DE 27 | Dubai


Who says you can’t mix business with pleasure? When you are in Dubai, you can have the best of both worlds. In this episode, Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth dive deep into the Jewel of the Middle East, Dubai! They are joined by TV Host, Ryan Pyle, who will explore with us why this city of gold is the top business hub, charting with us its dynamic growth over the last few decades. He takes us to some of the great hotels and destinations that are fit for meetings, events, and, of course, travel!

In line with that, Andy and Todd also sit down with Omar Souab of Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk to share with us some of the unique opportunities offered in this luxury hotel. He also takes us outside to give his recommendations on how best to enjoy the city. Join this episode for some fun and luxurious travel options, where you get to enjoy the finer things in life while discovering a different culture that just might enhance your appreciation of respect and tolerance.

Todd Bludworth and Andy McNeill are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing hotels in Dubai to corporate event management, their team sources corporate event venues with and meeting planners for clients worldwide. They provide ideas for convention themes and how to run global meetings and events in Dubai and around the world. For more information go to

Watch the episode here:


TV Host Ryan Pyle Calls The City Of Gold The Top Business Hub, And Explore Luxury Dubai Hotels With Omar Souab Of Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk

Who says traveling for business has to be a task? In Dubai, you can mix business with pleasure as you enjoy not only its growth as a global business hub but also its many luxurious travel destinations. Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth dive deep into the Jewel of the Middle East with none other than two great people who live there who can share with us all there is you need to know about the city.

First up, they sit down with Ryan Pyle. After realizing a lifelong dream, Ryan took off from his hometown in Toronto, Canada, to China, where he became a regular contributor to the New York Times. In 2009, he was listed by PDN Magazine as one of the 30 emerging photographers in the world. Having designed a career-making travel television based on the aspirational idea of making people want to travel and see the world, he shares what drew him into the city of gold and what he is seeing that makes it so attractive to business people travelers alike.

Ryan regards as Dubai his home. He talks about why it has a fantastic social club with so many things happening all the time—from people in entertainment to the incredible restaurants, bars, and nightlife.

Lest you forget the old world in this cosmopolitan environment, Ryan shares his top must-try things and must-visit places in the city that are unlike no other:

  •     Walk through the gold market
  •     Cruise in a morning boat along the Dubai Creek
  •     Visit some of the deserts just north or south of the city

Plus, if you want to bask in the beautiful sunset with unforgettable views and a fine and luxurious experience, then you don’t want to miss visiting Burj Khalifa.

From one great landmark to the next, Andy and Todd also sit down with Omar Souab, the General Manager of Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk—the second largest in the world and largest in the Middle East and Africa. Fit for a luxurious city, Omar talks about the great things that make this luxurious hotel unique:

  •     One, this iconic building is adorned with a gold pyramidion and in the shape of an obelisk, representative of the Luxor Obelisk currently in Paris.
  •     Two, it is in a great downtown spot, just 10 minutes away from the airport.
  •     Three, it houses five amazing restaurants.
  •     Four, it offers the Sofitel Spa with L’Occitane
  •     Five, it has three signature suites inspired from the emperor Napoleon and Cleopatra and designed by an Italian designer

Going out to the city, Omar then shares his recommendations that any international visitor must try:

  •     Safaris in the desert
  •     Boat trips in the Arabian sea
  •     Indoor activities such as ski slope and diving
  •     Shopping malls

Through it all, Dubai has proven itself to be one of the must-visit places, be it for business or pleasure or both. Before we forget, it helps to be reminded of the cultural differences any well-meaning traveler needs to know about Dubai. So get yourself acquainted with their culture and, most of all, always keep in mind to be respectful.

Capping this amazing episode off, here are Andy and Todd’s bucket-list items to do in Dubai:

  •     Sand Dune Bashing and Sandboarding
  •     Visit the Dubai Souks (Markets)
  •     Lounge 152 stories up at Burj Khalifa
  •     Zipline across the Dubai Marina
  •     See the world’s largest natural flower garden at the Dubai Miracle Garden
  •     Experience the culture during Ramadan
  •     Attend the activities at the Dubai Opera House
  •     Enjoy the Arabian Gulf on a private yacht

About Ryan Pyle

DE 27 | DubaiBorn in Toronto, Canada, Ryan Pyle spent his early years close to home. After obtaining a degree in International Politics from the University of Toronto in 2001, Ryan realized a lifelong dream and traveled to China on an exploratory mission.

In 2002 Ryan moved to China permanently and in 2004 Ryan became a regular contributor to the New York Times. In 2009 Ryan was listed by PDN Magazine as one of the 30 emerging photographers in the world.

