EVENTS January | February 2021
Destinations are featuring a wide range of safe offerings both indoors and outside Atlantic City, NJâ€™s programs are in place from its beach and boardwalk to gaming and dining
TIME TO MEET AGAIN
Mount Airy Casino Resort offers a AAA Four-Diamond experience in the pristine scenery of the Pocono Mountains. With 30,000 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.
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Your Oceanfront Resort & Conference Center in Your Victorian Cape May, NJ Just steps away from the Atlantic Ocean • • •
17,000 + square footage of Meeting Space 4 Ballrooms for groups of all sizes 3 of which are newly renovated 165 tastefully appointed guest rooms & Townhouses
•Award Winning Hemingway’s Restaurant •Onsite Catering & Event Coordination •Fitness Room •Olympic Size indoor & outdoor swimming pools
GrandHotelCapeMay.com • 609.884.5611 • Oceanfront @ 1045 Beach Ave • Cape May NJ
sn't a high a noteâ€Ś and it sure wa on nd hi be 20 20 e av le ry we are in As we enter 2021, we ch of us on the indust ea r fo nd pe de ll wi t a lo vaccines will note. In the New Year, in, as well as how the is er re ca or s es sin r bu and what condition ou d moving forward. help with recovery an nt in brought to the forefro re we e us or ar he to r wanted al; A lot of words we neve Pandemic; New Norm e; tin an ar Qu : ry la bu ctive voca and Pivot. 2020 and led our colle precedented; oh yes, Un e; rv Cu e th n te at Fl Social Distancing; , catering and urism, special events to , gs tin ee m n, tio en only data that The hospitality, conv all industries, and the of t hi t es rd ha e th s e industry restaurant industry wa hardest hit industry. Th e th s wa is th at th s e wa r one word, officials could provid get-together fell unde of pe ty y er ev as ad spre took the brunt of the â€œgatherings.â€? orate board multiple layers. A corp s ha at th rd wo d oa br Gatherings is a scale sales meeting in an up a , on he nc lu t en em ement retreat or a retir executive level manag an or , om ro ng ni di e ped restaurant's privat C protocols - were lum CD ng wi llo fo l al m eu conference at a mus n, keg party in , college dorm initiatio rty pa k oc bl a th wi er togeth e. party inside the hous y da rth bi a or , rd ya the back es like face e future and experienc th to d ar rw fo g in ok lo We are all up for de show booth, setting tra a ng ni an m , gs tin to face mee bition, of a new museum exhi g in en op e th g in nd te the gala or at seat at the at the bar, selecting a post-conference drinks events with hosting private dining d an on he nc lu al nu an clients and more.
Jim Cohn - Publisher gazine Mid Atlantic Events Ma
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 January z February 2021
EVENTS January | February 2021
Atlantic City, NJ offers outstanding opportunities for safe meetings, dining and entertainment. Page 45 PAGE 8- Hotel LBI in Ship Bottom, NJ boasts oversized suites, a beach open all year, plus plenty of outdoor dining options.
a Destinations are featuringngs eri off wide range of safe both indoors and outside s are in place from its beach
Atlantic City, NJâ€™s program
and boardwalk to gaming
Outdoor Spaces & Unique Offerings Venues with unique spaces for outdoor functions
Ideas for Great Travel Experiences Regional destinations where adventures await
Being There for Small Meeting Groups The Hospitality Industry stands ready for the return of meetings
Conversations to Inspire Forward Motion 2.0 Inspiring positivity and personal forward motion
PAGE 20 - A view from the water of Annapolis, MD, an outstanding destination for both business and leisure; photo credit: Bob Peterson; courtesy: Visit Annapolis.
EVENTS EXTRAS 4
Food Brings People Together
Casino Resorts: Latest Guest Offerings
Peddler's Village - Navigating the Pandemic
Getting Back on Track
EventsWorthy Chester County Versatile Venues Dine-Around
PAGE 45 - Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City, NJ offers an endless array of upscale amenities, the excitement of gaming, Hard Rock Cafe, meeting and event space and more. 6
January z February 2021
Taking Life One Sip at a Time
Michael Massari - Leading The Way
Featured Location: New Jersey
Meeting Safely at the Lancaster Convention Center
Around The Region
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 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sharon DeFelices, Jennifer Sand, Kerri Sitrin ADVERTISING & SALES 215-947-8600, ext. 111 firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITORIAL OFFICES 1800 Byberry Rd Ste 901, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006 215-947-8600, ext. 110 email@example.com 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 - Discover Lancaster - Green Meetings Industry Council - Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association
Vol. 34, No.2
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 - Pocono Mountains Convention & Visitors Bureau
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- Professional Convention Management Association Greater Philadelphia - Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board - Visit Bucks County - Visit Delco, PA
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 2021 by Tri-State Events Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Outdoor S Unique Of
The Exchange, Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square in Lancaster, PA Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 9
Throughout the region, properties offering unique and outdoor spaces are attractive options because they allow for open-air functions with plenty of space and ample distance to keep attendees safe and comfortable. Not only are these outdoor venues great options in warmer months, but many also provide heated and covered areas for accommodating groups in all kinds of weather. Back in mid-March, like many others, The Exchange restaurant in Lancaster, PA, made the difficult decision to close, temporarily. During that time, The Exchange’s sister restaurant, Plough, both of which are helmed by Chef Ryan McQuillan, offered a special carry out menu. In early June, The Exchange reopened for outdoor dining. “We found that Lancaster residents were craving dining at restaurants again, but in a space that offers a lot of room to distance,” observes Josh Nowak, director of sales and marketing for the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square and the Lancaster County Convention Center. “Our outdoor dining was booked to capacity - in the context of lowered volumes - throughout the weekends almost immediately.” The Exchange also has created some exciting to-go offerings for those who still wanted a high-quality restaurant experience at home. One unique offering this summer was the Pizza To-Go Pack, which included prepped dough and farm-fresh and locally sourced ingredients – a perfect meal kit for families. The Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, in which both The Exchange and Plough restaurants are located, recently achieved the GBAC STAR Accreditation - the highest health safety standard for hotels and event venues globally. “Our staff continued to show great dedication to sanitization and safety throughout this unprecedented time by keeping up the high-quality service our guests know to expect,” says Nowak. “Through new trainings, we exceeded health safety expectations to make sure our guests felt comfortable in our environment.” The Exchange is widely known for being the highest rooftop restaurant in Lancaster, overlooking downtown from its historic Penn Square location. The restaurant brings a vibrant year10 Januaryz February2021
c round social experience to the Lancaster sky. The indoor-outdoor dining model is punctuated by floor-to-ceiling windows on the interior and the bars’ extension onto the outdoor patio. “We’re well known for our menu’s creativity,” Nowak notes. “The extensive beverage-driven menu offers exciting cocktails and unexpected combinations, such as in ‘A Perfect Pair,’ which includes Bulleit bourbon, lemon juice, pear nectar, ginger honey simple syrup, and candied ginger. The food menu presents upscale twists on bar favorites - think gourmet chicken nuggets, seasonal panzanella, smoked tofu, and of course, our wood fired pizza is what we’re really known for.” “What makes our beverage-driven menu a standout offering is the frequent creation and rotation of custom cocktails from our talented pool of mixologists,” he adds, “providing guests the opportunity to experience something unique each time they visit.” Guests are welcome to book either the indoor or outdoor space for private events, which are taken on a case-bycase basis. The dining area is spacious and comfortably accommodates groups of eight around its firepit tables. “As group-size regulations adjust, we pivot as a team with our customers to maintain an adherence to current guidelines,” Nowak explains. “We’re very proud to have a comfortable and sleek year-round dining option to offer Lancaster’s residents and visitors,” he continues. “The rooftop features a floating bar that is partially enclosed during the colder months to create warmth, tables with glass-enclosed fireplaces in the center, and several larger heaters to create a warm and welcoming outdoor dining experience no matter the weather.” Since its menus are seasonal, guests of The Exchange can expect a selection based on local, in-season ingredients and comfort foods associated with the
WORTH MEETING With over 45,000 sf of exceptional meeting space, complemented by award-winning cuisine, and 100 spacious well appointed guest rooms,
Drexelbrook takes the work out of meetings.
Located in Delaware County, PA – 20 minutes from the Philadelphia International Airport. Easily accessible by major interstates and highways.
Outdoor dining at The Exchange in Lancaster, PA
colder months as well as cocktail menus and draft lists to match the season. A go-to venue for events and special occasions, The Exchange looks forward to hosting more of these functions as circumstances allow. “We’re consistently receiving inquiries about hosting private groups on the rooftop for weddings whose guests are staying at the hotel,” notes Nowak. “After several months of operating under the Commonwealth and Lancaster County’s guidance, as well as our guidelines as a GBAC facility, we feel extremely prepared to welcome groups back to commemorate their life moments in our unique space.” At Peddler’s Village in Lahaska, PA, Christine Hensel Triantos, director of marketing and communications, explains, “We learned pretty quickly in 2020 that we would have to turn on a dime, and that we needed to be as prepared as possible for each potential scenario. Led by our COO, Bob McGowan, our Peddler’s Village leadership team communicates constantly with each other, as well as with our merchants and employees. We brainstorm 12 Januaryz February2021
ideas and determine together what might work. We also pay close attention to guest comments and feedback so that we can better understand their concerns and priorities.” For example, when they learned in December that indoor dining was being temporarily halted, they moved as much food preparation as possible outdoors, setting up a large Water Wheel Food Tent, as well as stands where they could sell hot cider and other food and drinks. “Through teamwork and careful planning, we were able to get this up and running in less than 48-hours,” exclaims Hensel Triantos. “With takeout meals from our seven restaurants and these new outdoor stations, we were able to safely provide people with a variety of food and drinks as visitors shopped in the Village and experienced the holiday magic.” Communicating changes also has been a top priority. “We want people to have the most helpful, up-to-date information so that they know what’s happening - and also what’s not happening,” she continues. “Managing expectations
The Golden Plough Inn offers spa packages with the award-winning David J. Witchell Salon and Spa in Peddlers Village.
is critical to maintaining satisfaction… We provide regular updates on our website, social media channels, and eblasts.” Despite so many challenges, the team at Peddler’s Village remains confident that they have all of the key components - a large outdoor property, hard-working merchants, a unique blend of shops, boutiques, and restaurants, and many loyal customers - to continue to serve guests both in the short and long term.
Peddler’s Village has many offerings, both inside and outside. Groups can book private events at Giggleberry Fair, a fun and unique indoor space that features a six-story obstacle course and maze, an arcade, and a fully restored 1920s antique carousel.
A unique countryside shopping, dining and entertainment destination in Bucks County, Peddler’s Village is open air, which has really been helpful in navigating through the pandemic. “We’ve put important safety measures in place that our guests really seem to appreciate,” notes Hensel Triantos. On the property are picturesque icons such as the water wheel, windmill, gazebo, and the koi pond, all of which are year-round favorites. The holidays are especially beautiful, when the Village is transformed into a winter wonderland adorned with a million colorful lights and holiday decorations.
The Water Wheel at Peddler's Village in Lahaska, PA
wake up call.
THE ROLAND E. POWELL CONVENTION CENTER PLAN A CONVENTION WITH A VIEW. With multiple wide-open exhibit and meeting spaces, our bayside venue is the perfect place for trade shows, sporting events, meetings, competitions and more. Plus, with a variety of accommodation options, Ocean City is the destination you desire when planning your next event. Main Exhibit Hall – 45,500+ sq. ft. of column-free, 昀exible halls Bayfront Ballroom – 19,126 sq. ft. • Exhibit Hall –14,000 sq. ft. of 昀exible space • 21 meeting rooms • Performing Arts Center –1,200 seats with state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment, box of昀ce, concession area and spacious dressing rooms • 25+ hotels offering meeting space • •
Ocean City is a comfortable drive, less than 3 hours from major Mid-Atlantic cities and 30 minutes from the Salisbury-Ocean City: Wicomico Regional Airport (SBY). While you’re here, enjoy our 10 miles of beautifully maintained beach, famous 3-mile Boardwalk, 17 nearby golf courses, and more!
