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Keynotes Hype Up Catersource + The Special Event

Keynotes Laura Schwartz and Michael Cerbelli wowed attendees in Austin, TX

All photos courtesy Ivan Piedra Photography/AGNYC Productions, Inc.

Morning sessions at conferences can be difficult to stay awake for, but that was not the case at Catersource + The Special Event 2024 (CS+TSE). Both Wednesday and Thursday morning of the show in Austin, TX, keynote speakers brought high energy and lots of inspiration to the stage, captivating attendees and leaving them filled with ideas and a strong appreciation for the events community.

Opening General Keynote

The Opening General Keynote Laura Schwartz captured attendees' attention immediately with her bright, energetic personality. Schwartz, a top U.S. speaker who started her career serving as the White House Director of Events for the Clinton Administration, is the author of Eat, Drink, and Succeed and also appears as a contributor on Australian TV. During her session, Schwartz talked about using events as "third places," a term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg to describe the places we gather together outside of home and work, places that unify communities, provide social capital, and help us release our regular roles. She also talked about how events can be informed by other third places, encouraging event pros to look to their communities for both inspiration and networking opportunities. "You never know when the next conversation could be "The Conversation" to change your life or the life of somebody else," she told the crowd. 

Then, to prove her point, Schwartz transformed the stage into her favorite third place—a coffee shop. A stagehand brought out five coffee orders; one for Schwartz, and four for the event pros she brought on stage to join her in her third place (Rolando Espinoza, Champagne Creative; Gwendolyn McNutt, ILEA; Cindy Y Lo, RED VELVET; and Charles Haracz, Blue Plate Catering). The hall even filled with smells of coffee (provided by Scentex), and it was in this comfortable setting that Schwartz led a dialogue between the event pros about taking advantage of growth opportunities. The session was a great reminder to all attendees to get the most out of their time at CS+TSE.

Closing General Keynote

Keeping up the energy, Michael Cerbelli (Cerbelli Creative) closed out the conference with the return of his beloved session "Michael Cerbelli’s: The Hot List™," not seen since before the pandemic. In this lively session, Cerbelli shared cutting edge event and entertainment ideas, with videos showcasing top vendors and with live performances of the best in entertainment; attendees were delighted with acrobatic roller skating brother and sister duo Billy and Emily, and the popular contortionist Sophie Dossi, both seen on America's Got Talent. With tech like a robotic dog and a drone bartender, as well as design displays by The Umbrella Project and Edenopolis Events, there was no shortage of vendors and inspiration for attendees to brainstorm and get creative with.

Whether you're reliving this fantastic week or are wishing you were there, take a look at the photos from these amazing sessions and be on the lookout for registration info for next year's conference, to be held in Ft. Lauderdale, FL from February 24-27.

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