G N I Y A ST cted
May | June 2020
A to Z Party
Founder/CEO Choice Party Linens
CEO/General Manager Drexelbrook Events Center & Holiday Inn & Suites
President/CEO The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Montgomery County
Founder/CEO Cashman & Associates
G N I Y A ST cted
conne with...... Jim Ziereis Vice President Hotel Sales Tropicana Casino and Resort
A Tower of London Beefeater Zoom Bombed Jim Cohn
May | June 2020
Executive Director/CEO Elmwood Park Zoo
Director of Sales Peddlerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Village
Publisher/Owner Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine J. Cohn
General Manager Science History Institute Conference Center
Director of Marketing & Public Relations Greater Wildwoods Tourism Authority/ Wildwoods Convention Center
Director of Sales Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau
Director of Corporate Sales Normandy Farm Hotel & Conference Center
Vice President Sales & Marketing Refined Hospitality/The Reeds at Shelter Haven
COO/Director of Club Operations Bluestone Country Club
Executive Director Visit Delco, PA
President A to Z Party Rental
Travel Manager Carpenter Technology Corporation
President/Owner Advanced Staging Productions
President/COO Visit Bucks County
Director of Sales & Events One North Broad
to Face… e c a F to rd a w r o F g in Look vents! E d n a s e c n re fe n o C , s Meeting
ar ginning of the New Ye a great start to the be at Wh 0. y 202 eas ry e, rua nic oming! A uary and Feb d meetings were all bo The “good ol’ days,” Jan rences, conventions an nfe of the virus. co d” ts, rea en sp Ev e e. “th cad and New De started to truly see we n the d an d… sse t pa winter season had jus tailustry were put into a t and special events ind ran re tau we s res up m, gro ris as tou d) n, conventio fully post-pone We, in the hospitality, h celled (and some thank wit ed can y iat inl oc ma ass s, be l act wil ntr . Co words that spin since early March distancing' became the d, many of ups anymore, 'social one, but en masse - an gro be by e to on t ed no ow all go t no let re we s hosting yee by plo ted em r, industry ns they represen this virus and this yea brands and destinatio s and the trip up M ing FA , ild its bu vis rs t yea s, handling site on cti fun ry these people had spen ust ind d an ding trade shows their own events, atten eds. re for their clients’ ne the ing tours, and by be ry led by ationship-driven indust ationship-built and rel rel n On nt tur rce Re pe R 100 RO a er, is ry by clients! Rememb ed nc The hospitality indust ha en d an ms marketing tea sales, communications, all the time. te sta I t tha Relationships these times ne connected during ve helped keep everyo ha ng mi gra pro l tua Technology and vir structures. rt of the new meeting and will become a pa who properties and people in, those destinations, aga se t cau ou be ab d ead an t ah ou p ys will be a ste When it is time to be ring these difficult da es du rti ry pe ust Pro ind .” ind the -m for have been there both “In-sight” and “In running and remained they kept their engines everyone's concerns. ist ass and are eager to r eve n tha er an cle be will siness to , I believe the first bu recession of 2008-2009 the s and er up aft d gro , an 1 ies an 9/1 er mp Just like aft y for a while as co wa t tha y sta d an al ion nations. That means come back will be reg oking at drive-to desti bo le ab to ort mf co re ia and Southeastern PA planners will feel mo t regions…Philadelph eas rth t No icu d an ect c nn nti Co tla for our Mid-A state New York and d out to Pittsburgh; Up d Lancaster, Hershey an al and North Jersey an ntr Ce untains over to Mo no shington, co Wa Po y; Ma the to pe Ca wn do Jersey Shore and uth So y, Cit tic an Atl ryt es and eve hing in further down to and the Maryland beach are law De to ore ltim DC and Ba nners. l be top of mind for pla between, our region wil , association or and educate your firm ide gu to k loo the er, nn pla If you are a ace meetings outside the return of face-to-f for re npa eco pre y 's the ion as reg clients ry, boost the lp support the indust office. Doing so will he together once again. ers mb me or ployees omy, and bring your em and event ser vice ues, resorts, casinos ven ns, tio na sti de r Fo ing so will help you ed with your clients! Do lifted - ready to companies, stay engag d - as restrictions are an e, ibl vis ain rem to continue move forward.
Jim Cohn - Publisher gazine Mid Atlantic Events Ma
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CONTENTS Pam Kelly Ken Kelk
May z June 2020 Industry professionals are staying connected through virtual meetings while looking forward to a return to in-person gatherings
PAGE 12 - The Wildwoods, NJ will serve as a welcoming drive-to destination by the ocean for groups as they return to meetings
May | June 2020
A to Z Party
FEATURES 12 Waterfront, Beachfront, Riverfront & Lakefront Meetings Drive-to destinations offer comfort and serenity
22 Food for the Frontline Visit Delco, PA partners with Drexelbrook to help local heroes
26 Convention Centers Bring People Together Kalahari Conventions discusses what's next
28 Stepping Up to the Plate Catering By Design and partners helping the community PAGE 26 - Kalahari Resorts and Conventions looks ahead to what's next in meetings and conventions at its venues
38 Overcoming the Crisis Messages of strength, hope and community
70 Whoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s That Guy? More time for reflection leads our travel editor to a self-discovery
78 Forward-Thinking Hotels and Casinos A Silver Lining during these uncertain times
LOCATION REPORTS 30 Lancaster County, PA 34 Gettysburg, PA 36 Hershey-Harrisburg Region, PA
PAGE 36 - Outdoor event space at the National Civil War Museum in Reservoir Park, located at the highest point in Harrisburg, PA
May z June 2020
Mid-Atlantic Events Staff PUBLISHER & EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jim Cohn MANAGING EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Rich Kupka DESIGN & PRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . .Dana Kurtbek-MME Media FEATURES EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Lydia Young TRAVEL EDITOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Ken Alan EVENTS DIRECTOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jennifer Johnson CONTROLLER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Robert Conrad CHIEF BRAND ACCELERATOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Hurray Brands CONTRIBUTING WRITERS . .Barbara Lehman, Stephanie Masucci, Robb Monkman, Ashley Nelson.
& S G N I T E E M S T N E V E GREAT WHERE
AYS ARE ALW ON IN SEAS
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 - Destination Delco - Discover Lehigh Valley - Green Meetings Industry Council
Vol. 33, No.4
- Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International – Greater Philadelphia, South Jersey and Delaware - International Live Events Association – Greater Philadelphia, North Jersey & Washington DC - Meeting Professionals International – Middle Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Philadelphia & Potomac - Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives - National Association of Catering Executives – Greater Philadelphia/South Jersey - Ocean City, MD Convention and Visitors Bureau - Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association - Pennsylvania Society of Association Executives - PHL CVB
Connecticut Delaware Maryland New Jersey New York Pennsylvania Virginia West Virginia Washington, DC
- Pocono Mountains Convention & Visitors Bureau - Professional Convention Management Association Greater Philadelphia - Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board - Visit Bucks County
Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine is the bi-monthly, Mid-Atlantic publication, bringing information about the Hospitality and Meeting Industry to Meeting, Seminar, Trade Show, Overnight Accommodation, Special Event, Conference, Convention, for Association, Corporate, Group and Individual Planners along with Hotel, Resort, Conference Center, Attraction, Banquet Facility General Managers, Directors of Sales, Catering and Conference Services. Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine (ISSN 0896-3967), is published bi-monthly by Tri-State Events Magazine, Inc. Copyright 2020 by Tri-State Events Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved.
POSTMASTER: Please send changes to Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine, 1800 Byberry Road Suite 901, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006
rporate ons to co ti ti e p m co eeting to dance wonder m ts o n n e ’s m it a , r en rts tourn on Cente in betwe From spo Conventi verything s e d o d o n a w , d s il ve the W gathering lanners lo p t n e v e and arena e year! ot exhibit nth of th square fo every mo ding 75K u feet, incl tal square to 0 0 ,0 0 • 26 th space ems hibit boo tion syst ’ x 10’ ex mmunica co rt -a • 380 – 10 e f-th s /State-o amenitie • Modern es of ices and 5 mil ssion serv oardwalk g/Conce b n s ri u te o a m C a • world-f dwoods nt to Wil • Adjace aches s FREE be 0 vehicle r over 70 fo g in rk a p • On-site n space re-functio feet of p re a u sq • 30K ttendees i-Fi for a • Free W all us at
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Drive To Destinations
Waterfront Meetings The last few months have been incredibly trying for everyone. There is much uncertainty and things feel out of control. COVID-19 has brought about major changes in day-to-day living and has forced many companies to temporarily change the way they do business. As a result, most in-person meetings have been taken “off the table” as a current option. People are only meeting virtually, if at all. Some are referring to this as “the new normal,” but make no mistake - there’s nothing “normal” about it. And the lack of face-to-face interaction, too, is temporary. Social distancing is meant to be a tool to help “flatten the curve,” but it’s not going to be forever. Though it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by current events, it’s important not to lose sight of the future and what’s beyond the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.
Meetings WILL return. People WILL gather again. People NEED other people. It’s human nature. It’s how we’re wired. People want to feel connected in a way that’s not possible by sitting at home and video chatting with clients and coworkers. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with virtual meetings and they have been effective during this crisis. They are very valuable in helping people to maintain some level of connectivity and to stay updated with their coworkers, clients and industry partners. But virtual meetings cannot replicate the connection we feel with actual human interaction.
It’s why we gather. It’s why we meet. Almost as important as the “why” very often is the “where.” And when it is time to meet again in person, choosing the right location will matter more than ever. As they return to meetings and events, attendees will appreciate a setting that promotes serenity and good feelings. Planners will be seeking destinations that inspire confidence, offer outstanding service and are accessible. 12 Mayz June2020
Waterfront destinations throughout the MidAtlantic region, whether at the beach, by a lake, along a river or other body of water, surely will serve as perfectly peaceful settings that are close to home at a time when all of us will be looking for comfort, relaxation and reassurance.
Hotel LBI in Ship Bottom, New Jersey
Ocean City MD Convention Center
Meeting On the Beach in LBI
Hotel LBI in Ship Bottom, New Jersey, is a oneof-a-kind destination location for corporate retreats that’s perfect for mixing business with pleasure. Located at the entrance of Long Beach Island, the hotel features a private Conservatory with vaulted ceilings and a gas fireplace, as well as the opportunity to hold brain storming sessions right on the beach, which is less than two blocks away. Transportation is available via hotel shuttle, and the hotel can even provide a cooler of sandwiches and drinks along with beach chairs and towels. Back on-site, guests can relax by the indoor/outdoor swimming pool while having a drink or appetizer at the Tide Pool Bar and Grille, or schedule spa services at the Lighthouse Beauty and Wellness Center. The rooftop bar features firepits and spectacular sunset views. A semi-private dinner can be arranged for the group in the award-winning Salt Kitchen Restaurant, which serves up food from local farmers and fishermen. Finally, live entertainment in Hotel LBI’s Living Room offers a perfect ending to any retreat. Hotel LBI opened in May of 2019, so, despite difficult circumstances, it is celebrating its one-year anniversary. New corporate packages soon will be available, and ownership has plans to open two new attractions. Mainland Adventure Park, just minutes from the hotel, will provide team building activities including a ropes course, rock climbing wall, zip lining and go kart racing. The BoatYard features a large outdoor bar, two food trucks, live entertainment, full court basketball, corn hole toss, as well as the Causeway Marina for boat rentals, fishing, crabbing and more. Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 13
Hotel LBI has remained open to assist long-term guests during this difficult time. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are patiently waiting for guests to return and we will be ready to assist with all of their needs and requirements,â&#x20AC;? assures Liz Santoro, area director of sales for Hotel LBI. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our flexible cancellation policy will give you the confidence you need to hold the dates you are considering. Visit our website www.hotellbi.com - to watch our videos and explore our luxury resort property, or give us a call and ask questions. We are open and available to assist you.â&#x20AC;? In the meantime, the Hotel LBI staff is working hard to help keep guests safe. Additional cleaning shifts have been implemented, stronger virus killing cleaners are being used, and stand-alone hand
sanitizer stations are situated throughout the hotel. Nestled along the Miles River in the historic town of St. Michaels, Maryland (a small town with no stop lights or fast food restaurants), is the Inn at Perry Cabin. Boasting a plethora of amenities in an environment of understated luxury and intimacy, the hotel was built in 1816 and is anchored by its nautical heritage. It completed a full property renovation in late 2018 that included all of its 78 guest rooms, meeting space, and indoor and outdoor function spaces. Inn at Perry Cabin is part of the Legend Collection of Preferred Hotels and Resorts, a collection of exceptional properties in remarkable destinations throughout the world.
In St. Michaels, within walking distance of the hotel, there are abundant boutique shops, restaurants and cafes, as well as a winery, a brewery and a distillery, as well as the adjacent Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, so groups will find plenty to do both on-site and in town. Inn at Perry Cabin also offers a fleet of luxury sailboats along with its 40-foot Hinckley Yacht, plus kayaks and paddleboards, too - all available through the propertyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s waterfront activities program, which is customizable for team building. Groups even can take part in a competitive Sailing Regatta. A new offering at the Inn is the 18hole golf course, The Links at Perry Cabin, Pete Dyeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s final mas-
Corporate Events NEW JERSEYâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S FINEST COASTA L BOUTIQUE HOTEL
Hotel LBI offers over 3,700 square feet of meeting and event space, including the Conservatory â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with overlooking the charming seaside town of Ship Bottom. all of your event expectations with endless amenities, recreational offerings and extraordinary service.
! ! !
Â14 MayÂz JuneÂ2020
terpiece. The property also boasts eight high definition golf simulators and the Jim McLean Golf School, three new Har-Tru tennis courts and a tennis program, as well as The Spa at Perry Cabin, which is focused on the botanical art of wellness and offers therapeutic treatments for restoration and healing. The Cove is the newest addition to the property’s scenic outdoor venue spaces, located within a secluded corner of the Inn’s lush gardens and conveniently set adjacent to the swimming pool. Surrounded by a wall of trees and overlooking Foggy Cove, the space is accentuated with footing of blue stone and features two decorative firepits and fairy tail lights that twinkle overhead.
“We are proud to say that 30 to 40 percent of our groups are repeat and many have been with us each year for 5 to 10 years or more,” explains Joann Jacobs, national sales manager for the Inn at Perry Cabin. “Complete with an awardwinning culinary team, a waterfront restaurant and cozy pub both with crackling wood burning fireplaces - unique meeting space and public spaces to ‘escape’ to, 25-acres of unique and open waterfront property, and exciting and unique group activities and team building options, Inn at Perry Cabin can deliver a most memorable experience.”
Hill Sports Book and Bar, Topgolf Swing Suite, three nightclubs, live entertainment, shopping, three swimming pools, over 20 dining experiences and more.
Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey has much to offer returning groups, as well, including a state-of-the-art meeting level, Exhale Spa and Bathhouse, William
“We are continuously offering meeting packages and discount offers based on the needs of our clients,” notes Peter Ciccone, senior vice president of resort sales
Since opening in 2018, the awardwinning Ocean Casino Resort has attracted new groups and rebooked existing clients and meetings in large part due to its magnificent structure, dedicated meeting room level, well-appointed guestrooms, and exceptional service. Atlantic City has had a great resurgence over the past few years and has been attracting new business and guests, as well.
IT’S S TIM ME TO M E E T I N G S AT H A R D R O C K H O T E L & CA S I N O
A T L A NTTI C C IT Y With 150,000 square feet of spectacular meeting space plus 2,000 luxury hotel rooms, we have the perfect place to make e your moment shine. Discover how our team of professionals can help inspire yours. Join us on the Boardwalk and feel the new vibe in Atlantic City.
Rockin’ rates starting at $69 PER NIGHT.. Visit hardrockhotelatlanticcity.com/meetings or call 609-449-6060 today and receive additional a booking incentives.
1000 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401 Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER. Management reserves all rights. Certain rules & restrictions apply. Must book before 6/20/21. Based on availability. Excludes taxes, fees, holidays & blackout dates.
for Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City. “We always are listening to the voice of the customer to determine what works best.”
Atlantic City, NJ It may not seem like the right time to think about travel, but this too shall pass. Atlantic City awaits the return of meetings and conventions when they are once again safely possible, but until then, Meet AC encourages all to stay home while also staying connected and cultivating meaningful relationships virtually. Meet AC, the convention and visitors bureau (CVB) of Atlantic City, would like to remind its friends in the industry that it offers a variety of digital assets that are readily available. Its websites - meetac.com, atlanticcitysports.org, touratlanticcity.com and atlanticcityfilm.com - are frequently updated with industry news and articles along with citywide messaging on all social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. And while the Meet AC staff is working remotely from the safety of their homes, they still are available to assist with any and all requests. There also is an award-winning virtual reality experience that allows planners to experience Atlantic City from the comfort of their homes, to tour Atlantic City properties, or even to try surfing in the Atlantic Ocean. Meet AC’s Meeting Planner Guide is an online directory of Atlantic City venues featuring floor plans, meeting space and dimensions of properties, while the Convention Services Kit outlines all of the many services that the CVB provides to clients via its Convention Services Team. The Atlantic City Convention Center Event Planning Guide highlights A-Z information for holding meetings or events in Atlantic City - when the time is right. “Since Meet AC’s inception in 2014, we have been growing our digital footprint to serve relevant Atlantic City content to the industry,” stated Meet AC’s marketing director, Karina Anthony. “We’ve compiled a library of videos to showcase a variety of Atlantic City experiences to meeting planners, and most recently utilized virtual reality to allow planners to tour the city from their homes or offices when they are unable to make the trip to Atlantic City.” “This is a time of uncertainty for the nation and our industry,” she adds, “however, our team is prepared and, while we may be working remotely, we are available to answer your Atlantic City-related questions.” 16 Mayz June2020
A casino resort situated on the beach and Atlantic City boardwalk, Ocean Casino Resort features scenic outdoor space and ocean views from every angle. “Groups can host their meetings in our private cabanas that overlook the pool and ocean, swim-in and swim-out pool area, our beautiful Sky Garden that also overlooks the ocean, and our Day Pool Club,” explains Ciccone. “Guests can relax at one of our three pools or Exhale Spa and Bathhouse, featuring a Himalayan salt grotto, heated pool, steam rooms, saunas and several lounges where guests can relax and socialize.” “During the temporary operation suspension, Ocean Casino Resort is maximizing its time by deep cleaning and making changes to basic protocols for hosting meetings and events. We will continue to keep these efforts a priority for the health and welfare of our guests, which is our number one priority,” he continues. Regarding buffet dining, Ciccone adds, “buffet stations will be managed by an Ocean attendant and not the individual meeting attendee. Ocean Casino Resort has increased the number of hand sanitizing stations through our meeting room level and the entire property. And our cleaning efforts will continue to be a top priority to ensure that we are providing a clean and healthy environment.” A bit further southward along the Jersey Shore, the Wildwoods in Cape May County has long been an event planner’s dream destination. A big reason for that is The Wildwoods Convention Center, which offers 260,000-square feet of flexible meeting space, including a 75,000-
square foot exhibit hall (configurable into two 37,500-square foot separate areas); a 7,500-seat concert arena for live shows; 30,000square feet of lobby and pre-function space; state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems; upgraded free Wi-Fi, plus a team of experienced support personnel and service professionals constantly at the ready to provide assistance every step of the way. The convention center also offers spectacular ocean views from nearly every angle, including its outside deck, main exhibit hall, and lobby area through floor-to-ceiling windows that, along with a Teflon coated translucent fabric roof, allow the entire building to be flooded in natural sunlight during the day. Another attractive feature of The Wildwoods Convention Center is its impressive dining options for groups and events with outstanding event catering, an array of food service and concession services, as well as dĂŠcor and theme consultations. The skilled team at the Wildwoods Convention Center is ready to host all events at this award-winning facility when the time is right, and is taking extensive measures to ensure that when planners and groups are ready to reengage, the convention center will be a place where groups can enjoy a safe, comfortable and unforgettable experience throughout their stay. The centerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s recently upgraded high-capacity Wi-Fi system gives attendees unlimited free Wi-Fi service for up to 10,000 visitors simultaneously, three new high-definition video webcams have been installed on the roof offering 180-degree views of the beach, ocean and amusement piers, and plans are in the works to add a 150-room Marriott hotel adjacent to the Wildwoods Convention Center. Pending approval, construction could begin
where pleasure meets productivity
Enjoy the perks of 160,000 square feet of private, 2/.-*)/('//&-%$(#"! /( -& ( '")-'/%&! ( - - ( !( )) / -""/ (* #-%/##( /%&/ (!% (!%( % #-&/( &/ %- !)(# "" &(&/!' ( &/ ( # (-% )$/(-%( ) )!##( -#-%/(!% -% / -*)/(/%&/ &!-%'/%& (")! (!&( "$ ) ( -%$( -&/( ( /)!.(-%( ( /% %/ ( . !)/( "!(!% ( !& #/ ( &(& /( /!% ( (* #-%/##(-#(!) ! #( (")/!# / BOOK YOUR MEETING OR EVENT TODAY. Explore our spaces at theOceanAC.com I 609.783.8300 theOceanAC.com I 609.783.8000 I #&(*/( ( ( ) / ( !'*)-%$( *)/' ( !))(
as early as spring of 2021 with a projected opening in fall of 2022. During these challenging times, the Wildwoods are excited and eagerly awaiting the day to welcome visitors back, both first-time and repeat visitors, to experience the resort destination. Now, more than ever, people will be looking for destinations close to home, and the Wildwoods are an ideal choice for those seeking comfort and relaxation. To assure the safety of guests and employees, the Wildwoods Convention Center has set up sanitizing stations in key traffic areas throughout the building. Also, a designated employee has been assigned to sanitize high touch points, such as door handles, window ledges and other highly utilized areas. Bethany Beach, DE
Southern Delaware Southern Delaware boasts five-star beaches, bays, waterways, amazing trails and scenic beauty, and is full of meeting-friendly venues and a range of accommodations from oceanfront luxury to budget-friendly. There is everything from boardwalk fries to fine dining along its famed Culinary Coast™, and year-round amenities include outdoor adventures, watersports, indoor activities, and entertainment - plus tax-free shopping, dining and meeting space. Southern Delaware’s hospitality and tourism industries have forged strong partnerships that stand ready to help planners once their groups are able to return by working with them to create custom experiences for their groups. Additionally, Southern Delaware Tourism continues to offer its $300 for 30 incentive to those booking 30 or more Sussex County hotel room nights for a single event. Eligible groups will receive a $300 rebate from Southern Delaware Tourism upon proof of payment following their event.