START PLANNING TODAY!
Visit OCMDCONVENTIONCENTER.COM, or call 1.800.OC.OCEAN.
To learn more about meetings and events in Ocean City, or hotels that can accommodate your group, contact Regina Brittingham at 800-626-2326 or RBrittingham@oceancitymd.gov.
OCO-2020-26290 Mid-Atlantic_Events-NovDec_7x4.875.indd 1 OCO-2020-26290
10/16/20 9:54 13 10/16/20 AM Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine
Sky Garden at Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, NJ
Peddler’s Village has many offerings, both inside and outside. Groups can book private events at Giggleberry Fair, a fun and unique indoor space that features a six-story obstacle course and maze, an arcade, and a fully restored 1920s antique carousel. Adults love it for parties as much as kids do, proclaims Brian Shields, the property’s director of sales. “We offer scavenger hunts throughout the Village involving our shops in providing clues. We also have murder mystery shows, normally held inside, but which now are being offered as an outside walking tour.” The Golden Plough Inn offers spa packages with the award-winning David J. Witchell Salon and Spa, as well as halfprice packages during select times for suites that have jacuzzis and fireplaces. Also, its Dine and Stay Package is very popular, where guests can 14 Januaryz February2021
enjoy the Village and choose to have dinner at one of its four restaurants. Bed and Breakfast packages including morning meals at Buttonwood Grill also are available. “Throughout the year, we sell Visa gift cards that can be used throughout the Village at the shops, restaurants, inn, at Giggleberry Fair, or to purchase tickets for murder mystery dinner shows, comedy shows, or other events,” Shields adds. “We will continue to offer outdoor entertainment, such as live music and performances, and outdoor food and beverage sales, whenever possible,” notes Hensel Triantos. “We’re looking at doing new scavenger hunts in January and/or February. No matter what time of the year it is, Peddler’s Village is always a nice place to walk, get
some exercise, and enjoy the fresh country air!” As of now, Peddler’s Village plans to present another PEEPS® show in late March through early April, echoing their new gingerbread display approach and continuing what was a very successful PEEPS® event that launched in 2019. “If we are in a better public safety situation by May, we will present our Strawberry Festival. With any luck, we’ll have Summer Block Party weekends in June, Bluegrass and Blueberries Month in July, and a Peach Festival and Sidewalk Sale in August,” adds Hensel Triantos. In Atlantic City, NJ, Ocean Casino Resort is situated on 6.3-million square feet, allowing the property to be very flexible with its space, both indoors and outdoors. “We have Ovation Hall
that can accommodate up to 5,000 attendees for a concert or event - a 70,000-square foot room that is ideal for large meeting and social functions from 200 to 1,500 attendees,” notes Peter Ciccone, senior vice president of hotel sales for Ocean Casino Resort. Of course, restrictions and regulations have, for now, limited the capacities for both indoor and outdoor events, so, as a property and team, communication is more important than ever. “With the constant changes in every area, from the casino, guestrooms, food and beverage and more, we have to ensure we are on the same page and adhering to the COVID policies,” explains Ciccone. As a demonstration of their ability to be both flexible and creative with their available space, Ocean Casino Resort has carpeted and enclosed a section of their parking lot in which they have hosted trade shows and meetings. “We continue to utilize Topgolf, which has always been a hit for groups, and also our restaurants for functions. With the 25 percent capacity restraints, we can still host meetings and events for close to 100 people,” observes Ciccone.
Ocean Casino Resort also offers extremely flexible attrition and cancellation policies, which allows groups to adjust attendees as needed. “We are also offering one per 20 comp room policy on all groups,” he notes. The property’s Outdoor Lobby Bar is open year-round, and they have added temporary dining outside to their Sky Garden this past summer, which has been very successful. “This will become a permanent restaurant in the spring,” notes Ciccone, “and it is ideal for group events.”
Each of these venues provides a range of unique spaces and opportunities to consider, both indoors and outside. Creativity, flexibility and communication will go a long way toward creating meeting and event solutions during these challenging times.
Every Event is the Big Event
...EVEN THE VIRTUAL ONES With our creative and management services, state of the art event technology and team of expert professionals, we create and produce big events (no matter how small). With our drive, capabilities and knowledge, our clients succeed.
LIGHTING | AUDIO | VIDEO advancedstaging.com
Chef Jennifer Carroll is no stranger to the camera. Her personality leaps right into viewers’ living rooms as a two-time BRAVO Top Chef All-Star. So, when the pandemic hit, transitioning from in-person to virtual events was a natural fit for her. Known for fun, experience-focused dinners and events, Chef Jen channeled the energy she poured into executing in-person events into the virtual space with online cooking classes filmed from her native Philadelphia.
THE CLASSES WERE AN IMMEDIATE HIT! Engaging with clients and employees from home is tough for all industries, but Chef Jen has found that food brings people together - even virtually. “I love sharing my expertise and teaching my students as if they were going to work with me on the line at the restaurant,” she says. “I explain how to be more efficient and organized throughout the prep and cook, along with so many simple tips and tricks that will make you question how and why you’ve gone this long without knowing how to do these things already.” She’s witnessed first-hand the value of cooking classes as a team building opportunity for clients or colleagues as they learn to properly chop an onion or blanch green beans together over Zoom. 16 Januaryz February2021
ings People Together
Even When They’re Apart In addition to cooking classes, Chef Jen offers a virtual BRAVO Top Chef-style “Quickfire Challenge” that is highly interactive and entertaining. The event package is limited to 20 guests, and Chef Jen provides a list of three must-use ingredients prior to the event. Each chef participant has 15 minutes to turn those three ingredients - plus any other ingredients from their pantry, fridge or freezer - into a creative dish. While participants are cooking, Chef Jen pops around the screen asking everyone what they're making, and it doesn’t take long for the good, competitive spirit to come out! At the end of the 15-minute time limit, everyone holds up their plate for a celebratory screenshot, each participant presents their dish, and Chef Jen declares a winner. Afterward, she puts 15-minutes on her own clock and then demonstrates what she would make with those same three ingredients. This virtual package has been very popular for team building events and is ideal for employees who haven’t seen each other in a while. It can get fiercely competitive, but with a lot of laughs! Chef Jen offers the following tips for holding successful virtual cooking classes: EXCELLENT LIGHTING & AUDIO Lighting and audio are extremely important. Invest however much you can and upgrade wherever it makes sense. If you are starting off, a simple ring light and ear pods will make a world of difference!
STRONG INTERNET CONNECTION A strong Internet connection is a must! Hardwiring the connection (as opposed to Wi-Fi) is the best way to go. ENGAGING ON-CAMERA PERSONALITY Chef Jen loves to be as interactive as possible with her audience, just like she would be for an in-person event. She encourages questions and you will often find her stepping out from behind her set-up to approach the camera and show the audience a cooking detail or ingredient. THOROUGH ADVANCE PLANNING Unlike an in-person live event, you can’t just pull someone aside to discuss logistics during a virtual event. Everything must be pre-planned to avoid awkward Zoom moments and ensure a smooth and successful event. This includes talking through every detail in advance. A few key questions to ask: Who is moderating? Who is introducing? How will participant questions be handled (either via unmuting or via chat box with the moderator)? Who is closing? It also helps to do a brief technology test in advance, as well as to log on 15minutes early to confirm that everything is working properly. For more about virtual cooking classes with Chef Jen Carroll, or to talk about virtual events, contact Kerri Sitrin from Chef Jen’s team: firstname.lastname@example.org Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 17
LATEST GUEST OFFERINGS - CASINO RESORTS Several casino resorts around the region are offering guests and groups a number of special programs, discounts and exclusive offerings.
HERE IS A SAMPLING FROM A FEW OF THESE PROPERTIES.
1. VALLEY FORGE CASINO RESORT KING OF PRUSSIA, PA Valley Forge Casino recently launched the award-winning B Connected player loyalty program, fully connecting Valley Forge customers to Boyd Gaming’s nationwide family of casino properties. B Connected offers benefits including discounts on hotel stays and retail purchases, special discounts with exclusive partners, and access to annual Boyd Gaming promotions and contests. Additionally, Valley Forge Casino is continuing to provide a value for engaged couples with a creative micro-weddings package. For a fixed price with additional upgrades available, the wedding package provides a plated dinner, champagne toast, beer, wine and soda, and a wedding cake, making it an effortless experience with no added stress.
2. MOUNT AIRY CASINO RESORT MOUNT POCONO, PA Mount Airy Casino Resort has always been committed to the highest standards for cleaning, but now also will also be cleaning, sanitizing, and maintaining the property during closure. Health and safety continue to be their highest priority.
3. HARD ROCK HOTEL & CASINO, ATLANTIC CITY ATLANTIC CITY, NJ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City is offering a variety of special guest experiences, which include hands-on F&B classes like Sushi School and happy hour specials every Friday in Kuro and every Saturday-Sunday in the Lobby Bar. When it comes to safety initiatives, Hard Rock’s SAFE + SOUND program, developed by a team of hospitality and gaming experts in collaboration with worldwide health and sanitation specialists, includes directives of key agencies, such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. SAFE + SOUND is focused on enhanced cleaning practices, social interactions and workplace protocols while ensuring transparency. As part of the program, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City is required to pass a 272-point inspection independently assessed by NSF International. 18 Januaryz February2021
4. OCEAN CASINO RESORT ATLANTIC CITY, NJ
Ocean Casino Resort currently is offering one comp room per 20 rooms booked for all groups, as well as a flexible cancellation and attrition policy. In addition, Ocean Casino Resort recently announced the opening of The Cove, its new high limit slot experience. Adjacent to Wahlburgers速, it will offer over 140 high limit slot machine favorites. The Cove offers dedicated cocktail service with an enhanced beverage selection, private restrooms, and a cage exclusively for guests playing in this section.
5. MOHEGAN SUN UNCASVILLE, CT Meeting and conventions groups who choose Mohegan Sun have access to a vast amount of catering service options provided by award-winning chefs. Mohegan Sun also offers over 30 world-class dining options on property. Recently, the property welcomed the return of its highend lounge, novelle, and is excited for TAO Asian Bistro and Lounge to open as its newest dining option in winter of 2021. novelle is a freshly rebranded venue offering small plates, a craft cocktail menu and intimate live entertainment courtesy of a new stage. Also, novelle has expanded gaming offerings. Full safety precautions have been implemented, as well, including capacity limits, distanced seating and plexiglass dividers on table games. Mid-Atlantic足EvEnts足Magazine 足19
IDEAS FOR GREAT TRAVEL EXPERIENCES Whether planning group travel experiences and team building or looking for personal opportunities to enjoy a little fun and adventure, destinations throughout the region offer plenty of ways to do so safely. Looking ahead toward the warmer months, the possibility of being able to offer even more choices adds to the enticement of these already attractive travel destinations.
ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND Annapolis is world renowned as America’s Sailing Capital and one of the top waterfront destinations in the country. Lovers of all things nautical head to Maryland’s capital city each year. Sailing, cruising, stand up paddle boarding, canoeing, and kayaking are among the options for outdoor enthusiasts. In addition, Annapolis is home to more 18th century brick buildings than any other city in the nation, and its Historic District is a Museum without Walls, where every step along the brick-lined streets is a reminder of what has been and what could be. Annapolis is home to the oldest State House in continuous legislative use in the nation, as well as the homes of Maryland’s four signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Banneker-Douglass Museum, Maryland’s official repository for African American culture and heritage. To help curb the spread of COVID-19, Annapolis and Anne Arundel County restaurants are restricted to curbside pickup, carryout service, and/or delivery through January 12, 2021. Should it be deemed safe to do so, restaurants are poised to begin offering outside dining options and inside seating at a reduced capacity the following day. Once restrictions are eased, a host of restaurants are expected to resume their practice of offering outside dining in heated tents. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Edgewater, MD
20 Januaryz February2021
To supplement its inside dining capabilities, Flamant plans to resume serving guests in its newly built outdoor enclosed patio that provides year-round protection from the elements. Reynolds Tavern had been supplementing its indoor seating capacity by serving guests in its outdoor Beer Garden that features eight globe-like structures. Instead of offering tastings in its wine sales room, Thanksgiving Farm Winery has been offering wine by the bottle as well as carryout wine tastings that can be enjoyed in its expanded outdoor seating area.
In the BWI/Arundel Mills region, one of the largest commercial casinos in the country, Live! Casino & Hotel, has been providing guests with gaming fun in a safe environment. When the gaming is through, players can walk across a promenade to Maryland’s largest outlet and value retail shopping, dining, and entertainment destination, Arundel Mills Mall. Despite the pandemic, several new establishments have opened in Annapolis, including the 28-seat nano-brewery, Forward Brewing, Dangerously Delicious Pies, and the California-inspired kitchen and wine bar, Smashing Grapes.
it’s deemed safe to do so, and groups can time their visit to enjoy the 4,000-plus strong Brigade of Midshipmen in noon formation. The newly renovated Annapolis Maritime Museum will offer on-site tours that recount the story of the Chesapeake Bay’s heritage and bounty through hands-on and state-of-the-art virtual experiences. In mid-January, Historic London Town and Gardens will resume tours of its 23-acre site.
On the arts scene, Gallery 57 opened in summer 2020 and is home to the Annapolis Art Alliance. It offers a “fusion of the arts,” featuring paintings in all media, photography, jewelry, sculpture, glass work, pottery, textile, mixed media, and more. Returning visitors will notice a surge in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County’s outdoor arts scene, too, with a number of new murals having been added, including a 7,000-square foot Breonna Taylor mural designed to be viewed by satellite! More murals are in the works. For those in search of something “off the beaten path,” Sandy Point State Park could be the perfect choice - a 786acre treasure on the northwestern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Quiet Waters county park is situated between the South River and Harness Creek and offers 6-miles of scenic paved trails - one of eight regional Anne Arundel County parks waiting to be explored. Honey’s Harvest Farm in nearby Lothian offers farm workshops, farm-to-table events, nature walks, and farm tours that encourage visitors to graze along the way. Their mission is to provide fun and healthy farm experiences and nutrient dense food and medicine. The Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Edgewater sits on a 2,650-acre campus that spans forests, wetlands, marches, and 15 miles of protected shoreline. The site serves as a natural laboratory for long-term and cutting-edge ecological research. When the weather gets warmer, there is a host of ways individuals and groups can get out on the water – from riding the water taxi to taking a 40-minute cruise of the Annapolis Harbor to two-hour sailing cruises on the twin 74’ wooden schooners, Woodwind and Woodwind II, as well as aboard the newly refurbished Chesapeake Bay skipjack, the Wilma Lee. Tours of the U.S. Naval Academy will resume soon as
Rendering of the Roland E. Powell Convention Center expansion in Ocean City, MD
OCEAN CITY, MARYLAND Historically, Ocean City has embodied the family vacation and it also has long been a popular business destination, having hosted state government, professional services conventions and trade shows in the Roland E. Powell Convention Center for many years. Additionally, more than 30 hotels here offer meeting rooms and services. Dance and cheer competitions, sports tournaments and e-marketing groups see Ocean City as a prime meeting place, too. Over the past year, however, all destinations have shared the same challenges. Ocean City has, of course, adopted very strict safety measures within both the Roland E. Powell Convention Center and the Town itself. Some employees were reassigned to keep things busily moving forward throughout the city. Keeping the visitors and residents safe has been the focus. Whether it was to regretfully cancel some popular events like Sunfest or adjust others for limited participation, safety is the prime driver. The Ocean City CVB has developed communication “tool kits” for its marketing partners and collaborated with entities throughout town to make resources available from the front desk to the back of the house at hotels, restaurants and attractions. This has helped implement a much broader communication flow from the Town of Ocean City to its business partners, one that can continue to be utilized well after the pandemic ends. This more proactive communication has been well-received by the business community and has yielded positive results. Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 21
The boardwalk is available to everyone and especially refreshing in the colder months. Restaurants are open, many with seasonal specials, and they are stringently following health guidelines.
talk about how they learned to ski or snowboard and share tales of their snowtubing experiences at the resort and Camelback’s activities team presents fun, tasty and memory making programs that can be enjoyed by all.
Shopping is always popular, as are visits to Assateague Island where the famous wild ponies roam. Enjoy a drive around the rural surrounding area with changing landscapes and finish up with a bayside dinner and view of the sunset.
The resort is highly focused on safety and providing clear and transparent communications with clients and guests at all times. With protocols changing so frequently, the resort’s team has worked very hard to stay informed, adapt, prepare and communicate.
The charming town of Berlin offers quaint shops and unique eateries. In Ocean City is the Life Saving Station Museum, along with the Performing Arts Center within the Convention Center, which will be better than ever following the pandemic. Favorite festivals also will return as soon as it is safe enough to do so. In addition, the Roland E. Powell Convention Center is expanding, slated for completion in early 2022. More exhibition space and added bay view event areas will be exciting additions. Many new hotels have opened in Ocean City in the last year or so, too. Tru, Aloft, Fairfield, Home2 and several Hampton Inns have taken their place among many iconic hotels such as Clarion, Carousel, Princess Royale, Grand Stowaway, Holiday Inn Oceanfront, Hilton, Days Inn Oceanfront and more. Winter Trails and Galactic Snowtubing at Camelback Resort, Tannersville, PA
“We have conducted multiple training sessions for our team members, incorporated clear signage and ‘code of conduct’ messaging for our guests, incorporated even higher levels of cleanliness than required, and imposed maximum occupancy standards to maintain distancing,” explains Robin Lattinville, director of sales for Camelback Resort. “We have installed new technology for purchasing tickets without standing in lines, and we are rolling out an app that will make this even easier. So, in many ways, Camelback Resort will emerge from the pandemic better and more efficient than ever.” For group events, the resort has become more flexible and empathetic with an understanding of how difficult it is to plan an event in the current environment. On-site technology has been upgraded to make it easier for clients to schedule hybrid meetings. Camelback also has incorporated flexible cancellation and rescheduling policies and is launching a powerful virtual site inspection tool to allow prospective meeting planners to immerse themselves into the resort right from their office. Visitors to the Pocono Mountains can incorporate skiing into their program, and Camelback has long been known for its outstanding ski school. Groups can take advantage of its programing by planning a group lesson as part of a team building experience.
CAMELBACK RESORT POCONO MOUNTAINS, PA
Camelback Resort is a natural choice for meeting planners who want to avoid air travel or to meet regionally. The resort’s customized team building activities incorporate the surrounding mountain setting while allowing planners to accomplish their objectives in a fun and exciting way. Guests enjoy Camelback Resort’s many activities, including waterparks (indoor and outdoor), zip lining, the mountain roller coaster and aerial ropes course. Guests are likely to 22 Januaryz February2021
Another popular activity is snowtubing and Galactic Snowtubing. Camelback has 42 snowtubing lanes with two magic carpet lifts. This year, the resort increased the food and beverages services at its tubing hill – adding food and beverage trucks, seven new fire pits and expanded seating in the viewing/dining area. Galactic tubing starts after dark with music and laser lights adding to the experience. The surrounding Pocono Mountains Region encompasses a large area. During the winter, sleigh rides, cross country skiing, hiking, craft brew trails and snow machine experiences are popular and easily accessible. Mount Airy Casino is less than 10 minutes from Camelback and offers gaming, plus entertainment and great dining. Another popular destination is Jim Thorpe, a charming historic village touted as the “gateway to the Poconos,” which serves as a wonderful day trip.
“Many of our meeting attendees and guests enjoy exploring the natural beauty of the Pocono Mountains and its whitewater rafting, hiking, biking, fishing, golfing and horseback riding,” notes Lattinville. “Warmer weather team building activities include a ropes course challenge, a geo cache scavenger hunt, zip lining or a good old-fashioned corn hole tournament.” Connecticut Science Center, Hartford, CT
www.ctmeetings.org, that features more images, a simpler layout and easy navigation for meeting planners, search engine optimization, and video capability. As Connecticut’s hospitality industry slowly reopens, our bureau will move forward with our partners to welcome visitors and attendees to our scenic and dynamic state.” Many of Connecticut’s major attractions remain open, carefully employing a range of health and safety protocols. These group-friendly attractions include: The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk with its Imax Theater and Seal Spotting and Birding Cruises; Mystic Seaport Museum and nearby Mystic Aquarium; Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resorts Casinos; the Connecticut Science Center; New England Air Museum, and The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. The Florence Griswold Museum Historic Homestead is a distinctive setting where a generation of America’s finest Impressionist artists painted “en plein air” in the “old-fashioned” garden on the banks of the Lieutenant River. It is noted for its collection of American Impressionist paintings, Georgian architecture of Griswold’s house, lightfilled, modern spaces of the Krieble Gallery, and rolling 13acre landscape.
CONNECTICUT COAST Connecticut is known for its richness of historical and cultural arts attractions (including more than 1,500 sites on the National Historic Registry), most of which can be used as unique venues for after-event socials. This scenic state is compact, yet offers many types of meeting venues and hotels in a range of picturesque locations. Its size makes it easy for groups to meet and still plan day trips to numerous off-site attractions from Long Island Sound’s sandy beaches to theaters and museums in exciting cities to two of the world’s largest casinos to cruising the Connecticut River to hiking the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, there is something for every attendee. Ever since March of 2020, the Connecticut Convention and Sports Bureau (CTCSB) has been working to support its partners, including convention centers, hotels, convention services, restaurants, attractions, and other hospitality industry entities. “We reached out to state, national, and international meeting planners and sports promoters to help them to reschedule and rebook events and overnight rooms anywhere in Connecticut through our wide network of industry resources,” asserts Robert Murdock, president and director of sports marketing for the CTCSB. “One of our key sales tools is the bureau's new, reimagined website,
Discover the scenic Long Island Sound off the Connecticut shoreline aboard charter fishing boats. In addition, nature lovers can enjoy 110 state parks and 32 state forests, most of which are open year-round. The Connecticut Wine Trail boasts two dozen vineyards – many offering tours and samplings and are venues for offsite social events. Along the Connecticut Beer Trail, a growing number of unique microbreweries offer tours, samplings and venues for off-site social events, as well. Connecticut Freedom Trail documents and designates sites that embody the struggle toward freedom and human dignity, celebrate the accomplishments of the state's African American community, and promote heritage tourism. It consists of more than 130 sites in over 50 towns. The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk features more than 1,200 marine animals of 259 species, offering visitors personal interactions with animals. R/V Spirit of the Sound™, its 64-foot all-aluminum catamaran, provides cruises year-round. At each of these destinations, meeting groups and leisure travelers will find plenty of options that can be enjoyed safely. Looking to the future, their expanded offerings will create even more opportunities for outstanding travel experiences at a time when it is needed most. Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 23
How a retail shopping, dining, meeting destination is navigating through the challenges of the pandemic to help their retailers and continue to meet the needs of their customers and clients. Bob McGowan, Chief Operating Officer, and Christine Hensel Triantos, Director of Marketing and Communications for Peddler’s Village in Lahaska Bucks County, PA Guests have favored Peddler’s Village over so many other destinations so how do you keep customers coming back. Making guests feel warmly welcomed has been a longtime priority of Peddler’s Village - and now it’s equally important that they feel safe. We are honored that people are continuing to make us a priority destination - not just those who have visited regularly for years, but new visitors who have recently discovered that there is a unique open-air shopping, dining, strolling, and entertainment “getaway” in the heart of Bucks County, as well. Even for those who visit regularly, we like to keep the Village fresh with new shops, new merchandise, reimagined entertainment and events, and new food and beverage specials in our restaurants. Despite the 2020 challenges, we were able to add three permanent shops and three pop-ups. Our circa-1800s setting might be traditional, but the visitor experience offers exciting contemporary twists.
