AMI Founder Andy McNeill was recently featured on Slick Talk: The Hospitality Podcast to share his knowledge and experience with hybrid events.
The event industry has always done hybrid meetings; they just didn’t always call them that. And now that virtual meeting technology has allowed more people than ever to work from home with ease, and while many people do not want to travel, the shift in the industry will be towards hybrid events.
In this episode, Andy offers examples of ways he’s seen clients produce engaging and exciting meetings and events with the attendee experience as the priority. AMI uses its broad network of partners worldwide to source the best ideas to bring innovative and fresh concepts to the table to create outstanding events.
“Business is important, but a great experience is still first.”
– Andy McNeill, AMI Founder
Not only are hybrid events here to stay, but virtual events are also creating more opportunities and saving organizations money. Learn how the Four Seasons is being creative and extending their branding to online attendees, how the future of hotels is shifting, including flexible lodging for digital nomads, and how the virtual meeting pushes all generations to advancement through innovative business operations.
Recently, Chelsea Litos of American Meetings, Inc. (AMI), was recognized as one of the 40 Under 40 Young Professionals of South Florida – as awarded by The Business Journal of South Florida. This honor is awarded to only the top 10 candidates across four industries: business, legal, healthcare, and real estate. Chelsea serves as our Vice President of Account Management at AMI, and has helped our company to be known as a global meeting and event industry leader.
Chelsea started building connections early in her career, sitting on committees and boards, fundraising, and nurturing relationships that allowed her to become a community leader. In 2016, she was selected to Fort Lauderdale’s Finest, a group of young professionals who excel in their respective fields, by the organization’s local Cystic Fibrosis Chapter. Award recipients are honored throughout the state of Florida for their fundraising and business success.
As the VP of Account Management at AMI, Chelsea has the role of supporting Fortune 500 clients like Bristol Myers Squibb, Pfizer, as well as other pharmaceutical companies, educational associations, and financial organizations. While meeting planners and project managers focus on the event details, Chelsea is responsible for maintaining the great relationships she has cultivated and is happy to boast a retention rate of over 85% over the last six years she’s been with the company – a sure sign of satisfied clientele.
Her award gives credence the AMI organization as well, allowing their vendors and planners the opportunity to work with enterprise-level companies and expose themselves globally through The American Meetings Network. In addition, AMI clients benefit by being connected to a wide diversity of suppliers because of the recognition and integrity these types of awards attract.
Bridging Fortune 500 companies with diverse suppliers is another way AMI brings value to both, which is the true goal of networking, and something Chelsea has helped champion. When asked what advice she’d give to other young professionals, she said simply, “Put yourself out there and make those connections, and don’t let anyone discourage your ambitious attitude.”
The landscape for the corporate meeting and event industry has been entirely disrupted by the pandemic of 2020. As we begin to unravel from it all, our hope is in what is to come.
The good news is that the demand for corporate meetings remains strong. We are social creatures, and business meetings must happen to help us align on goals and with each other. The shift organizations made to online meetings, and virtual events showed us that business, events, and meetings needed to continue to move forward, regardless of the global pandemic landscape. Networking, product research and development, collaboration, and team communication must, and will, continue.
The question isn’t whether or not group events will happen; it is how they will look and how to make them successful. As we all look forward, prepare for the future and glide into the new normal, here are three trends we expect to see strengthened.
Venues are Getting Ready for Hybrid Events
Virtual events have been the primary way organizations have held meetings of every type. As businesses that have been limited or sheltered are once again opening doors, we expect hybrid events to take over.
The boom in virtual meetings has created new best practices in the industry, improving production logistics and technology for the better. We expect hybrid events to dominate with user familiarity, and venues must get ready to meet their needs.
CVBs and DMCs are Expanding
Convention and Visitor Bureaus, along with Destination Management Companies, are expanding their partnerships and adjusting their income models. Going from a steady income of event hosting, then coming to a complete halt in some cases, due to the pandemic, CVBs and DMCs are looking at how they price and who they need to have in their portfolio of connections.
Broadening networks and outreach to be more diverse helps balance out income sources, and partnering with additional vendors will allow for more agility should something like a global disruption happen again.