Before events, the center’s professional cleaning team deep cleans function space with commercial grade disinfecting materials and restocks all hand sanitized stations. The team maintains this during the event to assure that guests feel safe and comfortable, and afterward conducts the same level of cleaning immediately following the event. Abiding by both state and federal regulations currently advising 6-feet distance between all persons, this is reflected in seating arrangements for all meetings, dining, exhibits, and more. Safety is a top priority, and the staff is taking every precaution to assure that all those who visit the Wildwoods Convention Center feel safe and comfortable. An ideal place where visitors can clear their minds and enjoy the calming benefits of “beach therapy,” The Wildwoods offer a chance to rest, relax, recharge and escape the outside world. The beaches offer an award-winning and spacious stretch of sand on which to relax, recharge and have fun. On the greens is another relaxing way to spend a day at the Jersey Shore for both novice and skilled golfers. Golf courses can be found all across Cape May County, from Cape May National to the south to Shore Gate Golf Club to the north, and each offers a variety of playing levels from beginner to scratch golfer. Several courses are just minutes away from the Wildwoods and situated close to the ocean or bay, so there's always a mild breeze and plenty of scenic beauty.
18 Mayz June2020
The Wildwoods boardwalk offers 2.5-miles of pure sensory overload with over 100 rides and attractions (more than Disneyland) that range from world-class roller coasters and three wet â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;n wild waterparks to carnival-style midway games, flashing arcades and myriad retail shops and eateries (more than the Mall of America), from iconic boardwalk fare to freshly caught seafood to Italian specialties to Doo Wop diners and more. Built in 1909, The Otesaga was designed by Percy Griffin, noted architect of The Dakota building in New York City, and features scenic views of Otsego Lake in Cooperstown, New York. Its flexible meeting spaces offer everything needed for a dynamic event, whether an intimate space for breakout ses-
P Pl lan Plan
sions or the Grand Ballroom for keynote addresses or larger formal gatherings. The Otesaga also is home to the 18-hole Leatherstocking Golf Course, voted one of the "Top 50 U.S. Golf Resorts" by CondĂŠ Nast Traveler and is well suited for accommodating team building activities. Hawkeye Spa provides an ideal opportunity to include time for relaxation in oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s itinerary, and the propertyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s experienced catering staff will create an unforgettable event menu. The property also can arrange exclusive off-site events at iconic Cooperstown spots like the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and Fenimore Art Museum, as well as award-winning craft beverage producers, Brewery
A CONVENTIO ON WITH A VIEW.
Ommegang and the Cooperstown Distillery. The Otesaga was voted the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Top Resort in the Mid-Atlanticâ&#x20AC;? by CondĂŠ Nast Traveler Readerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Choice Awards 2019. Last year also brought the debut of its new restaurant, 1909; the hotel and resortâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s take on the modern steakhouse offering yet another delicious dining experience for guests. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Otesaga believes that groups who travel for meetings and conferences should also have opportunities for relaxation and fun,â&#x20AC;? notes Tjibbe Lambers, CHDM, director of marketing for The Otesaga Resort Hotel and The Cooper Inn. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Otesaga is the perfect spot to extend your stay and include some much-needed down-
THE ROLAND E.. POWELL CONVENTION CENTER We know you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t travel right now w,, WE'RE READY WHEN YOU ARE. We but when itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;â&#x20AC;&#x2122;ss time, the Roland E. Powell Convention Center stands ready to host almost any even nt. Y Yo our attendees will enjoy multiple wide-open exhibit spaces thr h oughout the centerr, r, perfect for everything from sporting events to competitions to e-sports. And our bayside location canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be beat! Coming January 2022, an ad dditional 30,000 sq.ft. of exhibit space, a 15,000 sq. ft. gallerry overlooking the bay and additional ms. restrooms and meeting room Main Exhibit Hall â&#x20AC;&#x201C;
Bayfront Ballroom â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 19,12 26 sq. ft. â&#x20AC;˘ Exhibit Hall â&#x20AC;&#x201C;
â&#x20AC;˘ 21 meeting rooms â&#x20AC;˘ Performing Arts Center â&#x20AC;&#x201C;1,200 seats with state-of-the-art sound dressing rooms â&#x20AC;˘ â&#x20AC;˘
Plus, we are less than three ho ours from Baltimore, W Wa ashington, D.C. nutes from the Salisbury-Ocean City: and Philadelphia and 30 min Wicomico Regional Airport (SBY). THE ROLAND E. POWELL CONVENTION CENTER
ST TA ART PLANNING TO ODA AY Y!
Visit OCMDCONVENTIONCENT TER.COM, or call 1.800.OC.OCEAN.
Looking Forward: Ocean City, Maryland It can be difficult to think about the future with so much worry. Adapting to changes in a post-COVID-19 world certainly will be a challenge. But Ocean City, Maryland is making a point to ensure that its visitors and meeting and convention goers will find this oceanfront destination to be as warm, welcoming and fun as ever when they are ready to make their return to the resort. “First and foremost, the safety of our staff and clients, both existing and new, is our top priority,” declares Larry Noccolino, executive director for the Ocean City, Maryland Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Roland E. Powell Convention Center. “We already are being very proactive in order to prepare for when it’s time to resume business. This includes adhering to all best practices as described by the CDC, local, state and federal governing bodies. An example of steps we have already taken include repetitive daily - and for some areas, hourly - cleaning and sanitizing.” When it is time for business guests to return, Noccolino notes that there is “nothing better for the soul” than sunshine and the smell of salt air. Ocean City offers pristine beaches and its boardwalk, crashing waves, plus diversions for small groups and breakouts like fishing, crabbing, and serene beach walks. When the time is right, all of it will be enjoyed with a solid sense of security for everyone’s safety and well-being. A lot of the timing, of course, will depend on Governor Hogan and the State of Maryland’s “Roadmap to Recovery.” “Ocean City has always been in the business of welcoming people, and we intend to do that again, but it will likely take some time,” explains Regina Brittingham, national sales manager for the Ocean City, MD CVB and the Roland E. Powell Con20 Mayz June2020
vention Center. “We want to make sure we are following the governor’s plan and waiting until it’s safe to welcome people again.” The same great service, atmosphere and meeting amenities that clients have always enjoyed over the last 50 years still await in Ocean City. And while some changes are certainly to be expected, Brittingham notes, “We believe we can adapt to those changes and still offer the same great experience our customers are used to receiving. Social distancing, while it has been a crucial preventative measure, has made us all realize that gathering together is very much a part of our human nature. We are excited to welcome guests back to Ocean City.” While social distancing has played an important role in slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, more people than not will want to eventually get back together and hold face-to-face meetings again once they safely can do so. It's human nature to want socialization and camaraderie and to want to experience the feeling of communion with coworkers, friends and family. “Unprecedented as current circumstances may be, in our lifetime anyway,” Noccolino explains, “we plan to resume our best practices - and obviously more. Our short-term plans are not to go ‘full steam ahead;’ rather, slowly integrate those best practices back into our daily lives.” “I think we are a resilient society, and our community in Ocean City proves that time and time again,” he adds. “We have been bruised by hurricanes and pushed down by pandemics, but we keep getting up again. And that is exactly what we intend to do - when the time is right!”
time, with the amenities you need to unwind when your work is done.” “Decompressing at our Hawkeye Spa with the Blues Be Gone Massage, taking in a quick round at the Leatherstocking Golf Course right on Otsego Lake, savoring a delicious meal at the Hawkeye Bar and Grill or 1909 Restaurant, or celebrating a successful day with a cocktail on the veranda or at our Fire Bar are just a few of the ways your team will feel welcome at our lakeside retreat,” he adds. “In uncertain times, some things remain constant: our gracious hospitality and our serene lake views,” Lambers asserts. “The Otesaga will be here to welcome you again, as we’ve done since 1909. Until then, we’ll save you a seat on the veranda.”
Otsego Lake offers many exciting opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy nature, whether it’s swimming, boating, or relaxing. The Otesaga offers kayaks, paddleboards and canoes available for rental, as well as bikes for those looking to explore the quaint charm of Main Street.
and waiting to welcome back small meetings, retreats - and yes, groups - when the time is right.
In the fall, Cooperstown’s natural beauty shines as foliage sets the landscape ablaze with color. In winter, as the snow falls, a hush seems to settle over the town, creating a welcoming winter wonderland. The Otesaga offers exciting possibilities in all seasons for groups and teams to experience the timelessness of its gracious hospitality.
When that time arrives, water ways await to offer the promise of destinations that will help in healing hearts and spirits, as well as aid in bringing back confidence and comfort to those in the meeting and hospitality industries.
Each of these regional waterfront destination resorts stands ready
Now more than ever is the time to stand together. As a region, driveto markets will be strong as the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern U.S. emerge from this crisis.
Visit Delco PA partners with Drexelbrook to provide “Food For The Frontline” Like the rest of the country, Delaware County, PA struggles to cope with an invisible enemy that continues to threaten people’s incomes, safety and ultimately - their lives. Unlike the heroes in books and movies, every true-life crisis requires living, breathing heroes.
COVID-19 is a killer, and the frontline heroes are the nurses and doctors, orderlies, housekeeping staff, technicians, administration, security and maintenance teams at Delco’s six hospitals. Between them, hundreds of employees go to work each day to treat the sick and save lives while putting their own in jeopardy. “Food For The Frontline” is a project that was literally born out of a commitment to food, service and community. The staff of Drexelbrook Catering and the tourism team at Visit Delco, PA partnered to create a program where not only they, but everyone in the community would have an opportunity to say “thank you” to its healthcare heroes by providing them with nutritious, protein packed and healthy meals. Visit Delco PA contacted all of the hospitals and spearheaded development of a website (delcodelivers.com) where people could donate $9.50 per meal. Drexelbrook prepped and cooked the meals while staff from both organizations as well community volunteers packaged the meals and made the hospital deliveries, the first of which was on April 12th. More than 2,000 meals were delivered in the first week, and - as this story is being published donations are still being made. 22 Mayz June2020
Lou Marrocco, Director of Meeting Services for Visit Delco PA, was one of many people packing the meals and delivering them on Easter Sunday.
“There was a four-person kitchen team, each chopping, preparing and cooking different items - and later,” he noted, “the workers who were packaging the meals had a different food item at their own individual table, where they would fill the container with their item, then pass it on to the next table, and the next.” Domenick Savino, CPCE and CEO of Drexelbrook, was a force to be reckoned with, urging on each team and thanking them for helping provide the meals for Delco hospitals. “We’re just honored to be a co-founder of this important program,” Savino explained, adding, “It’s a privilege to prepare and cook nutritious, high protein meals that can help keep our hospital teams strong as they help our neighbors, friends and fellow residents to survive this crisis.” Steve Byrne, Executive Director of Visit Delco PA, was excited by the community’s immediate response to the project, noting, “Donations have exceeded every expectation and continue to pour in from people and organizations across the region.” Gwendolyn A. Smith, Crozer’s Executive Director of Patient Experience of Care, was instrumental in setting up meal deliveries to all four Crozer-affiliated hospitals in Delco: Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland; Taylor Hospital in Ridley Park; Springfield Hospital; and Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill. “We were thrilled to hear about this program,” Smith explained. “The fact that it included all of our Delaware County hospitals was amazing.” “It was set up so quickly, we decided to surprise the staff at each hospital - and they couldn’t believe that people in Delaware County did something that special for them,” she continued. “We were all touched by the effort that it took to make this happen.” Marty Milligan, Visit Delco PA’s Director of Community Relations, met Smith while de-
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.
A Final Tribute… Since its opening in 1950, what has since become the renowned Drexelbrook Catering and Event Center in Drexel Hill, PA has always been about outstanding food, service and community. From its earliest days, when it featured multiple dining rooms and cottage rooms that were available for rent, through its stint as host of the iconic American Bandstand TV show (where one of its renters was a young up-andcomer in the music business, Dick Clark) - and even after fire destroyed the main building in 1974, Drexelbrook rose again to become one of the finest food, service and community-oriented facilities in the tri-state area. Since the 1990s, it has flourished under the inspiring leadership of J. William Kay, who last year brought the property full circle by once again providing both food and lodging with the opening of an adjacent Holiday Inn Plus Hotel and Suites.
livering more meals the following week. “Gwen told me how much the staff appreciated the meals,” he said, “and as we kept talking I realized that back in 1976 I played basketball scrimmages and summer league with her brother, Mike Abner, who played for the Chester Clippers. We laughed, reminisced and shared great memories.” Marty and Gwen’s unexpected connection is just one example of hundreds of new connections being made throughout Delaware County as residents find ways to help each other - to show gratitude and to keep residents strong and safe
24 Mayz June2020
during these difficult times. Just before going to press with this story, Steve Byrne announced, “The continued outpouring of donations is enabling us to expand Delco’s Food For The Frontline to reach even more people, including those who man our 911 Center, as well as police and fire departments.” He added, “We’ve even shared our startup information with another tourism agency that is interested in developing a similar program.”
To learn more visit www.delcodelivers.com
It is with great sadness that Visit Delco PA and Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine offer their condolences to the family of J. William Kay, who passed away a few days after the first April 12th meal delivery to Delco Hospitals. His legacy will live long beyond these troubling days through the continued leadership and dedication of Domenick Savino and his staff.
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Plan your next corporate event in Delaware County, PA alongside scenic fairways and battlefields, and fill your calendar with year-round events, attractions and action-packed sports. Conveniently located to all major highways and the Philadelphia International Airport, Visit Delco, PA affords your meeting or event the perfect blend of work and play to make business anything but usual.
Call 610-565-3679 for experiential work & play ideas.
VisitDelcoPA Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 77
Convention Centers Bring People Together...
So Now What?
I always thought I’d love working from home. But through this, I quickly realized I’m not cut out for it. I’ve been scrambling to get work done while the kids finally take a nap or during the 100th episode of Sesame Street. Hi there, I’m Ashley Nelson. I oversee the Kalahari Resort’s Convention Center Operations and Catering Department. I am the youngest member of the owning Kalahari Nelson Family. I also am a mother to two beautiful, rambunctious young boys! So, I get it. I’m stressed from being cooped up inside all day and I’m stressed about what the future holds. What will our “new normal” look like? Our convention center is made to bring people together. It’s designed to be the very best in congregating. Where does that leave us in a post-COVID-19 world? I can say with the utmost honesty, we don’t have all the answers. But as a family-run business, I know we always will do what we feel is right and put safety first. Rather than jumping on the bandwagon of telling you what postshutdown events will look like, we thought it best to talk about our journey. Here are a few ideas we have been working on. Peace of Mind: First and foremost, our associates, clients and guests must know it is safe and that we’ve got their backs. You’re going to notice a lot of visual communication outlining how every guest and associate can be a part in keeping us all safer, addressing personal spacing, hand-washing, mask-wearing, as well as lots and lots of love. We’re going to continue to focus on keeping our associates safe and healthy - this will include associate health screenings be26 Mayz June2020
fore entering the building, as well as multiple wellness checks each shift. All team members will attend intensive health and safety training as we re-open, too, so that we can better combat this - together. We’re working with our local and county public health and safety offices to ensure that we have a comprehensive plan for guests and associates if they become ill while on property. This will focus on their safety, comfort and health needs while ensuring we’re limiting contact with others. Something I’m very excited to be working on is our “Wellness Concierge.” This team member will be very visible and always available for all guests (and associates) to help ease their mind by communicating openly and honestly about how we are keeping everyone safe, monitoring that our standards and expectations are being upheld, and they will be the keeper of our new Wellness Kits, which will include masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and other items. The Wellness Concierge will ensure that love spreads faster than any virus. And masks will have some Kalahari flair! We’re working with some outstanding partners to ensure that even as they’re a barrier to transmission, they will not be a barrier between us and our guests. Banquet/Restaurant Service: This is at the core of who we are and is the center of our family’s time together.
mote Chef-driven, served options (“cafeteria style,” just like the school lunch our little ones are missing so much) and develop new plated meal options. The continentals and coffee breaks are getting a makeover, focusing on house-packaged, single use or refillable options that eliminate opportunities for cross contamination. As flatware is needed, all items will be sanitized, including the napkin they’re rolled in. Condiments will be single use.
Oh, and you are going to see a LOT of hand sanitizer. We will be discontinuing the selfserve options of the past, such as buffets and salad bars (this is heartbreaking as a Wisconsinite; hopefully it doesn’t last forever). Menus will be single use paper for now, or viewable from your personal devices at the table. Meeting Rooms: Designed to bring people together, these spaces now need to work in completely new ways. We are working with the industry’s best minds in modeling meeting room sets and creating best practices for ingress and egress while managing appropriate personal distancing. We’re going to be sanitizing each function room and all surfaces and furniture between every use (ever hear of Electrostatic Sprayers for Disinfectant? Neither had I, before this).