MARKETING CHANGED. Rapid and clear communication has never been more important than it is now. Circumstances change quickly, and it’s important we constantly deliver up-to-date messaging. We update our website daily, post important news on social media, maintain accurate business info on user platforms such as Google, Yelp and TripAdvisor, and ensure our frontline employees are aware of all changes that might affect our guests and operations. We also strive to keep our tourism partners and media contacts up-to-date. While these practices were in place even before the pandemic, what we are seeing now is heightened engagement online and via phone with guests who have questions or want to share feedback. We have periodically conducted surveys to assess public sentiment and concerns, too. We listen carefully to visitor input and read all posted reviews. In terms of advertising, we have shifted since May to an approach that is almost entirely based on digital ads rather than a combination of print and digital. A digital approach allows us to change quickly both our messaging and our targeted audiences. We’ve had to do both, as changing restrictions and shifting behaviors have significantly shaped our 2020 marketing.
A MAIN FOCUS HEADING INTO 2021. Right now, we are focused on survival! 2020 was a year like no other. It introduced challenges that we had never encountered in its nearly 60 years. It remains to be seen how long these challenges will remain. We are working continuously to create the best possible conditions for our merchants, our guests, our employees, and our own hospitality operations. We are planning to continue our outdoor offerings, including expanded dining and big outdoor weddings. We are grateful that we have made it this far. Our hope is that if we continue to focus first and foremost on the well-being of the many people connected to the Village - our guests, our employees, our merchants, our neighbors, our partners, our community members - our businesses will also remain intact and will again be able to thrive. Steps needed to be taken in order to keep serve customers as various state and local restrictions have continued to unfold. We learned quickly that we needed to be very limber and very creative, and that we had to move very quickly to implement new solutions. The leadership team stays apprised of developments and communicates constantly to share ideas and recommendations that will keep our guests and employees as safe as possible, meet all state and federal requirements, and allow our businesses to operate at the highest possible level. We alter our operations accordingly and communicate important changes to our guests as quickly and as clearly as possible - and then answer their questions as responsively as we can. 24 Januaryz February2021
COMMUNICATING WITH RETAILERS TO SHIFT INTO NEW WAYS OF DOING BUSINESS. Our retailers are sharp and clever, and they deserve the primary credit for their continued success. Almost all of our shops are owned by local entrepreneurs who feel a deep pride in their family-owned businesses. They have worked very hard to overcome the challenges posed by the lockdown and subsequent conditions. They created new websites, conducted business online, offered curbside pickup and/or home delivery, and energized their own customer dialogues to cultivate loyalty and mutual appreciation. When they reopened, they reopened with gusto. It’s made all of the difference for them. While we did make it a priority to communicate important updates, listen to their concerns, adjust rents, make recommendations and bring shop owners together for brainstorming sessions, it has been the retailers themselves who have guided their own businesses through this storm. As members of the leadership team, it’s our job to bring people to the Village. What the shops do is keep them coming back!
MAINTAINING A CONSTANT CONNECTION WITH CUSTOMERS, INCLUDING BOTH VISITORS AND CORPORATE CLIENTS. We update our website daily, post frequently on social media (primarily Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), and send regular emails to our subscribers. We also send updates to news outlets to be included in their publications. Our sales team, led by Brian Shields, maintains steady communication with meeting planners, regional business leaders, and people who are planning weddings and other events. The front desk staff at the Golden Plough Inn speaks every day with guests from far and near. And we have a full-time Peddler’s Village Hospitality Center staffed by knowledgeable employees who stand ready to answer guest questions and to make recommendations based on their preferences. We’ve found this personal touch to be very important in a world where automation has become the norm. Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 25
Being There for Small Meeting Groups As the anxiously awaited vaccines are making their way into the population and hopeful signs begin to point to an end to the pandemic, there is increasing positivity with regard to a return to more in-person meetings and events. While several factors, of course, will play a role in determining which functions can return (and when), it appears that regionally and locally held functions consisting of smaller groups will be among the first to return. Destinations throughout the region stand ready to extend helping hands to planners and to safely host meetings and events once again, as well. In the meantime, of course, there continue to be challenges, but each of the following locations is well prepared to help planners moving forward, including those who will be among the first to return with those early small meetings and events. “We have been participating in virtual conferences instead of in-person, as well as being a valued resource for our hospitality partners like hotels, museums, attractions and restaurants,” explains Courtney Babcock, director of sales, Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau. “We have taken on the role of helping them to adapt, as well.”
Building on relationships, showing empathy and continuing as a resource is the current role of the CVB. Virtual and hybrid events, understandably, are the focus for now. “Virtual format events are a great tool, but can never replace the value of face-to-face meetings,” says Babcock. “For example, we specialize in team building culinary events and host an annual Chester County Culinary Challenge in the spring. There is such a feeling of camaraderie in team events that fosters the best environment in which to do business and forge business relationships.” “In early November,” she continues, “to show planners how some of our venues have adjusted their services to meet CDC safety guidelines, we hosted a small dinearound event for meeting/event planners. The planners that attended, Versatile Venues, all expressed the need to get back to in-person events as restrictions are lifted and the vaccine is available. The excitement during the event was refreshing and we all agreed that this energy can only happen face-to-face.” Chester County has always been an excellent destination for small meetings and events, with a wide variety of unique venues and restaurants that offer private dining options. “We have been communicating through social media and digital marketing how these venues are instituting safety protocols,” explains Babcock. “Many venues in Chester County have expanded or created outdoor spaces to offer alternatives to in26 Januaryz February2021
photo courtesy: Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau
door events. Tents, pods, signage, large spaces with smaller capacities, filtration systems and seasonal open-air facilities are all assets that can adapt to the changing needs of planners.” In addition, the CVB currently is working on a safety messaging video targeting meeting and event planners that will help to build their confidence in booking Chester County in the future. The Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau staff offers assistance in choosing the right venue, too, along with complimentary services such as RFP distribution, attendee welcome bags, and scheduling of off-site activities. As an added incentive for 2021, any new meeting or event that books in a Chester County lodging property with 25 or more room nights will be eligible for a $500 signing bonus plus $5 per night on rooms picked up. “It is our hope this will help planners - even just a little - to regain any financial and staffing hardships they have undertaken,” Babcock explains. Kate O’Connell, event sales and coordinator for the City of Cape May observes that moving to virtual has helped in keeping communication on track. Cape May Convention Hall, along with other convention centers in New Jersey, have joined together to create a standard for reopening pro-
tocols. This unified front has led to shared ideas and initiatives with which all are mutually aligned in order to help navigate changes throughout the pandemic. “A return to in person events and meetings is important,” asserts O’Connell. “Although virtual has helped facilitate meetings thus far, nothing beats the personal exchange with colleagues and customers. Building lasting relationships is a keystone to what we do, and personal interaction is important to build and maintain those relationships.” “At this time, our facility is closed to the public for open events,” explains Laurie Taylor, director of marketing for the City of Cape May. “The City of Cape May has used virtual meetings to keep up-to-date with our cultural and marketing partners. We also believe in keeping an open line of communication with future events that are booked in 2021 and 2022.” While they have not planned in-person meetings since the start of the pandemic, the City of Cape May did move to a hybrid structure for their holiday events. “We hosted several contests that involved personal interaction, with winners announced virtually using social media,” notes Taylor. “Typically, the holiday season in Cape May would be filled with in-person Christmas concerts and fundraising events. Moving to hybrid format allowed the merriment to continue in a safe and physically distant manner.” Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 27
Outdoor meeting at Split Rock Resort in Lake Harmony, PA; photo credit: Russ Schleipman; courtesy: Pocono Mountains CVB
REIMAGINE | REINVENT RECONNECT
But their most important role while representing their destination, says O’Connell and Taylor, will be to keep communication open in support of planners moving forward. The ever-changing landscape of the pandemic will take a coordination from all involved, they add. Safety also will remain a top priority for destination representatives, their staff, those in the hospitality industry, along with planners and attendees of events and meetings. The Pocono Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau refocused its efforts on several aspects of the mitigation of COVID-19 and helping the community and hospitality industry to navigate the challenges of 2020. One larger effort has been the Pocono Promise - a voluntary pledge from hundreds of local businesses to meet and exceed CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines. The Pocono Mountains CVB also has employed its 24/7 TV network (Pocono Television Network) to constantly produce content from across the region and different sectors to inform and promote businesses and organizations. Public Service Announcements have played a large role on local and regional broadcast TV, digital and social media, too. In addition, the bureau has developed task forces to help stakeholders in the community collaborate and share insights on the small town and retail level, weddings industry as well as sales and conventions.
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With ample space and outdoor facilities, as well as being within driving distance from major metro areas, the Pocono Mountains region has long been sought after for meetings and events of all sizes, including small group functions. The Pocono Mountains CVB’s role is in supporting both the planner and the venue from arrival to departure.
It’s a shared belief at the Pocono Mountains CVB that the best relationships are built when we are face-to-face,” expresses Valerie Case, sales manager, Pocono Mountains CVB. “We are able to know and understand each other better in an in-person format. By nature, we are social species. I believe that is even more true for people in the hospitality industry. We thrive and renew our spirit through social connection.” The bureau also has coordinated an advisory board to meet with planners and discuss their needs. “Our organization is looking at the possibility of a think tank to discuss how to prepare and execute a successful hybrid meeting, though our ultimate goal, of course, is for guests to feel safe enough to meet in-person again,” explains Case.
Each of these destinations, along with many others throughout the region, stand ready to assist planners with a safe return to in-person meetings and events. In the meantime, all are working to help planners, venues and suppliers alike, providing a host of support services and working hard to keep communication open and flowing so that, when the time comes, there will be a seamless and safe return to in-person meetings and events.
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.
