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Event Success Stories - MainStreet DeLand Association

We have some amazing Florida Event Heroes in our state. In today's feature, Desiree Freeland, Events and Promotions Coordinator from MainStreet DeLand Association, shared what her association did during the pandemic to keep live events going.

When asking her whether she felt Florida’s events came back faster or slower than other parts of the country, she responded, “Florida came back much quicker and threw open the doors wide. We are dependent so much on tourism in this state, so we tried to get things up quickly but safely. We had to change our event guidelines and language.”

The word for this year in her mind was “pivot”. The industry as a whole had to change to survive. We just needed to make it through to stay relevant and engage the community. Some of the things the MainStreet DeLand Association did to engage was encouraging mindfulness and maintaining a sense of community. They hosted a monthly event where business owners would be able to come together virtually instead of in person to keep the community of the business leaders ongoing. This was a good change for them as they saw people engage more as they didn’t have to stop what they were doing to drive to a location to sit down together.

They are very proud of how they pivoted so quickly with changing events to online in less than a month. They were able to maintain branding and hit marks that they didn’t think they would achieve in this pandemic. They realized the importance of your audience. You really need to connect with them when they are not present to assess the situation in person. "We now made sure to listen even more and make adjustments to make sure we were connecting with our audience," said Desiree. She continued by saying, "It did show the people a behind the scenes view as they saw how our personalities as a staff worked together to create these events. We had to be mindful now of people watching us and that we were under more scrutiny as before all of this was back behind the curtain."

The MainStreet DeLand Association was able to keep their staff and most businesses stayed apart of the association, except a few during the pandemic. Businesses are starting to come back more now though. Desiree said, "We will meet people who plan to stay hybrid through the summer. They will re-evaluate after the summer to see where their next step will take them. Some of the feedback they have received from the public and businesses are that people love coming back out. They have moved the goal post of transparency and maintained a great sense of community through this."

Desiree mentioned some of the things she took from the pandemic. She said, “Events should never run-on autopilot. We need to be mindful to not just recreate the wheel each time we do the same event and check the boxes. We need to evaluate and change if things are not working. Try out something new as it could be the next great thing for your organization. She sees the value in virtual events as it broadens your audience and can create a deeper impact in your community. 2020 taught me if you want it bad enough you will make it happen. Trust your gut and keep doing the right thing for your area. You are making an impact and don’t be afraid to push back in ways to make things more meaningful.”

The MainStreet DeLand Association and Desiree Freeland are one of our true Florida Heroes. They adapted to the changes that happened in the event industry due to the pandemic and have made it out with their team and even stronger together.

Christina wants everyone in the community of FFEA to remember this, “Do not be afraid to restructure and take a new direction when it comes to your events. We are excited for new ideas and making events even more personalized and special for our guests.”

Featured in this interview:

MainStreet DeLand Association
100 N Woodland Blvd
DeLand, FL 32720

Phone: (386) 738-0649


If you are interested in being featured to share a success story from your event or organization, contact us here. To view all of our event features, click here.
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