We are reviewing HVAC, air handling, filtering and air quality in all of our restaurants and event spaces.
We’re already engaging the industries best for hybrid meeting options to help find solutions to amplify your event beyond our four walls if attendance is limited for a while.
Boxed meals are about to experience a renaissance! We will pro-
We also are enhancing our automatic and touchless offerings,
such as water dispensers. We’re pretty sure water that pitchers and water stations, as we know them, are a thing of the past. We’ve already got our AV folks engaged in new sanitizing standards for everything from microphones to podiums to light switches. Public Areas: Though the lounge chairs look great and are soooo comfy, we’re going to be removing all of these from our convention centers for the time being. We’re going to leave as many doors open throughout the day as we can to cut down, and ultimately eliminate, as many high-touch points as possible. We’ve also got an extra member of the team available to, by the hour, sanitize vending machines, door knobs, railings and any other hightraffic touch points that we can’t eliminate. Extra accessibility to sanitation wipes will be available on our Bell Carts, AV stations and other areas. What other thoughts do you have? What areas would you like to see us address in more detail? Where are the “gaps” in how we used to do things when viewed through today’s lens? We want to hear from you. My contact information is below. Please send me questions, concerns, ideas - or just say hello!
We’re here for you and we can’t wait to see you – hopefully soon. When the time is right welcome to Kalahari. Ashley Nelson Events@KalahariResorts.com Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 27
March 1, 2020, Catering By Design (CBD) was entering the busy season. Our four exclusive venues ONE North Broad, College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Michener Art Museum, and Bolingbroke Mansion, were booked with large corporate events, dinners and fundraisers. Additionally, there were many events in clients’ homes and at locations where CBD is a preferred vendor. With the weather warming, our excitement builds - to bring people together, to celebrate, to support and to nurture. During this first week of March, Peter Loevy, owner of Catering By Design, was on a beach in Punta Cana and life was grand. Upon returning, he immediately flew out to Catersource, an international four-day convention for catering professionals in Las Vegas. While there, everyone’s new reality started taking hold as events began to cancel in rapid succession. Three-thousand caterers were engaged in a single conversation: What was this new reality going to look like? Some caterers starting laying off entire staffs while still in Vegas.
Catering By Design Steps Up to the Plate 28 Mayz June2020
Our kitchen, which would normally be bustling with the sound of chefs chopping and cooking during the second week of March, was eerily quiet. It was at this time when one of our beloved clients, the Independence Foundation, asked if we would partner with them to help feed those in need. From that point on, working with two amazing Philadelphia nonprofits (Broad Street Ministry and Project HOME), it was all gloved hands-on-deck as CBD volunteered to produce over 2,200 meals weekly at cost.
This was underwritten by The Independence Foundation, whose mission is to support organizations that provide services to people who do not ordinarily have access to them. Following national health guidelines, we reduced staff to the permissible number of ten at any given time, strategically spaced out, gloved, masked and focused on a new mission. Sadly, as the pandemic burgeoned, so did hunger on the streets. Mike Dahl, Director of Broad Street Ministry, in collaboration with Project HOME and Prevention Point Philadelphia, created "Step Up to The Plate," which is funded by several philanthropic organizations. Two temporary, large outdoor sites are currently set up for meal and health services to continue within physical distancing guidelines. In leading the project, CBD enlisted the help of Michele Leff of 12th Street Catering and Herb Scott of Herb Scott Catering to tackle the immense need. On April 13, CBD delivered the first 2,000 meals to City Hall and Kensington. Each take away bag contains a freshly made sandwich for lunch, a cookie and a healthy and hearty bowl for dinner. Fruit is supplied by SHARE, Philadelphia’s largest food pantry. This initiative is funded through the end of May, and possibly through June, depending on fundraising. The three caterers are serving 10,000 meals a week to these locations. In addition, Catering By Design continues to deliver to six Project HOME sites. Though Punta Cana seems like a million years ago at this point, Peter and the entire team at Catering By Design are grateful for this opportunity to play a part in this critical endeavor.
Courtesy of Stephanie Masucci from Catering By Design Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 29
Lancaster County, PA discoverlancaster.com
What’sNew Situated within the picturesque Historic District of Lancaster, the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square has undergone a nearly $40million renovation and expansion project and now boasts 416 spacious guest rooms, three premier dining options, and more than 90,000-square feet of combined space along with the adjacent Lancaster County Convention Center. The hotel’s new 12-story East Tower features advanced amenity offerings, sweeping views of Lancaster City from floor-to-ceiling windows, and sleek design features. The addition of both Plough and The Exchange has elevated the guest experience even further. Plough pays homage to Lancaster’s rich heritage while embracing modernity and offering a sophisticated, yet clean modern-American menu with concepts driven by Chef Ryan McQuillan. The Exchange is a vibrant, high-energy rooftop cocktail bar set 12 stories above historic Penn Square. In mid-Sept 2019, the 74-room boutique hotel Wilbur Lititz opened as part of Hilton’s Tapestry collection and has preserved original features of its site predecessor, the historic Wilbur Chocolate factory works.
Plough, the Private Dining Room at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square
LoKal Experiences started offering intimate experiential tours in summer of 2019. They currently offer a dozen different tours of traditional and newer aspects of Lancaster County. They also can modify their offerings into corporate events or team building exercises. Just across from Lancaster Central Market (farmer’s market in existence since 1730), Josephine’s Downtown - described as “a swank supper club” - opened in September of 2019, while the street-level C’est La Vie bistro opened in November of 2019.
30 Mayz June2020
FEATURING 416 Integr ated Guest Rooms 90,000 sq. ft. of Exhibit Sp ace
EXPL ORE THE PO SSIBILIT TIES
While plannin ng your next big event, don n’ t settle ffo or anything less than t the best of both worldss. Located in the historicc heart of downtown Lancaster City, y, the Lan ncaster County Convention Center allo ows visitors to have their cake and eat it to oo—where big city culture can be savored d at a small town pace.
Jacyn H Thompson
DIRECTOR OF CONVENTION SALES
(717) 2 07-4045
25 S. QUEEN STREET, LANCASTER, PA 17603-3918
L ancasterConventionCenter. com LancasterCon m
PlacesToMeet Lancaster is one of the most easily accessible drive-to destinations within the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast corridors, reachable via Amtrak and four regional and local airports, yet offers a wonderful blend of urban style and rural splendor. The area boasts more than 8,200 overnight rooms and approximately 500,000 total square feet of modern meeting space within its meeting and conference facilities along with a wide range of venues to meet the needs of groups both large and small. With a multitude of attractions and nightlife offerings, the surrounding Amish countryside, lots of free parking and economical room rates, Lancaster County is an optimal meetings destination.
Brunch at Eden Resort and Suites
The Lancaster County Convention Center and adjoining Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square in Lancaster City seamlessly incorporate the 110-year-old Beaux Arts façade of the landmark former Watt and Shand department store and offer a combined 90,000-square feet of meeting space. This integrated facility is actively involved with the surrounding community and has forged strong partnerships with a wide range of local businesses. The convention center has served as a tremendous catalyst for driving business to area retail shops, restaurants and attractions, as well as to Lancaster Central Market. Eden Resort and Suites, located just outside of Lancaster City, has continued its regular refurbishment program and features 25,000square feet of function space along with 300 guest rooms. The DoubleTree Resort by Hilton-Lancaster, also just outside Lancaster City, provides guests with a full range of amenities, including more than 25,000 total square feet of flexible conference space and 185 guest rooms. Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim boasts 100,000-square feet of function space and is home to the on-site Warehouse Hotel with 135 guest rooms. Housed in what was formerly a tobacco warehouse, the stylish 63room Lancaster Arts Hotel in Lancaster City is an ideal setting for a board retreat with more than 1,100-square feet of meeting space. The 93-room Cork Factory Hotel in Lancaster City boasts 9,750square feet of meeting and event space that features a catering kitchen and covered outdoor veranda. The hotel is comprised of buildings that once housed the historic Armstrong Cork and Kerr Glass companies.
Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square and Lancaster County Convention Center
32 Mayz June2020
The Inn at Leola Village, a AAA Four Diamond-rated property in nearby Leola, has function space totaling almost 14,000-square feet along with 62 guest rooms.
UniqueVenues Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum provides an authentic immersion experience into early Pennsylvania German life (1740-1940) with interactive demonstrations from tinsmiths, blacksmiths and tavern keepers dressed in period costume. The main hall of the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg offers an incredible backdrop for events consisting of historic locomotives and vintage railroad cars. The picturesque grounds and mansion of President James Buchanan’s Wheatland in Lancaster City were once home to the man who preceded Lincoln in the White House and struggled to calm a divided nation on the brink of civil war.
Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania
meet • plan • discover • explore • relax • Discoverlancaster.com/meetings Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 33
Gettysburg, PA destinationgettysburg.com
Gettysburg National Military Park
Gettysburg is known for its rich history and the pivotal role it played in the American Civil War. There are many ways to dive into history at this drive-to destination and connect with the culture and heritage. Immersive museums and battlefield tours provide ample opportunities, post-meeting, to learn about the Battle of Gettysburg from varying perspectives. Beyond the battlefield, Gettysburg is a destination of authenticity. The charming, walkable downtown is home to a variety of locally owned shops and tasting rooms waiting to be discovered. Meeting attendees can easily experience the authenticity of the destination through taste. There are a variety of independent restaurants and craft beverage markets in the historic downtown that source fresh produce and ingredients from farms just down the road. From Civil War era dining options to modern scratch kitchens, Gettysburg’s culinary scene has something for everyone. Additional activities offered in Gettysburg and the surrounding area include outdoor activities like hiking at Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve, which is just west of town, and golfing at one of many golf courses including the Links at Gettysburg and the Quail Valley Golf Course.
34 Mayz June2020
What’sNew Jack’s Hard Cider will be relocating its operations to the Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg. A former movie theater is being repurposed to allow for a large production facility and upscale taproom expected to open later this year. One theater will remain intact to serve as a unique venue for private events. Visitors will be able to go through a self-guided tour of the production process by way of an aerial walkway. The featured restaurant, Mela Kitchen, will take a fresh, rustic approach on Italian-inspired dishes made with local ingredients. During construction, Jack’s Hard Cider can be enjoyed in a pop-up tasting room at the Outlet Shoppes. The Adams County Pour Tour is the official craft beverage trail of Adams County and has a total of 22 stops with 34 craft beverage offerings. The tour features wine, hard cider, spirits, craft beer and mead and is active year-round. Participants can pick up a free passport at any participating location, and each type of unique beverage sampled turns into stamps, which participants then can redeem for prizes. Back Alley Axe opened in late 2019 providing groups with an opportunity to try their hand at hitting a bullseye while working as a team to rack up points and networking. The new Orvis Hill Country Shooting Grounds is a great team building or a postmeeting activity. A short, scenic drive from Gettysburg, Orvis has an extensive sporting clay shooting course that is open to the public and for corporate events. It has both a 15-station course and a condensed five stand option if time is limited.
PlacesToMeet The Gettysburg Gateway Complex offers a variety of function spaces, including: 61,000-square feet at Wyndham Gettysburg; 1,500-square feet at Courtyard Marriott Gettysburg; and 44,500-square feet at Gateway Theaters. The Wyndham Gettysburg Hotel and the Courtyard Marriot Gettysburg hotel combine to offer 400 guest rooms, while Gettysburg Gateway features a theater available for group functions, as well as a restaurant. The Gettysburg Hotel is located in the heart of the historic downtown, just steps away from restaurants, shops, tasting rooms and other attractions. It is home to 119 guest rooms and 8,200-square feet of meeting space that includes its Grand Ballroom with hand-painted ceilings and 19th century chandeliers. An additional 8,200-square feet of meeting space is available at the adjacent Majestic Theater and Lincoln Train Station. Hold a meeting or networking event at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center in its available 1,512-square feet. Enjoy after-hour access to the museum’s 12 galleries, Cyclorama painting, and orientation film for a perfect introduction to the destination. Just outside of town, Liberty Mountain Resorts boasts 99 overnight rooms, over 22,000-square feet of function space, and a multitude of activities year-round. In winter, skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and an indoor golf simulator are available. During warmer months, attendees can get outside and enjoy 18 holes of golf at the Carroll Valley Golf Course, horseshoes, volleyball and hiking. A spa and indoor swimming pool are open year-round.
Hershey & Harrisburg Region, PA visithersheyharrisburg.org
Fun Sized Meetings for the Near Future Tourism officials in the Hershey and Harrisburg Region are embracing forecasted meeting trends with plans to emphasize the unique venues and services that address the new challenges meeting planners will face in the coming months. The bureau is preparing to work closely with clients hosting meetings that are smaller, shorter and closer to home. “We want clients to rely on our experienced sales team to help them with these new sets of challenges,” said Audrey Bialas, director of sales for Visit Hershey and Harrisburg. “Meetings will have fewer attendees, but require spaces large enough to accommodate social distancing. Planners will require more centralized experiences for meals and receptions on location to eliminate group transportation issues. And they will need tech-savvy facilities capable of accommodating remote presentations, webinars, and other digital platforms.” Bialas added that she believes the Hershey-Harrisburg area will continue to be a highly desired destination for meetings because it is centrally located within the MidAtlantic Region and offers easy accessibility by car, which is going to be important to attendees who want to travel closer to home and avoid public transportation.
Museum Experience at the Hershey Story 36 Mayz June2020
UniqueSpaces The National Civil War Museum is located at the highest point in Harrisburg in the center of Reservoir Park, providing guests with breathtaking vistas of Pennsylvania’s historic state capital and surrounding mountain ranges. This memorable space accommodates meetings or corporate events with its large ballroom, breakout rooms and access to the entire museum for receptions or team building exercises. Dixon University Center is located along the Susquehanna river in Harrisburg, which provides a central location to nearby lodging, outdoor recreation, and nightlife. This center can host workshops, seminars or corporate retreats and offers state-of-the-art technology. The surrounding scenery and attentive staff at Hershey® Country Club creates an environment that exceeds expectations. This memorable space offers a wide range of settings for meetings of any size, including its Keystone Ballroom with panoramic views of the East and West courses, the Jay Weitzel Room that is perfect for intimate events and small meetings, and the four-season Picard Grand Pavilion that offers scenic views, a vaulted ceiling, large stone fireplace and access to a versatile outdoor area suitable for networking events and receptions. Room Nineteen73 at Hershey's Chocolate World is one of the newest and most modern event spaces in Hershey. This versatile room honors the year Hershey’s Chocolate World opened. Its After-Hours Events Experience boasts premium offerings for a truly unforgettable experience that includes a base building rental along with the opportunity to add additional attractions.
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course boasts some of the most unique and versatile event space in Central Pennsylvania, from gatherings in the Hall of Champions, which overlooks the racetrack and picturesque mountainside, to a private dining room in its awardwinning Final Cut Steakhouse. This memorable venue provides ample activities, too, such as live thoroughbred horse racing, live musical entertainment, slots and table games, a Sportsbook and a Topgolf® Swing Suite®.
IS OVERCOMING THE aCnRdIS Community pe
Messages of Strength, Ho
The last three months have been unprecedented, from government shutdowns and sheltering in place to wearing masks and gloves and practicing social distancing. It has been a time filled with uncertainty, worry, stress and strife. But the human spirit is rising above all of that. There are many stories emerging of resiliency and optimism. Reaching out, showing concern, offering helping (albeit gloved) hands, and making plans for a strong and bright future beyond the COVID-19 crisis. Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine reached out to professionals in the meetings, events and hospitality industries and asked them to share their own experiences while weathering this storm and working to emerge from the crisis. We asked them to let us know what they are doing during this crisis to engage with and/or help clients and employees, to talk about which resources and guides they have found to be helpful, and to look ahead to the future and discuss their expectations and aspirations for the industry beyond the impact resulting from the novel coronavirus. Their responses detailed the reality of the current situation - the challenges all of us are facing, but also the opportunities that exist to reach out and offer support and help to others, and to grow and strengthen relationships.
HERE, INDUSTRY LEADERS SHARE THEIR PERSPECTIVES ON OVERCOMING THIS CRISIS AND OFFER MESSAGES OF STRENGTH, UNITY AND HOPE FOR THE FUTURE. 38 Mayz June2020
VENUES EMILY NICHOLS GENERAL MANAGER, CONFERENCE CENTER SCIENCE HISTORY INSTITUTE ABOUT: The Science History Institute began nearly 40 years ago at the University of Pennsylvania and later moved to the historic Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia. Formerly known as the Chemical Heritage Foundation, it is a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the history of chemistry, chemical engineering, and the life sciences. The Conference Center at the Science History Institute was formed in 2008 as part of the renovations of the historic 1865 First National Bank building that comprises part of the institute’s headquarters. With 13,500-square feet of meeting space overlooking Independence National Historical Park, the conference center hosts over 300 events annually for corporate, nonprofit, and educational clients. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS In February, the Institute formed the COVID-19 Task Force to plan for changes to business operations and shape communications surrounding those changes. I am part of the Task Force as well as part of the administrative team that is currently shaping our plans to safely reopen our building to staff once permitted by authorities. Working with key internal and external stakeholders, I have begun to rethink and redesign the conference center’s daily operations and business practices in anticipation of the “new normal” that will prevail once in-person meetings resume.
In the past weeks, professional boundaries have slipped as we find ourselves sharing not just the professional challenges we face, but the personal challenges that we are facing during this crisis. Perhaps it’s because we are speaking with one another from our homes with spouses, children and pets punctuating the conversation. Perhaps it is the video calls in our PJs. Or perhaps it’s simply because we work in a relationship driven industry and good relationships are strengthened by shared crisis. RESOURCES & GUIDES Like most of you, I am reading as many things as I can find that might contain information that will be helpful and signing up for every available webcast and online course that offers the possibility of useful information. I often have found that the loudest and most insistent voices are not the most knowledgeable or expert. For health and medical issues, I’m listening to the CDC and WHO. For business and economic advice, I am reading Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal. And for a better understanding of how all of this is impacting our industry, I read the articles and posts of events and meetings experts. While all of that provides information, what I find most helpful during this time is speaking with my peers across the hospitality industry. The one-on-one, unfiltered conversations about our daily challenges, fears, and hopes have been essential to my personal navigation of this current situation. Ironically, the best resource in a time of physical distance has been social connection.
COVID-19 client engagement began with questions from planners about how to adjust their event plans to respond to safety and hygiene concerns, then shifted quickly into questions about options to postpone their events until summer or fall; and within three weeks, three months’ worth of events were wiped from our calendar. Since that time, the events that moved to the summer have moved again to the fall and are now moving again to 2021.
Having worked in this industry for over two decades, during which I have experienced a variety of small, large, and global challenges, the only thing that I haven’t experienced is repetition. The good news is we won’t have an event like this again. The bad news is, we will have an event that is nothing like this and yet equally or even more challenging. My list of resources begins with www and ends with every contact in my phone and link on my LinkedIn account.
I am constantly in touch with our clients; changing dates, changing guest counts and food and beverage minimums, adjusting event details, and incorporating new technology elements to account for the portion of their audience that likely will attend remotely.