GETTING BACK ON TRACK Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine recently reached out to hospitality industry professionals and planners and asked them to look ahead into 2021 and to talk about what will be needed – beyond a vaccine – to achieve a level of comfort that will allow meetings and events business to get back on track.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE TOP RESPONSES: JOSH NOWAK DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING FOR LANCASTER MARRIOTT AT PENN SQUARE AND LANCASTER COUNTY CONVENTION CENTER “If there’s anything positive we can take away from 2020, it’s that the spirit of partnership is key to strengthening our business community and providing great experiences. From a hospitality standpoint, continuing to operate with a collaborative mindset and transparency in all aspects of the event and travel planning process is going to be vital to the client experience and hosting successful gatherings. For example, Lancaster County Convention Center has invested in virtual tours that have created a unique way to offer site visits during the height of travel restrictions and keep our sales funnel active.” “Businesses are looking to rebound in the new year while creating meaningful experiences that weren’t available to their employees this year. A platform that enables us to easily demonstrate the defining aspects of our venue that also saves our clients time and money is a win-win solution that will persist far beyond 2021.” “Enticing guests to return no longer lies in just dates, rates and availability - it’s the extra steps that can be taken to streamline the planning process and be a partner for our clients in new ways, whether that’s communication to attendees ahead of arrival, a custom check-in experience, or creating personalized touch-points that will make for a memorable stay. In hospitality, we must continue to identify our guests’ most immediate needs and how we can address any and all of their concerns - both prior to arrival and during their stay.” “Additionally, maintaining a high-standard of health safety, which has always been our goal, is only going to further establish comfortability in doing in-person business from larger events to small face-to-face meetings.” 30 Januaryz February2021
SCOTT HIGGINS HMCC, VALLEY FORGE CONVENTION AND TOURISM BOARD "Everyone has been shaken by the impact of COVID-19. In order to get back to business, we believe it’s important to rebuild the confidence for both the event planner and the actual attendee. We’re focusing efforts on areas that will help with that, such as our Montco Wellness for Events, which provides safety updates from our hotel partners.” “We’ve also introduced Montco360, offering virtual tours of our hotels and attractions. Within this technology, attendees and planners can virtually see a property in advance and become familiar with it prior to physically visiting. Lastly, we’ve moved many of our publications to our Visit Valley Forge App, which now serves as our digital welcome guide. It’s critical that we’re all comfortable traveling, and hopefully with these items we can build back that confidence."
BILL MCEWEN VP STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT, ADVANCED STAGING PRODUCTIONS "First and foremost, it is important to understand the core service/value your business provides and get back to providing that service by any means necessary. In our world of event technology, our core value is to help our clients communicate their message to a target audience. The method of accomplishing this has varied drastically over our 30-plus year company existence. We are decades removed from VHS recording of meetings and slideshow playback with synchronized audio, but we still provide the means for organizations to ‘speak’ to their audience." "Second, we need to experiment and seek out new ways to accomplish our goals. We need to be quick to adapt and realize we are learning as we go. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is the unknown. Today is where we thrive by keeping true to our mission. Will we again meet in person? Absolutely, but the future will always have some sort of virtual component post pandemic. Now is the time to embrace change and help develop your future offerings." "Finally, to get back on track, we have to be true to our people. Open communication is key, especially when it comes to soliciting their feedback and ideas. The best ideas we have seen during this pandemic have come from our people. Harness that powerful resource."
STEPHANI L. BANN CMP, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF SALES, KALAHARI RESORT & CONVENTION CENTER, POCONO MOUNTAINS, PA “I believe it is important for those who want to meet to look at all that our hospitality industry is doing to allow them to meet safely. We CAN meet and, even more importantly, we can meet SAFELY. We need the leaders of our industry to get out and show that meetings can happen and it's within our power to lead the way.”
GBTA POLL: IN-PERSON MEETINGS The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s largest business travel association, has released the results of a survey – the 14th such poll by GBTA since the onset of the pandemic to measure the impact on business travel – which finds that a majority of respondents are optimistic that the travel industry will begin to rebound in mid- to late-2021, and that the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine is top of mind for many business travel professionals. “What we’re seeing in this latest poll is a number of reasons for the business travel industry to be optimistic about 2021, especially toward the middle of the year,” said Dave Hilfman, the interim executive director of the GBTA. “As the vaccine rollout gains momentum, and if we see a corresponding drop in positive COVID-19 test results, this survey suggests something of a return to personal connections and in-person meetings and events in the business space.” Key findings include: 3 out of 4 respondents expect employees to attend inperson meetings/events in Q2 or Q3 2021, with 89 percent of respondents set to attend an in-person meeting or event with attendees outside their company by Q3 2021, and 87 percent of respondents expect to attend internal company meetings or events in person by Q3 2021.
KEN KELK CERP, CEO, CHOICE PARTY LINENS, INC. “For businesses to get back on track, we need more cooperation from state and local governments. When the pandemic hit us in March, the restaurant and event industry spent a lot of time and money to show the state of Pennsylvania regulators their plan to hold events safely, and the state of Pennsylvania ignored those efforts and shut everything down. Other states, like Ohio, Indiana and Maryland, worked with the industry and continue to do so now. Shutting everything down does not mean people will stop gathering. People will still gather on their own and they will not be as safe as they would be in a restaurant or event space that is regulated by the state to uphold COVID-19 safety measures.”
KIM RUBY CMM, FINANCIAL AND INSURANCE CONFERENCE PROFESSIONAL, MARKETING AND EVENTS, CANADA LIFE REINSURANCE
BRIAN LANG AREA DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING FOR HYATT CENTRIC, PHILADELPHIA, PA “It definitely looks like we are about to turn a corner and the event industry will have a meaningful recovery in 2021. We’re finally starting to hear some good news and it is clear from our partners and clients that people are longing to be together again. Once regulations are lifted, there will be pent up demand, but it will be limited in size and scope until we can gain back consumer confidence.” “To get back on track, the Hyatt Centric will work closely with meeting and event planners to ensure that we’re meeting their needs and the expectations of their attendees and that our hotel surpasses industry safety standards. As a brand-new hotel, we have the technology to provide contact-less meetings using built-in audio-visual, microphones, smart TVs and food service that can all be controlled by phone. We have built-in induction counters and in-room refrigerators enabling contact-less food service, as well. And planners can rest assured that their attendees are protected by the Hyatt’s Global Care and Cleanliness Commitment, which Forbes magazine called the best in the hotel industry. “We’re called the hospitality industry for a reason. And now we’ll have a chance to show what that truly means. We’ll have to roll out the red carpet and show our flexibility like never before - whether it’s making bigger spaces available to allow for increased capacity, or resting meeting rooms between events. We’ll do what it takes for our clients and their attendees to feel safe and return to in-person events with confidence.” 32 Januaryz February2021
“There is no ‘on track’ at this point. It is massive scramble, reinvention and realignment. The way we will begin to do this is to be a leader in touting the science of gatherings, to get the best information about the science of pandemics, and to promote how we will serve the needs of our clients – external and internal.” “Science of gathering: why is this important to the human brain and human psyche? How can this best be accomplished? This is going to take a lot more than patience for the economy to recover, as we did in 2009. This will take more than a campaign of ‘this is a great place to be’ or… splashy images.” “Science of pandemics: this is not a political issue, despite the current flavor of our national politics. Let’s be leaders in promoting the best information. We also have to be willing to accept where it may impact our bottom line negatively or we lose credibility. We may have to invest in medical personnel or some other ways to keep our people healthy. We may have to consider new impact on liability. Let’s lead in this. Let’s be the best investors in information and not just reactors to edicts.” “We know the value of what we do, and what we provide. It’s time to move to another level – just as we always have done. I’ve done it; you’ve done it. Let’s support each other with encouragement, ideas, and science.”
KATIE SCHULTZ HMCC, DIRECTOR, SALES AND MARKETING, CHUBB HOTEL & CONFERENCE CENTER, & PRESIDENT, MPI PHL CHAPTER “Once restrictions are lifted, showing successful meetings and events that have occurred at our venues during these times will help planners understand how safely and successfully this can be done. Videos, especially, documenting the event or meeting will be key to showing the client the flow of the attendees through the property, the safety protocols in place, and how we are handling food and beverage service. Dropping rates and offering tons of concessions will not be the way to go. We have to understand that the planner is dealing with a number of attendees that are all in different places with this pandemic, and showing that safety and protocols are being followed through with is key for their attendees to feel comfortable attending and event or meeting. Video testimonials from clients who have had events during the pandemic should be added to any venue website.”
RUTH WATERS CHSP, DIRECTOR OF SALES FOR HARRISON GROUP RESORT HOTELS, OCEAN CITY, MD "I think we have started to see a slight uptick in the planning already. Planners need confidence in their suppliers to get back to business. In the hotel business, this means that we are event ready and cleanliness ready. We need to put extra emphasis on distancing seating, serving food in a safer manner with less hands in the pot, so to speak. Cleanliness needs to meet with conviction more than ever before and will be of great importance as groups start to come back to the hotels.” “Planners need to know that the suppliers and hoteliers are their allies. They need to feel that, if they have extenuating circumstances, such as a new mandate from the state government, the hoteliers will not hold them hostage to their attrition clauses and will make exceptions where there didn't used to be. We all need to flex and bend. The industry, as a whole, needs to understand that planning will still be difficult. The future is bright, but still uncertain. Our commitment to our colleagues needs to take the forefront and we need to continue to work together in what will be our new normal." Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 33
EVENTSWORTHY MEET IN CHESTER COUNTY VERSATILE VENUES DINE-AROUND November 11, 2020 – Chester County, PA – Top meeting and event planners came together for an exclusive, in-person evening for a taste of Chester County’s Versatile Venues. Put together by Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau along with Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine, stops included Embassy Suites by Hilton Philadelphia-Valley Forge, where attendees had a chance to explore the new $12 million dollar renovations including an upscale steakhouse and seafood Restaurant, Cool River. Planners were safely transported by Metropolis Passenger Logistics to the next stop the newest event venue in Chester County Loch Aerie Mansion, a historic Victorian mansion with a modern feel along with cater John Serock Catering. The last stop of the night for desserts and drinks, provided by Provence Catering and Chaddsford Winery was at the Duportail House, a charming historic venue for indoor and outdoor events. Photo Credits: Oliveto Media This event was conducted in adherence to the COVID-19 Safety and Health Regulations set forth by the CDC.
Jon Mathews and Neal Yakupcin of the Embassy Suites Philadelphia-Valley Forge
Courtney Babcock, Chester County CVB making sure all protocols are being met
The newly designed Atrium at the Embassy Suites Philadelphia-Valley Forge
Éclat Chocolate displaying at the Duportail House
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John Serock of John Serock Catering hosting dinner at Loch Aerie Mansion
Wine dispensing system option for guests at the Embassy Suites Philadelphia-Valley Forge
Loch Aerie Mansion ballroom
TAKING LIFE ONE SIP AT A TIME by Jennifer Sand I had been in the events industry for almost 20 years, 16 of which at the same agency, when the pandemic hit. Like many others, I found myself without a job while the events industry teetered on the edge of uncertainty, leaving very few opportunities available to us experienced event strategists and managers who were suddenly out of work. Fortunately, I had earned an Intermediate Sommelier Certification last year when I decided I wanted to escalate a hobby into continuing education and possibly a retirement career path. Talk about good timing! As my former agency’s clients were pivoting their customer and partner in-person events to virtual formats, I was asked by a former colleague if I would be interested in leading a virtual wine tasting.
AND JUST LIKE THAT – VOILA! SANDY SOMM WAS BORN. My extensive experience in events has given me the unique perspective of being on the other side of the camera. I could follow all the guidance I used to give clients and keynotes as an event producer. Rather than just mimicking a face-to-face wine tasting that one would have at a winery, I created tasting classes tailored to the virtual format by applying the following event concepts. 36 Januaryz February2021
AUDIENCE GOALS: My audience is made of wine novices. I know that after 30- to 90-minutes of a virtual training or sales meeting, they need a little lighthearted fun. Wine is full of fun facts, some of which are quite silly. The audience not only wants to learn, they also want to be entertained, so I provide a little of both. CONTENT GOALS: I know I do not have a captive audience like at an in-person event. Everyone does everything on a screen these days, usually at home amid many distractions, so attention spans vary. I’ve created fun topics that intrigue any novice or non-wine drinker and kept them basic and brief. I’ll never be able to teach everything I know in 20 minutes. If attendees can walk away learning one or two new things about wine, I’ve accomplished my goal. BE INTERACTIVE: Obviously, you cannot shake someone’s hand at a virtual event. A handshake releases serotonin, the “happy hormone,” which promotes trust and helps form connections and solidify relationships. I asked myself, “what is a virtual substitute for a handshake?” and decided that I needed to create a shared experience upon which participants could connect with each other. Making the virtual wine tasting as interactive as possible helps to keep everyone engaged and bonded together. I encourage participants to turn their cameras on. I ask them to share what they are tasting and smelling. I use trivia questions disguised as Zoom polls, and we play games using Kahoot! Finally, we have a free-style Q&A at the end. Having an event moderator also helps. I can give them “plant” questions to spark interaction if the group is being shy, and the moderator also can help make sure that I don’t miss any questions that are posted.
