that, to bring these incredible customer events that were on a global scale as well.

[00:14:01] And some of those teammates are my close friends today.

[00:14:04] And we haven’t worked together in many years, right? We, we haven’t worked together in probably three or four years now, but at the same company, shall I say. But I’ve worked with some of these people and hired them as contractors.

[00:14:18] Different roles.

[00:14:19] And now we’re all looking to do different consulting and contracting work together in now, 2024. So I say this because it, you have to be able to find people that you can really ride with, that you can really jive with. You really understand each other, you understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

Handle stressful events with great event team members

[00:14:39] Ashley Ronkowski: Events are very stressful. They really are. We are in one of the most stressful industries. You look at that stat, I’m sure everybody’s seen it. and it’s emergency responders and then you see the event people, right? And we all laugh about this, but it’s true. Like it’s very high stress.

[00:14:57] It’s very high pressure. And I think if you can find those people that can yin and yang with you, it only helps to build that. The success of the program when you’re looking at it from an internal perspective? 

[00:15:13] Rachel Moore: Yeah. , I actually was just having a conversation with my my significant other this week because I. I have a family who has worked in medicine and I actually worked in my administrative career for an EMS agency. And you are so right about the stress level. The, these people, there’s party hard, there’s work hard, but there’s also recuperate hard. You just talk about the mountains of stress where we’ve interviewed people like yourself and several guests on our show. They talk about like they’re putting on these super high stress, high deliver events where everything is hinging on everything going right.

[00:15:50] Now, maybe it’s not life or death, but it feels like it. And so I really appreciate how important it is then to have that team and how bonding it is. Like you said, you, you work with people in that kind of light and in that context you are gonna

[00:16:06] have lifelong relationships that you’ll continue to pull on.

[00:16:09] And as you just mentioned, you are doing today, you want people you can rely on.

Things will go wrong — they always do

[00:16:14] Ashley Ronkowski: I 100% agree with you and things are going to go wrong. In events, something always goes wrong and you, it is not possible to plan the most perfect of perfect events because something will go wrong. Whatever it is, it will, something will happen.

[00:16:32] And so I firmly believe of preparing for the best. Expecting there are things that are gonna go wrong, but if you have that really solid foundation and that really solid plan, you’ll be able to overcome whatever happens. And back to the team piece too. We used to do peaches and pits every night when we would close the show and we would get together as a core group of teammates.

[00:16:52] It was not only the event team, but it was also. our really, really tight team members. Like the director of creative services, like that person was a part of the team. The executive communications vice president, like they were a part of the team. All of these, there’s a few other individuals that were a part of that, but it was a very small group of us.

[00:17:12] And sharing in, the highs and lows of your day. And also like getting together afterwards in your sweatpants, in the hotel room and like enjoying finally sitting for the day. And maybe it’s your first meal of the day. Hopefully not, but, when you can have those moments and get through them together as a team and still wanna be around each other, you found something special. 

[00:17:35] Ad Intro: We’ll be right back with more Event Experience after the break.

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[00:18:10] Ad Outro: We’re back with Ashley Ronkowski to learn her secrets to self-care  at the end of a long event day.

[00:18:20] Rachel Moore: When you do have those down times, is there a favorite food or beverage that you tend to go for where you’re like comfort food? 

[00:18:27] Ashley Ronkowski: That’s a hard question. I typically eat relatively healthy, and I also being a healthy individual holistically is pretty important to me. Making sure to work out a decent amount of sleep, the food, alcohol, all those things are, it’s important, but sometimes you just can’t do it all.

[00:18:43] I’m not getting a workout in when I’m doing my events, right? It’s just not possible. You are working out, actually, when you’re on your feet for like 23 out of the 24 hours…

[00:18:48] Rachel Moore: That’s right.

[00:18:50] Ashley Ronkowski: But , you’re not literally on the elliptical. If you’ll I’m a tequila gal, so like a Paloma is my shtick, but not too sugary, typically. Good. Or like a little Sauv Blanc, I always make sure I have the drinks that I like at my events, as we all do. But also, still supporting your customers. Typically, I’ll, if we have a customer in the, alcohol business, they’re typically, they’re featured somehow at the event.

[00:19:11] Rachel Moore: Of course 

[00:19:12] Ashley Ronkowski: Food wise, I don’t really care. Like I, I’m a salty gal, which is funny ’cause my maiden name is actually sour. So everybody thinks I like, I do 

[00:19:20] Rachel Moore: amaretto, sour Whiskey, sour

[00:19:22] Ashley Ronkowski: yeah. Something, or like sour punch kids. Yeah, those are pretty good. But yeah, I don’t really go to a lot of unhealthy foods, I guess in a pinch when I’m like exhausted. ’cause I actually feel like more exhausted and like more worn down if I just sit there and have an entire large pizza.

[00:19:40] Nobody feels good after that. Even though, Papa John’s garlic sauce is really the best. 

[00:19:45] Rachel Moore: Ooh. Hard to argue with that. Yeah, I, and I tend to,

[00:19:48] I think mine, I like Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food. 