My list of resources includes nearly all of the people with whom I have ever worked. When the first client called voicing concern, I began to make calls and send emails of my own. I reached out to the smart people that I knew (and a few I barely knew) and asked a lot of questions - about infectious disease, about marketing in a crisis, and about contracts - and listened carefully to their answers. Every day, I continue to gather as much information as I can find from as many different reliable, objective, and expert sources as I can find.
Of equal importance to the professional engagement with our clients has been the personal connection. As we contend with the reality of physical distancing, the need to strengthen and tighten our social connection is paramount. Our social media and marketing messages have to be thoughtful and authentic. Meaningful engagement with our clients in a time of crisis happens when we recognize them as partners and friends. Empathy, flexibility, transparency, and honesty are essential.
An event like this won’t happen again. An unexpected, life-altering, uncontainable “something” will happen, though. And given the nature of the world, it will happen sooner than any of us would like. However, now you’ve been through a Global Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 39
VENUES Pandemic, and so have all of your friends and colleagues. You are now one of the people I’m going to call and ask questions of the next time an event nothing like this happens. LOOKING AHEAD In January, I wrote an article for this publication in which I reflected on Simon Sinek’s new book, The Infinite Game and his contention that there is no winning or losing, just ahead and behind. I concluded by saying that, given the characteristics of our (events and meetings) industry, I was confident that we were ahead. I still believe that to be true. Despite the magnitude of the current crisis and the uncertainty of resolution, there are things that this situation cannot change. Humans are social and will always want, need, and be improved by personal connection. Event professionals, regardless of their diversity and varied levels of experience, all seem to share the same characteristics: resiliency, flexibility, determination, and compassion. Those two things - the nature of humans and the nature of event professionals - make it possible for me to have no clear idea of what to expect for the future, but complete certainty that there will be a future for our industry. In the coming weeks, months and years, we will change the standards and practices of in-person meetings; sanitation, room sets, food services, occupancy and professional attire all will be impacted. For our conference center, we will be focusing on providing a clean and sanitized environment for both guests and staff. Presentation, food service and menu options will change. Room set standards will be adjusted, and guest counts will be held to smaller numbers. We will deploy built-in technological resources to enable planners to hold hybrid meetings or to turn in-person events into virtual events with minimum effort. Physical distancing will create a challenge that our social connections will ultimately overcome. My graduate degree (English Lit) sometimes shapes how I respond to things, and this is one of those moments. My first response is to define the word crisis and then tell a story. The word crisis comes from the Greek word krisis, which means the “turning point in a disease,” later evolving into the 17th century definition of “decisive point.” So, linguistically speaking, a crisis is a turning that culminates in change. Now for the story. One day in December, a long time ago while driving with a friend in a snowstorm heading to the Grand Canyon, the car hit a patch of ice and spun off the side of the road, skidding sideways toward some very large trees. Time slowed and my adrenaline-fueled mind did a whole bunch of thinking in those seconds. Thanks to one of the tires breaking off the car, we came to a stop safely in piles of snow instead of crashing into the trees. 40 Mayz June2020
Me, driving the car on the way to the Grand Canyon, is all of us in January - optimistically pursuing our financial goals for the year. The snow storm is the news of an emerging virus in China. The ice is the pandemic. The trees are a recession. The broken tire is the quarantine. And my not having a cell phone (1998) to call a tow truck is all of us having no idea what the “new normal” will be. Never getting to the Grand Canyon on that trip is all of us not reaching goal for the year. And being alive and uninjured at the end of the story is all of us being alive and healthy at the conclusion of this turning point in our collective lives. My point in taking you all on this metaphorical road trip is to say that it’s too soon to institute policy or make substantive changes. Where we are right now in the story is still spinning in the snow fearfully watching the trees getting closer. Right now is the pre-decisive point when we should gather all available information and let it spin out of control until it slows to a stop. The difference between a happy and an unhappy ending to the story of our businesses may depend upon the decisions made once the turning stops. JACK WILLARD SENIOR VP, MARKETING AND SALES BATTLESHIP NEW JERSEY MUSEUM AND MEMORIAL ABOUT: Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial has been opened for events, tours, educational programs and overnights since October of 2001 and offers full-service catering, plus addon options like guided tours, presentations by Navy officers, and even the firing of its 5" gun. Prior to becoming a museum and memorial, the USS New Jersey served as the most decorated battleship in US history. The USS New Jersey, once the home to 45.000 sailors and marines, served in WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Lebanon Crisis and the Persian Gulf War. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS The Battleship is currently closed but is actively posting virtual tours, videos, fundraising postings and more to stay in the public’s eye and, hopefully, to raise revenue. Right now, we have rescheduled most events. We are virtually staying in contact with our clients and guests and have been offering opportunities for holding virtual tours, online fundraising and merchandise sales. LOOKING AHEAD Our first priority is to reschedule events, then to talk with any clients who have cancelled and attempt to reschedule their events. We also will reach out to past event and new potential clients.
A l l t he Element s
for an exceptional event
EXECUTIVE CHEF JIM BERMAN DEE HUNTSMAN DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING CHASE CENTER ON THE RIVERFRONT ABOUT: The Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, DE has been welcoming events of all types for up to 1,200 people for the better part of two decades now and is eager to open its doors again. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS We still are working diligently with clients to reschedule events. We have instituted the highest standards in cleanliness, using medical grade disinfectants and a stringent cleaning routine, strengthened our social media and communicating with our connections to keep them up-to-date. Our entire team has taken this time to personally reach out to, not only our clients, but to our vendors, as well.
Overlooking Independence National Historical Park, our 13,000-square-foot conference center features ﬂexible spaces, delicious food, and cuttingedge technology. Whether your event is a multi-day conference or a multi– time zone conversation, we can help you design and execute the perfect, seamless experience. sciencehistory.org
We also have been working to help out in our community by partnering with our local Food Bank as well as the World Central Kitchen to distribute food and meals. Our new Executive Chef, Jim Berman, has spearheaded some of these efforts. RESOURCES & GUIDES We are definitely using resources provided by Sodexo, IACC, PCMA, Unique Venues along with State, Local and Federal Guidelines and the CDC. LOOKING AHEAD We are eager to see what guidelines may come out about social distancing, employee protocols, food service protocols, etc. and are expecting to do temperature checks on all employees. We expect that buffet service will look very different - either having pre-packaged food or having server attendants. We are preparing for the possibility of having more limited room capacities, as well. Honestly, this situation played out much differently than we would have expected Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 41
VENUES when it came to a force majeure situation. We were much more flexible and accommodating than our contract terms required us to be. We have tried to be good partners with our clients to keep and strengthen their trust in us.
Some essential businesses are utilizing our services to feed their employees lunch. We also co-founded a program called “Food for the Frontline” in conjunction with Visit Delco PA, the official tourism bureau for Delaware County, PA.
GRETCHEN MCHALE-AREGOOD DIRECTOR OF SALES THE MET PHILADELPHIA, PART OF LIVE NATION!
RESOURCES & GUIDES The Delaware County Chamber of Commerce really has done a great job with getting out timely information to their members and Visit Delco, PA is getting the word out that Delaware County is ready to open. The NRA (National Restaurant Association) and PRLA are providing daily emails keeping up on National and State happenings. NACE, both locally (Philly Chapter) and National, are providing educational opportunities, webinars and Zoom meeting to keep us engaged.
ABOUT: Live Nation! offers five venues in Philadelphia, varying in size with the ability to accommodate groups from 25 up to 4,000 within the properties' varied spaces. The national sales team offers a single point of contact for Live Nation’s portfolio of more than 150 unique venues nationwide. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS Our event pros community is what makes live events so special. We look forward and will be ready to welcome everyone back. Live Nation has committed $10-million to Crew Nation, a global relief fund launched for live music crews, with the funding of an initial $5-million, then matching the next $5-million given by artists, fans and employees. We are doing a lot for clients. Join Live Nation! daily for live streams from around the globe - follow artists live from their homes as they share music and stories. Staying connected and up-to-date with the latest news, resources and inspiration on our social media channels. Relive your favorite events and explore our legendary venues anywhere, anytime with virtual tours online. RESOURCES & GUIDES Live Nation offers an on-going series of weekly meditation sessions (Mindful Nation) hosted in more than 30 global offices. DOMENICK SAVINO, CPCE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER DREXELBROOK SPECIAL EVENT CENTER ABOUT: The Drexelbrook Special Event Center in Drexel Hill, PA opened in March of 1950 as an Inn and Club by membership only. Over the years, The Drexelbrook has evolved into a premier destination for meetings, trade shows, galas, fundraisers and social events. In 2019, a new state-of-the-art 100-room Holiday Inn and Suites was added adjacent to the Event Center. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the closure of our event center, but our hotel remains open to service frontline workers. In the meantime, we have brought back our popular “Special Occasions” online ordering of family meals for curbside pick-up or delivery. We have produced cooking videos with food that you can make at home with your family, as well. 42 Mayz June2020
LOOKING AHEAD We expect the events industry to recover slowly, however we do expect a full recovery; people still need to celebrate. In person meetings are so much more effective than meeting virtually. People need to know that the venues, hotels and all sub-services will follow the recommended guidelines. The COVID-19 crisis will alter the way people celebrate and meet in the short term. Once a vaccine is found and implemented, we have high hopes that we can return to more normal events; however, also realizing that some things may carry over, such as more hand sanitizers, providing masks when needed, checking temperatures, spacing tables and providing food and beverages in a more controlled manner. Moving forward, we will look to keep a small supply of strategic items that may come in handy. All large gathering locations will be challenged should this virus return in the fall. We are subject to Local, State and Federal guidelines, so we can always switch to helping out where we can. SUZANNE GILDEA DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE SALES NORMANDY FARM HOTEL AND CONFERENCE CENTER ABOUT: Normandy Farm's history as a Philadelphia area landmark spans over 200 years and has always had a tradition of excellence – from its 19th century beginnings as a popular inn and tavern to its 21st century transformation into a premier hotel and conference center. Pride, attention to the smallest details and customer satisfaction are the cornerstones of our business, having assembled a fine staff of hospitality professionals to provide courteous and complete service. The ninth largest conference center in the area, the property offers true one-stop shopping in a beautiful, “get away from it all”
setting. Understanding how vital productive meetings, seminars, panel discussions and team building events are to the growth and success of every business, it is the staff's mission to execute their guests’ goals seamlessly. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS While we are optimistic, we feel that there are some important lessons learned that will fundamentally shape our future. We have jumped into action by creating a virus prevention program which includes the best cleaning practices and products. At our core, our entire business is about serving the community through food. While the format has changed, we remain true to that principle with the launch of a new farm-to-door take-out service. Our corporate clients continue to receive our awardwinning farm-to-table service, only now in the comfort of their own home office. While we can’t let the cat of the bag just yet, we are looking into new hotel offerings and corporate meeting programs. RESOURCES & GUIDES We are leaning on our team’s experience, knowledge and creativity and are very fortunate that - in an industry known for its transients - our core team has been together for a very long time. We have employees that have worked together for nearly 30 years and that experience and camaraderie have proven handy as we have had to pivot the business overnight.
LOOKING AHEAD Right now, our existing clients who are dealing with the stress has been our top priority. We have given them the first right of refusal on dates, recognizing that this too shall pass - and that their relationship with our organization comes first. From this unavoidable crisis, we also are anticipating new policies that include cleanliness procedures and contract terms. SUE CUNNANE, DIRECTOR OF SALES AND EVENTS NATALIE DIENER, SALES AND EVENTS ASSISTANT SARA WALTER, EVENT COORDINATOR ONE NORTH BROAD ABOUT: ONE North Broad, inside the Philadelphia Masonic Temple, Library and Museum, officially came to be in July 2016. They plan and execute corporate and social events, as well as Masonic events. The building is an historic landmark, constructed in 1873, and has been used continually since then by Masons for meeting and entertaining. ONE North Broad began with the idea of further sharing this magnificent building with all by inviting the outside world in for special events, meetings and greater museum engagements.
EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS While we are not hosting events at the current time, we have worked closely with all of our clients to postpone events to new dates. We are doing all we can to help with postponing by waiving financial penalties, finding new dates to move to that make good sense, and creating options and upgrades for their newly scheduled events to help make them feel even more special. To help take the sting out of now-empty wedding dates, we’re sending gifts to our couples on their original date to hopefully bring a smile to their day. We’ve created virtual tours so that we can keep inviting everyone “in” until we are able to have them come in personally and hosting virtual client Open Houses, Q&A sessions and even virtual Client Happy Hours. Our mantra has been that we’re making lemonade out of lemons all day, every day - and making sure our clients know that we’re here for them. RESOURCES & GUIDES The most impactful resource has been all the virtual meeting and IM resources. They allow our team to meet and work closely together, but safely from our remote locations. We’ve been participating in relevant webinars on everything from legal topics to marketing to personal wellness. Virtual networking within professional organizations, as well as between colleagues and competitors, has been extremely beneficial, too. The resource our sales and events team works and connects with remotely was already in place. We were able to share how our team does what we do with others in our organization so they can also work together effectively. LOOKING AHEAD We plan to cultivate continuously our existing client relationships as well as to create new ones. I believe that the work we are doing now is valued by our clients and will grant us meaningful, mutual growth. We’ve been thrust into a world where meeting and working virtually has been a necessity. We prefer meeting and working personally; however, we are now superstars at meeting virtually and that has value, too. BRIAN SHIELDS DIRECTOR OF SALES PEDDLER’S VILLAGE ABOUT: In addition to welcoming more than two-million visitors per year for shopping, dining, and seasonal events, Peddler’s Village which opened in 1962 - typically hosts myriad corporate meetings and gatherings throughout the year. Business planners are drawn to Peddler’s Village because it is a unique site, offering a variety of spaces, a wide range of culinary choices, spacious accommodations in an elegant country inn, creative team building options, free parking, and a 44 Mayz June2020
charming 18th century-style setting with award-winning landscaping. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS The philosophic cornerstone of Peddler’s Village has always been warm, personal service. We are reaching out to our clients individually to reassure them that we will be here for them when this crisis is behind us, and working with everyone who had events planned to issue refunds or to reschedule. This is a terrible time for everyone, but it is a powerful reminder that people and relationships are what really matter most - even in a business context. RESOURCES & GUIDES We are paying close attention to state and local officials, reputable news sources, and holding frequent conversations among the Peddler’s Village leadership team, which is led by COO Bob McGowan. We can’t help but feel that, having experienced this in real time, we have all increased our own knowledge bases and have expanded our creative thinking. In fact, we feel we have become a stronger leadership team because of this crisis. There’s nothing like a pandemic that keeps us apart to bring committed executives together! That said, we will continue after this to constantly evaluate and improve our technology infrastructure and communications tools. LOOKING AHEAD We believe it will be at least early summer before we experience anything close to our normal meeting and special events volume. We foresee it ramping up gradually. Many people are hesitant to commit to June or July dates right now for understandable reasons. We have dozens of “pending” agreements for the summer. Additionally, we are in the process of creating virtual tours throughout our event space and the Village so that planners can see everything we have to offer. We will be investigating technological solutions to enhance efficiency and online transaction capabilities, as well. KATE ANTHONY DIRECTOR, GROUP SALES MID-ATLANTIC PREFERRED HOTELS AND RESORTS ABOUT: Preferred Hotels and Resorts is the world’s largest independent hotel brand, representing 750 distinctive hotels, resorts, residences, and unique hotel groups across 85 countries. The company was founded in 1968 and has been owned and operated by the Ueberroth family for the past 16 years. With a company brand promise of “Believe in Travel,” a strong belief in travel – specifically the way it makes people mentally, socially, and emotionally richer and
VENUES how it helps create greater tolerance across cultures, religions, beliefs, and so much more – drives everything they do as a company. The brand offers unique hotel experiences in the group space from an intimate corporate retreat at Farmhouse Inn in Sonoma Wine Country to an executive incentive trip at Finca Cortesin Hotel, Golf and Spa in Andalucia, Spain to a largescale stakeholder meeting at The Broadmoor in Colorado. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS For the first time in history, humanity has one thing in common beyond the weather. Therefore, more than ever, this situation calls for simple, genuine human-to-human interaction that focuses on showing compassion and building trust and connection. I’ve taken this time to reach out to clients on a personal level and grow relationships in a meaningful way, sending a quick “I’m thinking of you note,” enjoying a coffee with clients over a virtual call, and slowing down just enough to refocus and reset. RESOURCES & GUIDES I have found that professional organizations such as MPI and PCMA have been a tremendous resource. Additionally, I believe that this is a time that we can all learn from each other and have found it beneficial to gather groups of planners and hotel partners for a virtual meetup to bounce ideas off one another. LOOKING AHEAD This is a turning point for our industry. I’ve seen so many people care for and help others that are usually seen as their competitors. This has brought us closer together and I hope that this collaboration and care will continue once normality returns. In the short term, I do believe there will be a rise in demand for domestic travel, and that regional meetings within driving distance will raise in popularity. Our properties are preparing for this domestic demand by creating packages geared for this type of business. Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 45
HEATHER FRAME, CONVENTION SERVICES MANAGER MICHELLE MENDELSON, SALES COORDINATOR JOHN LYNCH, DIRECTOR OF SALES AND ENTERTAINMENT JOY SAMANIEGO, HOUSING MANAGER GREATER WILDWOODS TOURISM IMPROVEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY ABOUT: The Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority (GWTIDA) was formed in 1993 by three municipalities known as the Wildwoods: The Borough of Wildwood Crest, The City of Wildwood, and the City of North Wildwood. As the umbrella destination marketing organization (DMO), the mission of GWTIDA is to develop the destination brand “The Wildwoods” and to plan and promote the island to a target audience of multi-generational families, families with children, and couples. GWTIDA also serves as the operations and marketing arm of the Wildwoods Convention Center on behalf of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA), the owners of the Wildwoods Convention Center. Additionally, GWTIDA funds and assists over 160-special events, festivals and concerts held throughout the island to enhance the visitor experience and extend the tourism season. The island boomed in the post-World War II era of the 1950s and ‘60s. With post-war prosperity, growing families and a rise in vacations by car, treks to the Jersey Shore became a family tradition. And one of the favorite destinations was the Wildwoods By-The-Sea. Springing from the demand of beach-goers, lodging, dining and entertainment options exploded across the island. It became known as the 'Doo Wop' Capital of the World having the largest collection of mid-century architecture in the country. Today, the Wildwoods five-mile stretch of white sand beaches remain free for beach-goers and the two and a half-mile boardwalk is packed end-to-end with shops, eateries, waterparks, entertainment and amusement piers, flashing arcades and carnival games. RESOURCES & GUIDES The Wildwoods understands that, especially now, it is important to stay in contact with visitors, organizations, and meeting planners to provide up-to-date information regarding how the Wildwoods are responding to the current crisis. The regularly distributed Wildwoods newsletter is one of the many outlets 46 Mayz June2020
being used to communicate with visitors, as well as to stay topof-mind as the ideal local resort destination to visit once traveling is permitted. The Wildwoods’ and the Wildwoods Convention Center’s social media pages also have become an outlet to communicate directly with visitors and groups regarding how the Wildwoods are handling the current crisis, answer any and all questions and used as an outlet to provide positivity, too, by sharing guests’ pictures and videos of the Wildwoods over the years. The Wildwoods tourism website - WildwoodsNJ.com - now has a COVID-19 tab that appears when you first visit the website providing up-to-date news and information. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS Our skilled team at the Wildwoods Convention Center is ready to host all events when the time is right. We are abiding by both state and federal regulations advising safe of distancing between all attendees, which also is reflected in seating arrangements. We have implemented advanced sanitization protocols including setting up sanitizing stations in key traffic areas throughout the building. Also, one designated employee has been assigned to sanitize the high traffic areas throughout the building, including door handles, window ledges and other highly populated area. Before and after all events, our professional cleaning team will deep clean the areas with commercial grade disinfecting materials and restock all hand sanitizer stations. Our team will maintain this during the event, as well, to assure guests feel safe and comfortable, and afterward conduct the same level of deep cleaning immediately following the event. LOOKING AHEAD Looking to the near future, projections indicate that many will be hesitant to travel long distances initially, and will be looking for resort destinations and meeting venues closer to home to spend their time and host their events. Ideally situated between three major U.S. cities - New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC - the Wildwoods serve as the perfect drive-to location for regional meetings and events. Our state-of-the-art Wildwoods Convention Center offers 260,000-square feet of flexible meeting space, including a
75,000-square foot exhibit hall (configurable into two 37,500square foot separate areas); a 7,500-seat concert arena for live shows; 30,000-square feet of lobby and pre-function space; state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems; and amazing ocean views from nearly every angle - not to mention a team of experienced support personnel and service professionals constantly at the ready to provide assistance every step of the way. An upgraded high-capacity Wi-Fi system has recently been installed giving attendees unlimited free Wi-Fi service for up to 10,000 visitors simultaneously. There are over 8,000 nearby hotel, motel and bed and breakfast rooms and over 3,000 vacation rentals to fit any budget. Many are looking forward to the day they are permitted to travel again; to clear their minds, find relaxation and to escape. We expect that the return to large gatherings will be gradual; and we will be prepared with messaging that assures planners and groups alike that we are taking all necessary precautions to offer a safe and fun venue and experience. Events are still on the schedule in June and for the balance of the summer - and those groups who have entrusted us to host their event, as well as those planning to attend them, will be assured of their safety and well-being.