PRODUCTION QUALITY: I had some help from some of my production crew contacts to set up my home in a professional manner. They helped with lighting, camera positioning and tech. While I want participants to feel more casual and comfortable during the event, like I’ve invited them into my home, I also want to give the impression that I am a professional and know what I’m talking about. It’s no Food Network set, but it looks like I put in effort to make it purposeful. A moderator also helps to add a level of professionalism, since I don’t have to worry about running a Zoom poll or sharing a screen, allowing me to focus on entertaining the guests. FREE STUFF: Finally, everyone misses the “swag bag” given away as part of events. Sending participants something physical turns your virtual event into a “special event.” It also creates anticipation. A nice bottle of wine or two is a unique gift that wouldn’t normally be a giveaway at an in-person meeting. The experience of being walked through how to taste the gift also is unique. By following these concepts, I’ve been able to create fun virtual wine tasting events that allow for learning as well as a bit of togetherness during this time of physical distancing. WWW.SANDYSOMM.COM
SHARING IS CARING: I share funny, personal stories about my awkwardness and wine travel, and encourage the sharing of stories amongst attendees. I call it “Storytasting,” and it’s another way to foster connections and attempt to replace a conversation or experience you’d normally have during a traditional networking reception. Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 37
Conversations to Inspire
by Sharon DeFelices, CMP
When we started this article series, we were focused on the forward motion of our industry. We wanted to get people back in the meeting room. But, as we enter the new year, the forward motion feels more personal, which got us to thinking - how do we inspire your forward motion? Many people are just now learning that they won’t be called back to work. Some in our industry are facing the prospect of starting work in a new profession. And for others, their business will be closing as a result of the pandemic. This type of realization can have quite an impact on our mental wellness. Add in the promise of a new year, which has always provided the potential and allure of a “clean slate,” and 2021 looks a little different. That “clean slate” is still clouded with uncertainty. With our hands and our hearts at work, perhaps we can start to bring some positivity into focus. I recently had a conversation with Kristofer Fair, COO and director of operations for Bluestone Country Club and Lou Marrocco, director of meetings and events at Visit Delco PA, and we talked about the current emotional climate among our industry peers. Lou is keeping himself busy helping others through a meals for frontline workers initiative. He shared how that work is making him feel better; more purposeful. I was reminded of the adage, “when we do for others, we feel better;” we rise by lifting others. This concept is not new, but perhaps it has slipped from focus over the past months.
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Lou suggested that we issue a “feel better challenge” as a way to begin spreading joy and happiness while also helping others. No hard dates and no hard deadlines. When you see the article or one of our social media posts, feel free to kick off your own #25daysandways. We do ask everyone to start with the first box you see on the card that says to invite 25 people to join in – friends, family, coworkers and colleagues. The more the merrier! Positivity can be contagious. What do you say? Let’s make this concept go “viral!” Join us in our personal forward motion campaign - #25daysandways - as we’re looking forward to committing to performing one positive act each day. It is our hope that, by joining us in the challenge, you not only will put a little sunshine into someone else’s day, but you’ll begin improving your own outlook for 2021, as well.
Download the free Flowcode QR reader from the Google play store and take a picture of the code above. The card will upload to your phone and you can take the challenge with you wherever you go. It’s easy to share and show your progress. Once again, be sure to invite 25 people so you can help spread positivity to them, as well! Mark each box with an emoji or a gif as you complete them. Share on your social media pages with the hashtag #25daysandways to inspire others with your creativity and joy!
Here’s how it works – we’re providing a bingo card, designed by Kristofer Fair, which has 25 suggestions we came up with that you can do (in any order). We purposely left a few as "create your own," and we want you to share your ideas, share your progress, and, most importantly, share that positivity! Post on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook – show us what you’re doing. Be sure to use the #25daysandways hashtag so we can follow your journey.
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.
LEADING THE WAY
Michael Massari to Co-Chair the Meetings Mean Business Coalition Michael Massari, Chief Sales Officer for Caesars Entertainment, has been unanimously selected as co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition by its board of directors, effective January 2021. He joins Fred Dixon, President and Chief Executive Officer of NYC & Company, in guiding the coalition through this pivotal time for the meetings industry. This, Massari noted, is precisely why he wanted to serve as co-chair for the coalition. “Providing strong leadership is more important than ever.” Together, Massari and Dixon will continue to advance the mission of Meetings Mean Business - promoting and protecting the enduring value that business meetings, trade shows, incentive travel, exhibitions, conferences and conventions bring to people, businesses and the economy. Massari has dedicated his career to the meetings and travel industry, having served for nearly 20 years as a senior leader for Caesars Entertainment and its 40 first-class properties located in more than 20 U.S. destinations that, together, boast 42,000 guest rooms and 1.9-millionsquare feet of function space. A valued industry leader, he has helped to steer the Meetings Mean Business Coalition’s strategy and continues to serve as a board member for both the U.S. Travel Association and Meeting Professionals International.
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In his new role for Meetings Mean Business, Massari said he will further intensify advocacy efforts among business leaders and policy makers in an effort to raise awareness of the industry’s value, and also to push for the protection and stimulus measures that the meetings and events industry needs. As co-chair, Massari will encourage industry professionals to become more involved, particularly on a local level. “Be advocates and educators,” he urged. Among his goals for Meetings Mean Business, he said, is advocating a safe return to face-to-face meetings, seeking to ensure that the story of meeting and hospitality industry professionals is better understood, and building up a greater cash position to further strengthen the coalition and enable it to “speak out and bang the drum loudly” the next time difficult circumstances impact the industry in a negative way. During a recent Zoom meeting hosted by U.S. Travel, Massari expressed that planners and attendees want to meet in-person again, and that the hospitality industry wants to host these groups. With this being the case, he asked, “Where do we go from here?” Massari explained that the meetings and hospitality industries are poorly understood and urged those in these professions to increase their level of engagement, particularly with regard to advocacy. He added that it is very important to help others understand what those in meetings and hospitality do, as well as the value they bring to their communities and to the economy. With regard to the strong desire for a return to in-person meetings, he shared his experience at Caesars. “Sales has been a bright spot, as we have booked $300-million in future business over the past 6 months.” There is a difference between 1,000-square foot, 10,000-square foot and 100,000-square foot venues, he said, and they should be viewed differently, adding, “We need to continue to work hard to convince others that scale, in our industry, is important to consider.” “Meetings and events can operate safely,” Massari continued. “They are organized at specific times. They are easy to manage and control... Meetings can be held in large spaces with more room to operate and plenty of physical distancing in place.” “If we can host face-to-face meetings, and we’re confident that we can do it safely, we shouldn’t be shy about telling people,” he asserted.
With regard to the strong desire for a return to in-person meetings, he shared his experience at Caesars. “Sales has been a bright spot, as we have booked $300-million in future business over the past 6 months.” Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 41
Indoor swimming pool at The Grand Hotel in Cape May, NJ; photo credit: Jeff Casella
CAPE MAY capemaycity.com OVERVIEW: Meeting and convention attendees will find Cape May has all the amenities one would expect, such as fine dining, five-star accommodations, and diversified meeting space options. It also is home to unique shopping boutiques on its outdoor pedestrian mall, historical tours, and outdoor activities like nature and birding tours. WHAT'S NEW: Cape May is constantly renewing its tourism and hospitality offerings while maintaining its historic charm. The end of 2020 has many businesses looking forward to what 2021 will bring for the local tourism community. 42 Januaryz February2021
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"I hope a return to normalcy will be a call to appreciate the interaction with another, appreciation a smile or laugh, and remind us all to be kind," adds Laurie Taylor, City of Cape May's director of marketing. COMMUNITY: Along with its cultural and marketing partners, Cape May City keeps clear communication about moving forward. Many meetings have gone virtual as a way to keep the conversations moving. Cape May City also was recently awarded a Neighborhood Preservation Program (NPP) COVID-19 Relief Program grant, along with many other NJ State funded grants, in an effort to help local businesses navigate through the pandemic.
THEN SHOP, DINE, STAY & PLAY IN HISTORIC CAPE MAY Cape May Convention Hall A BEACHFRONT LOCATION FOR YOUR NEXT MEETING OR EVENT
714 BEACH AVENUE, CAPE MAY, NJ CAPEMAYCITY.COM • 609.884.9565
THE WILDWOODS, NJ wildwoodsnj.com In the Wildwoods, visitors will find 5miles of free white-sand beaches and 38 blocks of boardwalk fun that features rides, waterparks, shopping and arcades, plus great dining and nightlife. From classic cars to rock stars, special events and festivals to live entertainment, there is something for all ages and tastes. The Wildwoods Convention Center is a modern, multipurpose facility equipped with exhibit, ballroom, meeting and prefunction space. Located on the world famous Wildwoods boardwalk directly overlooking the beach and ocean, this unique, state-of-the-art, 260,000square foot facility is a spacious, flexible, innovative and inviting venue within a day’s drive of one-third of America’s population. The convention center, along with all local accommodations, are following proper physical distancing and sanitizing protocols set forth by the CDC, including frequent cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting of rooms and all high-traffic touch areas, along with hand sanitizer stations, and all employees must wear a face covering. Restaurants and attractions are open with limited capacities and are following the proper distancing and sanitizing protocols, as well. Of course, there's the beach and boardwalk - both of which are free and open. Visitors are encouraged to follow proper physical distancing, including while walking, running and biking. 44 Januaryz February2021
ATLANTIC CITY / ATLANTIC COUNTY meetinac.com WHAT’S NEW: The New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA) recently transferred ownership of land on Ohio Avenue in Atlantic City to AtlantiCare, where the healthcare organization will build a Medical Arts Pavilion on the site. Groundbreaking is anticipated to take place the first quarter of 2021. The three-story, 69,700-square foot facility will enable AtlantiCare to expand the care it provides, including at its William L. Gormley AtlantiCare HealthPlex. Renault Winery Resort and Golf is celebrating 156 years of vineyard hospitality. Renault Winery Resort and Golf not only is a New Jersey State Historical site, but also is one of the oldest continuously operating wineries in the U.S. Under the leadership of VIVÂMEE Hospitality, Renault Winery is rapidly becoming known as an East Coast premier vineyard destination. Planners and wine enthusiasts alike enjoy the Renault experience, which includes the Château Hotel,
House of Renault Restaurant, Renault Winery and Champagne House, and the Vineyard National Golf Course. PLACES TO MEET: Set on 17-acres with the Atlantic City boardwalk as its backdrop, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City boasts casino gaming, first-class restaurants and lounges, Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena, the beachside Sound Waves, and Howie Mandel’s Comedy Club. The hotel and casino also features the iconic Hard Rock Cafe overlooking the boardwalk, plus an array of upscale amenities, world-class shopping, and the brand’s signature full-service Rock Spa® and Salon, plus more than 150,000-square feet of meeting and event space. Hard Rock Atlantic City has a wide variety of spaces from which to choose, such as small group meetings and celebrations within the property’s on-site dining destinations, as well as plenty of indoor and outdoor event space that can safely host a group of any size. In addition, the casino has implemented its Safe + Sound program guidelines to provide “a good, clean fun environment” for patrons, guests and groups.