In 2010 Ryan began working full time on television and documentary film production and has produced and presented several large multi-episode television series for major broadcasters in the USA, Canada, UK, Asia, CHINA and continental Europe.

About Omar Souab

DE 27 | DubaiAs General Manager of Sofitel Dubai The Obelisk, Omar Souab leads the strategic direction and managed the pre-opening and current operations of Sofitel Hotels & Resorts largest property in the Middle East.

Souab brings a wealth of hospitality experience with an in-depth background in operations and sales following a 15-year career with Accor Group in Morocco and the UAE.

Souab holds a Bachelor in International Business from Santa Monica College in Los Angeles, USA, a Bachelor of International Business majoring in Marketing from Schiller International University in Madrid, Spain, and a Masters in Hospitality from Accor’s International Hospitality Management Program in Paris, France.

In his free time, Souab is a keen golfer, enjoys running – aiming for a semi-marathon – and discovering new Hospitality as well as Food & Beverage trends.

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Get Strategic to Maximize Your 2018 NGLCC Conference Experience

Get Strategic to Maximize Your 2018 NGLCC Conference Experience

Almost 1,300 professionals working in the supplier diversity space will be attending the 2018 National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) International Business & Leadership Conference, August 14-17, in Philadelphia, PA. Hosted at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown with the support of the local CVB, Discover Philadelphia the event is the premier global LGBT event focused on increasing business opportunities for the community.

For organizations, the conference is an invaluable opportunity to incorporate more LGBT-owned businesses into your supply chain and build your professional network. Because we’re top supporters of the NGLCC and the annual conference, we’re sharing our top five tips to help you get the most out of your conference experience this year.  As AMI proudly prepares to be a presenting sponsor for the 2nd year in a row we’d like to share ways to maximize your experience while in Philadelphia, PA.

1. Preparation is key

Review the schedule of events ahead of the conference, and, where available, the companies and speakers that will be attending. Ask previous attendees in your network what they found most helpful, or check out the conference hashtag on Twitter (#NGLCC18) to see what organizers and attendees are already talking about. Set goals for what you’d like to focus on and achieve.

Also, make sure you’re bringing what you need to do some heavy networking. Do you have enough business cards, collateral, and promotional items to get you through all four days of the conference? Do you have a good way to keep track of new contacts for follow-ups?

2. Get strategic with your networking

Introduce yourself as is comfortable before the event to attendees you’d like a meeting with to ensure that you get on their schedule during the conference. Don’t be afraid to ask LinkedIn connections to make the introduction or give a friendly cold call.

During the conference, divide your time up strategically based on what you’re hoping to get out of the conference. In addition to one-on-one meetings, put yourself in group networking scenarios to meet more people. Don’t forget about existing business connections who will attend—it’s a good time to build upon your existing relationships at the conference as well.

3. Take advantage of the conference offerings

There are both pre-conference and opening-day receptions that you won’t want to miss, amazing performers and keynote speakers, as well as NGLCC events every evening. Select your breakout sessions wisely—not just by the title, but by the credentials and experience of the speaker. The Marketplace Expo is a great time to visit the booths of Corporate and Supplier attendees.

NGLCC’s Supplier-to-Supplier and Corporate Matchmaker sessions are ideal for making B2B introductions in your industry, or connecting LGBT businesses with opportunities in your supply chain.

These are by appointment only, so schedule in advance.

4. Pace yourself

Conferences can be exhausting, and no matter how hard you try or how organized you are, you won’t be able to do everything. Prioritize what’s most important and what can wait until next year’s conference. And make sure you have moments of planned downtime to avoid burnout. To keep up your stamina, consider healthy eating and drinking, and try to take part in the organized Morning Group Exercise, or Corporate/Supplier Walk & Talks.

Don’t forget to have fun, too!

5. It’s all about the follow-up

After taking notes on a breakout session, list three key takeaways before moving on to the next presentation. It’ll be easier to scan later if you capture essential points while they’re fresh.

Keep careful track of any new connections, noting meeting context or details on business cards. Timely and specific follow-up with the next steps via email or phone will be instrumental in securing new relationships after the conference.

Stop by the AMI booth in the Marketplace Expo at this year’s NGLCC Conference to meet our team and pick up a free gift that will keep you charged throughout the conference.

Let’s chat before this year’s event.

We’ve arranged a virtual meet-up call on July 26, 2018, for NGLCC attendees and those who want to know more before registering. Your hosts are SR VP, Marketing and Strategic Alliances at AMI, Aurelio DeMendoza and Manager, Supplier Diversity at CVS Health, Raul Suarez-Rodriguez.

Contact us at to register for the call and get dial-in information.