Moving forward, we will continue to promote the Wildwoods to planners as a safe and family-friendly shore resort destination on the East Coast. JAMES ZIEREIS VICE PRESIDENT, HOTEL SALES TROPICANA ATLANTIC CITY ABOUT: Tropicana Atlantic City, which opened in November of 1981, has been committed to the meetings and events industry for over 38 years. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS We are addressing each individual group cancellation with respect and understanding for what our clients are currently going through. We are assisting groups in rebooking when appropriate and maintaining communication to answer any questions they might have. RESOURCES & GUIDES It is important to stay informed from governmental agencies on statistics and trends as it relates to the pandemic. I am on weekly conference calls with trade show producers and vendors, both domestic and internationally, to discuss what each of
us are seeing and hearing, which I also find helpful. Throw in a virtual Happy Hour now and again to keep us connected with customers, and realize that this too shall pass someday.
stop the spread of this coronavirus through social distancing. We believe it is our responsibility to close temporarily in compliance with government regulations.
LOOKING AHEAD I believe we are going to have to take the lead from our customers from both a group and leisure perspective to see where their comfort levels are and what their expectations are. Does a handshake on meeting a new acquaintance now become inappropriate? Will groups require a greater amount of meeting space than in the past to accommodate for more social distancing? Do groups forego larger national meetings and instead do smaller regional meetings to avoid air travel? There are so many unknowns at this time, and working together will be essential.
Woodloch is being completely transparent with all of our guests and, again, treating them like family. We want our guests to feel comfortable traveling. We want to meet their needs, and most importantly, we want to welcome them back to Woodloch. We are communicating updates via emails and phone calls. Our sales and marketing teams are working remotely to be sure we keep open lines of communication and maintain a connection and level of trust with every guest.
LISA HUGABOOM DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE SALES WOODLOCH RESORT ABOUT: Woodloch Pines first opened its doors in 1958 and has been providing allinclusive vacations to generations of families ever since. Situated on Lake Teedyuskung in the Northern Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, original owners Harry and Mary Kiesendahl founded the resort with the mission to “treat all guests as if they were company in their own homes.” Fast-forward 62 years, and now in its third generation of family ownership, Woodloch has evolved into one of the premier independent family resorts in America. Today, Woodloch sits on over 1,800-acres, offers three distinct and award-winning properties, employs over 1,200 staff members, and welcomes over 100,000 guests through its doors every year. For seven years running, TripAdvisor has rated Woodloch Pines in the top 1 percent of properties worldwide. Woodloch Springs was recognized by Golf Magazine as one of the “finest courses in America.” Sister property, The Lodge at Woodloch: A Destination Spa, has ranked among the top five spas in the world by Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure - among others. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS For over a decade, Woodloch also has been a premier and unique destination for meetings and special events. The longevity of the staff speaks volumes about both the product and ownership. Hospitality is our focal point. Each team member understands and believes in the founding mission statement: look beyond the bells and whistles and remember what truly matters - genuine hospitality. Woodloch is being very proactive in the face of the current pandemic. Although we have had no incidents of the virus at Woodloch, we are taking every necessary precaution in regard to cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing. The most important action we all need to take, however, is working together to slow and 48 Mayz June2020
RESOURCES & GUIDES The Pocono Mountains Convention and Visitors Bureau is being proactive by offering webinars, resources, a dedicated website and direct communication. Government representatives have personally connected with the Kiesendahl family to offer suggestions, encouragement and support. The main thing to remember is that we all are in this together. We need to stay positive and united. We have curated our own checklists for our business types. In the event that we have to mitigate a crisis once again, we will follow the lessons learned through this one - considering how to move business, handle deposits and relationships. We also will use our TPA, the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, as a resource more regionally and as a repository of information both locally and nationally. LOOKING AHEAD These are uncharted waters, but we are very optimistic that once things settle, it will be business as usual. Our outlook for summer remains positive, and business is strong. Everyone will have a new perspective on “quality time,” which may be the silver lining. Companies will have a much greater appreciation for their employees and understand the importance of bringing the team together to re-focus and bond. When the dust settles, Woodloch will be ready to offer unique meeting options, including team building, beautiful accommodations, excellent cuisine and genuine hospitality. The one thing we will continue to do is build friendships. Woodloch is family-owned and operated, and for the remainder of 2020, we plan to take a step back. We are moving back to the days of booking an event on a handshake (or in this case, an elbow tap - just to be safe). We are modifying our cancellation policies and removing the attrition clause in all our contracts. Now, more than ever, we need to foster trust and understand that it may take a while for everyone to feel 100 percent confident in booking an off-site event. Woodloch will be ready, and we will take care of our business partners by fostering friendships and building new ones. That’s family.
PLANNERS LOU MARROCCO, CMP FOUNDER BRANDYWINE EVENTS ABOUT: Brandywine Events has been in business for 17 years, having matured from support to planners handling logistics and food-and-beverage coordination and "boots-on-the-ground" support for planners’ program days to full-sourcing for client-based programs. It also evolved into a venue consulting service to help new and existing venues become more profitable with policies, procedures and marketing in the Greater Tri-State area, and has become a resource for clients with regard to sustainability and wellness for programs and events. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS We are promoting both wellness and sustainability, as well as positive messaging. We also are trying to keep engaged with our clients, so we are checking in to let them know we are here for them. There is a steady stream of information that we are processing to be able to help our clients. RESOURCES & GUIDES With all of the information we are seeing, most is coming from MPI, PCMA, ILEA, PRLA... and the CVBs. On the contracting side, I believe we all will be looking closely at the cancellation policies and alternative measures. We also are looking at writing into our client proposals new standards for safety in the flow of the events and meetings. For example, ample room between attendees and safeguards in the menu offered. LOOKING AHEAD The overall expectation is that there will be a gradual ramp up for live meetings and events. There is quite a bit of "moving" of dates and venue contracts as the timeline is ever changing and still uncertain. We expect that, as we all come back, we will be very careful on how we proceed with gatherings overall and with food-and-beverage menus and service. MELANIE WIMMER TRAVEL MANAGER CARPENTER TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION ABOUT: Carpenter Technology Corporation is a global manufacturer of metals and powders that has been in business for almost 200 years. As Travel Manager, Wimmer organizes and manages meetings and events for the company globally, which is heavily invested in exhibiting at trade shows as well as attending national sales meetings, corporate divisional meetings, educational, board meetings, etc.
EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS We are still open for business as we are considered an “essential” business. We manufacture parts that go into medical devices, as well as for the government. We stay connected with conference and Webex calls daily. RESOURCES & GUIDES Any new policies are all surrounding COVID-19 and the health and safety of our employees. LOOKING AHEAD Since we are global, we still will book meetings globally and attend trade shows, however, we also will try to use virtual methods when possible. JULIE B. WALKER, CMP, HMCC OWNER CHOICE MEETINGS ABOUT: Choice Meetings is a third-party planning company offering professional meeting planning services primarily to the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. They also work with association, nonprofit and corporate clients. Their services include inception-to-execution meeting planning: RFP development, sourcing, contracting, planning, logistics and onsite management. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS At the hint of travel being limited and once meetings started to get canceled, we immediately reached out to clients to help transition them to virtual/online meetings, as well as assisted them with their crisis communications. We have long strived to provide our clients with timely information and innovative opportunities within our industry – establishing Choice Meetings as a reliable resource and partner. We keep our clients updated and informed on any industry-related insights that will impact or influence their future business decisions regarding meetings and events. We continue to work on pooling together vendors and partners who will support our clients to ensure their success during this unsettling time. We’re also taking advantage of this “down time” to focus on professional development, and we will continue to support our clients however we can. On a daily basis, we are reaching out to our hospitality partners from across the U.S. and the Caribbean to check in on them. We want to stand united together so that we can rebuild and come out of this stronger than before. RESOURCES & GUIDES It has been interesting to see how quickly our industry colleagues came together to support one another. Honestly, the SPIN group was a tremendous resource for me. This is a group Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 49
of senior planners who offered incredible, seasoned advice and feedback to one another during these never-seen-before challenging issues. We figured out pretty quickly who our reliable and dependable leaders in the industry are – and Michael Dominguez from ALHI was ever present, front and center, guiding all of us during this time. In short, I now clearly know who and where I need to turn to for information and support in the future. People are our best resources during times of crisis, without a doubt. LOOKING AHEAD Obviously, we are all even more hyper-sensitive to force majeure and cancellation contracts now. Clients want to better understand the penalties for canceling and how to negotiate and minimize financial losses moving forward. I think clients will take a harder, longer look at contracts and will ask more questions and want to more clearly understand what they’re signing in the future. I also have been getting more inquiries about event cancellation insurance – so this is an area where we will look for new partners moving forward. We are all anxious to get back to business and start supporting our hospitality colleagues and partners. We want to get everyone back to work – especially the behind-the-scenes employees who are the heart and soul of every hotel. We never overlook these unsung heroes and their contribution to the big picture. We greatly appreciate their efforts and hard work. These are the workers who are being hit the hardest. They need us more than ever. MICHAEL J. LYONS INTERNATIONAL SPEAKER, AUTHOR AND HOST OF THE PODCAST “LESSONS FROM LEADERS” ABOUT: Lyons has been involved in the meetings industry for 47 years in a variety of roles, including: President and CEO of GEP Philly, and as Exhibition Director for IBTM America. For the past six years he has been traveling around the country delivering talks to meeting industry groups, he wrote a book, and has done consulting work for a variety of organizations. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS Now is the time to get creative and innovative and to connect as much as possible with as many people as possible, while also offering encouragement and tangible value to help them through this crisis – even if you are not paid. For example, I launched a podcast series through which I have interviewed the CEOs of all the major meetings industry organizations (MPI, PCMA, SITE, IMEX, etc.). In the podcasts, each one shares their perspective on the crisis and what they and their organizations 50 Mayz June2020
are doing to help the meeting industry community. The content is amazing and I am excited about sharing it! RESOURCES & GUIDES I have reached out to thought leaders, consulted with experts, and bounced around ideas that I can initiate once the coast is clear. My advice is to prepare now and be ready to go, because this too shall pass and it will be, from a business standpoint, survival of the fittest; or, in other words, the people who are best prepared. LOOKING AHEAD I emphasize being resourceful and creative. When we do come out of this, it will not be the same. Though I hate the term, it will be a “new normal.” The entire world has been impacted, not just the meetings industry, and we will have to adjust and be proactive with new ways of doing things with fewer resources (at least for the foreseeable future). Think of all the industries beyond ours that have been damaged: retail, entertainment, sports, academia… the list goes on and on. And they are all interconnected. So, we will have to act quickly and look for new opportunities that will emerge from this unprecedented event. MEG JAMISON, CMP MANAGER, CORPORATE EVENTS RICOH USA, INC. ABOUT: Founded in 1946, Ricoh empowers digital workplaces through innovative technologies and services that enable individuals to work smarter, and is a leading provider of document management solutions, IT services, commercial and industrial printing, digital cameras, and industrial systems. As Manager, Corporate Events, Jamison manages trade shows, sales incentive trips and meetings. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS We're trying to stay positive - holding weekly staff meetings and discussing planning upcoming webinars (internal and external) to keep employees and customers up-to-date with information, and continuing to stay focused on Ricoh’s customers and their needs through this difficult time period. LOOKING AHEAD Contracts will be reviewed carefully by our legal team regarding cancellation clauses, verbiage if an association cancels a trade show or event, etc. Most of my events are trade shows, and the association determines the location; incentive trips often take place at international destinations; however, corporate meetings (internal) could be regional depending on the group.
PLANNERS ROB CARACHILO PRINCIPAL & EVENT PRODUCER ROBERTS EVENT GROUP, INC.
CAROLYN MULDOON DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS TRAINING CAMP
ABOUT: Roberts Event Group, Inc., which started 25 years ago, designs, produces and manages events - everything from small board meetings to large city-wide festivals. Carachilo has been with the company since the beginning, having overseen every event produced in Roberts Event Group's history, and now serve as Principal of the firm.
ABOUT: Training Camp was established in 2000 in order to provide “boot camp”-style IT training and certification options to IT professionals. In Muldoon's position as Director of Operations, she oversees logistics and details for all of Training Camp's public training (held at hotels around the world), as well as for private training that companies, military, government, etc. utilize at their facilities. She also plans all in-house Training Camp events and handles marketing and sponsorships at events.
EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS As a firm, we have daily team meetings to make sure everyone stays engaged and still feels connected and motivated about the work we have ahead. Over the past 25 years, we have been fortunate to create strong relationships with our clients. We are using this time to simply check-in with them to ensure that they and their families are staying safe and healthy. Some clients are continuing to plan, and we are letting them know we are here from them and ready to work - but for the most part, we just want all our clients to know that we are in this with them and that we care about their health and the health of those around them. LOOKING AHEAD As a part of our business, we are a Destination Management Company, which means the majority of our work is regional to PA, NJ and DE. We are patiently waiting for this storm to pass and to get back to work promoting our region and showing clients all what we have to offer while they are in town for meetings, conventions and festivals.
EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS We have an outstanding platform for running our classes virtually, one that has been in place for a couple of years now. We are assuring our clients and our students that the virtual class option is not only the safest way to go at this time, but it also is extremely convenient and effective! RESOURCES & GUIDES We at Training Camp already had all of the resources to run our trainings virtually for all of our classes, and our employees are almost all able to work from anywhere, so I believe we were as prepared for this as any company could have been. LOOKING AHEAD I am hoping that we fall back into our “business as usual” ways fairly quickly!
CVBs PAUL BENCIVENGO PRESIDENT/COO VISIT BUCKS COUNTY ABOUT: For more than 60 years, Visit Bucks County (VBC) has served as the official tourism promotion agency for Bucks County, PA. VBC works to market the area’s lodging, attractions, retail and restaurants, as well as countless unique meeting spaces to attract visitors and generate economic impact. MEMBERS & STAFF The team at Visit Bucks County is focused on our partners’ needs and supporting them during these challenging times. As the pandemic heightened, we continued to stay in communication with our partners and provided some of the following support: - Compiled a list of COVID-19 Resources on our website, which lists financial assistance and programs, as well as employee and industry guidance. - Created a Support the Bucks County Tourism and Industry page: visitbuckscounty.com/things-to-do/support-the-tourism-hospitality-industry/eat-here - Curated a page that provides links where consumers can make donations to local tourism and hospitality businesses’ fundraising campaigns: visitbuckscounty.com/things-to-do/support-the-tourism-hospitality-industry/donate-to-the-tourism-hospitality-industry Culinary travel is a big draw for Bucks County… so while our state is under a stay-at-home order, we’re asking fans of the Bucks County Ale Trail and Bucks County Sweet Spots Trail to share their support of their favorite small businesses by posting photos of the Ale Trail T-shirt or the Sweet Spots Bucky plush doll they received, encouraging passport winners to spread positivity and freely promote these businesses. We also have created many fun and educational resources on VisitBucksCounty.com that promote local attractions. And we are promoting our two popular driving tours - the covered bridge driving tour and barn driving tour - to give people fun ideas they can still do during quarantined times that allow them to “travel” and explore Bucks County. Right now, we are focused on staying strong together within the Bucks County community… Our priority is making sure our small businesses and attractions that have welcomed travelers for years can weather the storm so when people are ready to travel again, Bucks County will be open for business. LOOKING AHEAD As a drive-to destination with an abundance of outdoor loca52 Mayz June2020
tions and countryside, Bucks County is well positioned to host meeting planners seeking open spaces in the future. Bucks County is that perfect balance of providing a venue and setting where the mind and body can both be stimulated and rejuvenated. Now more than ever, we think when travelers and meeting planners are looking for their next adventure, they’ll seek out the unique retreat our region has to offer. Planners will be looking for open spaces that provide a safe and less congested opportunity for all - with which Bucks County is filled. We are ready to host.
COURTNEY BABCOCK DIRECTOR OF SALES CHESTER COUNTY CONFERENCE AND VISITORS BUREAU ABOUT: The Chester County Conference and Visitors Bureau (CCCVB) has served as the designated sales and marketing organization for Chester County, PA for the last 57 years, helping customers by advising on need dates, peak seasons, special incentives, as well as educating planners on unique venues and additional accommodation options. MEMBERS & STAFF Since the CCCVB is funded by a lodging tax, the shutdown has definitely impacted our scheduled sales and marketing efforts. But we have stayed focused by sticking to our organization’s mission and values, which include supporting the needs of our tourism community and staying in touch with our customers. Examples of support for our county partners include: weekly calls to our lodging partners to check on their needs and statuses; and weekly email communications with links to industry resources we have found helpful, such as the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Associations, STR Impact Reports, and the U.S. Travel Association. For our customers, we have created a resource page on BrandywineValley.com that lists partners who have remained open in some capacity during government mandated closures. From listings of restaurants, wineries and breweries that are of-
fering takeout or delivery to a list of parks and trails throughout Chester County that remain open to the public to online retailers offering gift card incentives for future sales. In addition, our social media marketing is and will continue to be - an effective tool in support of the industry as we move forward. A local Facebook channel, All Things Chester County (facebook.com/groups/AllThingsChesco) has been a great resource to promote who is open physically or virtually.
