Moving the Needle

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Moving the Needle

By Rich Luna | Sep 10, 2020

The eyes, it is said, are the window to the soul, that you can understand someone’s emotions by looking into their eyes.

The eyes above the mask of Katie Bohrer, CMP (MPI Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter), who is on the cover of The Meeting Professional this month, exude joy and laughter, strength and confidence, passion and optimism. It’s a vision of reassurance and calm in the mad world of uncertainty that has engulfed the meeting and event industry.

Katie, vice president, meeting design and experience for Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI), is showing us how we can safely return to face-to-face meetings in the post-COVID-19 culture. Her two recent examples include a gathering of 50 attendees at ALHI’s annual Executive Women in Leadership event held at the Naples (Fla.) Grande Beach Resort and the Back to Business Experiential Forum, which welcomed 125 meeting professionals to the Omni Dallas Hotel. Both events also included a virtual audience, which will be a component of meetings going forward.

The events demonstrated effective use of sanitation and social distancing protocols, the importance of partners and the critical need for communication (especially pre-event) within a learning environment. And, yes, everyone was wearing a mask.

“The biggest takeaway for me was faith that we can meet in person and you can do it safely while following all of the guidelines.”

“It’s what I think we do the best as meeting planners—we take care of our attendees and we make sure that we’ve thought of everything,” Katie says. “We thought of the attendee journey from start to finish. So you’re still doing that same job we’ve always done, it’s just with a new kind of set of considerations.”

The Dallas event was designed as a “laboratory” for the meeting planners, an opportunity to learn about the possibilities—and inject confidence for an industry yearning to bring back face-to-face meetings and events.

“The biggest takeaway for me was faith that we can meet in person and you can do it safely while following all of the guidelines,” said attendee Lindsay Stuebe, CMP, manager, event programs for Insperity. “It was so refreshing to see it happen live and in person. The No. 1 way to get people to travel again is to build trust. We have a resilient industry, and we may not get everything right day one, but we’re going to learn, we’re going to improve and, in a few years, we’ll be back stronger than ever.”

Another attendee, Melissa Holland, CMP, event manager for Keystone Automotive Operations, was impressed by the overall health and safety measures taken.

Wellbeing Resources: Supporting the wellbeing of our meeting and event planner community.

“I felt completely safe from the time I received my badge Tuesday evening until the time I left the event on Wednesday,” she said. “From the Omni Dallas to the ALHI team and all the partners involved, everyone was truly helpful, ‘smiling under their masks’ and happy to be back together again in true Texas fashion. Most importantly, as event planners and for the industry, we must continue to share information and benchmark with each other to move the needle forward.”

Speaking of masks, Katie agreed to pose for the cover wearing a mask because of its importance to the return of in-person meetings, including at MPI’s World Education Congress, Nov. 3-6 in Grapevine, Texas.

“Wearing a mask is part of my decision to protect the people around me,” she said. “Hosting an event in a reimagined meeting landscape is committing to follow all the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations. I am happy to wear a mask as a way of prioritizing the health and wellbeing of my team, staff, vendors and our meeting attendees. The hospitality industry is pre-pared to welcome guests, travelers and host meetings, proudly with our masks on, smiling with our eyes.”

I hope you experienced our special treatment of the cover, in which we were able to introduce you to Katie both with a mask and without.

Our industry has been devastated as a result of this pandemic, and we are still facing a difficult road ahead. But thanks to inspiring meeting professionals like Katie, we can see the future more clearly now.

Until next time…

Rich Luna
Editor in Chief



Rich Luna

Rich Luna is Director of Publishing for MPI and Editor-in-chief of The Meeting Professional.