EVENTS July | August 2020
#HospitalityReady WELCOME Travel, tourism, event locations are getting ready for everyone to return throughout the US and the world.
MAKE YOUR MEETING COUNT. MAKE YOUR MEETING HERE. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa provides the perfect creative environment to inspire and motivate your attendees. Our legendary luxury service and attention to detail begins with your very ﬁrst consultation. Discover all the unique opportunities located all under one roof. Over 106,000 square feet of ﬂexible meeting space less than an hour from Philadelphia International Airport.
For more information, visit theborgata.com/meetings or call 609.317.7729. ©2020 Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. All rights reserved.
INTRODUCING FLEXIBLE SPACE JUST FOR YOU
› EXPANDED LATE 2019 › DOUBLED IN SIZE: NOW 205,000 SQUARE FEET OF FLEXIBLE CONVENTION SPACE › 18 MORE MEETING ROOMS, FOR A TOTAL OF 33
In 2019, Kalahari Resorts & Conventions expanded the venue that consistently delivers expectation-exceeding, personalized meetings of all sizes. That means even more space, more amenities and more second-to-none service. With a luxurious spa, enticing on-site restaurants and newly expanded venues, your event is sure to be even more incredible.
POCONO MOUNTAINS, PA
ROUND ROCK, TX - 2020
› ADDED A 38,000-SQUARE-FOOT BALLROOM
©2020 Kalahari Management Co. LLC
Call 855-411-4605 to learn more
WISCONSIN DELLS, WI
MORE OF EVERYTHING
MORE MEETING SPACE, LAVISH BANQUETS AND LUXURY ROOMS. Planning the perfect meeting, conference or banquet requires experience, efficiency and passion... all qualities found in our team of experts. Choose Tropicana for your next meeting and rest assured in knowing you have the very best in your corner. • Over 2,400 Rooms • Over 100,000 Square Feet of Meeting Space • 2,000 Seat Showroom which is Ideal for your General Session
• 25 Restaurants • Over $200 Million in Amazing Renovations • Incredible Oceanfront Location
Book your next meeting, conference or special event! Contact one of our sales team members for more information at 609.340.4398 or Jim Ziereis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORE FUN. MORE VALUE. MORE VARIETY. 1-800-THE TROP | TROPICANA.NET | BRIGHTON AND BOARDWALK, ATLANTIC CITY, NJ 08401 Must be 21 or older. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.
FEATURING 416 Integrated Guest Rooms 90,000 sq. ft. of Exhibit Space
EXPLORE THE POSSIBILITIES
While planning your next big event, don’t settle for anything less than the best of both worlds. Located in the historic heart of downtown Lancaster City, the Lancaster County Convention Center allows visitors to have their cake and eat it too—where big city culture can be savored at a small town pace.
Jacyn H Thompson
DIRECTOR OF CONVENTION SALES
25 S. QUEEN STREET, LANCASTER, PA 17603-3918
CONTENTS pgs.001-009 0720.qxp_L
EVENTS July | August 2020
July z August 2020 The Lanesborough, London Photo Credit: Jim Cohn
Travel, tourism, event locations are getting ready for everyone to return throughout the US and the world.
PAGE 12 - Casino resort properties, like those in Atlantic City, NJ, are ready!
Casino Resorts: Ready to Welcome Guests Back Casino resort properties reopen around the region
Service & Seating in a Changing World Caterers and food service providers adapting to recent changes
29 32 36 PAGE 26 - Creative cuisine by Brûlée Catering amid new guidelines for events.
Conversations to Inspire Forward Motion Sharing ideas to create forward momentum Industry Recovery Facing challenges and change while planning for the future Associations Helping to Keep People Connected Staying in touch with members and providing added value Growing Together While Keeping Apart New ways for groups to bond amid a global pandemic Event Design in a New World CORT Event Furnishings new designs for safer events
EVENTS EXTRAS 46 Location Report: Pocono Mountains, PA 50 A COHNversation with Rob Carachilo, Roberts Event Group 54 Around The Region 56 EventsWorthy: A Look Back 62 EventMakers PAGE 36 - Viking Cooking School at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, a great experience with chefs and company staff combined with a hands-on teaching kitchen. 8
July z August 2020
Mid-Atlantic Events Staff PUBLISHER & EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jim Cohn MANAGING EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Rich Kupka DESIGN & PRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . .Dana Kurtbek-MME Media FEATURES EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Lydia Young TRAVEL EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Ken Alan EVENTS DIRECTOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jennifer Johnson CONTROLLER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Robert Conrad CONTRIBUTING WRITERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Maggie Corrado, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sharon DeFelices, Kellie Mayrides ADVERTISING & SALES
& S G N I T E E M S T N E V E GREAT WHERE
AYS ARE ALW ON IN SEAS
215-947-8600, ext. 111 email@example.com
EDITORIAL OFFICES 1800 Byberry Rd Ste 901, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006 215-947-8600, ext. 110 firstname.lastname@example.org Opinions expressed in editorial submissions contributed to Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine are those of the individual authors exclusively and do not represent the opinions of Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine, its staff, its advertisers, or its readership. Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine and Tri-State Events Magazine, Inc. assume no liability or responsibility for independently contributed editorial submissions or any typographical errors, mistakes, misprints, or missing information within advertising copy.
- Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau - Destination Delco - Discover Lehigh Valley - Green Meetings Industry Council
Vol. 33, No.5
- Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International – Greater Philadelphia, South Jersey and Delaware - International Live Events Association – Greater Philadelphia, North Jersey & Washington DC - Meeting Professionals International – Middle Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Philadelphia & Potomac - Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives - National Association of Catering Executives – Greater Philadelphia/South Jersey - Ocean City, MD Convention and Visitors Bureau - Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association - Pennsylvania Society of Association Executives - PHL CVB
Connecticut Delaware Maryland New Jersey New York Pennsylvania Virginia West Virginia Washington, DC
- Pocono Mountains Convention & Visitors Bureau - Professional Convention Management Association Greater Philadelphia - Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board - Visit Bucks County
Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine is the bi-monthly, Mid-Atlantic publication, bringing information about the Hospitality and Meeting Industry to Meeting, Seminar, Trade Show, Overnight Accommodation, Special Event, Conference, Convention, for Association, Corporate, Group and Individual Planners along with Hotel, Resort, Conference Center, Attraction, Banquet Facility General Managers, Directors of Sales, Catering and Conference Services. Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine (ISSN 0896-3967), is published bi-monthly by Tri-State Events Magazine, Inc. Copyright 2020 by Tri-State Events Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved.
POSTMASTER: Please send changes to Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine, 1800 Byberry Road Suite 901, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006
rporate ons to co ti ti e p m co eeting to dance wonder m ts o n n e ’s m it a , r en rts tourn on Cente in betwe From spo Conventi verything s e d o d o n a w , d s il ve the W gathering lanners lo p t n e v e and arena e year! ot exhibit nth of th square fo every mo ding 75K u feet, incl tal square to 0 0 ,0 0 • 26 th space ems hibit boo tion syst ’ x 10’ ex mmunica co rt -a • 380 – 10 e f-th s /State-o amenitie • Modern es of ices and 5 mil ssion serv oardwalk g/Conce b n s ri u te o a m C a • world-f dwoods nt to Wil • Adjace aches s FREE be 0 vehicle r over 70 fo g in rk a p • On-site n space re-functio feet of p re a u sq • 30K ttendees i-Fi for a • Free W all us at
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Mid-Atlantic EVENTS Magazine
#UNTILWEMEETAGAIN CaesarsMeansBusiness.com 855-633-8238
CASINO RESORTS-READY TO WELCOME GUESTS BACK! A
s state governments begin to relax restrictions and regulations, casino resorts throughout the region are reopening or preparing to reopen and once again will be able to welcome guests (and groups) back to their properties.
Prior to the pandemic, casino resorts served as popular choices among meeting planners because of their “all-in-one” offerings with everything from plentiful hotel rooms to varied meeting spaces to great dining options to ample entertainment, recreation and more. Today, they stand ready to accommodate groups – still with all of these attractive offerings – plus a wide range of health and safety features and procedures in place that will help put at ease the minds of planners and attendees alike. For Caesars Entertainment Corporation, planning and preparing for the reopening of their three casino properties in Atlantic City, NJ (Caesars, Bally’s and Harrah’s) has truly been a collaborative effort. As Michael Massari, chief sales officer for Caesars Entertainment, explains, “We have formed some incredible partnerships between Caesars, state government officials, the Atlantic City gaming board, epidemiologists, and even our competitors. Through these new partnerships, we can talk about the dynamic problems we all have been facing these last few months and how we can work together to solve them.” 12 Julyz August2020
orking together and sharing information helps to put all parties in better position to evaluate and develop best practices. At the same time, they can make necessary changes as circumstances evolve and additional information becomes available.
“In terms of COVID-19 and safety measures,” Massari advises, “I would expect that changes will continue. Talking with each other and sharing ideas and observations on an ongoing basis is the best way to help keep people safe.” He says that Caesars continues to provide an environment in which people can enjoy each of their resort experiences. “We have always worked very hard to make sure that people are comfortable and happy when they come to our properties. This has always been part of our DNA.”
Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, NJ.
“Those who come to Caesars’ properties will continue to be greeted by one of our team members,” Massari notes. “They will check into one of our beautiful hotel rooms, have the opportunity to play slots and table games if they wish, enjoy dining in our restaurants, or go out onto the Atlantic City boardwalk and beach.”
EVENT VENUE GO RG EO US WATER FRO NT VI E WS 1 0,0 0 0 SQ . FEE T CO N FIG U R AB LE BAN Q U E T S PACE C ATERI N G BY G I B SO NS R ESTAU R ANT G RO U P DI R EC T ACCESS TO FR EE PAR KI N G
1001 NORTH DELAWARE AVENUE PHILADELPHIA, PA 19125 FREE SELF-PARKING
GAMBLING PROBLEM? CALL 1-800-GAMBLER. Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 13
is provided at entrances, and selfserve items have been removed. Because health and safety requirements can vary, depending on guidance issued by local governments and public health authorities, guests may experience some variation of protocols. For specific information about a particular property, Caesars urges planners to contact that property directly.
Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, PA. Of course, there will be some differences in how people will maneuver through each of these settings, but new protocols will seek to minimize disruptions. “As human beings, we have an innate need to gather,” observes Massari. “There’s a ‘gravitational pull’ that draws us toward each other. Even when coming together for education and learning, there is an energy created in a group setting that just can’t happen any other way. People want to meet, and are smart enough to figure out how to do so effectively and safely within our current reality.” Caesars Entertainment has established a number of health and safety protocols in preparation for the return of guests and groups to their properties, working closely with health experts and adhering to guidelines set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For the well-being of both guests and team members, employees have been trained on cleaning and 14 Julyz August2020
disinfectant techniques, including use of PPE, protocols for all surfaces and tracking cleaning schedules. Recommended physical distancing guidelines are being adhered to throughout the resort and the presence of hand sanitizer stations have been increased across each area. Casino floors, restaurants and other seated venues have reduced their capacities to allow for appropriate physical distancing. Team members will provide hand sanitizer at check-in, table games, cage, and other transaction points, and hand washing reminders are available at restroom facilities. Front desks have been arranged to allow for appropriate physical distancing with queues marked to indicate appropriate distance between guests. Team members, including guest room attendants, will not enter occupied rooms, and guest deliveries will be dropped off outside the guest room door. At restaurants, table configurations have been adjusted to allow for appropriate distancing, high touch items are cleaned and disinfected between guests or replaced with disposable versions, hand sanitizer
The following are some of the key protocols being implemented at Caesars’ resorts. Caesars is implementing a health screening program for all employees as part of the process of reopening its properties and bringing team members back to work. Employees are required to complete training on appropriate physical distancing and new methods to greet guests and employees. Hand sanitizers or hand washing stations will be placed throughout convention center hallways and available outside of all scheduled or occupied meeting rooms. There will be frequent cleaning and sanitizing of public areas, with attention paid to high-touch points. All coffee break stations will be staffed with attendants, and hand washing and sanitizing stations will be available inside meal rooms. Entry doors will be set in an open position to reduce guest contact with hard surfaces, and Convention Registration will be set up at multiple stations to maintain physical distancing. Seating in meeting rooms and at banquet tables will be spaced apart to create appropriate distance between guests. The Caesars Entertainment team remains committed to the meeting and events industry and has been working with a dedicated Food Safety Manager in addition to partnering with health professionals to develop and implement new proce-
Mount Airy Casino Resort offers a AAA Four-Diamond experience in the pristine scenery of the Pocono Mountains. With 20,000 square feet of meeting space, over 1,000 acres of resort amenities, and the most exciting dining and entertainment in Northeast Pennsylvania, we’ve got everything you need to make your next meeting extraordinAIRY. For more information, visit mountairycasino.com/meetings-weddings or call 570-243-5173.
MOUNTAIRYC A SINO.COM ∙ 1- 877- MTAIRY-1
Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.
Mohegan Sun Pocono recently reopened in Wilkes-Barre, PA dures emphasizing the well-being of participants. Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City, NJ is prepared to reopen under the brand's new and thorough "Safe + Sound" program guidelines that have been designed to help ensure “good, clean fun” at the resort destination. “Hard Rock and Seminole Gaming have made a tremendous commitment to sanitary protocols and a safety-first mentality for both guests and team members,” said Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and chairman of Hard Rock International. “We are making sure our resorts are safe and sound so our guests and team members have peace of mind when they return.” The "Safe + Sound" Reopening Plan and Protocols have been developed in accordance with guidelines provided by Hard Rock International and adopts the Atlantic City Casino Industry's Summary Plan of Proposed Reopening Protocols in effort to take a responsible and conservative approach in providing a safe, secure and fun environment. “We look forward to welcoming back our loyal guests and team members for an exciting summer at 16 Julyz August2020
the Jersey Shore. Our top priority over the last several months was diligently developing new ‘Safe + Sound’ protocols ensuring a comfortable environment to stay, play and work. Included in those protocols is the requirement for all to wear masks and have their temperature scanned with thermal imaging technology before entering the property,” says Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City. “Creating the ‘Safe + Sound’ protocols, implementing detailed training programs and carefully cleaning the property will provide the most thorough and responsible approach in Atlantic City, providing good clean fun for all,” he continues. The program also adheres to the directives of the WHO and the CDC. Key highlights of "Safe + Sound" include: all guests and team members will be required to wear masks or cloth face coverings that meet CDC guidelines, except when eating or drinking; temperature check for guests and team members; a new Safe + Sound Clean Team; increased quality of air circulation; and AtlantiCare partnership that is focused on contact tracing, training, telehealth and more. Masks will be provided to guests, as needed.
Appropriate physical distancing requirements in gaming and non-gaming areas will be required and enforced by all team members, which will include over 750 signs posted throughout the complex to help ensure adherence to "Safe + Sound" Program guidelines. Over 200 hand sanitizer dispensers will be placed in all high-traffic, high-visibility areas, too, such as key guest and team member entrances and contact areas. Restaurants will have limited occupancy to enforce physical distancing guidelines. Plexiglass is being installed at the front desk, casino cage, Wildcard Services, sportsbook, box office and select table games. Also following CDC and state guidelines, Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City has implemented an enhanced Health and Sanitization Plan to complement the exceptional level of personalized service that their meeting attendees have come to expect, explains Peter Ciccone, VP of sales. “Communication and reassurance are key to gain meeting planners and attendees’ confidence.” New Jersey has been one of the strictest states in following CDC
guidelines and Waterfront destinations putting procedures throughout in Part of Ocean theplace. Mid-Atlantic region,Casino’s whetherreat opening plan physical dis-or the beach, byincludes a lake, along a river tancing among meeting attendees other body of water, surely will and utilizing largerpeaceful meeting rooms. serve as perfectly settings For periods, all buffets will be thatmeal are close to home at a time served when allby of Ocean’s us will beculinary looking team for to ensurerelaxation standardsand are being met. comfort, reassurDue ance.to the increased focus on health and sanitization measures, Ocean Casino Resort alsoNew hasJerinHotel LBI in Ship Bottom, creased its cleaning staff. sey, is a one-of-a-kind destination location for corporate retreats that’s Before meetingbusiness attendees perfect for mixing with arrive, they can visitof pleasure. Located at the entrance theoceanac.com/covid to review Long Beach Island, the hotel feaour and Sanitizaturescomplete a privateHealth Conservatory with tion Plan,” says Ciccone. vaulted ceilings and a gas fireplace, as well as the opportunity to hold A casino resortsessions destination brain storming right situon the ated along the beach and boardbeach, which is less than two walk, Ocean Casino Resort blocks away. Transportation is features three acres of scenic available via hotel shuttle, andoutthe door space in provide additiona to its inhotel can even cooler of door venues boast sandwiches andthat drinks alongocean with views every angle. beach from chairs and towels.
EXCEEDING YOUR EXPECTATIONS WHERE BUSINESS MEETS PLEASURE COMING 2021
We will be expanding to 558 hotel rooms and 61,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
Must be 21 years of age or older to enter the Wind Creek Casino.
GAMBLING PROBLEM? CALL 1-800-GAMBLER.
Back on-site, guests can relax by the indoor/outdoor swimming pool while having a drink or appetizer at the Tide Pool Bar and Grille, or schedule spa services at the Lighthouse Beauty and Wellness Center. The rooftop bar features firepits and spectacular sunset views. A semi-private dinnerM can arranged EEbe TIN GS AT for the group in the award-winning HARD RO CK H OTEL & CASI N O Salt Kitchen Restaurant, which serves up food from local farmers and fishermen. Finally, live entertainment in Hotel LBI’s Living Room With 150,000 ending square feet spectacular meeting space plus 2,000 offers a perfect toofany reluxury hotel rooms, we have the perfect place to make your moment treat.
IT’S TIME TO ATL ANTIC CIT Y
shine. Discover how our team of professionals can help inspire yours. JoinLBI us on the Boardwalk feel theso, new vibe in Atlantic City. Hotel opened in Mayand of 2019,
despite difficult circumstances, it is celebrating its one-year Rockin’ rates starting atanniver$69 PER NIGHT. sary. New corporate packages soon Visit hardrockhotelatlanticcity.com/meetings or call 609-449-6060 will today be available, and ownership has incentives. and receive additional booking plans to open two new attractions. Mainland Adventure Park, just minutes from the hotel, will provide 1000 Boardwalk, Atlanticincluding City, NJ 08401 team building activities a Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. ropes course, rock climbingManagement wall, reserves all rights. Certain rules & restrictions apply. Must book before 6/20/21. Based on availability. Excludes taxes, fees, holidays & blackout dates. zip lining and go kart racing. The BoatYard features a large outdoor Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 17
eturning guests will be able to take advantage of everything the resort has to offer, from its state-ofthe-art meeting level to the Exhale Spa and Bathhouse to William Hill Sports Book and Bar to Topgolf Swing Suite, as well as shopping, three swimming pools, over 20 dining experience and more, asserts Ciccone.
In response to the pandemic, Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City has developed its own Play Safe, Work Safe plan to responsibly welcome back guests and team members. “We want our guests to be able to enjoy the friendly and warm experience that has always been part of our core values, but with the addition of new health and safety measures,” said Mark Giannantonio, president and CEO of Resorts Casino Hotel. The plan includes a significant capital investment to improve air quality, as well as to clean and sanitize surfaces across the property. This investment includes the installation of advanced bipolar ionization and UV technology to purify the air and clean surfaces. “We are excited about being one of the safest destinations in our region upon reopening. We will be utilizing what research has shown to be the best sanitization and air quality technology available today,” said Giannantonio. The Play Safe, Work Safe plan also includes measures to ensure the health and well-being of team members with mandatory health screening and temperature checks. In addition, team members will be thoroughly trained on the CDC and industry-wide health and safety protocols upon returning to work. Guests can expect to enjoy a first class hotel, dining and gaming experience with some new safety initia18 Julyz August2020
tives, including: mobile express check-in and checkout; a maximum occupancy of four people per elevator; physical distancing throughout the property, including on the casino floor; reduced seating in Resorts-owned and tenant-operated restaurants to provide a safer, more comfortable dining experience; and hand sanitizer stations and hand wipes readily available throughout the property. In Luzerne County, PA, Mohegan Sun Pocono officially reopened on June 22 with comprehensive safety and physical distancing protocols in place, some of which include: thermal temperature scans at all points of entry, protective mask requirements, and limited guest capacity. The Hotel at Mohegan Sun Pocono resumed operations on June 28. “Over the past few months Mohegan Sun Pocono has been laser-focused on preparing our property for a safe reopen and we’re really excited to welcome back both our valued guests and more of our incredible team members,” says Anthony Carlucci, president and general manager of Mohegan Sun Pocono. “With the guidance of industry experts, regulatory agencies, and in closely mirroring the comprehensive protocols put in place by Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment’s flagship property in Connecticut, we feel we are well-prepared.” All of its new safety features can be found at mohegansunpocono.com. A few key protocols include: non-invasive thermal cameras for both team member and guest entrances; protective face masks required for all team members and guests; various slot machines will be turned off and table game seating will be reduced to implement and promote physical distancing; significant increases in hand sanitizer dispensers and disinfecting wipes
across all sections of the property; frequent cleaning and disinfecting throughout all of Mohegan Sun Pocono; all restaurants and bars with reduced seating to allow for physical distancing; additional safety signage and floor decals installed throughout the property to promote and reinforce physical distancing; plexiglass dividers at transactional locations; and all Mohegan Sun Pocono team members receive COVID-19 training. Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT has entered the next phase of its reopening, which includes a wider range of dining, shopping, offerings, amenities and services. Popular stops like BALLO Italian Restaurant, Jasper White’s Summer Shack, MJ23 Sports Bar and Grill, The Lansdowne Irish Pub and Music House, The Race Book and Comix Roadhouse (+ Comix Comedy Club) all recently reopened (with physical distancing and safety protocols in place). Additional retailers in the 130,000-square foot Shops at Mohegan Sun have reopened, too, and Sky Tower hotel is accepting more reservations, as well. Mohegan Sun implemented more than $1 million in new safety measures, some of which include non-invasive thermal temperature checks at all entrances, a cutting-edge UV lighting system, robust cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and plexiglass dividers at various locations. “Mohegan Sun has had a successful and safe return to business and that will continue as more dining, shopping, entertainment and hotel stays open up,” notes Jeff Hamilton, president and general manager of Mohegan Sun. “We’re especially excited about the return of live entertainment... Mohegan Sun and Comix have been hard at work to bring back live entertainment in a manner that will have the highest levels of health and safety standards for our guests.”