Focus on Health and Safety
Hybrid events will continue to attract participants most comfortably – live or digital. Meeting technologies, along with health and safety will continue to be a focus and priority for attendees, venues, and event planners. Local government mandates will continue to shift, and those in the meetings industry will need to be flexible to meet those changes. Procedures to maintain safety will continue to be front and center with signage, technology, PPE, and more. Onsite testing is likely to be a live event standard. Find more resources here: Meeting Health & Safety
Swag bags and logoed promotional products have long been a staple of corporate events and gifting. This last year has undoubtedly changed the environment of corporate live meetings and altered the state of corporate gifting.
For one, it has made customized ordering (each person can order what they want) and direct shipping much more accessible and user-friendly than ever before. It has also placed a value on higher-end gifts. This type of gift is one way corporations reinvested conference expenses previously spent on live events back into the participants or staff. While name-brand goods cost 25% – 75% more than generic, it hits home when staff or clients receive a recognizable brand.
Participants at live events have grown accustomed to receiving their welcome packet, name badge, and swag bag. This last year of virtual meetings brought us creative unboxing parties, and this year, as hybrid meetings become the new normal, we expect to see the innovation grow.
“Use a professional to navigate quantity pricing. They also make sure your gift achieves the intended impact without being gaudy. Logo size, color, and positioning all need to be thought through and done well.”
– Michael Lumpkin, Thread Logo Co-Founder
As we move into this next stage, we wanted to inspire you with these five curated gifts by our American Meetings Network Prime Member, Thread Logo, with high quality, name-brand value, and without the bank-breaking price tag. The key to this is using a professional who can deliver value.
Charging Pads and Devices
We are all plugged in and needing power. These charging pads make it easy, allowing recipients to leave all the cords behind and charge phones, watches, earbuds, or anything electronic and rechargeable. Ideal for travel or home, these are helpful to both the tech-savvy and not.
Blankets and throws are a great unisex gift welcome year-round for indoor or outdoor cuddling. Neutral colors match home or office décor or can easily be thrown into the car for a road trip, camping, or picnic after the event.
Fine Leather Goods
High quality and hand-made in the USA, these luxury gifts will become a staple for the receiver. Padfolios for event notetaking, or totes and briefcases for conference materials or hauling paperwork from client meetings to networking groups, these are a perfect gift.
Videos, Zoom meetings, and even profile pictures look better with good lighting. With a variety of warmth, brightness, sizes, and adjustability, ring lights make your participants look great. Whether live streaming content at the event, capturing an afterparty shout-out or uploading the next viral TikTok, you will be equipping your team towards screen confidence.
Bose is a household name when it comes to sound quality, which makes these highly valued gifts. Speakers, headphones, and earbuds with the Bose name ensure crisp sound anyway your recipient wants to experience it.
The goal of gifting has always been to help people be pulled into the fold of the sponsor – to help them feel like they are part of something bigger. Whether this is a company purchasing wearables to demonstrate unity at an event, or attendees receiving swag to welcome them and invite them into the experience, corporate gifting accomplishes this.
Your professional meeting planner can help source and distribute these items on your behalf. Just ask AMI!
Looking forward to New Delhi and Northern India as exciting destinations for future meeting adventures, our guests today will provide the ultimate India travel guide from the “Yoga Capital of the World “to the Taj Mahal. Join us in our discussion with Anupam Dasgupta to highlight the exquisite cuisine and elegant facilities of luxury hotels in New Delhi as the General Manager of The Leela Palace. We also delve into the spirituality of the entire country, with author John Sambalino sharing his own yoga journey across India. In this episode, we’ll enumerate the most interesting destinations in New Delhi that truly encapsulate the historic beauty of the city, as well as its unique character when it comes to food, shopping, and adventure.
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing hotels in New Delhi to corporate event management in New Delhi, their team sources corporate event venues and have a team of corporate meeting planners in New Delhi for their clients. They provide ideas for convention themes and how to run global meetings and events in New Delhi and around the world. For more information go to www.americanmeetings.com.