[00:19:51] Love that stuff. I’m glad you brought that up, where it’s just Hey, I gotta take care of my body so I can perform the next day. And yes, I can relax, but I maybe don’t wanna wreck myself before I need to apply myself the next day.

[00:20:02] Ashley Ronkowski: Yeah. No, absolutely. And I have, and I think there’s other events people that’ll laugh when I say this, but I have specific shoes that I wear and they have an insole and they’re like a nice leather tennis shoe. Like they don’t look like an ugly I’m gonna go on a run tennis shoe. They look like a little bit more

[00:20:17] Professional, but I’ve got like my extra padding and I am a very light sleeper and as an events professional, you’re always on the road.

[00:20:24] We’ve got that platinum Delta status, right? Or more for some people, I’m sure. But I travel with, a sound machine, with a face mask, with the earplugs, with the essential oils, like all the things, because sleep truly is paramount.

[00:20:37] And when you are running these events, you’re up at 4:00 AM and you’re probably not gonna bed till midnight, right? Like you don’t have much of a window sometimes until you hopefully build out your team that you can lean on. And so that everybody can get some rest, but you might not always be able to get your eight hours..

[00:20:51] Rachel Moore: Yeah. what are, What are external teams like, how do you view them? Who are the vendors and the external folks that you think are key to executing great events.

[00:21:03] Ashley Ronkowski: I think it’s really depends on obviously the scale of your event and the scope. And you’re gonna scale this up and down, but if we just think holistically, your external teammates need to be as strong as your internal teammates. And I personally like to treat these contractors or agency partners, industry partners, whatever, as an extension of our team.

[00:21:26] They are a part of our team and really making sure that they’re very closely aligned to the strategy in order to help them execute with us. And execute on this flawless event, right? At the end of the day, it makes you look good as the event professional in charge at your company, right? If you have all these other teammates that are doing a really great job, your executive leadership team and your other leaders within your team are going to notice that.

[00:21:54] So I think some examples here, strong AV partners, a DMC that you really trust, visitor bureau, a great expo leader, for example, that maybe they run their own company and maybe this is the sole proprietor. And you know that they’re a SME in the industry and they’re gonna make your expo floor shine so that your sponsors are super happy and your attendees are really excited and they’re really engaged.

[00:22:18] So it’s a win-win on both sides. Maybe it’s also like working with an event strategist that can come in and poke holes at the strategy that you aligned on and help get your strategy for your event to the next level.

[00:22:33] Ashley Ronkowski: It’s having those people that know your program really well and are bought into that success. But sometimes you’re also a really small team and you’re spread really thin. So maybe it’s hiring a contractor or someone else that’s a sole proprietor that is a really great executor. They don’t really need a lot of instruction, right?

[00:22:54] Like they don’t really need to be in the weeds, but you can give them a task and they can go and run with it and you know it’s gonna be executed on flawlessly. Now, a lot of times these partnerships are built over years and through community and through meeting each other and talking in different forums and Slack communities and LinkedIn and all these other ways.

[00:23:14] But I really do think that. Once you start to find those people, you can really plug and play them in different events and then really help you out. Like recently I’ve been working on an incentive program and I’m like, oh, I need a contact in EMEA for these two hotel brands. ’cause I’m not getting anywhere, I’m not getting any traction.

[00:23:32] And I immediately reached out to my network and boom, I had a contact. And that’s, that only happens by building these teams and building these communities and friendships and working together.

[00:23:44] Rachel Moore: This is such a great running thread through our discussion that power of that community of the events community. It’s hard to quantify how valuable that is to be able to rely on that community in the times you need it rather than, oh, let me, it’s not like we have phone books really anymore, but, trying to go Google it yourself. And it’s so much better when you can get somebody who can personally refer you to somebody.

[00:24:06] Ashley Ronkowski: 100%. And I know we joke about that. It’s oh, let me get my Rolodex out. Like I, I’m too young for that.

[00:24:13] Rachel Moore: I know they’re not even around anymore. 

[00:24:15] Ashley Ronkowski: I know, probably not but I do appreciate it and I personally like write that stuff down and I have like my own files that I save things, but truly I am such a collaborative person. Like I thrive on that. That’s why I love this industry so much because I found other marketers and other events professionals like myself that love to do that too, and just share ideas.

[00:24:37] Hey, have you thought about this? Or, oh my gosh, I saw this at an event. This was incredible. Like. How could I use that in what I’m about to do? And I think there’s just so much power in that and it’s just so fulfilling. And that’s why I have such a deep, immense passion for this industry. And what a special thing to do.

[00:24:54] And one of my friends and mentors, she also talks about how rewarding it is to give back to the industry. And it truly is. It’s a lot of fun.

[00:25:01] Rachel Moore: I don’t know that I’ve ever encountered another industry where it is so tight-knit, and so supportive. 