BACK T BUSINESS Get back to taking care of business safely, soundly and in style. With 150,000 square feet of spectacular meeting space, plus 2,000 luxury hotel rooms, we have the perfect place for you to get back on track. Our newly implemented Safe + Sound procedures are in place for your peace-of-mind. We are committed to remaining FLEXIBLE in the face of evolving conditions: • Zero attrition or cancellation fees • Zero risk in rebooking Visit hardrockhotelatlanticcity.com/meetings or call 609-449-6060 today and receive additional booking incentives.
ATLANTIC CITY continued Ocean Casino Resort offers unique dining experiences, a 131,000-square foot casino, sports book, Exhale Spa, various retail shops and an art gallery. Its dedicated meeting room level features 20 separate meeting rooms in a selfcontained area. Ovation Hall is the property’s largest venue at 70,000-square feet. The Den is a unique social venue overlooking the casino floor, and Topgolf is an interactive and fun space. Ocean is offering groups one comp room for every 20 booked in 2021 along with flexible cancellation and attrition clauses on all contracts based on the pandemic. Resorts Casino Hotel offers 942 guest rooms and suites, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville island-inspired entertainment complex and restaurant, themed coffee and retail shops, 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar, and the innovative LandShark Bar & Grill – Atlantic City’s only year-round beach bar. In addition to gaming on its casino floor, there is Draftkings Sportsbook at Resorts, plus top-notch business facilities with views of the Atlantic Ocean. “Regarding health and safety procedures, groups and guests will experience enhanced safety guidelines for all attendees from start to finish,” asserts Ritambra Verma, director of sales and revenue management. “Resorts Casino Hotel is the only casino in Atlantic City that utilizes mobile UV light technology to disinfect surfaces... The air is purified using patented bipolar ionization and the technology is proven to be over 99 percent effective in neutralizing COVID19.”
Caesars Entertainment plans to invest at least $400-million into its three Atlantic City casinos over the next three years, which include Caesars, Harrah’s and Tropicana. These improvements will encompass guest room renovations, new gaming equipment, plus restaurant and recreational upgrades. Caesars Atlantic City offers an elegant Roman theme, superb dining, a luxurious spa plus a variety of meeting and event spaces. Tropicana Atlantic City is home to over 122,000-square feet of meeting space and 2,400 guest rooms, as well as The Quarter, which features 200,000-square feet of retail, dining, entertainment and spa experiences, including an IMAX Theatre. Overlooking the Absecon Inlet and the iconic Marina District, the Waterfront Conference Center at Harrah’s Atlantic City offers innovative meeting space with the opportunity to sleep, eat and meet all in one location with more than 2,590 hotel rooms. The conference center is the largest hotel-conference center complex from Baltimore to Boston. Offering a wide variety of expansive indoor spaces at each of its Atlantic City properties, Caesars Entertainment has worked with planners in coming up with some creative solutions to meet their needs with properties that are extremely versatile and flexible and offer a wide variety of spaces, state-of-the-art amenities and services.
GLOUCESTER, BURLINGTON AND CAMDEN COUNTIES visitsouthjersey.com OVERVIEW: Gloucester County is home to large hotels and meeting spaces populating the I295 corridor, especially in the Washington Township, Williamstown, Glassboro and Deptford areas. The Best Western in Williamstown had a major expansion and branding change in 2020, and will become a Holiday Inn Express with a new wing addition early in 2021. The Gloucester County Dream Park is a 277-acre state-of-the-art equestrian facility located just off I-295 in Logan Township, while towns like Swedesboro, Mullica Hill and Pitman are home to historical attractions, theater, art and many fine dining establishments as well as wineries. Mount Laurel is the epicenter of business in Burlington County with access to the New Jersey Turnpike and I-295 and hotels, restaurants and attractions, including Top Golf, centered around these thoroughfares. Moorestown, historic 46 Januaryz February2021
Burlington City and Bordentown offer charming downtowns and dining, while the Pine Barrens offer opportunities for outdoor fun, and Valenzano Winery in Shamong is an experience unto itself. The city of Camden boasts a picturesque waterfront overlooking the city of Philadelphia from across the Delaware River. Home to Rutgers University, international corporations, as well as the Philadelphia 76ers practice facility, Camden is a business epicenter in Camden County and South Jersey. WHAT’S NEW: The highly-anticipated, 180-room Hilton Garden Inn Camden Waterfront is the first hotel to open in Camden in more than 50 years. Its opening in December of 2020 marked the 900th Hilton Garden Inn to open since the brand’s founding back in 1996. Hilton Garden Inn Camden Waterfront is developed by Ensemble Real Estate Investments, and operated by Concord Hospitality Enterprises Company.
To facilitate low-contact meetings and events, the hotel features over 4,100square feet of multiuse space and follows stringent cleaning procedures. Guests can enjoy indoor and outdoor dining at the property’s on-site restaurant, The Water Street Grill, enhanced with firepits, cozy seating, unique menus, and views of the water and skyline. “This is a momentous occasion that Camden residents, business owners, and visitors have waited for patiently,” said Camden Mayor Frank Moran. “Camden’s revitalization is tangible and Hilton Garden Inn Camden Waterfront will be one of the leading catalysts for our city’s economic resurgence. The hotel is a significant part of the $1-billion mixed-use project involving NFI, Conner Strong & Buckelew, and The Michaels Organization, which has already resulted in new opportunities and high-paying jobs for Camden residents.”
As the latest addition to the development of the Camden waterfront, the hotel is working closely with Cooper’s Ferry Partnership to form strong ties within the community by hiring local residents through initiatives like Camden Works, which placed over 220 Camden residents with jobs amidst the pandemic. A number of staff also have worked with Concord Hospitality Enterprises Company for many years, showing the dedication Concord has to fostering strong relationships with employees. In addition, Ensemble Real Estate Investments has made a $90,000 contribution to the City of Camden for the administration of Camden Works. The hotel is conveniently located near prominent business headquarters, including Subaru, American Water Works, and Campbell Soup Company; recreational venues like BB&T Arena and Adventure Aquarium; and institutes of higher education and healthcare systems.
Hilton Garden Inn Camden Waterfront features an elevated, high-end appearance that complements the brand’s hallmark bright and airy décor. To emphasize a commitment to the health and safety of guests, the property is participating in the Hilton CleanStay Program, as well. “Hilton Garden Inn Camden Waterfront will be one of the first hotels in the U.S. to have an upgraded filtration system throughout, known as Bipolar Air Ionization,” said Bill Kao, general manager for the hotel. “The advanced system cleans the air of VOC compounds, kills bacteria and viruses, and neutralizes allergens.” Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 47
Al fresco dining in Red Bank, NJ; photo courtesy: Monmouth County Government
MONMOUTH COUNTY tourism.visitmonmouth.com OVERVIEW: Monmouth County is home to 53 different municipalities, each with their own attractions and charm, from rural communities to busy downtowns full of shopping, dining and entertainment options. The county also is home to many unique attractions that will provide visitors with an array of activities to do and see. Historical sites, downtowns, festivals, theatrical performances, horse racing and beaches are just some of the places one can visit while in Monmouth County. Seaside and downtown alfresco dining options add even more to the group experience in the area. LOOKING AHEAD: “Tourism is a $2.6-billion industry in Monmouth County, employing more than 30,000 people each year,” explains Monmouth County Freeholder Director, Tom Arnone, who also serves as liaison to Monmouth County Tourism. “This is not only a vital industry for our area – it is the backbone of our economy. Our pri48 Januaryz February2021
ELIZABETH, NJ goelizabethnj.com WHAT’S NEW:
ority is ensuring a successful return to a ‘normal’ tourism season as soon as it is possible to ensure the economic health of our region.” “We hope to see more companies seek to change their meeting and convention operations from the traditional city locations to seaside destinations,” he adds. “By doing this, companies will help our small business community while also enjoying a beautiful location for their business trips.” COMMUNITY: Monmouth County Tourism has long had a strong relationship with dozens of local tourism partners, from arts organizations to festival organizers and municipal business alliances to hotels and restaurants. Monmouth County Tourism remains in constant contact with various partners to ensure similar messaging is being marketed to a large audience throughout the state and Northeast. Throughout the health crisis, Monmouth County has worked closely with those in the tourism and hospitality industry to ensure the everchanging policies, procedures and guidelines from the state are communicated. Monmouth County took the lead in coordinating its own Federal CARES Act Funding Grant Program, distributing well over $20 million to small businesses in need that have had to pay for COVID-related expenses.
As of now, Elizabeth is showing plenty of "signs of progress," with construction happening that includes, but is not limited to, transportation upgrades and outdoor field facility expansions. Specifically, a $71-million-dollar train station renovation is underway that will connect Elizabeth to the Newark Liberty International Airport in under 10-minutes, to NYC in under 30-minutes, and to the Jersey Shore in under 45-minutes. Another example, the popular Todd Bowles Sports Complex will be adding two new softball fields and basketball courts. Overlooking the waterfront, this field is known for its views of the Bayonne Bridge while watching a game or playing on the field. Elizabeth has been voted the fifth best city for shopping, is known as a cultural melting pot, and as a safe destination for meetings. LOOKING AHEAD: The overall vision for the Elizabeth Destination Marketing Organization (EDMO) is to continue to support the local business community through its Chamber of Commerce and to foster relationships with tour operators, as they are looking forward to bringing visitors and meetings to the Northeast area. COMMUNITY: The Greater Elizabeth Chamber of Commerce has continuously remained in operation for its members in the community throughout the pandemic. Serving as their sister company, the tourism office also has consistently continued to help market and strategically plan virtual events and serve local/state funding resources for the local small business community. Through email campaigns and organic social media postings, they continue to share SHOP Local Campaigns and virtual networking event opportunities. An example is their monthly "Business After Hours," which serves as a Sip-n-See for members to talk with each other about some of what they have been doing to push through these trying times. On the tourism side, while many may not be traveling just yet, Elizabeth is getting prepared, having ramped up virtual FAM tour experiences for tour operators and travel agents, with one already completed and three more scheduled in the coming weeks.
American Dream retail and entertainment complex in East Rutherford, NJ; photo courtesy: Meadowlands Live! CVB
MEADOWLANDS meadowlands.org OVERVIEW: With multiple interstate highways and an abundance of mass transit crossing the region, the Meadowlands is home to one of the most popular destinations, the newly opened American Dream entertainment and retail complex. WHAT’S NEW: American Dream blends shopping and entertainment into the ultimate regional destination experience. Featuring the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Indoor Amusement Park, the DreamWorks Indoor Water Park, and the Big Snow all-season indoor ski area, families from hundreds of miles away visit on a daily basis to explore this state-of-the-art facility. And with over 40 hotels in the immediate vicinity, visitors can enjoy extended stays and explore the many other attractions the area has to offer, like Meadowlands Racetrack, Medieval Times, Liberty Science Center, and RPM Raceway. In addition, the Meadowlands boasts 8000-acres of parks and recreation that includes natural areas for birding, kayaking and hiking along the reclaimed Hackensack River. COMMUNITY: In response to the crisis, the Meadowlands Chamber and Meadowlands Live! CVB has been providing area businesses with critical information, resources and guidance to help manage the challenges brought on by COVID-19. The Chamber and CVB continue to be a lead advocate, especially for hospitality- and tourism-related businesses hit hardest by the pandemic.
