Meet Lori A. Carper, Director of Meetings and International, Houston Association of Realtors.
Lori Carper is in her 22nd year working for the Houston Association of Realtors. She leads a team which is in charge of 20+ meetings a year, so when her in-person meetings came to a halt and she needed to learn how to do on-line meetings, she turned to PCMA.
“I just joined PCMA at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Carper, Directors of Meetings and International for the HAR. “The reason I did was their on-line educational programs. Like on Thursdays, their lunch programs from 11 to 11:30 (a.m.) are like case stories on what they’ve done or what they are trying in the virtual world. That has really been helpful, especially at the beginning, (on) how we were going to change and make the transition.
“The recap from the meetings. You can go back and read it and get the synopsis of the program,” Carper continued. “They get best practices from others. Because they are honest – ‘this worked, this didn’t work as well as I thought it would.’”
Doing on-line meetings aren’t completely new to Carper, but the complexity and the volume has gone way up.
“We’ve created more on-line programs than we ever had in the past,” said the Port Arthur native. “We’ve put together town halls to meet with the politicians. Our PAC will endorse a candidate. They will interview them. We’ve put on a lot more seminars than we would have pre-pandemic because we need to reach our members.”
Carper has seen her and her team’s skill sets actually grow during the pandemic. Her access to leadership has improved which has led to better communication in preparation and execution of meetings.
“We are busier than ever now,” cited Carper on the internal demand for more on-line gatherings. “With more meetings, our value has increased and I’m more in contact with our CEO than I ever was in the first 22 years of my job here. We’ve all been working from home since March so I’m in contact with him daily. Where in the past it may not have been that.”
The daughter of a mother and father that worked for Texaco, Carper and her family moved to Houston when she was an infant and settled in the Spring Branch community where she eventually graduated from Spring Woods High School. She went on to Texas A&M where she graduated with a Business and Marketing degree.
The marketing part of the degree has proven to be very useful in her meeting planning position.
“We not only create our own events, we promote them,” Carper said. “We have to come up with the marketing campaign. Then we have our marketing department send those messages out. We create the actual campaigns. It (marketing education) comes in handy.”
Another byproduct of the stay-at-home situation in the country and especially in Texas, has been the surge in home sales which has kept the HAR members extremely busy. However, showing a home had its own challenges.
Carper said potential buyers couldn’t walk through homes in person so realtors were going to have a tougher time selling the properties. That’s where her association added value to the members.
“We really have a lot invested in technology,” said Carper of HAR’s commitment to member communication. “We are big believers in staying one step ahead of the consumer. Our primary concern is the member- the realtor. We want to provide the realtor with as many tools as we can for them to work with their clients.
“We have created a virtual open house app,” continued Carper explaining what was involved for the realtor. “It would be a live event. You would shoot a virtual open house and answer questions in real time and that would be your open house as opposed to people coming to the house at the time of COVID. They (the realtor) can record that and they can keep that on their web page for later, but it was an actual live event.”
Although she and her team have made great strides into this on-line world and she says it will be a part of HAR’s future meetings from now on, Carper is hoping for the in-person meetings to come back soon.
“We moved all of our 2020 events (locations for the events) to 2021,” Carper said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
Until then, Carper will continue to check in with PCMA to see what her peers are doing and what ideas and information they can provide that will help her and her team in the future.
Hobbies: Carper likes Pilates when able to go to a gym. She also enjoys riding her bike as well as walking with her husband along the Buffalo Bayou park area.
Favorite Movie: Babe