Among other things, 2020 will be remembered as the year with no events — from sports to concerts to medical meetings. And for an event media company like TriStar, the sudden shift from in-person conferences to virtual meetings was a significant test — just like it was for our association partners.
“The devastation COVID-19 caused to healthcare events resulted in nearly 100% cancellation of physical events in 2020, and took our company to zero revenue in a matter of days,” said Robin Reynolds, Co-CEO of TriStar Event Media. “The first and second quarters of 2020 were the darkest times in our company’s history. We knew we had to react quickly in the second half of the year as associations were transitioning to virtual environments as quickly as they could.”
Despite the uncertain days of early 2020, TriStar adjusted course quickly and has thrived since. In this Q&A, Robin discusses TriStar’s 2021 comeback and the company’s future.
Q: What were TriStar’s greatest achievements in 2020 and 2021?
Robin: Throughout 2020, TriStar’s leadership, business development, and technology teams developed and implemented solutions for existing and new clients who were looking for ways to replace lost revenue. We worked closely with our clients to develop custom web and mobile communication solutions that were monetizable, while creating more content for our clients than ever before. We built unprecedented online global audiences that provided significant value for our industry supporters and changed the landscape of event navigation and communications.
In 2021, we continued to expand our digital platforms, more than doubling our sales revenue and creating new and different job opportunities within the company. Although there are still many uncertainties in the healthcare events sector, we are certain our business model has changed for the better.
Q: What’s behind the company’s turnaround and recent success?
Robin: We’re a creative company offering associations a broad range of event and communication solutions that generate significant non-dues revenue. Our purpose is to create sponsorship opportunities that best serve our healthcare and pharmaceutical/medical clients. These opportunities are customizable and can be vastly different for each organization. TriStar’s team possesses a great deal of ingenuity and expertise, and an incredible desire to please our clients. On top of that, we are constantly looking for better ways to do things and to optimize our products and services. No year will ever look the same in terms of the products and services we offer our clients! Our core values — Visionary, Innovative, Collaborative — perfectly describe who we are as a company.
Q: In March 2020, TriStar employees shifted to a remote-working environment. What impact has this had?
Robin: TriStar’s greatest asset is its people. As an owner, it was very unsettling when we were forced to work from home at the beginning of 2020. We were fearful of losing our spirit of teamwork and the camaraderie you build through day-to-day interactions.
However, we were in the early days of a deadly pandemic and we didn’t dwell on those fears for long. We had to save the business, so EVERYONE rolled up their sleeves and “logged on” remotely. The initial days were long and, quite frankly, scary for all. Year one was a blur and we missed seeing everyone in person. But we made the best of it with virtual happy hours and a few outdoor gatherings. Over time, the majority of our employees began to prefer remote work, while some preferred a hybrid opportunity.
Q: What are you looking forward to in 2022 and beyond?
Robin: I’m absolutely thrilled with the work we’re doing for our association and industry clients today. Our content and digital development strategy, coupled with our sales expertise, has positioned the company to have its best years. We survived a pandemic as an event company with no events, and we’ve emerged with a new focus on association marketing and communications.