AMI’s CEO, Andy McNeill, was honored as a LGBT business leader at the SoFla Business Journal LGBT Business Leaders Awards

AMI’s CEO, Andy McNeill, was honored as a LGBT business leader at the SoFla Business Journal LGBT Business Leaders Awards

American Meetings, Inc’s CEO, Andy McNeill, was honored as a local #LGBT business leader at the South Florida Business Journal LGBT Business Leaders Awards at the EPIC hotel in Miami.

We’d like to thank the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, the Greater Fort Lauderdale LGBTQ Chamber and Bob Swindell for all their support.

More than 150 people celebrated the business leaders lauded as Outstanding Voices at the Business Journal‘s inaugural Business of Pride Awards on June 28.

The event at the Kimpton EPIC Hotel in Miami spotlighted South Florida-based LGBTQ executives or straight allies of the LGBTQ community who excel in business and work to advance LGBTQ businesses and/or the LGBTQ community.

The honorees were also featured in a special Business of Pride section that ran online and in print on June 29. The special section debuted a new list of the region’s LGBTQ-owned businesses ranked by revenue.

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How to Find Businesses to Sponsor Your Events

How to Find Businesses to Sponsor Your Events

To say that meetings, conventions, and other events can be a pricey affair is an immense understatement.  This is why event hosts hire a convention planner to help them hash out the details, including finding suitable sponsors for events.

The difficulty lies in convincing sponsors that they’re going to get something in return for the dough they’re ponying up.  You can address this to some degree with promises of promotion, such as shout-outs and branding opportunities throughout the event space and event activities.

However, you and your event organizer also need to pull off engaging, memorable events that keep attendees and the media talking about you and your sponsors.  Of course, the first step is drumming up interest from companies that could be the perfect match for event sponsorship. Here are a few steps to put you on the right path.

Tap Your Convention Planner Network

If your own network of contacts has run dry, it’s time to turn to your event organizer in search of new avenues of exploration.  A professional event management company works on events for a wide array of clients, and they likely work with tons of corporate sponsors in the process.

Even if they won’t give you a peek at their little black book, so to speak, they might be willing to reach out to potential sponsors in their network that they think would be a good fit with your brand or your event.  The worst that can happen is you get a no, but this could improve your chances of meeting suitable sponsors.

Attend Other Events to Meet Sponsors

Most business sponsors invest in events for a couple of reasons.  The first is usually the chance to promote their company to a new segment of the consumer market in the hopes of raising brand awareness and encouraging patronage.  However, they might also be interested in supporting certain types of events, such as charitable endeavors that mesh with their ideas and help to elevate their standing in the public eye.

For this reason, attending similar events might allow you to arrange meet-and-greet opportunities with business sponsors that could be a good fit for your upcoming event.  Your convention planner should be able to help you scout events that are similar to your own and seek out potential sponsorship by attending.


In most cases, you’re not going to get something for anything.  Even charitable sponsors will want some form of recognition for the money they donate to a cause.  That’s just good business.  If nobody hears about it, it never happened.

If you’re having trouble finding sponsors for your event, consider working with your convention planner on unique cross-promotional opportunities so sponsors can get more bang for their buck, so to speak.  If you get creative, both brands can see an uptick in interest, reach out to a new audience, and still spend less than they might on singular promotions.

Ask Your Event Organizer About Sponsorship Platforms

These days, connecting with the right people is often done through targeted online networking platforms. When it comes to seeking event sponsors, your event organizer can probably help you to utilize established platforms like SponsorPitch, Sponseasy, or SponsorMyEvent, or they may have some knowledge of emerging platforms that could deliver results.

Know What You Have To Offer

Seeking sponsorship is about selling your event.  This means you first need to understand exactly what you’re selling.  Are you able to connect sponsors with an audience that would be interested in their brand, but that they don’t necessarily have access to otherwise?  What sort of access are you offering?

What does sponsorship buy?  Is it merely the placement of logos throughout your event or will sponsors receive prime floor space in an exhibit hall and opportunities to interact with the audience directly?  Will their employees get passes and access at your event?  Further, what are the anticipated returns?  What data can you show to prove past event success and ROI for previous sponsors?

Network, Network, Network.

According to Aurelio De Mendoza, Senior VP – Marketing & Strategic Alliances at AMI, “The importance of networking cannot be overstated when it comes to finding suitable sponsors for your events.  Whether you’re reaching out through social media connections or asking your convention planner to cough up a contact list of known sponsors, you need to work every angle and leave no stone unturned.”

Sponsorships should not be a one-and-done proposition. If you’re going to bother with networking to get businesses interested in sponsoring events, make sure you take the time to build and maintain relationships.  If you host successful events, promote your sponsors appropriately, and deliver returns, you’ll gain allies that you can more easily tap to sponsor future events.