This is a turning point for our industry. I’ve seen so many people care for and help others that are usually seen as their competitors. This has brought us closer together and I hope that this collaboration and care will continue once normality returns. KATE ANTHONY PREFERRED HOTELS AND RESORTS
RESOURCES & GUIDES At this time, we are keeping track of the organizations that we would certainly work with again based on an industrywide implication (i.e. State, PRLA, Visit Philly, other regional CVBs) and health-related crises organizations (i.e. Center for Disease Control and Pennsylvania and Chester County Health Departments). While we have utilized our own CCCVB Crisis Plan during these times, we have realized the need for contacts specific to the health implications at hand. All records from the resources that have been gathered will be archived for the future. LOOKING AHEAD I think at first organizations will probably look to host closer to their customers and meetings and events will initially be smaller in size until the country completely recovers from this health crisis… We are grateful that Chester County is rich with natural assets, including being the home to Longwood Gardens, which we believe our customers will be craving more than ever. We hope planners take advantage of our knowledge and resources if they are looking to incorporate more outdoor components on their agendas to balance meeting content with a healthy infusion of fresh air and natural light for their attendees. The business continuity plan we are currently formulating is - first and foremost focused on the health and safety of our partners and the traveling public, but also is full of ways to again welcome and service the needs our future guests to Chester County’s Brandywine Valley. The plan also focuses on how the CCCVB is a great first Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 53
CVBs call for planners to make. We will have a pulse on what venues, attractions, and accommodations are open. In addition, our level of complimentary CVB services will not change because of the crisis and, in fact, we hope to offer more services to make their customers feel confident to travel and stay in Chester County. More immediately, we will continue to offer, and honor, our Q1 2020 launched November 2020-March 2021 booking incentive. We hope this offer can help those planners, even if just a little, to regain any financial and staffing hardships they have undertaken during this health crises. VISIT HERSHEY & HARRISBURG ABOUT: Visit Hershey and Harrisburg has been a staple in the tourism community, actively engaging with meeting planners in a variety of markets, including association, corporate, SMERF, medical and others. MEMBERS & STAFF We are doing personal outreach to our partners daily to get a pulse on staffing changes and closings. We are posting updates to our members website and consumer website. We also have begun doing weekly surveys to our hotels to monitor updates.
rate details regarding the CARES Act; individual member outreach by email to offer support; and developing a Members Helping Members guide that includes offers of program and resource sharing and discounts, which is maintained on the #smallbusinessSTRONG page of our website. The chamber also has created a Gift Card Program whereby the community was encouraged to purchase a gift card in any amount to a retail or restaurant establishment of their choice. The Chamber provided a $2500 match with the gift card purchases to be donated to area nonprofits. LOOKING AHEAD As difficult as the pandemic will be, this chamber is prepared to make changes as needed to manage expenses and work with members to provide resources and services to help them manage through this difficult time. We are working on several programs for both members and nonmembers to help with their re-opening, as well as an opportunity to recognize and thank all of the healthcare workers that put their lives on the line to take care of those who are or have been sick with the virus.
LOOKING AHEAD As we monitor the responses from hotels, we hoping that, as we see certain markets going into recovery, we will deploy CVB resources in that direction. We also are hopeful to be able to engage in face-to-face communication again soon! PAMELA KELLY PRESIDENT AND CEO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE FOR GREATER MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA ABOUT: The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Montgomery County is the premier business organization for networking, learning and giving in the county. It is the largest chamber of commerce in Montgomery County, and its mission is to enhance the economic health of its business community and facilitate opportunities for all members through connections, events and education. MEMBERS & STAFF The chamber jumped into action in mid-March to ensure that members could count on us to be a valued resource through the pandemic. We have created a COVID-19 Business Resource section on our website that includes CDC, PA Health, County and other related information of interest to our members. We also have shared breaking news by email and social media, as well as webinars for members to receive current and accu54 Mayz June2020
VALERIE CASE, HMCC SALES MANAGER POCONO MOUNTAINS VISITORS BUREAU ABOUT: The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau (PMVB) has been a hub for regional meetings for many years, but with the addition and renovation of spaces like Camelback, Mount Airy, and Kalahari, the PMVB has been able to entice a larger market. Its strength lies in the diversity of the meeting spaces, from large convention space to four diamond, select hotel executive retreats like the Lodge at Woodloch and The French Manor. MEMBERS & STAFF We are continuously monitoring needs and adapting to new information, and we are in close and constant communication with our team. The PMVB also has been actively engaged with our members and the community at large.
RESOURCES & GUIDES We have a dedicated microsite on our website (poconomountains.com/covid-19) that speaks to healthcare needs, lists restaurant takeout options, updated Covid-19 information, information of the CARES Act, as well as options for small businesses, and links to additional community resources. PMVB has partnered with area chambers of commerce and other regional CVBs to understand trends and best practices to offer to our community. PMVB has held weekly Wednesday Webinars for its members, too, and we have created a number of PSAs that are running digitally, on billboards, newspaper, radio and television. We have created a best practices toolkit for other agencies to utilize, as well, and we have partnered with our regional hospitals and the local government to start a live Friday Press Conference. LOOKING AHEAD We do anticipate that initially meetings will be more likely to go to destinations that are a drivable distance. We are working on a short-term plan and long-term plan that has a tiered strategy… We will focus on drive-to markets, the strength of the Poconos brand, the outdoor amenities and family travel options we have to offer. SCOTT THOMAS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SOUTHERN DELAWARE TOURISM ABOUT: Southern Delaware Tourism was established in 1989 and has, since its founding, provided resources, information and tools to assist groups interested in planning meetings and events in Sussex County, DE. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS We’re not a member organization, but we are working diligently to provide our local tourism partners with information and updates on available tools and assistance designed to help them through the crisis. Additionally, with our local audience in mind, we are promoting local restaurants that are providing takeout and/or delivery services, and with future visitors in mind, we're promoting local eateries offering online sales of gift cards. We're also in the process of instituting a means for our accommodations partners to reach out to future travelers. LOOKING AHEAD We’re confident that, by remaining engaged with our visitors and potential visitors throughout this crisis through our consumer newsletter, social media, website, etc., and by remaining a solid source of information and support for our local tourism partners, once this crisis has ended our visitation will resume successfully and organically.
We think this is especially true because Southern Delaware is an extremely popular drive-to destination... People may take longer to feel comfortable with the idea of long-distance domestic travel and international travel after all of this. We’ve always promoted the fact that we’re a “nearby, faraway” destination based on our proximity to so many large metro areas, yet we offer the relaxed, seaside atmosphere of a much more distant retreat. I think particularly after this, that will hit a welcome note with planners and their clients. RACHEL RILEY DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS VALLEY FORGE TOURISM AND CONVENTION BOARD ABOUT: Established more than 50 years ago, the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board is a private, nonprofit 600-plus membership-based sales and marketing organization that promotes the Valley Forge & Montgomery County, PA area as a convention site and leisure visitor destination by encouraging patronage of its hotels, restaurants, attractions and services. The VFTCB’s mission is to inspire the world to fall in love with Montgomery County, PA, and its vision is to ensure that the county is a must-experience destination, rooted in the past and leading the future. MEMBERS & STAFF The VFTCB’s team of talented sales and marketing professionals is working closely with the hospitality community to develop any potential short-term opportunities to keep partners busy, while still cultivating future business for the recovery phase and beyond. Weekly Zoom calls with hotels, members, and industry partners are happening to keep communication flowing. Additionally, the organization increased the frequency of member e-news to provide helpful resources. The VFTCB also has surveyed members to gauge the impact, worked with chambers of commerce to support small businesses, and created content for web and social media using #MontCoStrong to encourage virtual tourism, patronage of restaurants still serving, and the purchasing of gift cards. LOOKING AHEAD The VFTCB is letting partners and clients know that, no matter what happens, the organization is here and ready to support them when business comes back. With technology like social, digital, and online tools, it’s possible that client communication and attendee offerings may shift. The VFTCB will focus more on brands such as Montco Wellness to add an element of relaxation to events, providing event planners with valuable information on nutrition, nature and culture. In the meantime, the organization is working closely with local, regional, state and national health, government leaders and tourism and hospitality agencies, as well as the Greater Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 55
CVBs Philadelphia Hotel Association, the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, Tourism Economics, and Meeting Professionals International. The VFTCB also is working on messaging that will let planners know that Valley Forge and Montgomery County, PA are ready to host their next event. The organization is creating new supportive services to provide planners with the peace of mind they need to choose this area. STEVE BYRNE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR VISIT DELCO PA ABOUT: Visit Delco PA is a small Tourism Agency that has been around since the early 1980s. Part of their main focus is to promote the county’s meeting and event space both locally and regionally. Not only do they promote traditional spaces, but they also work with organizations that have non-traditional facilities to connect with planners in a different way.
JERAD BACHAR EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND INTERIM CEO VISITPITTSBURGH ABOUT: VisitPITTSBURGH, celebrating its 85th anniversary in 2020, is the official tourism promotion agency for Allegheny County, PA, and is an independent, nonprofit organization that serves its business membership. In addition to driving visitation, VisitPITTSBURGH promotes the city across three major verticals: business events, sports events and leisure tourism. MEMBERS & STAFF VisitPITTSBURGH is diligently working to keep our business partners, stakeholders and elected officials engaged as we collectively respond to our current environment. We organized Microsoft TEAMS groups for our local hotel and restaurant communities, giving them a communal forum in which to connect. There, we share relevant, helpful information, such as industry research and updates specific to the Allegheny County and Pittsburgh region.
EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS We are non-member, so what we are doing is to help all businesses in the county. We recently launched a website that is promoting all restaurants in our county that are open for business and encouraging the public to support these establishments (visitdelcopa.com/take-out).
Additionally, we hosted a series of Town Hall forums, providing our community with insight into the work that is happening across the region to not only see us through the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to put us in a good position for recovery.
On top of that, we will be launching a virtual tour area to promote attractions who have video capability of their properties. We have been in constant contact with our hotels and working with them as we hear of programs that are in need of rooms.
RESOURCES & GUIDES We are constantly expanding our event planner resources to help with any possible disruption or operational scenario. Our aim is to expand our Suite of Services for event clients to ensure they have resources for normal business operations, but also for extreme disruption like we are currently experiencing.
LOOKING AHEAD While it is too early to tell right now, it would not surprise me if more companies did things virtually. This has forced us to learn how to do this and, in some ways, it has been successful. With social distancing, we may see that hang on longer than everything else until consumer confidence returns strong. We will need to listen to how the needs of companies have changed and how they are going to do business, and then adapt to that and adjust our way of promoting.
LOOKING AHEAD The meetings industry has been challenged before by disruption. It has continued to bounce back to higher and higher levels of attendance. We anticipate that associations, corporations and other organizations will use regional, national and international events as platforms to reignite their businesses and reconnect to their own communities.
I think for the near future, people will be less than willing to travel for meetings and they will become more regional. Once we start to emerge from this crisis, we need to be prepared to promote the area with a positive message.
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We believe that there will be a large sector of the population who will be eager to take regional vacations and/or staycations when the “stay-at-home” policies are lifted. We are expecting leisure travel to rebound gradually, with the first level of recovery being from our drive-to market. Business events will play a critical role in rebounding our regional economy as companies and other organizations focus on getting back to full-scale operations. Our approach is to let planners know that - when the time comes - Pittsburgh will be ready to welcome them and their event.
ASSOCIATIONS PETER PANTUSO PRESIDENT & CEO AMERICAN BUS ASSOCIATION
Tips on Working from Home (as this is foreign territory for many). Also, just letting members know that we are there for them.
ABOUT: The American Bus Association (ABA) is the oldest and largest motorcoach, group travel and tourism association in North America. Founded in 1926, it has been connecting the motorcoach industry with the travel and tour industry and to represent them in Washington, DC on the national government level.
DRAWING FROM PAST EXPERIENCES Remain calm... limit time watching the news.... ask family members how they feel and have a real conversation... never let fear run your life... and never forget, we are survivors. We will get through this, learn from it and be a stronger country and world for it.
MEMBERS & STAFF Our members’ businesses have come to a complete standstill. More than 30,000 buses are sitting idle across the country and tourism destinations have shuttered doors. Our job at this point is to work with the Trump Administration and Congress to remember these small, family-owned businesses when they are considering future economic stimulus packages. We also are a resource of information for our members and we are providing them with tools to tell their story and work on professional and operational development during this time so that, when they open again, they can hit the ground running.
LOOKING AHEAD We have begun internal, informal talks that the meetings and hospitality industry has forever changed, and we need to be on the forefront and think through what this means to us all. It will be disruptive; but with disruption comes opportunities.
DRAWING FROM PAST EXPERIENCES What we are seeing right now is unprecedented, even taking into consideration both 9/11 and the 2008 recession. During these other crises, people came together and supported each other, while now we being told to literally keep away and stay home. LOOKING AHEAD I do believe that as soon as the doors are open again people are going to run out and travel - to visit museums, restaurants, stores and other attractions. I believe that what we once took for granted (face-to-face communication and going wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted) will become more appreciated and meaningful. I see the travel and tour sector rebounding and being stronger than ever, albeit different. G.A. TAYLOR FERNLEY CHAIRMAN FERNLEY & FERNLEY ABOUT: Fernley and Fernley is an Association Management Company with both local and national members, and many of these associations have been with them for decades. Their mission is to provide a forum for members to learn from the brightest minds in the industry. MEMBERS & STAFF It is all about communication. To retain a sense of community when gatherings are discouraged, we are working to keep members engaged with more almost real-time meetings using Zoom or Skype. Also, more frequent communication that will, in some small way, elevate their comfort level; for example, Top 10
DENISE DOWNING, CMP, MASAE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ETHAN GRAY, CAE, MASAE BOARD PRESIDENT MID-ATLANTIC SOCIETY OF ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVES ABOUT: The Mid-Atlantic Society of Association Executives (MASAE) formed in 2010 as the result of a merger between the New Jersey Society of Association Executives and the Delaware Valley Society of Association Executives. MASAE is the primary vehicle for networking, education, problem-solving and resource sharing in Eastern PA, NJ and DE for association and non-profit professionals and service-providers. RESOURCES & GUIDES MASAE is rethinking its approach to content delivery - exploring virtual options for education and networking - and disseminating information on how our professional community is addressing the challenges of the COVID-19 disruption so that we all can learn from each other. DRAWING FROM PAST EXPERIENCE Past crises, whether they have been economic, natural or otherwise, have mandated that industries focus their lenses on the critical functions that keep them connected to constituencies. Evaluating the ROI of existing programs becomes essential to determine how to best prioritize reanimation once a “business as usual” environment returns. Crises may offer unique opportunities to learn from members and customers about what they value most (the “essential” programs) vs. what is a more ambiguous value driver. Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 57
ASSOCIATIONS LOOKING AHEAD We are increasing communication touchpoints to let our constituency know we are here to support them, including direct access channels to leadership who can provide guidance on exploring short and long-term solutions to the disruption in operations and potential risks to programs and revenue. MASAE can serve as the largest regional convener for shared problem-solving. We also plan to lead back into the live meeting setting once it becomes reasonable to do so. Re-establishing industry relationships will be important as we all reinvigorate our shared industry.
TIM SUDALL, PRESIDENT/CEO PRESIDENT NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CATERING AND EVENTS FOR PHILADELPHIA, SOUTH JERSEY AND DELAWARE ABOUT: National Association of Catering and Events (NACE) Philadelphia South Jersey and Delaware has been around since the early 1960s and has been the hub for thought leaders in the Catering and Hospitality industry to gather, exchange ideas, educate and support the Greater Philadelphia area event community.
ILENE K SAUERTIEG DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION PA OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION ABOUT: The Pennsylvania Optometric Association provides membership services to doctors of optometry in the Commonwealth of PA. This includes continuing education programs and conferences, insurance reimbursement services, lobbying and legislative monitoring on the state and national level, among other services. They have been around for over 125 years and serve over 1,100 doctors. MEMBERS & STAFF We are updating our website daily, as doctors of optometry are considered “essential” and many have chosen to continue to see patients - many on an emergency-only basis. We are keeping them abreast of changes in the situation in PA, the CDC, and other government issues. We also are working to assist them with issues related to license renewal, which is due to take place at the end of this coming November. Our expectation is that this deadline will be extended, so my primary job right now is to make sure that we are prepared to offer them the continuing education (CE) they will need when we are back up and running. I also am working with one of our business partners to provide free online CE for our members while they are out of the office. We are exploring how to assist them as they get back in their offices after having taken a financial hit, as well. We want to retain as many members as possible and make them aware of what we can do for them to get back up and running and get patients back into their offices. LOOKING AHEAD All of our meetings are held in PA and we are booked until 2025. I was able to rebook our Spring 2020 meeting at the same location for 2023, and that was huge for our budget.
MEMBERS & STAFF NACE Philly is staying connected with our members during this shutdown by embracing technology and conducting online education, social media interaction, and celebrating our rich vibrant community via webcast - called NACEPhillyLIVE - in which we share stories, educational tips and reinforce the message that we will be back stronger than ever. DRAWING FROM PAST EXPERIENCE From past crises like 9/11 and the 2008 recession, we have learned that the constant reinvention of our services, products, and ways of communicating with our clients are critical. As we emerge from this current lockdown, we must all be ready to pivot to the new normal by keeping up with changes in the market as well as staying well connected to trade and hospitality organizations that support our industry, 58 Mayz June2020
PASAE STAFF PENNSYLVANIA SOCIETY OF ASSOCIATION EXECUTIVES ABOUT: Pennsylvania Society of Association Executives (PASAE) exists to educate individuals who are managing associations, and provides the highest quality educational, leadership and professional development opportunities to association execu-
tives and staff, as well as supplier members, which enhances the performance of the organizations that they represent. The PASAE Foundation, the philanthropic arm of PASAE, offers scholarship opportunities for professional development and supports PASAE educational programming. MEMBERS & STAFF PASAE has waived the individual membership dues/fees for the rest of 2020 for any individual who is laid off, displaced, furloughed or who becomes unemployed from a current member organization or company of PASAE. Members can email their updated contact information to Info@PASAE.org to re-join. We want all members to stay connected with us. Our management company, Triad Strategies, has been monitoring updates and guidance from the local, state and federal level daily and sharing that information with us along with our full clientele. PASAE also has begun issuing an electronic resource information update to our members on a weekly basis. We post news updates to our social media platforms daily, as well. These updates include available member resources and services. We aren’t changing up our business, but we are changing up how we do business to continue supporting PASAE’s membership. These are very trying times but together, we will get through them. LOOKING AHEAD We’ve transitioned to virtual platforms for continued member engagement. I think what everyone is learning globally is that we can’t have the mindset of this is how we’ve always done it. The mindset now - and going forward - is considering the best operations and platforms for continuing to meet the needs of our members… We are in this together. We will get through this together.
DEBI MAINES, CMP-HC CHAPTER PRESIDENT PROFESSIONAL CONVENTION MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION GREATER PHILADELPHIA ABOUT: The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Greater Philadelphia chapter, which is in its 28th year, is important to its members for networking, friendships and strong educational programs.
DRAWING FROM PAST EXPERIENCE 9/11 impacted me on a personal and emotional level, but my work life was not affected in the same ways that COVID-19 is impacting the industry regarding cancellations, contracts, hotel closures, etc… We all can rebound from this if we support each other. New York rebounded pretty quickly after 9/11. There are many lessons to be learned from COVID-19, too. LOOKING AHEAD We plan on having some Zoom calls to talk about working from home, updating your resume, and ways to connect with everyone. We recently had a chapter call that PCMA Headquarters initiated, and it was by far the best experience ever! DEIRDRE C. HOPKINS 2019-20 PRESIDENT PHILADELPHIA PUBLIC RELATIONS ASSOCIATION ABOUT: The Philadelphia Public Relations Association, Inc. (PPRA) is the premier association for public relations professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Founded in 1945, PPRA is one of the oldest and largest private public relations associations in the country. MEMBERS & STAFF The COVID-19 "staycation" is allowing us to adjust our programming, support and outreach to our members. We immediately crafted a message following the first reported case in our region. We see this as a time to support our members and to push online programming that contributes to professional development. We also know that our voices can play a role in the drum beat toward recovery of our industry when the crisis subsides. DRAWING FROM PAST EXPERIENCE We live in the greatest country in the world. We have always faced challenges, externally and even from within. But we always survive. We come together and find our way to a better path. Those of us in the meetings, programs and overall hospitality industry know that we are among the first industries to rebound from any crisis. We will be ready to celebrate and highlight all of the events and new opportunities that emerge as the industry shifts. LOOKING AHEAD We are monitoring the industry, brainstorming, and watching for innovative ideas related to recovery - and we are in support of our hospitality partners. We are encouraging our members to work with their clients and to be there for one another. We will continue to offer online skills training so that we don't miss a beat.