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOARDROOM. With ﬂexible space to accommodate up to 3,000 attendees and a newly renovated Event Center, Valley Forge Casino Resort is your office away from the office. Count on our expert planners, backed by world-class culinary and audiovisual experts, for unique, productive and successful outings of all varieties. And when the work is done, we’ve got morale-boosting amenities including a 24-hour casino, Pennsylvania’s only FanDuel Sportsbook, and must-see local attractions including Valley Forge National Historical Park and King of Prussia Mall, the largest mall by retail space in America!
Let our team make your next event historic. (610) 768-3215 / vfcasino.com 1160 First Avenue, King of Prussia, PA GAMBLING PROBLEM? CALL 1-800-GAMBLER
ky Tower, Mohegan Sun’s iconic 34-story hotel, also is opening up more rooms and has begun welcoming guests. Mohegan Sun’s hotel safety and distancing measures include every other check-in station, disinfecting of keys and carts after each use, enhanced and thorough cleaning protocols, including sanitization fogging after each stay.
The Mohegan Sun Golf Club, the 18hole championship golf course located a short drive from the resort, has all-new practice areas and a driving range and is open for the season. Its clubhouse and Pautipaug Pub and Grille have reopened, as well. In an effort to protect those who are most vulnerable during this global pandemic, Mohegan Sun recommends that anyone over the age of 65 or who is in a high-risk group please wait to visit until a later date. The Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, PA is welcoming back guests, too, having reopened in late June. According to David Strow, vice president of corporate communications for Boyd Gaming Corporation, which owns and operates Valley Forge Casino Resort, “The planning for our reopening began almost as soon as we initially closed our doors. Having gotten the official go ahead, it’s great to be able to welcome back our employees and guests with several new safety protocols in place.” Prior to opening Valley Forge Casino Resort, Strow noted that Boyd Gaming had reopened 24 of its other properties across the country, so
Boyd Gaming having leveraged the knowledge and experience gained from these other openings to ensure a smooth return to business operations for Valley Forge Casino Resort. “We are following all government mandated health and safety protocols as outlined by the CDC, state and local governments, and in accordance with our own companywide standards and initiatives for safety and health, which we call Boyd Clean.”
rooms available, a limit or four people per elevator at any one time, and Tavern Restaurant will remain closed for now – but several of our other dining establishments are open. For events, we can host only smaller groups of up to 250 people at this time. Hopefully, if conditions improve, we will be able to accommodate larger functions in the coming months while continuing to adhere to all health and safety guidelines from government and health officials.”
As part of Boyd Clean, guest health screenings are being conducted on arrival, and all guests and team members are required to wear facial coverings (these can be provided, if needed); hand sanitizer is available, complimentary for all guests; guest spaces are cleaned and disinfected multiple times daily with EPA-approved products, such as slot machines, chairs, table games, restaurants, kitchens, restrooms, doors, handrails, counters, ATMs, kiosks, and team member areas; the frequency of air filter replacement and HVAC system cleaning has been increased; slots, table games, and restaurant and bar seating has been configured and limited to adhere to social distancing recommendations; guest occupancy limits are followed in retail shops and banquet and meeting spaces; and all team members receive COVID-19 training and health screenings.
“Planners want to know that venues are keeping the health and safety of their attendees in mind, and that is our top priority as groups return. We wouldn’t reopen if we couldn’t do so in a way that focuses on guest safety first and foremost,” he adds.
“Things will be a bit different than what everyone is used to for now, but we hope guests understand why it is necessary for everyone’s health and safety,” explains Strow. “As we reopen, we are operating at lower capacity with 150 guest
While there are some restrictions and differences in how meetings and events can be safely held, these venues are providing an opportunity to return to some normalcy while having a bit of fun at the same time.
“People want to have some fun after all of the stress and trying times these last several months,” Strow continues. “We are happy to play a part in that by providing a place where they can enjoy themselves in an environment where their health and safety is our priority.” As casino properties continue to reopen, they provide a safe place in which to meet and gather while still offering many of the same offerings that have long made them top choices of planners throughout the region.
DISCLAIMER: Health and Safety Protocols referenced in this article are not a complete list and were compiled prior to July 1, 2020. For current health and safety protocols, please contact each individual casino resort property and/or check online for the most up-to-date information available. 20 Julyz August2020
MAKE YOUR NEXT EVENT SHINE A LITTLE BRIGHTER. With our 20,000 square-foot convention center, modern meeting rooms, world-class service, comfortable guest rooms and more, Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes-Barre, PA has everything you need to make your next meeting or conference shine. Book your event today at mohegansunpocono.com or call 1-855-MEET-MSP.
CONVENTION CENTER | HOTEL | GREAT LOCATION
Catered event at BANCA by Di Bruno Bros.in Philadelphia, PA 22 Julyz August2020
Service & Seating in a Changing World Trying to keep up with ever-evolving federal, state and local health and safety guidelines regarding COVID-19 has posed significant challenges for planners, attendees, venues and service providers across all segments of meetings, events and hospitality. Those in the food industry are facing a great deal of change in terms of how they must now plate, seat and serve. But caterers, restaurants and planners all are working diligently to provide safe options for a wide range of meal functions. According to Amy Howe, manager, catering sales and business development for Di Bruno Bros. Catering and Events, keeping staff and attendees safe at all levels of catering is always their top priority. “While we have always complied with all local and state guidelines for food establishments with respect to food handling, proper hygiene, sanitization and employee health, we are taking extra precautions.” She notes that all equipment and food contact surfaces are sanitized on a regular basis and that Di Bruno’s commissary building is treated weekly with a sanitizing mist. Di Bruno also is implementing staggered work shifts when practical, and practicing contactless deliveries and pickups whenever possible. When it comes to seating and floorplans, these will look quite a bit different from pre-COVID-19 norms.
“Likely, we will see fewer people per table,” Howe explains. “For instance, a 60-inch round that would seat 8-10 guests previously now will seat 4-5 people at maximum. Floorplans will have to give proper leeway for extra spacing, whether it is spreading out guest tables or food service tables. Max capacities for venues either will be cut in half or reduced to properly align with whatever specifications the state is requiring at the time of the event.” At the start of the pandemic, Di Bruno Bros. Catering introduced its Family Meals, which feed six people. “Guests are welcome to order from us at much smaller quantities than we had previously offered,” states Howe. “We designed these meals to ensure that they are not only easy to reheat and serve immediately, but also that they will freeze really well. Also, we are offering many new types of individual meals in all categories - breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner, with both casual and higher-end meal options, such as our crab cakes, braised angus short rib ragout, and our chocolate budino tarts. These meals can be customized, as well.” In addition to catered events, Di Bruno Bros. also is offering the opportunity to hold virtual events with them. “There are several great ways to enjoy these events, and each client that has inquired about our virtual events has offered their own creative ideas on how to make the experience special.”
photo credit: Brûlée Catering 24 Julyz August2020
One such virtual event involves each guest receiving a custom Di Bruno Bros. Gift Crate in advance; then, at a specific time, the guests log into either a pre-recorded or a live video session with programming that is led by Di Bruno Bros. Cheese Mongers and culinary leaders who walk the guests through the items inside the gift crate. They will explain how the
items pair well together and discuss any special details or share some fun stories. “The live sessions also allow for a question and answer segment,” explains Howe. “These virtual events have been a hit for fundraisers, as well as among companies looking to offer their clients a unique way to reconnect with each other. Soon, we will be opening up our virtual events to smaller social groups.”
“The rules have changed many times and will continue to change with the evolution and understanding of the COVID-19 process.” Phyllis Jablonowski, Eventricity
For those planning a catered event, Howe advises to ask a lot of questions during the planning process. “Everyone is new to this type of planning and execution. The ‘right’ answer may not be immediately obvious, and the solution could vary depending on the venue and specific circumstance.” Kacie Sheridan, general manager at Brûlée Catering, says that Brûlée has developed its culinary and delivery guidelines based on recommendations from public health authorities, key government agencies and with consideration from business partners. “Food safety has always been a top priority at Brûlée Catering, and our already thorough cleaning regimen has been enhanced to focus on high-touch areas and to include more robust regularly scheduled deep cleaning utilizing only products that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against SARSCoV-2.” Brûlée’s culinary teams have evaluated all food touch points and have opted to partner only with vendors who have robust safety and sanitation programs in place. “We have implemented a delivery process with limited touch points and we restrict deliveries directly into our kitchens,” notes Sheridan. Their culinary team instituted a mandatory mask policy, increased hand washing, assigned prep stations to increase physical distancing measMid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 25
ures, assigned equipment, and set up a ware washing station that reduces congestion. “Our truck interiors will be cleaned prior to pack out and all touch points, such as steering wheels and handles, will be disinfected between deliveries,” she continues. “For deliveries, we embrace the need to be flexible with each of our partner venues in order to comply with their specific regulations.” When it comes to seating and floor plans, Brûlée is committed to following government safety guidelines. “We have implemented policies that will reduce table counts to a maximum of 6 guests at each with 6-feet of spacing between tables to promote social distancing,” Sheridan notes. She adds that Brûlée also is creatively thinking through ways to provide more traditional offerings, such as buffets and cocktail station displays, but for right now “we are leaning into our small plate offerings, passed hors d’oeuvres, and looking into adding bento box options to our menus in the future. Our main goal is to ensure the safety of guests while making sure that the awe and luster of a traditional event is not lost.” Planners may also consider prepacked meals or “grab-and-go” style offerings, which are available through the Brûlée Everyday division that offers both daytime and drop-off service. They also have created “Backyard BBQ” and “Seaside Summer” menus that are designed for off-premise catering service. “Anticipating that guests might feel comfortable closer to home… we can bring the party to them - safely - and without compromising the culinary excellence for which we have become known,” says Sheridan. 26 Julyz August2020
Brûlée continues to evolve and adapt during this time and, as a result, is now offering a variety of smaller wedding and event options in partnership with their exclusive and preferred venues with packages for guest counts as small as 30 (for a limited time only). “We are dedicated to being the client’s partner in safety and to help guide them along the way,” she adds. “As always, Brûlée Catering is happy to customize our traditional offerings per each client’s needs.” Phyllis Jablonowski is president of Eventricity, a luxury event planning and production agency. She notes that health and safety guidelines and directives remain very fluid with new information coming out daily. “The rules have changed many times and will continue to change with the evolution and understanding of the COVID-19 process.” And while it is important to stay continuously educated, planners must also be sure that the information being followed is correct. “Misinformation can spread like wildfire. In times as delicate as these, clients may feel vulnerable or overwhelmed. As the hired event planner, it is our duty to quell that discomfort. We rebuild our client’s confidence through transparent communication and the sharing of factual information,” she asserts.
“It is critical that we are well informed in order provide a safe and engaging guest experience,” Jablonowski adds. “While healthcare and government sectors will continue to provide guidance and policy, it is up to those of us within the events Industry to understand and implement those policies conscientiously and correctly.”
For example, she notes that temperature checks were a must only a few weeks ago, but now they are no longer encouraged. Such a major shift in requirements illustrates how important it is to stay up-to-date with the constant eb and flow in order to ensure that the rules being implemented and practiced will accurately reflect the reality of the moment. “What does today’s reality look like?” she asks. “All company staff and suppliers on-site for event setup, service and breakdown must wear masks and gloves. Clients must provide a guest list that denotes the name, city/state, and contact number for each attendee. Current food service practices intentionally limit inter-guest contact.” “Safety and sanitation are to be regularly reviewed with staff, suppliers and clients,” Jablonowski continues. “Supplier safety measures will be further implemented through additional communication and supervision. A notable increase in signage will be displayed throughout venues to keep guests informed of sanitizing stations, encourage physical distancing, and to promote masks being worn by guests when possible.” With regard to seating and floor plans, she explains that the biggest change will be in space allocation. For the foreseeable future, she notes, every event will require more square footage for the same number of guests in comparison to pre-COVID-19 spacing. “As Philadelphia approaches the ‘green phase,’ guest capacity per venue will divert to whichever of the following two options allow for the lesser guest count: 75 percent of a venue’s pre-COVID 19 capacity may occupy the venue at one time, or 250 guests,” explains Jablonowski.