[00:25:07] I get reminded of it every week it’s just, it’s great, just to hear that too. So those of you listening. You’re in the best industry as far as there is a camaraderie, there is a community and there’s always room for more.

[00:25:18] Can you share a story or an experience about how your internal and external teams were able to make the impossible possible or at least better maybe than you even had planned?

[00:25:29] Ashley Ronkowski: Yeah, I think, I think it’s hard to pinpoint a specific example because there’s so many out there, but I think I’ll choose one and I’ll give two sides of what went well and then what didn’t go well. About a year ago, I was running about a 400 person executive level event in Miami.

[00:25:44] Who wouldn’t love to be in Miami, in Florida. Especially for cold weather, people like me. So we were noticing if everybody remembers back in early 23. The market took a shift and companies started to pull back a little bit more, right? We started to see some layoffs. We started to see budget cuts.

[00:26:01] We for sure saw T&E got budget cuts and event spend. And while the appetite for attending in-person events or events in general, even if they’re hybrid or whatnot, was there from the audience, the budget wasn’t always there and we were seeing a bit of a decline in what our expected attendance rate was going to be.

[00:26:22] With that, obviously that affects quite a few things. When you don’t have the registration numbers you need, that affects your hotel pickup for your hotel block, it also affects your protected revenue. Right? And then you have to think about how it affects your sponsors. If you tell your sponsors you’re gonna have three to four hundred people there and you have a hundred registered, which wasn’t the case necessarily, but just for example that’s a big problem, right? You are very much so under delivering what you’re promising your sponsors. And for me, especially being on the trade show side for such a long part of my career, you have to be able to deliver what is promised or you gotta go back to contract, right? And you gotta get those legal teams back in there and that’s a whole mess that a lot of people don’t wanna deal with, right?

[00:27:02] And so we had a really strong agency partner. And this kind of goes back to, I know we were talking about internal teams earlier. This goes back to that external team and really building out those external partners that are going to help succeed, help your event succeed. So this was the second year program with the agency partner on as a second year agency partner as well.

[00:27:26] They really understood the event, they understood the audience, they understood how we were working with the hotel, and they really had our best interest in heart. And they also had the experience for a long time, partners with this particular hotel chain and understanding how to negotiate in which points of the contract they could push on to help adjust the hotel block, how we needed to.

[00:27:52] To cut down on like the potential attrition that we could have had and all these other factors, right? And just getting really creative with us on how to mitigate some of that risk. And I think that also goes alongside with just finding these agency partners or contractors or, proprietors that can help in different facets of your event, that challenge you.

[00:28:14] And they give you different ideas that maybe you hadn’t thought of. ’cause 

Ask a non-events partner to challenge you

[00:28:18] Ashley Ronkowski: I think sometimes you get so in your head and you’re like, okay, I gotta get through this registration number and we need this revenue number and we have to have this deadline on this date. And you forget okay, if I take a step back and I’m not in this role, what would I do and how would I change my execution plan?

[00:28:35] Having people, a part of your external team, to be able to challenge you and think differently about your program and your event is really helpful and is something that I very much so value. If I don’t have a partner that is challenging me, it is time for me to move on and find a different partner.

[00:28:52] Seriously.

[00:28:53] Because I want someone to be able, and I think about this, even just when you think of your personal life, like everybody has to be able to call you out on your BS. You have to have that person in your life that will call you out on, on those things, right? And I think it’s really important to be able to lean on people to challenge you to think differently.

[00:29:15] Rachel Moore: . That’s great.

[00:29:16] Where can our listeners find and follow you online?

[00:29:20] Ashley Ronkowski: This is a hard one for me, . Because as mentioned, I am starting my own business and it’s very new. I just filed the legal paperwork only about two days ago. So in the interim, LinkedIn is definitely where I’m still active. So linkedin.com/in/ashleyesa ur, which was my maiden name.

[00:29:40] But in the future obviously look out for a post announcing the official name of my business and website. Would love to connect with the community. But regardless really appreciate your time and I hope that others in the industry not only found this valuable, but like I said, if you have different opinions or different suggestions, be a part of the conversation.

[00:29:59] I’d love to learn from you as well. 

[00:30:12] Rachel Moore: Ashley’s obviously not a stranger to new experiences, and her advice for us to SkillUp points each of us to the possibilities.

[00:30:22] Ashley Ronkowski: So I would say that be open to the different growth opportunities that your career might take you and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. I literally found my mentor because she was speaking at the Bizzabo.Gosh, what was this 2020 virtual event or 2021 virtual event? She was one of the keynote speakers and I was like, I’m so excited to hear you speak today. Like I love, hearing from you and I can’t wait to hear what you say. And she’s oh, book some time with me. I’d love to chat with you. Like you never know when that’s going to happen.

[00:30:54] Rachel Moore: Thanks again to Ashley Ronkowski for joining us on Event Experience, and thank YOU for listening. 

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You can find transcripts of each episode and key takeaways on bizzabo.com/podcasts.

On behalf of the team, thank you. We’ll gather again soon for a new episode of Event Experience.

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