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Marty MacKay DMCP of Hosts Global

How The Event Industry Can #MeetWithConfidence

DMC leader Marty MacKay outlines steps the event industry must take to ensure attendees will return to meetings.

Yes, COVID-19 has left our industry staggered and bewildered. But, as we all know, meeting and event professionals are forces to be reckoned with.

You know exactly what we’re capable of. We don’t jump over hurdles; we barrel through them. We know how to bob and weave, block and tackle, and come up with brilliant solutions seemingly in seconds. Make no mistake--not many people can pull off what we event professionals do. Every. Single. Day.

Challenge, Meet Opportunity

We’re in a waiting game right now, but slowly, yet surely, people will meet again. Will meetings be different? Yes, but the optimism is building, and people are already yearning to gather with their colleagues to strategize, learn and make memories. When the time is right, we have to be ready at the gate to make it happen for them.

While we can’t just snap our fingers and return to what was (I already tried it, it didn’t work), forward is forward. So, that’s what we should all do--be brave and push forward. Let’s navigate today and set our strategies for tomorrow.

If anyone is going to power our industry’s future, it’s going to be you. It’s going to be all of us. There’s no one better to take command and lead the way--for our stakeholders, for our clients, for our attendees.

Focus on What’s Vital First

So, what should your game plan be? First, position yourself for the best recovery possible by participating in the right conversations, right now.

I’m not talking about physical distancing, or where to place hand sanitizers, or scheduled cleanings. While these are all important details to have in place, there are enough resources and helpful information on those topics to go around.

What we truly need to focus on now is this: how to execute events in the way that bolsters confidence with both stakeholders and attendees. After all, companies will be looking to you to remind them why they need in-person events and how you plan on achieving optimal safety AND their event goals.

Lucky for all of us, our industry is tight and has always championed each other. So, we should be coming together regularly to discuss what tomorrow looks like.

It’s time to discuss the future of meetings and events. Let’s not focus on 6 feet of distance, but on making the attendee reward that much greater. Let’s lead with the customer experience.

The Perspectives and Playbooks We Need Now

My cohorts and I are hell-bent on using this time to reignite purpose and ensure unforgettable experiences, regardless of parameters and platform. We’re launching the conversations with experts that we all need now, instead of just following them. For instance, how do you build content that engages audiences both live and onscreen? Or, how we move forward and make decisions that balance the risk/reward of attendees leaving the safety of their homes?

Every Thursday, starting May 28 through June 25, we’re sitting down with some of the top industry leaders to dive deep into service-specific topics that will drive what meetings and events will look like tomorrow and beyond.

  1. Hybrid Meetings: Content is King
  • Brett Mannes, executive vice president, creative at August Jackson
  • Marti B. Winer, vice president at MGM Resorts Event Productions
  1. Reinventing the F&B Experience
  • James Filtz, CMP, CPCE, vice president at the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) and director of meetings and special events at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans
  • Dr. Aurora Dawn Benton, Founder of Astrapto LLC
  1. Elevating Sustainability Efforts, Mindfulness and Privacy
  • Molly Kievit, Senior Director of Campus Sales at Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority
  • Dr. Aurora Dawn Benton, founder of Astrapto LLC
  1. Event Design 2.0
  • Marti B. Winer, vice president at MGM Resorts Event Productions
  • James Filtz, CMP, CPCE, vice president at the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) and director of meetings and special events at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans
  • Molly Kievit, senior director of campus sales at the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority
  1. Risk/Reward, Our New Roles
  • Kristen Bratkiv, CMP, senior director, special event strategy and operations at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University
  • Robert Alexander, president of the National Limousine Association and president/owner of RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation and Orange Taxi 

We hope you will join.

Guiding the Path Forward

No doubt, gathering in new destinations in the past came with complexities. That’s why we exist--to assist you through those intricacies, while also delivering extraordinary experiences. Now, those complexities have grown exponentially, with every destination requiring a new set of safety procedures for citizens and visitors alike.

Our talk series will result in a collection of strategies and best practices, a type of checklist for future meetings and events to prepare us all to #MeetWithConfidence.

Thanks to COVID-19, the meetings and events industry is headed towards its biggest evolution yet. By this time next year, meetings and events will bear little resemblance to your last group function. And, that could be a good thing. A great thing, in fact.

The old ways are gone, and fresh ideas will be forced to take their place. Ingenuity and innovation will get us to the other side of this. As well as some bravado and savvy. No more following the status quo.

When we--as an industry--steer this evolution in the right way, it will inspire people to return to events. And, give them the irresistible sense that gathering together, once again, is where they belong. No doubt, our recovery will be hard work. But there is hope. Let’s come together to build forward momentum and participate in the right--and the relevant--discussions to navigate what lies ahead. Join our conversation.

Let’s do this.

Marty MacKay, DMCP, is regional president of Hosts Global Destination Services, based in Las Vegas. Her professional background runs from planning on the client side to running multiple DMC locations in the mid-Atlantic region. In 2013 she joined Hosts Global, where she has helped significantly grow the business. She was the 2018-2019 president of ADMEI and is a leader in the hospitality industry’s drive to develop emergency preparedness and GDPR accommodations.

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