The great outdoors can serve as a wonderful event space, too, offering ample access to fresh air and, depending on the location, expansive lawns and bucolic surroundings. “Tents are a tremendous way to provide the combined forces of fresh air and measured spacing among guests, as well as offering protection from the elements year-round,” she notes. “In order to maintain physical distancing, we will be seating fewer guests per table, as well as increasing space between each table” Jablonowski continues. “For example, we may only seat 8 guests at a 72-inch round table, while increasing space between tables to allow for a 6-foot aisle.”
N O W H O S T I N G I N T I M AT E C D C C O M P L I A N T G AT H E R I N G S
For cocktail hours and receptions, more space will be required, Jablonowski explains. Some venues may open the doors that lead into
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Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 6/19/20 12:10 27 6/19/20 PM
Our industry is a team effort, and catering teams are just as committed as you the planner - to implementing best practices that promote guest safety and comfort.
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the ballroom or reception space in order to allow for proper spacing. “While this may mean the classic ‘room reveal’ needs to be rethought, we are fully confident in the prioritization of guest safety and comfort in this circumstance. Lounges also will be spaced more graciously to adhere to guidelines.” For those who are operating outside of their usual locality, Jablonowski advises them to reach out to catering professionals and colleagues who are operating in the area of their upcoming event, as they can provide information about policies and guidelines specific to their region. “Our industry is a team effort, and catering teams are just as committed as you - the planner - to implementing best practices that promote guest safety and comfort.” As regulations and guidelines change over time, she further stresses to remember that communication and collaboration are key. “Engage in regular conversations and brainstorming sessions with catering colleagues. Share client and guest responses with them and see if there is a newer and safer way to approach food service. And, most importantly, check in on your clients. Keep them informed, update them on the safety and sanitation programs in place, and be there for them while you reinforce your standards of care, professionalism and expertise - a demonstration of your true value.”
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Planners and caterers are working together in order to provide attendees with outstanding meal functions, adding new service options, instituting more stringent policies, updating menus and offering a variety of safer alternatives when it comes to culinary events.
Conversations to Inspire
Forward Motion by Sharon DeFelices
The disruption caused by COVID-19 has short-circuited nearly every industry in the world, but perhaps none more dramatically than the hospitality profession. If you work in the hospitality industry, no doubt you’ve been in front of any number of webinars or received communication from hotels and venues about their safety and sanitation protocols. Many organizations have released detailed official plans in the hopes of establishing a sense of confidence in this time of uncertainty. We all want to get back together, but we want our risks minimized. And we want to know that our partners will take the well-being of our guests to heart and take every precaution to keep all of us safe. A recent research survey conducted by APCO Insight and shared by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition says that, of the Americans working from home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, 83 percent say they miss attending in-person meetings and conventions, and 78 percent say they plan to attend as many – or even more – in-person events when the threat of COVID-19 subsides and it is safe to do so once again.
Those are some encouraging numbers! It’s been a long few month waiting to see what was going to happen, and while the conversations have thankfully shifted from a “doom and gloom” perspective, there still is a lot of ground to make up. Recently, I had a virtual cup of coffee with Lou Marrocco, CMP SEPC, and Kristofer Fair, CCM, about the need for continued momentum building as new safety, service and sanitation norms are being established. Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 29
Lou is president of Brandywine Events, LLC and also director of meetings and events for Visit Delco, PA. A longtime food and beverage professional, he has over 25 years of experience as an off-premise caterer, and more than 12 years as a meeting and events specialist in food and beverage, logistics and sustainable events. Kristofer is the director of operations for Bluestone Country Club in Blue Bell, PA, serves as treasurer of Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, and is a board member of Greater Philadelphia ILEA. He has been a fixture in Philadelphia’s hospitality community for years, having worked for such icons in the industry as Frog Commissary, Robert Ryan Catering, and Hansen Properties, and is the former owner of Event Architects. Federal, state and local government health and safety regulations have served as guidelines in terms of what “has to happen” in order to get and keep a business’ doors open. But Kris noted that one size does not fit all, and that each department within Bluestone Country Club needs to have a voice in setting operating standards for the property. 30 Julyz August2020
We all agreed that shared and open communication will be vital for our industry to continue moving forward, which led to a discussion about duty of care. Duty of care – what does that really mean? The legal definition is: The responsibility of a person or organization to take all reasonable measures necessary to prevent activities that could result in harm to other individuals and/or their property. We all have a duty of care as we return to business; a responsibility to be transparent in our capabilities and expectations. As our conversation continued, Lou coined the term “letter of care” and expressed that this will become a standard for his business.
Lou Marrocco: “Letter of care” is our personal and professional commitment to do our part to ensure the safety of our stakeholders, their guests and our team to the best of our ability given the information and guidelines. It truly is up to us as a community to get the doors open and hold meetings and events.
Kris reminded us that, as we are looking at the full circle of stakeholders for our events, “there are more than 360-degrees in this new circle.”
Kristofer Fair: When we return to writing new business, there is going to be added responsibilities on suppliers and planners. While in the past there was a distinctive line between what the supplier provided, what the planner needed and ultimately what our mutual clients desired, our new expectations will have overlapping responsibilities on safety, sanitation and event flow. Contracts will have legal language that would have been foreign just six months ago. I know that having duty of care talking points allows us to be the best partners to our stakeholders for each event and also fosters collaboration. I also know that my clients and their guests are my top priority. However, if I am contracting for group transportation for them, my lens may not be the same as the owner of the transportation company. He or she may be focused on their own employees and other priorities relevant to them.
By sharing your own “letter of care” with industry partners and asking them to consider sharing theirs with you, together we can acknowledge and even address any service or safety gaps and be better partners together. Our coffee klatch was really interesting and went on longer than we had initially planned. So, we’ve decided to make it a weekly event with the goal of getting ideas together for standards that we feel are necessary for a return to business.
When we return to writing new business, there is going to be added responsibilities on suppliers and planners. Kristofer Fair, Bluestone Country Club
We invite you to contribute your thoughts and ideas, too, as we work through a lot of these topics. We look forward to bringing in industry partners in all areas as we work together to sort out new Standard Operating Procedures within our industry. While it can be challenging to remain forwardthinking and positive at times, we're focused on the long-range planning that is needed to get us back together, safely. By focusing on plans and action items, our hope is that such continued conversations will help to guide all of us in the right direction.
We invite you to join us as part of an ongoing conversation and sharing of ideas with regard to all aspects of face-to-face meetings and events. Now, more than ever, we need to pool our collective energy to create the momentum necessary to move forward. Through such a dialogue, we can find ways to manage the many challenges we all are facing right now while working together to find new and creative solutions. By staying nimble and collaborating with industry partners, we will not merely survive - we’ll thrive!
Click here to email us with your thoughts and ideas! email@example.com Sharon DeFelices, CMP is the owner of Mosaic Meetings and Events, LLC in New Hope, PA, a comprehensive meeting management company with a division specializing in food and beverage management, as well as accommodating dietary preferences and restrictions for events.
by Maggie Corrado
On March 8, I received the first call. “So, I know the event is tomorrow but, due to the rising fear of COVID-19, we have decided to postpone…” This was the message from the Philadelphia 76ers regarding their Fifth Annual Sixers Youth Foundation Gala. The event was scheduled for March 9 and was set to bring over 800 people together (along with 76ers players, coaches and legends) to raise awareness and funds for the Foundation. As I scrambled to make the proper adjustments (alerting vendors, quickly reviewing contracts, stopping deliveries), little did I know this was only the beginning - the first call of what would be countless calls just like it - for myself and throughout the industry. It’s ironic to use the word beginning in the context of the above. This was supposed to be my new beginning, the start of Original Events Company. With much anticipation and excitement, I officially launched my business in November. And, for as much stress and as many tears as it took to get off of the ground, I can say in all honestly that I could not have been happier. Not only was I greeted warmly by my industry friends, but my personal network showed an incredible amount of love and support. It would be through these connections that I would get my first pieces of business. But… here we are. Original Events Co. is just months old and facing our first challenge… a truly unimaginable one. Whether right or wrong, our first instinct was to go dark. It seemed in poor taste to share a photo on our Instagram feed from one of our most recent events that had over 1,000 attendees. Nothing we could say seemed important enough. I spent those early days glued to the news with an empty inbox and feeling mad at myself and the choices I made (the ones I had been so proud of in the weeks before) that had gotten me to this moment.
32 Julyz August2020
I can’t recall exactly when things turned around in my head, but it wasn’t until I started connecting with my industry friends and hearing their stories, their fears and their ideas for the future that I realized I had another choice to make. Do I continue to wallow and regret all of the hard work and passion that brought me to this point? Or do I pivot and accept the situation with positivity and grit? As an event professional it is my job to embrace change, make big adjustments and find solutions. So, like so many of my industry colleagues, it was time to face reality and begin planning for the future. Steve Wildemann, president of Advanced Staging Productions, says that, once his company made it through the initial shock of the situation, they, too, began to think about what will be different moving
forward and how they can start preparing for it. “We have built our business around very large events; the types of events that will probably be the last ones to come back. So, we have started to look at what else we can do,” he continues, “moving toward a solution-based approach where it isn’t about renting pieces of equipment, but more about providing a service, discussing clients’ goals and figuring out ways to get them there by using technology. For companies like mine who have been around for a long time, hopefully, it will allow the value that we bring through our experience and expertise to shine through.” Leila Miller, senior director of sales at Constellation Culinary Group, says they are refining the business at The Curtis Atrium, their newly renovated venue, to reflect the impact that COVID-19 has had on everyone. Their new initiative, Share the Love, aims to reduce stress - whether emotional or financial - for healthcare workers, frontline and essentials employees and those couples personally dealing with rescheduling their wedding as an impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Aside from waiving the venue fee, they are offering a complimentary upgrade as well as working with their event partners for some additional enhancements. “People have been really appreciative,” she says. “We are a business, but we also are human. There is no guidebook or road map for this stuff. We are trying to figure it out as we go and trying to listen to what their needs are so that we can create accordingly.” At Original Events Co., we are putting an emphasis on what we feel our clients might want over the next 12-18 months. Perhaps it is 34 Julyz August2020
not a gala for 1,000+ people; instead, maybe a very exclusive, high-end experience for 25 guests. While we do not think virtual events will ever replace the sensation that comes with actually attending a live event, we understand that bringing people together electronically may be the best way if they are unable to attend in person. We continue to ask ourselves how we can add new services and creative ideas for our clients, yet remain true to what we do best. Along with adjusting best practices, businesses - most notably venues and caterers - also must adhere to CDC recommendations and guidelines. While these new protocols require ongoing change and acceptance of the “new normal,” Domenick Savino, CPCE, chief executive officer for Drexelbrook Special Event Center and Hotel, views this crisis is an awakening for the industry as a whole to adopt new guidelines and use them in order to do our part to prevent further spread. Dana Twaddell, senior event planner for Sage Catering, also notes that these changes could bring everyone in the industry to a “higher playing level” when it comes to health and sanitation standards. “Everybody is sanitary, but this will heighten it,” she said. “We also are going to have to consider certain obstacles with regard to physical distancing. But sometimes, when a challenge is put in front of you and you have to work through it and figure it out, things work out better than they were before.” Greg Shockley, chef/owner of Sage Catering, adds that their goal is to embrace these new challenges while also remaining true to who they are.
