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More Than 300 Gather for Chicago’s Industry Xchange

By: Heather Warthen, H1 Marketing & Events | Apr 16, 2019

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More than 300 hospitality professionals across nine local industry organizations gathered together April 4 for the annual Industry Xchange (IX) event in honor of Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID). This year’s event was held at Alhambra Palace Restaurant in Chicago’s West Loop.

MPI-CAC, along with Association Forum, Catering Executives Club of America, Experiential Designers Producers Assocation (EDPA) Midwest Chapter, International Association of Expos and Events - Midwestern Chapter, International Live Events Association - Greater Chicago Chapter, National Association for Catering & Events (NACE) Greater Chicago Chapter, Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Greater Midwest Chapter and Site Chicago, organize the annual event to celebrate the impact that meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions have on the hospitality industry.

The event opened with a welcome from Tony Lorenz, CEO of PRA, who said GMID does three things – creates connections, drives outcomes and builds community.

Carol McGury, executive vice president of Event and Education Services at SmithBucklin, served as master of ceremonies for Industry Xchange.

Alex Plaxen, founder and president of Little Bird Told Media, offered lessons in crisis communication, including creation of a crisis communication plan for events and social media guidelines when a crisis does occur. He stressed the importance of event planners becoming involved in the crisis communication planning process.

“Nobody knows your event better than you do,” he said. “You need to be part of the plan.”

Sandy Biback, CMP Emeritus, CMM, presented “Human Trafficking in Our Backyard: A Conversation” which offered several statistics as well as ways those in the hospitality industry can help.

“A lot of human trafficking goes unreported,” Biback said. “If you see something, say something.”

Lori Healey, CEO of Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority which owns McCormick Place, gave an overview of the new McCormick Square community and new developments coming to it.

Healey said that in 2018 they were just shy of 3 million visitors, which was the highest it has been since 2004. She also said that from 2014-2018, they created $9.5 billion in economic impact from the operations, infrastructure improvements and construction of a new hotel and events center.

The day ended with a moderated discussion on the economic impact of meetings and events as well as a panel with an audience Q&A which included Lorenz, Plaxen, Biback, Nan Marchand Beauvois, senior vice president of membership and industry relations for the U.S. Travel Association, and Dianne Budion Devitt, chief experience officer for The DND Group.

About the Author: Warthen is Chief Events Officer and Chief Marketing Officer for 22nd Century Media, an award- winning media company specializing in hyperlocal content in Chicagoland. Hired as its first employee in 2005, she is a former award-winning journalist and photographer who now manages the planning, logistics, marketing and executing of more than a dozen community events and expos. She is co-chair for the MPI-CAC Marketing & Communications Committee.



Heather Warthen, H1 Marketing & Events
H1 Marketing & Events

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