MEMBERS & STAFF We have been having Virtual Social Hours through Zoom so we can see some friendly faces, and we also are bringing some of our education online (through Zoom), which we had planned on doing anyway, but now we are doing it much faster! Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 59
EVENT PARTNERS MELANI KODIKIAN, CERP OWNER & PRESIDENT A TO Z PARTY RENTAL ABOUT: A to Z has been a trusted advisor to the events industry for more than 50 years with its current ownership in place since 2001. Their specialty is personalizing service to bring to life the unique identity of each and every client’s event vision. DRAWING FROM PAST EXPERIENCE We’ve survived the financial impact of 9/11, as well as the 2008 recession, and we want to our clients to know that while this is a particularly trying time, we will be here for them... We bring a sense of stability to our clients by checking in on them daily. At times like this, the most valuable role we can play is that of an empathetic ear and a voice of positivity that helps them envision their business post-crisis. RESOURCES & GUIDES We have stayed connected on a daily basis with the American Rental Association, MATRA, IFAI Tent Rental Division, event rental owners around the country, local chambers, county offices, PEMA and our State Representative. We’re also staying connected with state and county government offices for the latest updates, and offering our assistance as well to the network of professionals we’ve partnered with for years. LOOKING AHEAD While it’s difficult to have any realistic expectations on when this virus will allow us to return to normal business, one thing is for certain, events will be forever changed. We foresee an uptick in outdoor events offering fresh air for attendees, sanitization stations will likely become common at entrances, and many events will opt for more intimate settings. Additionally, client contracts will require more flexibility by venues and vendors such as ourselves. The key to our company’s growth for the past 52 years has been relationships, and we intend to double down on that strategy - taking care of our employees and customers as best we can. We are streamlining all internal processes so that we can deliver the same great products and pricing while also keeping the company financially viable. I’m proud to say that we have a remarkable team that was able to quickly adapt to this crisis, and we are confident that we will be ready for whatever comes next.
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STEVE WILDEMANN PRESIDENT ADVANCED STAGING PRODUCTIONS ABOUT: Advanced Staging Productions was founded in 1985 and has been serving the corporate, university and nonprofit markets with audio-visual rental and event technology management ever since. As technology evolved, they evolved along with it, providing management and execution of the complex technology that is used in all types of today’s events. Highly skilled technically and providing the latest solutions, their experience and care helps to set them apart. Advanced Staging’s investment in their clients’ success goes deep, and shows in their attention to detail and teamwork as they follow “The Advanced Way” - doing things the right way because it is the right way to do things - for all of their events, big or small. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS During the crisis and the shutdown, our focus first and foremost has been on our employees and their families. Like many others, we were forced to employ furloughs to reduce expenses. It is painful to see part of your family in that situation, so we are doing what we can to help guide them through the process, to keep them engaged and knowing what we are doing to keep the business moving ahead. We are reaching out with phone calls and Zoom happy hours to maintain the sense of family that is the backbone of our culture. The rest of us have been busy contacting clients and prospects and discussing various solutions to their canceled events, how we will be able to help them when this is over, and just being available to answer questions and reassure them that we are here for them, both now and in the future - no matter what that looks like. RESOURCES & GUIDES We are relying on the people and the relationships that we have developed over the years to help us through this difficult time. Industry organizations like The Rental and Staging Network and The Audio Visual Alliance have been instrumental in that they are a brother and sisterhood of AV business owners in the same situation where we can go for information and support. Many of the local organizations like the PHLCVB, Philly Chamber, Main Line Chamber, Mid Atlantic Employers Association and
my bank, my accountant, my financial advisors… all have offered information, guidance and varying perspectives that I have used to develop an understanding of the financial and relief landscape and to come up with a strategy to make the most of what is available. LOOKING AHEAD Every time I think that I have a plan for moving forward as we emerge from current circumstances, something changes that causes me to rethink it again. We all can make what we think are educated guesses about the path and timetable for the future, but we really can’t be sure of anything at this point. I do know that things will be different. We will emerge slowly from this and live events will take some time to get back to even a semblance of normal. We have to be ready to deal with that and not just think everything will be the same with the flick of a switch. As we come out of this, there will be some new policies and procedures in place. What they are we are not sure of yet, but they will involve solution-based approaches to pricing and increased cost efficiencies to help us remain competitive and profitable. Cancellation policies will be scrutinized to make sure they are a win-win for both sides and accomplish what they are meant to and are not just a penalty for things that people can’t necessarily control... As the timeframe for the future becomes clearer, we will be able to make better informed decisions in the coming months. DANIELLE DELRE MARKETING MANAGER BRÛLÉE CATERING BY JEAN-MARIE LACROIX ABOUT: Brûlée Catering has a passion for food, bringing versatile catering expertise under the iconic, watchful eye of JamesBeard award-winning Chef Jean-Marie Lacroix. Brûlée caters to events of all kinds in a collection of landmark locations or at any venue that fits the planner's vision. Since 2011, Brûlée has been dedicated to maintaining exceptional client relationships and offering innovative menus and unwavering dedication to quality food, beverage and service standards. Ensuring that each client gets personalized, individual service, Brûlée's culinary team provides innovative seasonal menus that can be customized for any style of event, from landmark venues to boardroom breakfasts to backyard celebrations. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS While we may be at home, we are very much working! We are checking in regularly with both our staff and our clients to ensure that everyone is safe, healthy, and, to be quite honest, staying sane - rescheduling events is stressful! While our sales team is hard at work rescheduling events and planning new ones, our corporate team has been reviewing internal
processes and procedures, looking for new and more efficient ways of working. We hope to continue engaging with clients via social media by sharing some of our favorite moments from past events, as well as letting everyone know what the culinary team has been cooking up for our summer seasonal menus. In March, we launched a 10-day campaign highlighting the extraordinary capabilities of our event partners. We are all in this together and we truly believe that by standing together, we can and will all come out of this stronger as an industry. RESOURCES & GUIDES We continue to follow all CDC guidelines closely while also staying in touch with other industry professionals to stay aligned with best practices in our region as the situation continues to change. In addition to closely monitoring updates from the CDC, WHO, and local government for updates, our parent company, Spectra, has created an internal resource with updates, new policies, etc. We have noticed a trend of webinars from our various providers and organizations such as ILEA, WeddingWire/The Knot, MPI, and Philadelphia Magazine. These webinars have been a great way to stay connected and seek guidance from industry experts on best practices for navigating such a difficult time. LOOKING AHEAD We are constantly brainstorming creative solutions for how to best see us through this time. We are finding that all of our clients are now requesting provisions in their new contracts for coverage should this type of thing happen again. We foresee this becoming standard, and as a result are looking at new language for our contracts across the board. We are discussing what events might look like after this is over and events start again, such as what additional food safety and service measures we can take to ensure guest safety. “When business returns, the entire hospitality industry will be faced with a new ‘normal.’ Front-of-House service standards will be rewritten to reflect the lessons learned during this global health crisis. Social distancing will become a principal consideration for seating arrangements at meetings and banquets. Gloves and face masks will be expected, if not demanded, and we’ll see hand sanitizer become ever-present. All levels of food service - from the simplest coffee service to the most elaborate buffets - will require attendants to serve the guests. Self-service, condiment stands, and 'Grab and Go' may all be remnants of the past," explains Jack O’Brien, Vice President, Brûlée Catering. "Conversations with meeting planners and brides will no longer simply be about the menu and room setup," he continues,"and hospitality professionals must be prepared to discuss service standards and food safety in new and greater detail.” Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 61
In addition to real-time updates within the team, every week we hold a company-wide Zoom meeting. At the end of the meeting, each team member shares a piece of positive, lifestyle-oriented news with the group that has inspired them within the past week. We share everything from new e-newsletters and social media handles we follow to new brand collaborations and community members who’ve come together to help stop the spread, to interesting hobbies we’ve picked up to maintain a healthy, stable lifestyle.
NICOLE CASHMAN FOUNDER AND CEO CASHMAN & ASSOCIATES ABOUT: Cashman and Associates is a full-service lifestyle marketing and communications agency with a client base comprised of some of the most reputable and well-known global brands. Over the past 19 years, they have built a reputation as the go-to agency in the region for strategic publicity campaigns, influencer marketing and engagement, experiential marketing, community immersion, VIP services, brand management, social media and consumer-facing special events. The firm specializes in connecting upscale lifestyle brands to their consumers in the sports and entertainment, hospitality, food and beverage, luxury residential, fashion and retail, tourism and non-profit industries. Boasting an infrastructure of experienced public relations, event marketing, and social media professionals, they are the only agency in the Philadelphia region with integrated divisions that work effortlessly together delivering sustained momentum to every campaign. As a highly effective vehicle for building a brand’s recognition and enhancing its distinction in the market, Cashman and Associates is partly known for the unique special event experiences they bring to Greater Philadelphia and beyond. Regarding each event as a distinguished marketing tool, they customize each program to meet the client’s immediate and long-term goals, from charity benefits, private performances, fashion shows and personal appearances to grand openings, product launches, movie premieres and in-store retail events. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS As a leading communications agency with the Philadelphia region, many of our clients, friends and agency partners have been looking to us for advice, guidance and support as we all navigate this trying time together. We have hosted Q&As on Instagram and posted resources to our blog surrounding Crisis Communications and strategy generation surrounding the recovery. Our team is involved in civic taskforces and professional organizations, too, which are sharing resources with our clients to assist them in their planning. 62 Mayz June2020
Some of our favorites include: following @goodnews_movement on Instagram, CNN’s 5-Things and Jetsetter, joining Book of the Month Club, listening to Visit Philadelphia’s Love+Grit podcast and watching LIVE Weekends with NBC10 Facebook segments with Philadelphia’s leading industry influencers. RESOURCES & GUIDES We are constantly seeking new resources that keep us focused, feeling positive and inspired to provide our clients with strategic solutions that might be a source of guidance for their audience. Cashman and Associates takes pride in the relationships we’ve built with Philadelphia’s leading voices over the past 19 years. Each one of these connections - be it our clients, friends or agency partners - has become a resource to us during this crisis. For example, we look toward partners like Visit Philadelphia to guide us on the state of the tourism industry and hospitality, and events associations that are convening leading voices on best practices. LOOKING AHEAD The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a lot of businesses, including ours, to think strategically about how to navigate the future - from day-to-day operations to team structure to overall strategy and priorities. Cashman and Associates has always encouraged our clients to be nimble, flexible and adaptable with their strategies - pandemic or no pandemic - and as an agency, we practice what we preach. Internally, we’re re-evaluating how we package our services to emphasize our crisis communications services, including COVID-19 recovery from marketing, communications and tactical standpoints. We are overcoming new challenges each day, and each day we learn new ways to handle these challenges more efficiently. We expect many of the industries we currently work with - food and beverage, hospitality and retail to name a few - will need our help more than ever once we come out of this. We are utilizing this time to work with our clients to get ahead of their recovery strategies to ensure a successful return in the market. We expect to see new formats implemented for special events as we gradually ease out of intense social distancing practices and more people are embracing virtual events. As social distancing regulations ease, we want our employees, clients and partners to feel as safe as possible - whether this
EVENT PARTNERS means continuing to work remotely as necessary, favoring Zoom meetings versus in person meetings, and/or continuing to seek creative and inventive new ways to network outside of the office. KEN KELK VICE PRESIDENT CHOICE PARTY LINENS ABOUT: Choice Party Linens has been supplying tablecloths, chair coverings and accessories and providing an exceptional experience to their nationwide clientele for over 29 years, from taking the initial order to the return of the linens after the event. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS We are still receiving call and emails from customers, mostly to reschedule events or to receive marketing materials. We are increasing the amounts and content of our email newsletters, both to customers and to employees, and I have been in contact with many of our customers to share information and resources. RESOURCES & GUIDES ARA, NACE, and the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce all have had webinars and conference calls to help ensure that we are getting the most up-to-date and correct information. LOOKING AHEAD I have no expectations at this point. This has taught me to take one day at a time. But we are developing a crisis committee and getting our disaster plans up-to-date. Luckily, we had time to react in this crisis. We may not have that luxury next time.
viding arena and stadium level video systems for touring and concert festival clients since its inception. Having initially started as an outdoor solutions provider, in 2010 they entered the high-resolution market and quickly became a resource for production companies and end clients that were executing the most advanced corporate theater events. They have provided systems for television, sports, Fortune 500, politics and institutional clients all over the world. The need to rebrand came about because their clients recognized the care, passion and innovation CboiceLIVE brings to their productions, and they’ve been continually asking for lighting and audio in addition to video systems. In 2020, after much methodical preparation, ChoiceLIVE decided to heed their call and open up lighting and audio departments. While their core DNA will always be in video, they are building teams in Audio and Lighting that share the same passion - to provide best-inclass service and technology to their clients and partners. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS We’re doing our best to just continue conversations. It’s a challenging dynamic. We had planned on a pretty loud and consistent rebranding campaign for 2020. We are sensitive to everyone’s predicament, and frankly we just feel it’s in bad taste to keep banging that drum at the moment, so we’re just trying to keep dialog open with our clients and prospects. Soft touches - letting them know that we’re here, we’re ready, and we’re positioned to adjust to their needs as we all come out of this mess. Like many of our contemporaries, our web-based meeting support technology was an initial solution for clients that needed to reach and engage large audiences. Many were for corporate external facing events who suspended travel and then shifted to internal town hall communications to keep employees informed. We recently partnered with Mountain Productions to provide Pro Video Solutions and Emergency Digital Signage to ensure both government and private healthcare institutions have immediate access to turnkey large- and small-scale temporary hospitals and emergency centers, which are equipped with onsite information advisories and emergency signage. ChoiceLIVE provides video screens to ensure that the most up-to-date emergency information is at the disposal of all doctors and medical workers around the hospital sites. For more information about our mission, visit: https://lnkd.in/dRUeJXk
JASON CATALDI VP OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CHOICELIVE ABOUT: ChoiceLIVE - as a brand - has only been around since the start of 2020. Upstage Video, as the company had been known previously, has been around for 15 years. Rebranded to ChoiceLIVE, it is a highly focused specialty video company pro-
RESOURCES & GUIDES We have always been a fan of Tom Stimson (an authority on business and strategy for small- to medium-sized companies and a thought leader for innovative business processes). He has graciously committed to having a weekly webinar with other AV and Entertainment Technology companies so we can all share information and aid one another in best practices moving forward. Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 63
EVENT PARTNERS We’ve also been taking advantage of our membership with the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA). AVIXA has been offering online training and webinars to help its 11,400 enterprise and individual members from over 80 countries. It helps gain some new perspectives when speaking with other businesses facing the same distractions and obstacles. Most importantly, we’ve been staying connected with our team. We went from bi-weekly to weekly “Huddle” GoToMeetings. While these meetings were initially to discuss business and strategy, they’ve taken on an entirely new agenda. It’s more of a time to create camaraderie. To lend an ear, provide information, share a laugh, see a smile and indulge in a happy hour adult beverage or two. A feeling of normalcy in such an uncertain time. We’re all in this together and the show must go on. LOOKING AHEAD There are many components to this situation that I think we’re going to see playing out. First, I think we’re going to see a lot of companies fold. That’s just a sad fact. It's a challenge keeping up with technology, and it often requires companies in our industry to run thin. One or two demanding clients and an ownership that is comfortable with risk, and something like this can take you down pretty quickly. With that comes a lot of talent on the street looking for new homes and a lot of clients that are going to be out there looking for new resources. I think there will be a reset, if you will. Not just with competitive pricing but for the buyer - the planners. They will have even more freedom and leverage to choose with whom they want to work. For the suppliers, it will put the focus back on the customer experience. Creating a positive return on experience (ROE), having the client’s best interest in mind, developing deep relationships built on a foundation of trust. We could have stricter contacts, stricter deposit and payment terms, but at the end of the day, all that’s doing is passing the buck onto some other unlucky party. We view ourselves as partners to our clients. We do our best to work with clients that view us the same way. If you do business with good people, you all find a way to move forward while trying to take care of one another. STEPHANIE YEAGER OUTSIDE SALES MANAGER DI BRUNO BROS. CATERING ABOUT: For 80 years, the Di Bruno Bros. name has become synonymous in the Philadelphia area for culinary excellence. From their humble beginnings in South Philly, they have evolved into a specialty food market, ecommerce business, events and catering service, and restaurant Alimentari. Proud to be part of the fabric of the city - and beyond - Di Bruno Bros. Events and Catering offers casual and full-service catering to the Greater Philadelphia Area with diverse offerings and the ability to han64 Mayz June2020
dle everything from a small luncheon in an office to a wedding celebration at their new venue, BANCA by Di Bruno Bros. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS For our social events, currently we are helping our existing clients book (and rebook) new dates for life celebrations as the timeline around the COVID-19 crisis changes daily. We have tailored our menus to serve smaller groups of people or we can provide individually wrapped menu items. Some of our corporate clients have essential employees who they are trying to take care of. By offering employees items from these menus, they are able to take home a nice meal to enjoy with their families after completing their shifts. RESOURCES & GUIDES Local chamber and networking groups - specifically the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, PHLCVB and NACE - are providing access to online forums and up-to-date information. They are talking about how other local businesses are handling their staff and clients, as well as how they are planning for the future. We are lucky to work with great vendors on a regular basis. Creating those strong relationships with people you can depend on in a pinch is what has helped us. So, we will continue to maintain and invigorate our current partnerships knowing we can lean on them - and vice versa - when needed in the future. LOOKING AHEAD I believe we’ll see smaller in-home or office gatherings. I think at these events we’ll be asked to move away from shared family-style dishes and service. MICHAEL BARRETO FOUNDER & PRESIDENT METROPOLIS PASSENGER LOGISTICS ABOUT: Metropolis Passenger Logistics is a full-service passenger ground transportation company that handles all realms of passenger logistics. From individual sedan rides to the airport to 15,000 attendee conventions requiring complete transportation management and coordination via shuttle and motorcoach, their team can handle and manage services all across the globe. EMPLOYEES & CLIENTS We are fortunate that some of our business is still strong, even during this crisis. To this point, we have not had to furlough or layoff any of our staff. We are extremely mindful that the bottom can truly drop at any time, but we have setup many fail safes through internal standard operating procedures (SOPs) that will allow us to have full eyes on all processes of the business so that we can maneuver and adjust if we suffer further financial impact from the crisis.
RESOURCES & GUIDES We have a vast partner network that spans the globe. Our team has been communicating almost hourly with many of our partners and colleagues through virtual meetings, videos and phone calls. The idea is to not speak about why the crisis occurred, rather it is to create a narrative as to how we can move forward to create the new normal once we have identified a bottom to this disaster. DRAWING FROM PAST EXPERIENCE Our management team has worked through 9/11 and the financial collapse of 2008. From these large scale national and global crises, we have created several SOPs on how to maneuver and manage in a time where business and personal travel can be severely affected via limited services or complete travel stoppages. One of the key things we keep inventory on is having a direct communication with local and federal Emergency Management Departments. We have direct communication with them and are part of daily reporting about threat alerts, notifications, and new regulatory travel policies at all transportation centers across the U.S.