As our industry continues to consider new ways to adapt and grow for the future, the biggest hurdle for many is the uncertainty of what the future will bring, observes Savino. “The biggest challenges over the next several months are the unknowns - the constant changes to the guidelines and how to adapt to a ‘new normal,’ which will only be temporary.” Everyone in the hospitality and meeting industries will be tasked with restoring the confidence of the general public that weddings, meetings and conventions once again will be safe to attend. In a world where we don’t quite know what might come next, Original Events Co. has found that being present and transparent are key to staying motivated. After weeks of social media silence, we went out with a post that stated our reason for lack of activity – that we simply didn’t know what to say, because this is hard. Being transparent and able to admit our fears and insecurities, but also expressing our ideas and goals for the future, has allowed us to connect with clients and friends on a very real level. And for us, that is what our business is about. Miller says that speaking with new brides has been the best way for her to keep positive. “They are excited and happy, and even though they are at home and they can’t do anything and have their challenges, they are just recently engaged so their energy is infectious,” she said. “It is doing my normal thing. To be able to talk with someone about how it looks to host a wedding with us when times are normal, it’s like – yeah, that’s my life! That is what I like to do. That is the energy I vibe off of.” Along with sharing in the enthusiasm of clients, many within the industry have turned to their fellow
Sometimes, when a challenge is put in front of you and you have to work through it and figure it out, things work out better than they were before. Dana Twaddell, Sage Catering colleagues for support via industry-related Zoom conferences, seminars and happy hours. With each connection there is an increased sense of community and something tangible - a new friend or learning tool - to take away. "I want to look back and say we did the right things to keep people safe, engaged - and ultimately, employed - while continuing to give them opportunities,” Wildemann contemplates. “Hopefully, we can look back and say, ‘You know what? It might have cost us some business here and there, but we did right by our people.’” Despite so much uncertainty, by leaning on each other and looking out for one another, we will successfully navigate challenges and continue moving toward better days ahead
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Associations Are Helping to Keep People Connected The hospitality and meeting professions are, by their very nature, about bringing people together. Associations within these industries have long been significant facilitators of gatherings, from networking sessions and monthly meetings to end of year parties and annual trade shows. Such congregations are part of the fabric of these associations, stitched together by members, committees, boards of directors and volunteers alike. A fabric that’s been torn by a global pandemic still causing upheaval throughout the region, across the nation and around the globe. But associations are remaining strong and finding ways to help keep their members informed, connected and united – all while adhering to CDC guidelines and respecting physical distancing.
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One such association is the MidAtlantic Society of Association Executives (MASAE), where executive director Denise Downing, CMP, and board president Ethan Gray, CAE, talked about the value of associations and the importance of relationships. A great strength of associations is to serve as a convener, they explained - bringing people together to socialize and celebrate both similarities and differences, to share ideas and to problem-solve together. Building a professional network and facilitating the establishment and survival of meaningful relationships is paramount to an association’s relevance and value, they asserted. As a way to help keep their members connected during these trying times, MASAE has launched several new virtual content initiatives, leveraging the intellectual capital of their membership and corporate partner network. They also have hosted several educational webinars that focus on the acute challenges being faced by associations and non-profits. Immediately following each webinar, participants are invited to join in a virtual networking “happy hour” that allows members to discuss recent educational content, to reconnect with professional peers, and to decompress in a casual, albeit virtual, space. While MASAE relies on its parent association, ASAE, to drive national initiatives, it serves as a regional channel to get advocacy messages delivered to constituents and encourages associations and non-profits to engage.
They also help to further relevant advocacy efforts. And as much as they do to educate their constituency, it is also MASAE’s responsibility to learn from their membership, noted Downing and Gray. “Given recent disruption and turmoil, and the strength, skills and competencies we know exist among our membership, we are asking members to tell MASAE how they are navigating obstacles and providing solutions to their members. We also need to best understand how we can support individual professionals and institutions during a period of uncertainty. It is important for MASAE to listen as well as speak.” In-person meetings have always been a part of the DNA of associations. “Live education and networking provide great vehicles through which to accomplish our mission of supporting and enhancing knowledge and performance,” explained Gray and Downing. “We are in frequent conversations with venues to determine how to move forward responsibly and bring live meetings back to our region and constituents. We will make decisions that are in line with public health guidelines to ensure the safety of attendees and will be back in the community as soon as it is reasonable to do so.” Heidi Howard is the director of events and engagement for the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association (PRLA), which represents the state’s hospitality industry. She explained that the sharing of best practices and experiences between members
has always been an integral and important part of PRLA. “Our surveys often list networking as a top reason that businesses join our association and attend our meetings and events,” she noted. While attending meetings and events has not been possible in recent months, PRLA has held monthly Zoom meetings as a way to stay connected. “The meetings begin with a greeting from the chapter president, followed by a current affairs update by PRLA CEO John Longstreet with time for questions. Then we initiate an open forum discussion where attendees can share experiences, frustrations, best practices, and the like. Feedback has been very favorable,” Howard observed. She added that the COVID-19 pandemic has shined a light on the value of numerous association activities, “particularly our advocacy, education, and communications. Our relationships with elected and agency officials allowed PRLA to seek clarification on guidance and communicate our industry’s urgent needs and challenges effectively to those in positions who can affect change.” Howard continued, “In addition, PRLA established a coronavirus webinar series, bringing in experts on topics to help industry operators understand the complexities of the new laws and to provide best practices on new operational constraints. Finally, PRLA shifted its communications strategy to ensure that industry operators had the most up-to-date and accurate information so they could make Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 37
the best decisions for their businesses and employees.” PRLA cancelled all in-person meetings and events through the beginning of August and is awaiting word from the governor’s office on moving forward. Recently, PRLA’s board of directors discussed changing the association’s annual conference, scheduled for early November, to a virtual event, but is continuing to explore the possibility of holding their golf outing (set for late September) as an in-person event. Effective communication has always been the hallmark of successful associations, asserted G. A. Taylor Fernley, chairman of the association management company, Fernley & Fernley. “The coronavirus just reinforced the importance of staying in touch with our valued client base. People do business with people they trust and that all comes down to personal relationships.” Fernley urged associations to stay in touch with their members. “Don’t talk business… make your members feel you are here to help and support… and do more listening than talking.” “Know what is on their minds,” he continued. “What is keeping them up at night? How can you position yourself as an invaluable resource? …And, again, LISTEN. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” When it comes to in-person gatherings, Fernley expressed that “nothing will ever replace face-to-face meetings.” He added, however, that he expects that the frequency, length and delivery of meetings 38 Julyz August2020
and trade shows will change dramatically. “We have learned through the pandemic that we need to be looking at things through a different lens... My concern… is in maintaining strong relationships with our members if we relegate them to only Zoomtype models and not face-to-face interactions.” According to Erica A. Keagy, administrator for PCMA Greater Philadelphia Chapter, during challenging times such as the current pandemic and subsequent economic struggles, associations can serve as good resources for things like job search tips, to serve as references, and for navigating changes that affect planning meetings and events. “It also is nice to have a group of colleagues, many of whom are now friends, that can relate to the current state of the hospitality industry,” she added. Keagy noted that PCMA Greater Philadelphia currently is engaging in social calls, providing online education sessions, and is adding more posts and news on social media. “We conducted a membership campaign where we reached out to each member on an individual basis. We also are planning our annual Chapter Retreat. Even though it’s too soon to have this event in person, we are planning a virtual afternoon retreat on July 14th that will include education, community service, chair yoga and even a happy hour with a comedian. This event has been a tradition for more than 20 years, and it is important to keep the tradition going.” She explained that PCMA HQ has been active in partnering with vari-
ous agencies in Washington, DC for recovery assistance and advocating for the hospitality industry. At the chapter level, she said, “we are adjusting our education sessions to focus on topics that our members are seeking more information about, such as contracting, risk management, and job searches.” PCMA PHL has been closely monitoring the guidelines from the CDC, PA Department of Health, and from hospitality industry resources in the hopes of returning to in-person meetings when they get the green light to do so once again. “Member connections are a vital part of the success of most associations,” explained Tim Sudall president, NACE (National Association of Catering and Events) Philadelphia, South Jersey and Delaware Chapter. He added, “Our member relations are at the core of our success. Some of the best business development opportunities we will all realize come from solid relationships we form with fellow members.” NACE Philadelphia has gone virtual during the COVID-19 shutdown, staying connected with members in a variety of ways, including Zoom webinars, one-onone web interviews, virtual themed happy hours, and enhanced social media engagement. “It has given all of us a chance to show our creativity and personalities in ways we would have never imagined,” observed Sullivan. During this time of crisis, NACE has partnered with state organizations such as the PEPP (Private Event Professionals of Pennsylvania) and spotlighted several mem-
bers as thought leaders in different areas, including catering, entertainment, rentals, photo/video and more. “These members were involved in individual task forces created to review safety protocols in their respective areas and to offer insight as needed by government officials,” Sullivan said. As for an anticipated return to face-to-face meetings, he noted, “We are looking forward to resuming our in-person meetings after our summer break. We will, of course, be following and sharing the safety guidance provided by government officials and our host venues.”
NACE Philadelphia, South
Chester County Booking Bonus A new meeting or event booked in a Chester County lodging property with 25 or more room nights for November 2020 – March 2021 will receive a $500 signing bonus. We look forward to the time when we can host our customers and friends in Chester County’s Brandywine Valley. Make us your ﬁrst call – we are here to help.
LEARN MORE Courtney Babcock, Director of Sales Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau (484) 840-7213 Courtney@BrandywineValley.com
Jersey and Delaware Chap
While preparing for a safe return to face-toface meetings, associations are working hard to serve the needs of their members in a variety of (virtual) ways. With the help of technology, associations continue to find new and creative ways to help keep their members feeling connected, informed and valued.
MeetinCC Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 39
While Keeping Apart The hospitality and meeting and event industries have been greatly tested and impacted over the last few months by the coronavirus pandemic. Planners of meetings and events are finding new ways to adapt to a world that requires physical distancing and adherence to a wide range of new – and still evolving – health and safety guidelines. The impact is being felt in all areas of meetings and events, including team building. Given current circumstances, holding functions that are designed to bring people together while also having to stay physically apart presents its own set of unique challenges.