Big SNOW American Dream; photo courtesy: Meadowlands Live! CVB 50 Januaryz February2021
Cascade Golf Course at Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, NJ; photo courtesy: Sussex Skylands DMO
Sussex Skylands/Sussex County sussexcountychamber.org OVERVIEW: “While our region offers a lot of excitement for the outdoor adventurer to enjoy, it also provides a welcome escape for those that find comfort in our natural environments and open spaces," notes Tammie Horsfield, CMDE, president of the Sussex Skylands Destination Marketing Organization. "We have learned from our visitors that being here in Sussex County, even if just for the day to walk a trail or visit a state park, acts as a balm during unsettling time and they return to their homes fortified.” Visitors to Sussex Skylands - New Jersey's Great Northwest - also are drawn to the area for its unique and varied attractions, such as: world famous mines (the region is known as the Fluorescent Mineral Capital of the World) that includes the Sterling Hill Mine Tour and also the Franklin Mineral Museum; the picturesque Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area; views of Lake Hopatcong aboard Miss Lotta, the largest boat on NJ’s largest lake; farm-to-fork dining at several local restaurants; plus 75-miles of nature trails and more. WHAT'S NEW: In mid-2020, Crystal Springs Resort reopened its luxurious Grand Cascades Lodge following a significant renovation. The property’s makeover is highlighted by its biophilic design, which is a concept used to increase guests’ innate biological connection with the environment through the use of natural materials and light, as well as the replication of elements found in nature. The installation of refined yet comfortable furnishings, carpeting, paint, artwork and finishes in the guest rooms, plus enhanced showers and bathrooms, heighten the lodge’s overall aesthetic, which is surrounded by panoramic view of forests, farmlands and the Kittatinny Mountains. “Biophilic design can be very powerful in this industry,” stated Robby Younes, COO of Crystal Springs Resort. “It is a compelling way to enrich the guest experience, allowing an organic mind-body connection with nature.” LOOKING AHEAD: People love traveling, whether it is for business or leisure. Being somewhere “else” always revives the spirit and fosters new ideas. Collaborating virtually will never compare to face-to-face idea exchange and nothing can bring people closer together than experiencing and understanding the people, the landscapes and the cultures of the planet through travel. The Sussex Skylands DMO believes there will be a huge pent-up demand for meetings, events, conventions and tourism in the future, and looks forward to sharing their special brand of hospitality with new and returning guests. COMMUNITY: The Sussex Skylands DMO has worked to assist its partners in getting available funding during the pandemic along with information about safety protocols for employees and guests. As attractions and lodging were allowed to reopen, the DMO pivoted to the promotion of these partners and the protocols they have in place to ensure the safety of guests. Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 51
SAFE MEETINGS AT... THE LANCASTER CONVENTION CENTER Lancaster County Convention Center and Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square recently became one of only 31 Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accredited convention center complexes in the world to achieve the highest health safety standard achievable for hotels and convention centers.
GBAC STAR Accreditation designates Lancaster County Convention Center and Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square as highly prepared venues for outbreak prevention, response and recovery, with the ability to host on-site events. “We are thrilled to announce our achievement of GBAC STAR Accreditation for the Lancaster County Convention Center and Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square,” stated Josh Nowak, director of sales and marketing for the hotel and convention center. “This accreditation demonstrates that we are equipped with the most rigorous safety procedures and that we’re prepared to welcome back in-person events safely. Being designated with this third-party accreditation signals to our business partners, guests, and employees that their safety comes first in Lancaster County." A division of the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA), GBAC STAR™ is an industry accreditation that pro-
vides a third-party endorsement to ensure the implementation of rigorous protocols in response to biorisk situations. Pursued by more than 3,000 hotels, airports and convention centers across 80 countries, the Lancaster County Convention Center and Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square join the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia as the only other facility in Pennsylvania to achieve the coveted GBAC STAR Accreditation. This accreditation means that a facility has: established and maintained a cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention program to minimize risks associated with infectious agents like the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2); the proper cleaning protocols, disinfection techniques, and work practices in place to combat biohazards and infectious disease; and highly informed cleaning professionals who are trained for outbreak and infectious disease preparation and response. “Receiving this accreditation so quickly speaks volumes about our team’s dedication to our community. We’re proud to have created a safe environment that positions us competitively amidst the recovery from the global COVID-19 pandemic and puts us on a global stage as one of the safest venues,” Nowak added. The Lancaster County Convention Center is a favorite destination for meeting and events planners thanks to its location in the heart of downtown Lancaster on historic Penn Square, creating the opportunity for guests to enjoy authentic culture in a vibrant, historic city and big-city amenities that can be savored at a small-town pace. With 90,000-square feet of adaptable space, 4,400 accessible parking spots, and 60 places to eat or drink within three blocks, guests have enough space to congregate responsibly while practicing physical distancing. Additionally, the greater Lancaster area offers bed and breakfasts, farmstead accommodations, and more than 200 hotels, including the newly renovated and expanded Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, adjacent to the convention center, which features multiple all-season outdoor dining and social spaces.
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EvEntM AKERs HelmsBriscoe, the global leader in meetings procurement and site selection, has announced new members of their team. Pennsylvania - Kendal Colligan, Manager Global Accounts; New Jersey - Jessica Magazzu, Manager, Global Accounts; New York - Rossafina Buenaventura, Manager, Global Accounts; Joanne Kolata, Director, Global Accounts; Nicky Hendricks, Manager Global Accounts; and Conseula Hooblal, Manager, Global Accounts.
PENNSYLVANIA King of Prussia – The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board announced a few reorganizational staff updates and promotions. Jake Markezin has been promoted to Vice President of Operations and oversees the day-to-day operations for the organization’s team; Rachel Riley has been promoted to Senior Director of Communications and will continue to oversee communications, public relations and expand to include government and regional relations and arts and culture; Justine Garbarino has been promoted to Senior Director of Marketing & Business Development and had managed the coordination of
the Make It Main Street partnership and Jared Spackman has been promoted to Creative Manager. Philadelphia - Christopher Laufer has been named Director of Sales and Marketing for the Cambria Hotel and Suites. Philadelphia - Olive & Shae Rooted Catering opened under the co-ownership of Chelsea Shae and Mario Oliveto. Executive Chef Guillermo Veloso joined their team and developed menus together that are handcrafted, artistically displayed and locally sourced with small businesses and farms in the area. Olive & Shae provides event driven culinary for corporate and social events serving Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. York - The York Expo Center announced that Jenna Koslosky has joined their team as the new Director of Business Development.
WASHINGTON, DC KKD Tourism Advisors, a DMV-area (DC, Maryland, Virginia) consultancy comprised
of DMO veteran execs, is breaking ground in the areas of tourism recovery and destination development. Karin Aaron, Kris Smith, and David Jackson, whose combined experience in the destination marketing industry exceeds 100 years, believe that this will be the dual focus of the tourism industry post-pandemic. The Managing Partners are Karin Aaron, (CTA, CSEE) former President and CEO of the Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau; Kris Smith (CSA, CSEE), who most recently served as the Director of the Detroit Sports Commission; and David Jackson (CMP, HMCC), who most recently served as Vice President of Sales for the Pocono Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau. The consultancy advocates leading tourism destinations in developing safe, authentic visitor experiences while driving economic recovery. It also offers services, including cross-cultural sales and marketing and trade show/exhibit consultation and representation.
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Around Th VFTCB Virtual Tours The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board is inviting both meeting planners and consumers to get to know Montco from all angles before they visit. The VFTCB announced Montco 360 – an immersive virtual tour platform that takes people inside some of the area’s hotels, event venues, attractions, and more. The user-friendly tool embeds the tours on the tourism board’s website to easily navigate the destination and visitors can simply click on the property they want to see and virtually step inside for a 360-degree view as though they’re there in person. Plus, an interactive mapping feature also allows to see even more details of what else is nearby. So far, the VFTCB has filmed at more than 30 locations from hotels to the King of Prus-
Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) A Certified Tourism Ambassador is a person who cares about their destination and how it’s represented. They want to provide the best experience possible to visitors to the area. CTAs have completed required assignments to gain their accreditation. “This certification is a unique way for Discover Lehigh Valley to advocate on behalf of the tourism industry through education. Local residents and front-line hospitality staff learn the value of the tourism economy and become wellequipped to turn every visitor encounter into a positive 54 Januaryz February2021
sia Mall to Arnold’s Family Fun Center to XL Sports. “We’re so excited to be able to elevate awareness of Valley Forge and Montgomery County, PA by virtually walking our clients through properties, and continuing to connect them with venues, and amenities, that they want and need to make decisions,” said Scott Higgins, associate director of sales and business development for the VFTCB. “This will help event planners and leisure guests to discover a facility’s environment and all that Montco has to offer.” VFTCB partnered with Threshold 360 on the project. Once complete, the program will create an impressive list of almost 100 attractions, hotels, venues, and sports fields. Moving forward, the VFTCB’s sales team will also be able to use the technology to visually walk a client through properties they’re considering, or virtually show a meeting space while attending a conference. valleyforge.org
experience” says Bree Nidds, CTA, Vice President of Sales, Discover Lehigh Valley. “The CTA program provided great insight into all the Lehigh Valley has to offer for individuals and families. More importantly it reinforces the power of the impression we all make on every individual visiting the area… and the potential for a powerfully positive ripple effect in our local economy” stated Lynn Logg, Corporate Sales Manager, Historic Hotel Bethlehem Northampton Community College offers CTA training for hospitality professionals who want to be experts on what the Lehigh Valley. discoverlehighvalley.com/partners/cta/
he Region PHLCVB Launches Series The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau has launched “What We Never Thought We’d Miss About Meetings,” an animated shorts series that recognizes the small moments and shared experiences that resonate with every meeting attendee or organizer. The hospitality industry has been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The usual benchmarks used to show a destination’s growth have all been turned upside down. Meetings and conventions ground to a halt and many were replaced by virtual gatherings. This animated series was designed as a gift to friends and partners across the industry to provide a little levity and laughter. “Nine months into a pandemic that has kept most of us at home, steeped in Zoom fatigue and physical distancing, we found ourselves waxing nostalgic about aspects of meetings and events that no one thought we would ever miss,” said Joe Heller, PHLCVB vice president of marketing and communications. “We are all looking forward to the day when we can connect face-to-face and be entertained by the small moments that permeate the in-person meeting experience. This series is designed to highlight those moments and offer our customers, industry partners and visitors an opportunity to laugh during otherwise challenging times.” The PHLCVB invites everyone to share their ideas on what surprising, irreverent, or nostalgic meeting moment they miss most at meetphl.com/wemissmeetings. One idea will be selected and animated for the final episode of the series. For the project, the PHLCVB partnered with Motifmotion, a Philadelphia-based animated video production company. MeetPHL.com
Around The Region Flowers Outside at the Philadelphia Flower Show The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society announced that it will completely reimagine its Philadelphia Flower Show to allow for a new, safe experience in a historic Philadelphia park that will provide all of the beauty and horticultural inspiration that guests have experienced for more than 192 years. The Philadelphia Flower Show will take place June 5-13, 2021 at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park in South Philadelphia, taking advantage of the park’s natural beauty and expansive location adjacent to South Philadelphia’s Sports Complex area. The Flower Show’s move to an outdoor venue, the first time in its history, will allow for new creative expression and horticultural displays, as well as physical distancing and the health benefits of being outside. This departure from the show’s typical late winter timing is in response to the pandemic. PHS has been working closely with event experts and city officials to plan for a safe. PHSonline.org
NYC Foodservice Show Rescheduled Clarion Events Food and Beverage Group announced that the 2021 International Restaurant and Foodservice Show of New York, Coffee Fest NY and Healthy Food Expo NY has been rescheduled to July 18-20 at the Javits Center in New York City due to restrictions of COVID-19. In addition to planning for a live, in-person event in July 2021, Clarion Events Food and Beverage Group is continuing to offer educational webinars and online product sourcing opportunities to support our operators with the tools to connect with suppliers and rebuild their business. Operators can access a library of recorded content and bi-monthly Digital Forums focusing on specific topic-based industry needs and trends, including: Takeout and Delivery, Menu Development, Online Ordering, and Marketing and Social Media. www.foodandbevshows.com
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