Watch the episode here:
Local GM Anupam Dasgupta Of The Leela Palace Talks Luxury Hotels In New Delhi, And Author John Sambalino Shares Spiritual Journey In India
At the heart of India lies the historic city of New Delhi. In 10 years, it will celebrate its centennial as the country’s capital, founded as a walled city in 1939. But if there’s one thing to know about India is that the entire nation is divided into various regions or states, making each area completely different from the next. Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth explore this mesmerizing place deep in Asia, delving into its hospitality, cuisine, and spirituality.
Anupam Dasgupta, General Manager of The Leela Palace
A gem-encrusted at New Delhi, The Leela Palace is a five-star property and voted as the second-best city hotel in entire Asia. It consists of 194 deluxe rooms, 18 luxury suites, 42 royal club rooms with their own butler, and a rooftop infinity pool with rose-scented towels. For its General Manager Anupam Dasgupta, it is a heaven anyone who travels in luxury can ask for.
The Leela Palace’s Three Signature Restaurants
Jamavar Restaurant, which puts together various kinds of cuisines from all over India in one single menu, since their food changes every hundred kilometers.
Megu, the only restaurant in New Delhi that serves authentic Japanese food.
Le Cirque, a 6300 square feet restaurant that offers fantastic Italian food with a French sensibility.
At the hotel’s lounge, they serve drinks India is most famous for: teas and coffees. As a former colony of the British Empire, they have turned these beverages into their very own.
Anupam recommends travelers to plan everything ahead of their trip since tourist destinations can get extremely busy at certain times. Nevertheless, The Leela Palace provides a 25-30 minute drive to the city’s famous locations.
Chandni Chowk, translated into Moonlight Street, a 300-year old market
Moonlight Tour at the Taj Mahal
Holi, India’s festival of color
Diwali, a five-day festival of lights in October or November
Red Fort, the main residence of moguls and emperors
The Maharajas’ Express, India’s only luxury train that travels across the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur
Garden of Five Senses
The Kingdom of Dreams, New Delhi’s most famous Bollywood theater
John Sambalino, Author of Is God in That Bottle Cap?: A Search for Truth
With John Sambalino always having that feeling of being trapped in a body and a system that’s not entirely right, he went on to seek enlightenment in life. He found the answer in yoga, particularly in spirituality within India.
His experience at Rishikesh, the world’s yoga capital, opened his eyes to the truth of mindfulness, mainly through Yoga Ashrams. This personal journey taught him that meditation could eliminate more stress than anything that you could do.
Rapid Fire Questions With John Sambalino
Have you ever completed anything from your personal bucket list? Meditating in a cave in India and hiking in the Himalayas.
If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be? I would live in Hawaii because I’m a surfer, and there are waves there and good weather.
When packing for a trip, what is something you’d bring that may surprise others? Tiny rolls of toilet paper. I also take coloring books and crayons that I give away to kids.
Through his book, he provides insights about the power of meditation and learning everything that’s going around you besides what your senses are picking up.
Anupam Dasgupta has over 25 years of extensive hospitality experience, having worked with leading hotels. He loves to read classical and modern literature and has a passion for music both Jazz and Hindustani classical. He loves to play the guitar.
Anupam also has an interest in analyzing different businesses and learning about various industries. Lastly, talent development and mentoring people is one of his key areas of interest.
About John Sambalino
John D. Sambalino is the author of Is God in That Bottle Cap. He received his Juris Doctor and Master of Laws in Taxation from the University of Florida.
Since early childhood, he has had the sense that the world that surrounds us is not as real as it appears and that there must be some unknown, hidden truth underlying all that we perceive. He has dedicated his life to uncovering this hidden reality, and in addition to having read over 300 books on spirituality, religion, and martial arts, he has meditated two to three hours a day, every day, for over forty years, practiced yoga and tai chi for over forty years, and qigong for over twenty years.
Sambalino is a venture capitalist involved in real estate, solar energy, and 3D technology. He has executive produced three movies, including The Four-Faced Liar which won the 2010 HBO Audience Award For Best First Feature Film. Sambalino is an avid stand-up paddleboard surfer and he lives with his wife, Niki, in Southern New Jersey.