David Goldstein, founder and Creator of Opportunities for Team Bonding, a premier team building resource in North America that offers a unique combination of experience and expertise, offers his perspective on overcoming such obstacles. “It immediately put a halt to live events - live in-person events,” he explained. “So, we’ve had to adjust our design, development and delivery. We’re now able to offer similar events in a way where people can participate from home, virtually. It can be interactive, it can be engaging, it can be fun, and it can be worthwhile.” “The word I’ve been using a lot is ‘pivot,’” Goldstein continued. “We’ve pivoted from live, in-person events to virtual events, and we’ve created about 20 to 25 new programs, or adapted programs, to work within this new environment. Without having to travel or ship, it has made us more flexible, and we can even book last minute events. This has allowed us to lead events anywhere in the world.” Currently, Team Bonding offers programs that are virtual with the idea being to bring people together regardless of where they are. These include a number of different game shows, virtual scavenger hunts, as well as learning and development programs. 40 Julyz August2020
Viking Cooking School at Harrah’s Atlantic City, NJ For people who love to cook, entertain, or just appreciate the pleasure of great food, the Viking Cooking School at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City has long been a great place in which to indulge these passions. It combines a hands-on teaching kitchen and a gourmet toy store full of the finest culinary tools available. While temporarily closed due to COVID-19, this venue looks forward to once again serving as an outstanding team building opportunity for both novice and experienced cooks, where participants savor fun times followed by a great meal. Learn more at vikingcookingschool.com
Recently, Team Bonding introduced programs where they are able to send participants something physical that allows them to do more than merely look at a screen. Such programs include: chocolate tasting, mixology, and painting. Team Bonding has introduced a virtual murder mystery and virtual escape rooms, as well. As government health and safety guidelines shift to allow for in-person activities, Team Bonding has created a protocol of its own and selected a number of programs that they refer to as “COVID safe.” Explained Goldstein, “We have set standards for our facilitators and event assistants on sanitizing, table and group sizes, the wearing of masks and gloves, cleaning equipment and space, and adhering to physical distancing. We’ve set these parameters to deliver live events while also adhering to the guidelines of state governments, those set by the clients themselves, plus any that the venues may have.” He adds that the first programs to launch live will be Team Bonding’s high-tech scavenger hunts, some of their game shows, as well as charitable events, all of which will adhere to physical distancing. Though in-person events have been temporarily tabled, the pan42 Julyz August2020
demic has resulted in a higher frequency of virtual events being held, observed Goldstein. “In the past, we’ve arranged events for groups yearly, but, in many cases during the last couple of months, we have been arranging them weekly. This gives people not just a happy hour moment, but the opportunity to actually engage with each other, to get to know each other, and to have more fun with each other on a regular basis.”
“We know, however, that collaboration and communication are fundamental to an organization’s success and we feel confident that team building will again become a priority,” she said. “It will be our responsibility to evolve our programs to reflect the changing workplace. This also is a perfect opportunity to show your support and commitment to your community by adding a charitable component to an activity.”
One of Team Bonding’s events that translated very well has been their TeamProv program, which allows people to play, laugh, have fun and engage in open discussions. It focuses on communication and is very customizable to the desires of the client.
Eventive has altered several of their in-person programs to adhere to current 6-foot physical distancing guidelines so that activities can be worked through without close contact and sharing of resources. “However, since standards are always changing, we have the ability to adapt each program to the guidelines at the time of the event,” Anmuth-Hunt observed.
Over the past few months, Goldstein also has observed that clients, which include planners, don’t always know what options are available to them, where in the past they knew what they were looking for and what team building companies, like Team Bonding, can do. Debbie Anmuth-Hunt, president, Eventive Productions, Inc. explained that social distancing, remote work, and other restrictions have placed a pause on many team building activities, especially those that require teams to work closely together to complete tasks.
Virtual team building is another option; however, Anmuth-Hunt said that her team feels it is not optimal. “We know from experience that it is more difficult to bond and connect with people who are not in the same room.” One option currently available for team building through Eventive is their FAST Car Racing program. This program serves as an example of how the company is adapting in order to keep both clients and team members safe.
“Teams start with a brainstorming session where they collaborate and come up with a cohesive design,” explained Anmuth-Hunt. “In lieu of teams working on tasks together, each team member will have one or two tasks to complete individually in their own workspace and with their own materials. Finally, once all the tasks have been completed, each team’s car will be ready to race. Eventive will coordinate this process so that participants can stay at their tables and adhere to physical distancing standards.” Anmuth-Hunt noted that one of Eventive’s greatest strengths is in their ability to listen. “When a group has specific goals and objectives for their program, we match activities to meet those needs. We ask specific questions prior to selecting and designing a program for them. Even if the program is great, if it does not meet the client’s objectives, it is not a success.” Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have had employees working remotely. As people return to their offices, reconnecting with coworkers will become more important than ever. “Just think how much you learn about each other by getting out of the office for a few hours, working together on a project, or competing in games,” pondered Anmuth-Hunt. “In over 19 years, we have learned that team building helps to create a more productive work environment when you match the program to your specific goals and objectives.” Rules and regulations change daily and by location. COVID-19 has challenged Eventive to alter certain activities so that they adhere to today’s restrictions. “Keep in mind that the program you book today might not work on the day of the event, so I suggest selecting two activities or having more Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 43
Team Bonding is offering virtual programs that bring people together regardless of where they are physically. These include game shows, virtual scavenger hunts, and learning and development programs. than one outline of your selected activity,” advised Anmuth-Hunt. “Then, as the day of the event approaches, you can run the team building activities in accordance with current guidelines… to have a safe environment for your team.” Lochel’s Bakery in Hatboro, PA, owned and operated by third-generation bakers, Rob and Kathleen Lochel, was started over 70 years ago in Philadelphia. Previously located in Levittown, the bakery caught fire in 1995 and very little could be salvaged, so the family moved the operation to their current location where it has remained since. Boasting a large selection, all of Lochel’s bakery items and products are made from scratch daily. Lochel’s expanded their bakery in April of 2019, in part, to host corporate team building events onsite in addition to social events like cake decorating classes, parties and fundraisers. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in corporate functions and social events being impacted. “We are focusing on the future,” noted Rob Lochel, “hoping that, when the state does open more, we can safely hold events both onsite and off-site at clients’ business locations.” Currently, Lochel’s is offering cake delivery for remote or virtual celebrations. “We can deliver a cake to the individual and you can celebrate on your scheduled ZOOM call,” Lochel explained. Or they can offer single cupcakes instead of larger cakes and sheet cakes. They also can facilitate virtual pizza parties, providing dough so 44 Julyz August2020
that each member can create a pizza, show it off online, and then use their creation to feed their family that night. In addition, Lochel’s can supply items for office breakfast for office meetings, cakes for retirement parties or anniversaries, fulfill bereavement orders sent to employees as funerals have are not taking place, or sending gift cards on behalf of companies to staff. Lochel’s also offers “DIY Kits” where each kit is individually wrapped that can be either dropped off or picked up, and cupcake orders that are wrapped individually, as well. Jane Dempsey, director of event sales for Elmwood Park Zoo, said that the majority of the team building activities that take place at the zoo are run through their Treetop Adventures obstacle and ziplining course, which has been closed since the beginning of the quarantine. “Many annual company outings have been put on hold while companies work through the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses and employees.” Elmwood Park Zoo is able to adjust many of their team building games and activities in order to accommodate for physical distancing and utilize different areas within the zoo. “Once Treetop Adventures reopens,” explained Dempsey, “we have made modifications to follow CDC guidelines and ensure the safety of all guests and staff. Most of our team building groups close out their event with a happy hour in our Zoo Brew Bar area, which is
outdoors and has plenty of space for even a large group of 100 to safely maintain social distance while enjoying a much needed social outing with their colleagues.” In the meantime, Elmwood Park Zoo has implemented several “virtual” programs as a way to help keep employees motivated. “The most popular is a Cameo Appearance at a virtual meeting by one of our special animals,” noted Dempsey. For example, meeting organizers can invite a giraffe to “attend” their staff meeting. “Our keepers and educators start the meeting with animal information and answering questions. It has proven to be a great way to surprise employees and provide some fun during this difficult time,” she added. As many employees continue to work from home, there is an increased need for employers to get their staff together to help combat the isolation that results from working at home, said Dempsey. “We offer the opportunity for companies to host ‘Thank You’ events for their employees and their families. A chance to visit the Elmwood Park Zoo, enjoy some hospitality and camaraderie, and rejuvenate their staff.” “This has become very important, as the quarantine has extended beyond its original timeframe and many will be working from home through the rest of 2020,” she continued. “We are an outdoor facility, which provides added comfort and safety to people who are just now starting to head back out, and we have multiple private times or locations so a company can limit their employees’ exposure. And
REIMAGINE | REINVENT RECONNECT
Chaddsford Winery at Peddler’s Village in
rd e shifted considerable attention towa “In response to COVID-19, we hav ipres vice and r age man Krejcik, general virtual content,” explained Corey e chanTub You new a out ing build to ition dent, Chaddsford Winery. “In add , we under our ‘Glass Half Full’ program ted pos os vide wine kly wee with nel and m agra Inst via e -tim customers in real also have committed to engaging wine ent pres to us allow s ram ng prog Facebook Live. These live streami n and cooking - with wine - in an ope logy mixo ing, pair food n, catio edu win.” forum format. It’s truly been a win-
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there is conservation, which has great value and meaning to companies and their overall missions.” The needs of every group are different, of course, and circumstances are constantly changing. Elmwood Park Zoo has been very flexible in making changes to existing events and creative in planning new ones that keep everyone’s safety their top priority while also offering unique and fun experiences. While team building does present some challenges given current circumstances, there are still several options available that incorporate virtual activities as well as in-person functions that maintain appropriate physical distancing. By reaching out to team building companies, venues and suppliers who offer team building activities and options, planners can explore unique and previously unconsidered opportunities for their groups that will help in bringing participants closer together. Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 45
Pocono Mountains, PA poconomountains.com
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau (PMVB) sought to serve in the best interests of their staff, local business partners, and the community at large to ensure that all would stay as healthy and safe as possible, noted Brian Bossuyt, executive vice president and CMO for the bureau. The PMVB formed both a sales/marketing and a wedding task force to determine next steps and to reach out to planners. In addition, a Fresh Air Committee was created as a way for planners and member properties to work together, exchange information and keep in regular contact. The bureau also has been working closely with the Pennsylvania Lodging Association and staying in touch with the office of the governor in order to get updates right away on guidelines for health and safety.
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TOGETHER IS A GREAT PLACE TO BE.
Try Woodloch’s new team building activity: The Food Truck Challenge Test your design and marketing strategy skills in this timed event to win over a panel of judges. Each team will receive a food basket, a secret ingredient and access to a pantry to create a delicious dish for everyone to sample. It’s not all about the food however- you will create and design a food truck, business name, marketing plan and menu. Are you ready? Let the challenge begin!
“Our experience was fantastic and the service was over the top! Thanks to all of the Woodloch Staff!” -Eva, MMIT “I can’t say enough great things about my experience with Woodloch. Each year, our company plans an annual retreat to escape the day-to-day for a few days and enjoy activities and bond with our colleagues.” -Erin, SeatGeek WOODLOCHMEETINGS.COM | 800.453.8263
“As our area enters the Green Phase in Pennsylvania’s reopening, we are working with properties and welcoming people back to the Pocono Mountains,” explained Bossuyt. “Many of our resorts and restaurants are reopening at 50 percent capacity to allow for proper physical distancing. Several of our outdoor spaces have remained open and continue to welcome visitors.” The Pocono Mountains Region is home to state and national parks, lakes, rivers, streams, plentiful hiking and biking trails and a wide range of outdoor opportunities for recreation, and the PMVB is currently working on packages that can incorporate the outdoors into the itinerary of planners of meetings and events.
tly reopened Function space at the recen Mount Airy Casino Resort
“All of our member properties are working closely with us and together, we are all adhering to the guidelines set forth by the CDC and governor’s office,” asserted Bossuyt. “Throughout the summer and into the fall, we are able to host smaller groups of 250 people or fewer. Our hope is that conditions continue to improve and we are able to increase capacities in the last quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021.”