We also keep inventory of what our current client roster looks like and categorize them into specific funnels according to their industry. We always assess what their exposure can be to crisis events and make sure that, if possible, we can leverage our revenues to not be reliant more on one industry than others. LOOKING AHEAD To this point, our only expectation is that this reset is not going happen overnight... Our goal at the end of the day is to survive and thrive as an integral vendor partner to the events industry. The new reality is that companies who can survive this crisis should have less competition due to competitors that were not financially strong or operationally prepared having gone out of business. We now have to keep in mind the idea that disease and viral outbreak clauses need to be identified in all contracts moving forward. It will be important to see how this pandemic can be mitigated to either a one-time global occurrence - where it can be vaccinated or eradicated - or if this viral infection will have a continued yearly seasonal surge like the common flu. Only time will tell how that will play out.
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“Who’s that guy?” How unpredictable restlessness during his youth ultimately led our travel editor toward a recent self-discovery Ken Alan
66 Mayz June2020
During a recent visit, I asked my mother why she and my dad hadn’t kept the same obsessivelywatchful eyes on me while I was growing up as my wife and I had done through anxious years of raising our own two children when they were both young and curious explorers. Seeking to prove my point, I recounted to mom the time when, at four, I undertook my first solo “hike” - feeling suddenly compelled and emboldened to follow an abandoned railroad track running through the woods near my house, which ended up depositing me into the mysterious danger zone also known as “The next neighborhood over from ours.” It sort-of looked like my ‘hood, I recall now. Some of the houses even had the same architectural style as my built-in-the-early-‘60s, tree lined-slice of suburbia, although other abodes there did indeed have a somewhat sinister visage, residing on shadier streets with unfamiliar names.
That initial experience only served to fuel my need for further and farther explorations. I then recounted to mom how, at the age of six, Freddy Zeiter (a fellow first-grade classmate) and I took it upon ourselves to make like two early-‘70s Marco Polos during a play date, sojourning together to parts then-unknown. I gamely followed as Freddy tried remembering the way to his favorite place at the nearby shopping center – ‘til we finally arrived at those joyful Gates of Valhalla. (Read: The candy counter in the Woolworth’s department store.) Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 67
Please don’t misunderstand me. My mom was the opposite of uncaring, or careless, but nevertheless - as far as she knew back then, Freddy and I were still just playing tetherball together in the backyard.
At seven, my gullibility led me on a failed-mythic quest. It occurred soon after the day when my buddy, Neil Mitchell, told me the urban legend that his older brother had just shared with him: “Did you know there’s an old escapee from the mental institute who lives in the woods behind the golf course?! Like, he’s less than two miles from here, and he’s been hiding there for years. My brother even saw him. He looks like this!” I vividly recall Neil producing one of his brother’s album covers (it was Aqualung, by Jethro Tull) for effect - and then he proceeded to swear me to secrecy about the tale, because - you know - “It’s really true!”
I knew then and there, I just had to find that hideaway. Actually, the mental facility had been a real locale within my childhood. Haverford State Hospital had been situated just beyond the west course of the famed Merion Golf Club, which abutted my neighborhood growing up. A great urban legend-maker, the hospital had reported the occasional patient roaming just off-campus every now and again. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to locate that hidden lair. In fact, it was our house68 Mayz June2020
keeper, Hilda, who calmly, yet rationally, talked me out of my quest after seeing me walking out the door one Saturday morning without so much as saying a goodbye to her. When I told her where I was going, she sat me down and explained how Neil’s brother’s story was just that - a fictional tale. Why, she even remembered when her older sister had told her the tale of the evil murderer who dwelled in the scary drain pipe along the creek bed near her own house while growing up. But, she finally realized it was just a scary story meant to frighten nice children…
“You were a wanderer,” Mom declared. “You never seemed to stay put, always wanting to explore and, besides,” she emphasized, “you always made it home in time for dinner, didn’t you?” I pondered this for a moment, incredulous that - yes, in fact, I always had, somehow, made it home in time for dinner. When I was ten, my parents opened a small tennis and golf equipment/apparel store amid an upscale suburban shopping square located a couple towns over. I would join them on Saturdays, ostensibly, to help stock shelves and sort inventory. But the lure of the sunshine outside, combined with the ongoing flow of passersby heading into all of the cool shops - the book store, the Army/Navy surplus store, the nearby market/arcade with the comic book vendors - was all, usually, too strong for me to resist.
Soon enough I’d sneak away to roam the streets and alleyways of Ardmore, PA, kicking cross ties along the railroad track, playing with loose dogs on the playground…
That sense of disconnecting myself from tedium by being in the outside-openness only increased over time. At fourteen, I would occasionally steal out of my parent’s house in the middle of the night and walk about two miles to meet my best friend, Bill, who had also made his own midnight jailbreak. The two of us would stealthily reconnoiter at the bisection of West Chester Pike by Lawrence Road (the normally-busy intersection turned to a weird and empty sight at one in the morning) sometimes heading west, other times we’d go east, and then we’d duck into the Dunkin’ Donuts (the only place open at 3 a.m. within a three-mile radius) for some pre-dawn Munchkins and a cup of joe before slogging home and slipping back into our houses, returning to our respective beds - all while our parents slept utterly unawares of our sojourning breakaways.
Do you sense a theme here? Middle school (called “junior high” back then) is now a blur most of those memories are strongly suppressed, probably due in great part to my embarrassingly-dismal grades in algebra, combined with the mental scarring inflicted during those formative years by several cru-
elty-savoring teachers I had encountered along the way (yeah, I’m looking at you, Mr. Sember!), not to mention the vicious pack of racist/antizionist thugs who I was unfortunate enough to be in class with each day. (It’s no wonder why the leader of that gang of meanies ended up becoming the often-jailed, drugdealing underboss of a local motorcycle club.) To seek an escape from the mental penitentiary that was junior high, I’d do my best to lose myself by constantly gazing out the classroom window. Day after day at the same time in the same classes (just not in my favorite ones, like English and History), I’d espy the same mailman doing his deliveries; the same neighbor walking her dog. Occasionally, though, amid the commonplace passersby, I’d chance to spot someone cool and curious-looking - the mysterious young backpacker, an older drifter, or an errant hitchhiker, and I’d think, “Who is that guy?” - all the while, secretly wishing it were me. I began discovering influential literary classics like On the Road, A Walk Across America, Less Than Zero, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test - each tome, of course, was an ode to the freewheeling spirit of youth and escape along the open road. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was unconsciously becoming an inexorable loner, not unlike the disenfranchised literary types I was reading about. Bill and my other buddies? For them, it was all about beer, cars, girls and who thought he had
“At the age of twenty-one, I began my career in the hospitality industry - first as a doorman, then a bellman, and then as the concierge for a large suburban hotel.”
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the best chance to make a lot of money when we all grew up. At the age of fifteen, I’d sometimes find myself alone and bored out of my mind, so I would venture to the aforementioned West Chester Pike, stick out my thumb like a young suburbanite-Jack Kerouac, and I’d hitchhike solo just for the hell of it. A ride west would take me to the collegiate town of West Chester, PA; a lift east would drop me off at 69th Street - the urban retailing and transportation hub serving as Philly’s western gateway with the big city.
home no matter the weather, opting instead to walk-it - or occasionally thumb my way back again for kicks and giggles and the adventure of it all.
I’d wander around either place for a bit before thumbing it home or sometimes catching the bus. For me, the thrill wasn’t the destination so much as it was in getting there and back again.
I never encountered any truly dangerous situations, although I surely met my share of creepy older men who tried baiting me with varying shades of innuendo, which all were immediately rebuffed. My scariest experience ever happened when two silent types gave me a ride, but then the driver wouldn’t stop at the corner where I’d been instructing him to drop me off (cue the sweating bullets!) - he just kept going without saying a word. All the while, I tried planning my escape, readying to jump out at the next intersection - except, we always seemed to hit the green lights the whole way into the city.
During my senior year of high school (called “high school” back then), I never took the bus
Weirdly, they took me to the Greyhound bus station in the heart of Philly, and the dark
“At the age of fifteen, I’d sometimes find myself alone and bored out of my mind, so I would venture to the aforementioned West Chester Pike, stick out my thumb like a young suburbanite-Jack Kerouac, and I’d hitchhike solo just for the hell of it.”
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passenger simply intoned flatly: “Get out.”
So, I did - fast! Through my college years, as friends like Bill were toiling toward a degree (while minoring in social drinking), I again found myself stifled by uninteresting classrooms with bloviating professors who were all talking at me - not to me. Once more, I became restless; ready to range. Unwittingly, I had turned into a sullen Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye - like that arch-protagonist, I, too, had become an aimless slacker by the age of nineteen. When mom and dad finally discovered that I (like Holden) hadn’t attended any classes for a couple semesters, they asked me with incredulity what I had been doing with myself for all of that time.
All I could tell them was the stupid truth: “Well, I pretty much just walked or drove around a lot…” At the age of twenty-one, I began my career in the hospitality industry - first as a doorman, then a bellman, and then as the concierge for a large suburban hotel. In all, I would work close to seven years at two different hotels in King of Prussia, PA. Having gas money in my pocket and my first real car to call my own (go little Sunbird GT, go!), local road-tripping quickly morphed into epic distances: Lost weekends with Bill (of course) following highways down south into the Carolinas or up into Canada. [We once drove to a small town in Nova Scotia just because Bill had read about a shop there serving “Philly-style cheesesteaks.” While this technically turned out to be true, the so-called cheesesteaks were nothing more than fried-up Steak-Um brand meat served on a stale Kaiser roll!]
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Likewise, I’d take long solo hikes up and down the PA/MD/VA spine of the Appalachian Trail. One trek in particular comes to mind: On a hot mid-summer day when I had nothing to do, and a few days off to do it in, I strapped on my backpack with the simple plan of taking a walkabout in nearby Valley Forge National Park, and maybe an ancillary jaunt along the connecting Horseshoe Trail, for a bit. Instead, I kept on going covering twenty-five miles a day for 48-consecutive hours, spending each of those two nights at empty, mildew-y, cobwebbed youth hostels located to the side of the trail. When I finally turned around to thumb-it back home somewhere near Hershey, PA, not five minutes had passed when I was picked up by an adventureseeking twenty-one year old named Taylor Loge - the son of a Mennonite farmer from Lancaster County and who drove a noisy Camaro IROC-Z he’d just purchased from a friend - heading up to the Catskill mountains to spend the rest of the summer with his older brother at a small lodge near Ellenville, NY. I can still hear my pay phone call home: “Hi, Mom. Yeah, I’m okay. You won’t believe this, but I’m staying with some really nice people at their house here, near Woodstock, New York, and…yes, that’s right, New York…” “New York?!” Mom incredulously repeated yet again. “The last time you decided to call us - last week - you told us that 72 Mayz June2020
you were returning home from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania!” In February of 1994, one monthin from my thirtieth birthday, I landed my dream job as a corporate concierge. I have the right to call it my dream job, because I’ve loved it all through the ensuing twenty-six years until this very day - but that’s another story for another time. That summer, while I was staying with my wife and her family at the shore house in Ocean City, NJ, I decided to go for a walk along the sandy shoals of Ocean Drive. But that damned old habit kicked in and I stuck out my thumb hitching a ride for a few miles to a roadside bar in the tiny seaside resort of Strathmere. That mini-adventure would prove to be my final hitchhike, as something so much more important would soon enter my life: Children.
Throughout the ensuing decades, she would watch from an accepting-but-a-somewhat lonely distance as I would continually head to Philly Int’l Airport or down a highway in my car - off on another long-distance ramble. Sometimes crossing the state, the country or even the hemisphere - from Leipzig, Germany to Lahaina, Hawaii, or from the cusp of the Arctic Circle, down to the sands of islands off South America. Or, thermal spa-hopping on Iceland; tequila shots on Cuervo Nation, by the tiny island nation of Tortola; an undeserved lunch at Noma (called “The World’s Best Restaurant” at the time) while in Copenhagen; cheese curds and apple wine in Wisconsin’s pastoral Door County; brunch in New Orleans at Brennan’s, followed later by dinner at Antoine’s, followed by brunch at Court of the Two Sisters, followed by dinner at Commander’s Palace.
I suddenly grew up. I got responsible. I had found my niche.
Not one but two press trips to Halifax, Nova Scotia. One to Ottawa, Toronto, Quebec City...
In 1996, I befriended Jim Cohn, the publisher of Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine - an industry trade publication that’s geared toward planners of meetings, conventions and travel planning. A few years after coming on board with Events, Jim bumped me up to the position of travel editor; a designation that would give me the opportunity to hop aboard scores of group FAM trips and individual tours.
Eight years ago, while on the island of Maui, I got to attend the Kapalua Wine Festival. Four months earlier, when I was writing about the Charleston (SC) Wine Festival, I (totally out-ofthe-blue) ran into my boss’s boss and his family. “Oh, hi Ken” he said, casually - like we had just bumped into each other in the hallway, instead of acting like he was seeing me a thousand miles from the office, and for no apparent reason!
Like I asked before, are you sensing a theme here? My wife sure has.
The youth hostels I knew growing up had turned into count-
less luxury hotels, which became my homes away from home. And that constant view out my hotel window has always been a visual microcosm of the worlds’ I’ve visited. Just like peering out of classrooms to find that mysterious stranger walking by, I still enjoy gazing downward toward the antlike humanity trudging by, no matter where I am. I’ll do this first thing when wake up, and then right before I’m about to hit the sack.
“WHO IS THAT GUY?” I asked myself, like I always do. Then, it hit me: His face and his clothes may constantly change, but he’s always, nevertheless, the very embodiment of freedom. He’s a walking adventure. He’s the untethered, unaccountable traveler. He’s off-the-grid. He’s ageless...And now I know who he is. THAT GUY IS ME. Ken Alan is a corporate concierge for CBRE, and he contributes monthly restaurant reviews for Main Line Today. Ken.Alan@cbre.com
For me, being a voyeur to the people below is so much more cathartic and interesting than watching TV or Web surfing. Invariably, I’ll see him; that lone figure walking toward who-knowswhere, coming from God-knowswhere.
“Who is that guy?” I say to myself. “What’s his story?” I’ve seen that guy everywhere: from my room in the Hotel Intercontinental (Minneapolis) and from my perch high atop the Radisson (Copenhagen); while sitting on a cozy terrace above Dauphine Street (The French Quarter); from a window overlooking Times Square; and he’s trudged by me along the Las Vegas strip. I even saw the walking dude striding headlong into a blizzard when I was stuck in a run down, middleof-nowhere motel on the outskirts of Lake Placid, NY. About a year ago while I was packing pre-dawn in the Sheraton Zurich Hotel, I walked over to my 10th floor window, and - ‘lo - I saw that guy again: the solitary traveler with no name. Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 73
Forward-Thinking Hotels & Casinos Take Control A Silver Lining During Uncertain Times by Robb Monkman Let’s face it, the countless 2020 industry predictions we read in December 2019 did not prepare us for this. Business school, quite frankly, couldn’t prepare us for this. Hoteliers, a few mere months ago, found themselves facing the year ahead with unbridled optimism. We relished in the promise of continued innovation, while hotels were poised to welcome an influx of eager travelers and revenue projections boasted an upward trajectory. AND NOW? WE FIND OURSELVES IN UNCHARTED TERRITORY, FACING ARGUABLY - MORE UNCERTAINTY THAN WE EVER HAVE BEFORE. Not to say COVID-19 is the first pandemic to impact the hospitality realm far from it. However, COVID-19 has, in many ways, created the perfect storm, its economic impact spreading far and wide as borders are shut down and emergency protocols are implemented. In many ways, the world has come to a grinding halt - and hospitality is no exception. Hotel occupancy and airline travel have, understandably, plummeted, and many casinos and hotels shut down entirely for an undetermined amount of time. However, amid these uncertain times, it’s crucial to remember that this crisis is temporary. Some forward-thinking management companies are using this lull as an opportunity to get projects done that are easier to accomplish with low occupancy. Things like installing a beacon network for an employee safety solution or updating their other systems to better prepare their business against future disruptions.
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In short, there does exist a silver lining - the time you never had, you have now. Admittedly, we’ve all recently had a relative or friend suggest the productive use of this time, which many of us are dutifully spending in self-isolation. Common ideas include: finally starting the project for which you never otherwise had time; reading a book; cleaning out the closet; reorganizing the house; learning a new language; or adopting a new hobby. The logic is undeniably sound - we so often complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day, but now, suddenly, we have an influx of time. The only question is - how can we best utilize it? Shouldn’t the same reasoning apply to the hospitality realm? As industry leaders, are there ways we can leverage this period of low occupancy? The answer, undeniably, is yes. As hotels look to update their operational infrastructure and steadily shift many of their primary platforms from legacy technology to new-age solutions throughout the year, they often run into a dilemma of timing. The implementation of a new platform (or in some cases, a total technological overhaul) often is time-consuming, and the training of staff can pose a potential disruption to hotel operations. The same applies, of course, for physical renovations or updates to the property, which could impact the
guest experience. Understandably, this means that “high-season” typically isn’t the best time to approach any major renovations, whether technical or property-specific. And so, an opportunity presents itself. As hotel occupancy dwindles around the globe, properties can tackle projects that are easier to accomplish with low occupancy. This could include the temporary closure of lowtraffic areas of hotels (such as F&B outlets), the reduction of costs and staff for non-essential projects and travel, or installing technology updates such as employee safety devices.
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE We may not have asked for this down period, but we have to play the cards that we’ve been dealt. More importantly, though, is the continued understanding that these circumstances are ultimately temporary. While the evolution and associated timelines of the COVID-19 pandemic remain unclear, there will come a time (whether in two months or six months) when we return to normalcy. Hotels will welcome more guests, airports with travelers in transit, and businesses and consumers alike will once again embrace life as we’ve always known it. Those exciting predictions we had for 2020? Well, they might be paused temporarily, but they eventually will be within our grasp, too. For now,
though, we simply have to keep our eyes trained on that future and, subsequently, use this time to find ways to “future-proof” our businesses. Hoteliers, ask yourself: Can you use this time to go over your operational structure in granular detail? Can you determine any holes in your service offering and, better yet, formulate a plan to mitigate those service gaps once occupancy increases proactively? Can you improve staff training, update staff and guest resources, develop new offerings, and perform deep cleans and maintenance tasks? Can you offer support and value to your staff and guests? Can you perform competitor research? How can you ensure you hit the ground running when this is all said and done? Moreover, use this time to get creative, laying the foundation for the marketing initiatives that will guide your property to success once the pandemic has passed. Right now, we all are enduring the same challenges on a global scale. And though travel might currently be off the table, your audience is still there - listening. If anything, they are paying closer attention than ever before. Ultimately, those brands that utilize this time to proactively improve upon their offerings, to support their community, and to emerge as a market leader, are sure to make a swift recovery.
Robb Monkman is the Founder and CEO of React Mobile, Inc. Several years ago, he was the victim of an armed robbery and hostage situation that left a lasting impression on him. He soon learned that thousands of people every day were in situations where they desperately need help but couldn’t make a call. He founded React Mobile, a global leader in providing panic button solutions for hotels that allows management to deploy response resources to the exact location of an emergency within seconds of an alert, getting help to where it is needed fast. Mid-AtlanticEvEntsMagazine 75
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