Group hiking along Lehigh-Gorge in the Pocono Mountains, PA; photos courtesy: poconos.org 48 Julyz August2020
Bushkill Falls in the Poconos
“We are all working closely and learning together as we move forward, taking into account the needs of planners and their groups along with guidelines for health and safety,” he continued. “We encourage all to continue to observe physical distancing, practice good hygiene, wear a mask when practical to do so (mask wearing is required when entering any business in the state), and to please stay at home if they have a fever.” Part of this collaboration includes The Pocono Promise – a combined effort of 265 member businesses – that demonstrates the community’s commitment to protecting the health, safety and well-being of residents, employees and visitors by following all federal, state and local public health guidelines. The Pocono Promise is a continued promise that businesses, festivals, parks and restaurants all plan to keep and deliver on. Read more about The Pocono Promise online at: poconomountains.com/about-the-pocono-mountains/pocono-promise “The Pocono Mountains have always been here to welcome visitors and groups,” observed Bossuyt. “We will continue to be here to help planners as they return with meetings and events in the coming months, as well as in 2021, 2022 and beyond – and better days ahead!”
A TRUSTED AND SAFE DESTINATION, NOW AND ALWAYS.
ocono romise .
Safety. Reliability. Hospitality.
Visit PoconoMountains.com/PoconoPromise for more information on how businesses are working together to ensure guests’ safety.
A Cohnversation with Rob Carachilo Principal/Event Producer, Roberts Event Group HI ROB. PLEASE TALK ABOUT WHAT WAS HAPPENING WITH ROBERTS EVENT GROUP BC (BEFORE CORONA) AND HOW YOU HAVE PIVOTED IN THE MONTHS SINCE? Roberts Event Group, BC, was celebrating having a new Center City office location and enjoying being part of the vibrant downtown community. Luckily, we had also upgraded all of our technology recently, so that we were able to make a seamless switch to working from home. WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THE EVENTS INDUSTRY NOW AND WHAT MIGHT BE NEEDED (OR WHAT WOULD YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE) TO GET BACK TO SOMEWHERE CLOSE TO WHAT WE WERE USED TO? No doubt it will take a little bit to get back to where people were with travel and being willing to be in large crowds. That said, I think that once in-person meetings and events come back, there will be more demand than ever to make the in-person experience unique, special and worthy of bringing people together.
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WHAT TYPES OF MEETINGS AND EVENTS DO YOU SEE COMING BACK MORE QUICKLY? Social events will be first to return. Nonprofit galas and campaigns are critical to raising funds and messaging, and we’re continuing to engage with those clients to pivot and keep those vital events going. For corporate meetings and events, I think it will start with regional gatherings and also hybrid options, where attendees can choose to be in person or not. To entice attendees to be in person, we believe that the events surrounding the meetings will have to be even more elevated than where they were BC. WHAT GUIDANCE DO YOU GIVE YOUR TEAM ON HOW TO KEEP THEM ENGAGED WITH YOUR CLIENTS? “Be a resource, not a sales pitch” is our strategy. We’ve been fortunate for over 25 years in partnering on events of all sizes, evolving with our clients based on their needs, and growing throughout the region. WHAT SUGGESTIONS ARE YOU PROVIDING TO YOUR TEAM THAT WOULD HELP BUILD CONFIDENCE WITH YOUR CORPORATE CLIENTS TO STILL HOLD FACE-TO-FACE EVENTS? Education, training and best practice sharing will be vital in building confidence among planners. Our team has been staying up on CDC and state guidelines. We have a deep and long-standing commitment to a broad range of emergency preparedness, and being able to safely reopen in person events has a similar pattern of logistics, knowledge and common sense that we can guide and formulate into a customized plan for each client and event.
HAVE YOU BEEN ADDING VIRTUAL PLATFORMS TO YOUR MEETING AND EVENT PROPOSALS? ARE CLIENTS REQUESTING AND WANTING THESE? The current environment has made clients planning events in all industries turn to alternative platforms. An example is this year’s Wawa Welcome America festival that we are involved in. The festival had to make the decision to go 100 percent virtual. We have consulted with organizations in the arts, non-profits and corporate clients about their intentions to move forward with their events and, if so, whether those would be completely virtual or hybrid. Like producing a live, in-person event, we’ve discussed the purpose and goal of the event, content and budget. From there, content, level of production and elements within the event are reviewed. Production quality, customized looks, banners, fundraising elements, MCs and “wow” moments are built into the storyboard of the program.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGE FOR YOU AND ALSO WITHIN THE INDUSTRY? Anytime our industry comes to a standstill, it changes everything. In our 25-year history, we’ve experienced it after 9/11 and then again with the economy in 2009. Each time we came through by pivoting our services and capabilities. This time has been different, obviously, because it seemed so temporary, but has just continued on. Standstills are always hard. You see many talented industry partners out of work, and restaurants who may not make it. But there also is a resiliency, and the other side is always sweeter having been through the downturns. We look forward to the comeback.
We also are sharing meeting break ideas, such as short hits of entertainment to break-up the monotony of virtual meetings. We have hosted virtual cooking classes, virtual paint nights, virtual magic shows and more! We have needed to get creative to offer our clients solutions for virtual meeting breaks and entertainment. We also are prepared to offer virtual site tours for planners.
Event Design in a New World by Kellie Mayrides, CMP
As restrictions on gatherings begin to ease nationwide, event professionals are tasked with finding safe ways to start meeting again. How can we design events that keep guests safe and comfortable while still providing an experience worth attending in person? How do we tackle the unique challenges resulting from lower venue capacities, more stringent cleaning and new distancing requirements? At CORT Events, we have come up with a framework and a recommended set of best practices that we have been sharing with clients and partners to meet this moment.
GETTING STARTED: FLOORPLANS Whether you are creating the floorplan yourself, or working with a vendor partner such as the venue, an AV provider or a décor/rentals partner, dropping a 6-foot grid into the layout is a recommended first step. Most floorplan platforms, including Social Tables and Sketch Up, include this feature. This will provide visual cues as you add seating, bars and food stations to the space while ensuring that guests can maintain the proper amount of physical distancing.
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PERSONAL SPACE: MEETING WHILE DISTANCED Unlike social events where members of the same family may feel comfortable sitting at the same table, association and corporate meeting attendees likely will want to maintain a safe distance from one another. Individual chairs and side tables assigned to an attendee for the duration of the conference provide a dedicated personal space where the attendee can feel comfortable. A powered seating solution such as CORT’s Tech Tablet Chair, with its swivel tray table and underthe-seat cubby for belongings, can eliminate the need for the attendee to seek out power outlets or communal charging stations.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE: CATERING WITH SAFETY IN MIND Not surprisingly, we will see a shift away from buffets and toward individually plated or boxed meals. For breakfast and lunch, elevated boxed meals can be delivered to assigned seating, or picked up by guests on their way into the meeting room. For cocktail receptions and dinners, “sampler” trays of hors d'oeuvres and food stations with composed small plates for grab and go service are interesting ways to provide guests with a variety in a “low touch” way. Floor decals and/or signage are an effective way to ensure that guests are spaced 6-feet apart in line at bars and food stations. Having a higher number of satellite bars and stations with single attendants around the room can keep lines from getting too long. For distanced dining, use smaller, linen-less tables that seat one or two guests for quick and easy sanitization.
STAGING AND DÉCOR One of the biggest challenges meeting and event planners will face, aside from health and cleanliness concerns, is preventing the space from feeling cold and sterile with attendees distanced apart. Soft goods, such as upholstered armchairs, greenery, warm lighting and draping can go a long way in creating an inviting and comfortable event space. For hybrid events, where a portion of the guests may be tuning in virtually, make sure that your room is staged in a way that translates as well on screen as it does in person. Thinking of your program as something more akin to a television broadcast than simply a forum for in-person learning is a smart approach.
Our industry is being tested in ways we never imagined. Until a vaccine for COVID-19 is widely available, guidelines and requirements will add a layer of complication to the planning process. How we manage these considerations may vary from event to event, but as long as our focus remains on the guest experience and the desired outcome of the event, we can overcome these challenges to create impactful, meaningful experiences. Kellie Mayrides, CMP is an account executive (PA, NJ, DE North of Rt. 6), Event Furnishings division for CORT, A Berkshire Hathaway Company. For the most current information about COVID-19 and what CORT is doing, visit: cort.com/covid19
Around Th VFTCB Readies Recovery Strategy As Southeastern PA moves into the green phase of reopening, the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board (VFTCB) is preparing hotel initiatives, and an aggressive, strategic marketing recovery campaign to help Montgomery County’s normally robust tourism industry bounce back after the public health pandemic. The plan is fluid to adapt to the anticipated ongoing stages of reopening, and focuses first and foremost on health and safety. The VFTCB’s strategy is to begin targeting the region through digital and social media in July.
“We are going to lead the region because we’ve got the most aggressive team with strong, unique sales initiatives,” said Mike Bowman, president and CEO of the VFTCB. “We’re ready to fight for the tourism industry in Montgomery County, and to support our small businesses, and we are not giving up. We, and our partners, are bold risk-takers. Montco is strong. We will rise again.” The VFTCB is promoting #MakeItSafe, a slight tweak to the VFTCB’s #MakeItMontco, and a tagline referring to the organization’s commitment to providing visitors with a list of the county’s 80 hotel brand’s cleanliness standards on www.valleyforge.org
DoubleTree Philadelphia Valley Forge Rebranded as Alloy - KOP The newly rebranded DoubleTree by Hilton Philadelphia-Valley Forge reopened its doors on July 1, 2020 after months of an $18.5-million renovation as the Alloy - King of Prussia, a DoubleTree by Hilton. The long-awaited makeover transformed the property into a lifestyle hotel that will invigorate travelers' senses with decorative artworks and designs, along with localized food and beverage offerings. “We and Concord (Hospitality) are so excited about the transformation of this property from a traditional DoubleTree Hotel to this reinvigorated, beautiful soft-branded DoubleTree now known as ‘the Alloy’,” said Paul Novak, managing director at Whitman Peterson. Leisure and business travelers will get the best of both worlds, personalized experiences backed by the consistency of Hilton. Its 327 newly appointed guest rooms, along with over 25,000-square feet of meeting and event space, will be a welcoming destination for group and individual travelers alike. Learn more at: doubletree3.hilton.com/en/hotels/pennsylvania/the-alloy-king-of-prussia-a-doubletree-by-hilton-PHLVFDT/index.html 54 Julyz August2020
he Region Visit Hershey & Harrisburg: New Business Toolkit Visit Hershey & Harrisburg (VHH) has launched a new tool for businesses called the SAFE TOGETHER PLEDGE, offering a way for businesses to signal to their customers that they are dedicated to public health and safety, and serving as a call to visitors to do their part to help to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. “After months of staying apart to ease the effects of the pandemic on community health, we are now focusing on ways to encourage our tourism partners and visitors to stay safe while we’re together,” said VHH president and CEO, Mary Smith. “This pledge was developed as a visual reminder that tourism-related business and guests alike all play a critical role in the overall health of our community.” Businesses can go to:www.visithersheyharrisburg.org/safe-together to find all the information they need to download, display and promote the Pledge.
Wildwoods, NJ New Grand Gateway A new $13.7-million Wildwoods’ Grand Gateway debuted on July 1st; an all-new visitor experience designed to launch everyone into vacation mode from the moment they arrive in The Wildwoods. Kicking off the July 4th Weekend, this one-of-a-kind ribbon-cutting ceremony featured a motorcade celebration led by the world-famous Wildwood Sightseer Tram Car and followed by classic cars, monster trucks and novelty vehicles. For more information about the Wildwoods, visit www.wildwoodsnj.com Photo credit: Suasion Communications Group
EventsWorthy Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine looks back at some of the events held before the global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Organized and sponsored by regional associations, destination marketing organizations and properties together with hospitality industry partners, these showcase and celebratory events represent the lifeblood of our professions. Networking, FAM tours, dine-arounds, team building and celebrations have long provided opportunities to make new contacts within the industry and strengthen existing relationships that last for years. We look forward to better days ahead with the return of in-person events once federal, state and local regulations allow. While such events might look a bit different for the time being with physical distancing practices and face coverings in place, the creativity of planners and resiliency of professionals within these industries will provide a strong foundation for a bright future. OUI! HOSPITALITY SUMMER OUTING July 17, 2019 – Philadelphia, PA – This year’s 14th Annual Hospitality Summer Outing was a huge success! The event, which took place at the Barnes Foundation, kicked off with guests being greeted at the entrance by Trailer + Tap, a mobile bar, Ellis Coffee’s cold brew, a mobile coffee bicycle. After grabbing cold drinks on this very, very hot day, attendees made their way to registration passing a scaled version of the Eiffel Tower created by Event FX, Slay Displays designed the entrance way using the word PARIS, which was lit up in four-foot-tall LED lights. Next, guests turned the corner into Annenburg Court, and were greeting by Elan Artists’ Bon Musique performing classic French music. Parisian-style food carts from Event FX along with specialty rentals from Party Rental Ltd. and a CORT Event Furniture Lounge made for a fun and relaxing vibe, Oui! Displays and French inspired menus were created by seven of Philadelphia areas stellar catering teams: Constellation Culinary Group (the exclusive Barnes Foundation caterer); along with Brulee Catering, Catering by Design, Di Bruno Bros. Catering & Events, Garces Group, Neuman’s Kitchen Events & Catering; and Sage Catering. Also, there providing refreshments were 13th St Cocktail
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Catering, Chaddsford Winery, PJP, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Yards Brewing Company to the more than 400 hospitality industry guests in attendance. Live artists like Magical Fantasies portrayed Van Gogh’s “Postman”, fashion illustrator Denise Fike created her portrait sketches and Los Angeles based Jeremy Sutton painted the event in real-time on his iPad, and all of them brought creative energy. Desserts…ooh la la! Each cart with offerings by City Tavern, Eclat Chocolate, Godiva Chocolatier, and Snackadabra featured a different taste and style of Parisian flair. The event continued beyond the glass walls of the Court and out to the West Terrence where more desserts from Famous 4th Street Cookie Company, Frost 321, and Weckerly’s Ice Cream helped cool the heat of the night. Attendees left the event with their own bouquet of flowers from Arrangements Unlimited and Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine. A good time was had by all. Oui!
EventsWorthy 2019 CHESTER COUNTY CULINARY CHALLENGE June 19, 2019 – Philadelphia, PA - Over 20 Teams of Meeting and Event Planners and Administrative Professionals put their cooking skills to the test at this year’s Chester County Culinary Challenge at the Desmond Hotel Malvern, A Doubletree by Hilton. Teams worked together to create unique specialties that wowed the judges. It was a great bonding experience! It gave partners of Chester County the opportunity to build relationships with planners and admin all over the region. The first-place winners of the Culinary Challenge included Diana Almada with Sheraton Great Valley, Lisa McGlashen with AACR, Bill McGlashen with AACR, Shelby Asen-Candrea and Robin Geary both with HMP. Photo Credit: Mario Oliveto
ANNUAL JINGLE JAM December 18, 2019 – Philadelphia, PA – Greater Philadelphia ILEA hosted this year’s most anticipated holiday event in the hospitality industry! This year’s theme was Dress up, Wine Down. Guests arrived at City Winery in their finest black tie attire. Attendees joined top event professionals for an evening full of food, wine pairing, entertainment, and the newest event style! Photo Credit: Mario Oliveto
MEET ME IN DELCO October 21, 2019 – Radnor, PA – The Delaware County Tourism Bureau hosted their premier event “Meet Me in Delco” at the Inn at Villanova showcasing its finest venues, hotels, caterers and restaurants in the Delaware Valley. The day began with an Panel Discussion: “All Things Hospitality: A conversation with industry leaders on careers, philosophies and trends.” Followed by the showcase where Meeting planners had the opportunity to look for unique venues, meeting spaces and team building offerings. 58 Julyz August2020
WOODLOCH COOKS October 17, 2019 – Philadelphia, PA – Woodloch Resort in the Poconos hosted an exclusive, interactive cooking event for Meeting and Event Planners at City Kitchen within the Reading Terminal Market. Attendees were split into teams and competed with each other in categories like who cooked and presented the best appetizers, main entrée and desserts. All ingredients were provided by merchants at the historic Market. Attendees had fun, engaging experience similar to what they would have at Woodloch Resort, so basically the mountains came to the city! Photo Credit: Mario Oliveto
WOODLOCH RESORT DINEAROUND April 22, 2019 – Philadelphia, PA - Woodloch Resorts hosted an intimate group of Meet and Event Planners for a creative Dine-Around in Center City Philadelphia.The DineAround started with a fun hour-long Italian Aperitivo at Gran Caffe L’Aquila. For dinner, everyone headed to the second floor to enjoy Italian specialties and wines from various regions. Then for dessert, the group headed to Godiva Chocolatier at the Shops at Liberty Place and an endless selection of chocolates to choose from! Photo Credit: Mario Oliveto Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 59
WOODLOCH DINE AROUND June 6, 2018 – Philadelphia, PA - Woodloch Resort hosted a small, intimate group of Meeting & Event planners for a Dine-Around in Old City Philadelphia. The Dine Around included a walking tour of Old City Philadelphia restaurants. Starting with appetizers and cocktails at the Olde Bar, then guests were lead to dinner at Positano Coast were attendees got to enjoy their famous Limoncellos! Finishing up with desserts and specialties at City Tavern. Attendees had the chance to hear what’s new at Woodloch Resort. Nestled in Pocono Mountains Woodloch Resort is equipped with unrivaled hospitality, immaculate accommodations, enriching & exciting team building programs and delicious cuisine! Photo Credit: Mario Oliveto
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WOODLOCH RESORT DINE AROUND August 20, 2018 – King of Prussia, PA - Woodloch Resorts hosted their second intimate group of meeting planners and administrative assistants for a creative Dine-Around in King of Prussia’s Town Center. Attendees had a chance to hear what’s new at Woodloch Resort and get to know their sales and marketing team in a comfortable but fun environment. The Dine-Around started at Davio’s Steakhouse for the first hour. Guests were then escorted by Gauchos from the second stop, Fogo de Chao and were led to the restaurant were attendees enjoyed traditional Brazilian cuisine. Two hours later, the group
ROMANCING THE STONE October 30, 2018 – Blue Bell, PA – “Uniquely different, engaging, experiential, and personal.” They were the words that the creative design team set as their goal for the event that would showcase both Bluestone Country Club and its sister property, The Blue Bell Inn, to select event planners from the area. Kristofer Fair, Bluestone’s Director of Operations, alongside Alicia Maestas, Director of Sales and Events, knew the event could not merely be an open house. Montgomery County can now offer what Philadelphia has long owned – exceptional cuisine and memorable event space.
headed to their final destination, Davio’s Galleria where they enjoyed a dessert finale. “Our dining around event in KOP was a great success. Successful in the fact that Woodloch was introduced to a wonderful group of meeting planners and professionals that we otherwise wouldn’t have been. The structure of the event itself gave everyone an opportunity to meet one another and lay the foundation for great relationships” said Rory O’Fee Director of Marketing at the Woodloch Resort. Photo Credit: Mario Oliveto
“The event had to begin with the invitation: it had to be interactive and deliver a sense of intrigue.”, said Kristofer. And so, it began, a wooden box with a sliding lid was created. All of the invitations with hand-delivered. Inside the box was a large diamond shaped blue stone, a safari hat and an acrylic invitation that was engraved with a riddle directing participants to a website that gave them a count-down as well as a cryptic description of the event. “The last line of the website stated that there would be no entrance without the stone. This was important to the event, as blue stone was paramount to reinforce the name of the facility, Bluestone Country Club.”, said Alicia.
EvEntM AkErs NEW JERSEY Atlantic City - Meet AC, Atlantic City’s Group Sales and Marketing Organization, has named Larry Sieg as its new President and CEO. Larry joined the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority (ACCVA) in 1998 where he oversaw the construction/opening of the Atlantic City Visitor Welcome Center, later becoming VP of marketing. Most recently, he served as Director of Communications and Marketing at the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.
PENNSYLVANIA Lancaster - Edward Harris has been named as the new President and CEO for Discover Lancaster. Edward had served as chief marketing officer for the Valley Forge Convention & Tourism Board (VFCTB) since 2014, leading a team that developed a wide range of branded experiences, seasonal advertising campaigns, digital marketing strategies, printed publications, and membership events. Prior to joining VFCTB, he held brand management roles with Nike Inc. (Converse), eBay, Under Armour, and Timberland. New Hope - The River House at Odette’s has named Adam Sheff as its Executive Chef. With his culinary career stretching into its 16th year,
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Chef Adam brings with him a prestigious degree from the French Culinary Institute, bicoastal experience in highly respected venues, and award-winning creativity inspired by his Northeastern roots. He is responsible for curating the modern and seasonal menus that will appeal to those who visit the luxury-lifestyle hotel, private and corporate event attendees, and local diners alike. At Odette's, an indoor/outdoor riverfront restaurant, Chef Adam will have the added inspiration of paying homage to the restaurant's namesake, Odette Myrtil, and the menus she once presented at her boisterous cabaret. He has been recognized for his leadership in the opening or expansion of other hospitality attractions, including: Blue Duck Tavern, Park Hyatt New York, and Andaz Scottsdale Resort + Spa, which have received 5-Star and 5-Diamond property ratings. Sean Caviston also has joined the River House at Odette’s as Director of Restaurant and Bar Operations. Sean has long dedicated himself to the pursuit of expansive sommelier certifications and worked in restaurant operations and as wine director for the Nittany Lion Inn. At River House, he will draw on his depth of experience developing a Wine Spectator recognized beverage program to create an elevated drinking and dining adventure for overnight, special event, and community guests. Additional past experiences include his stints as GM of two well-respected breweries along the eastern
seaboard, being chef/owner of an American Bistro, and, more recently, management positions overseeing restaurant groups. Philadelphia - The PHLCVB has announced that they have selected Gregg Caren, a seasoned veteran of the tourism industry, as their new President and CEO. Most recently, Gregg served as executive VP, sales and strategic business development for ASM Global (formerly SMG), operator of over 350 venues worldwide. In his new role, he will oversee the PHLCVB's efforts to promote and sell Philadelphia as a premier destination for meetings and conventions, and also will serve as the chief liaison to the bureau's tourism and hospitality partners, including the PA Convention Center, as well as national industry associations, and the City of Philadelphia. Beginning his career with Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Gregg also has served in senior leadership positions with entertainment venues in Atlantic City and at the Valley Forge Convention Center/Sheraton Valley Forge. He has held board and leadership roles with the International Association for Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), the National Association of Consumer Shows (NACS) and the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), as well. Tannersville - Robin Lattinville has been named Director of Sales for Camelback Lodge and Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark.
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STONELEIGH: A NATURAL GARDEN
Delaware County, PA makes it easy to add perspective to your meeting. Plan your next corporate event alongside our scenic battlefields and breathtaking gardens. Connect with nature while you explore our hiking and bike trails. Conveniently located to all major highways, Visit Delco PA delivers something for everyone.
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