How AMI Helps Fortune 500 Companies Host Amazing Hybrid Events

How AMI Helps Fortune 500 Companies Host Amazing Hybrid Events

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.

Check out the podcast here: SlickTalk Podcast: How Hybrid Events are Here to Stay with Andy McNeill

Get more Hybrid Meeting Resources from AMI here:

Relationships and Community Service Brings Award to Event Industry Professional

Relationships and Community Service Brings Award to Event Industry Professional

 

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.”

Five Innovative Gifting ideas for Attendees and Staff

Five Innovative Gifting ideas for Attendees and Staff

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.

Sherpa Blankets

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.

Ring Lights

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

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!

AMI Provides Talented Certified Suppliers Through Its Industry Leading Tier 2 Supplier Program

AMI Provides Talented Certified Suppliers Through Its Industry Leading Tier 2 Supplier Program

Learn more in this Out Entrepreneur interview with CEO and Founder of AMI Andy McNeill on his advice for the next generation of Out Bosses.

For over 25 years, Andy and his husband and business partner Todd have witnessed a number of ups and downs in the travel and event industry but believe the recent pandemic has changed the industry for good. Andy said the pandemic had driven the “largest, most jarring shift” they’ve experienced, and forced what AMI did to GROW during this challenging time.

In this interview, Andy also shares the philosophy of AMI’s Supplier Diversity Program and how it is successfully positioning minority businesses to pitch to large corporations and win bids. He gives tips on how to be more effective, as just being able to pitch doesn’t simply seal the deal. (Even though AMI’s suppliers have received millions of dollars in contracts because of the program.)

And finally, Andy shares how his LGBTQ life experience and the experiences of others in the community have allowed him to be MORE successful. He advises the next generation of Out Bosses to use their platform to offer themselves as beacons of safe space, education, and connection.

“If you aren’t your whole self at work, people can feel the un-authenticity. And when people aren’t comfortable with who I am or our philosophies, we are fine not working together because it won’t be successful for either party.”

Check out the podcast, The Out Entrepreneur here (@outentrepreneur), and be inspired today!

How Corporate Event Planners are Transitioning into Hybrid Meetings

How Corporate Event Planners are Transitioning into Hybrid Meetings

Restrictions on travel and in-person meetings are lifting, but uncertainty still exists for the event industry. For much of 2020, and even in 2021, corporate meeting planners had to quickly pivot to virtual meeting platforms, if not cancel long-planned events. Hybrid meetings will likely bring large gatherings back into the public space and may become the new normal for the corporate meetings industry.

Thankfully, this last year has helped shorten the learning curve, improve the technology, and built a foundation for best practices in the virtual and hybrid meeting arena. Virtual and hybrid events will continue to be elevated in their capabilities and acceptance.

Finding Solutions

Event planners will need to rely on their never-ending resourcefulness and creativity, just as always, just in the new meeting normal. This means that understanding live, virtual and hybrid events is more critical than ever. Understanding the benefits of each event type to best match client needs is vital. From there, using the right tools becomes the foundation of the event.

In live events, this could look like having the right team and venue. In virtual and hybrid events, it is critical to have an effective digital platform. For example, Zoom, one of many AMI partners, offers meetings for under 1,000 participants and webinars for up to 50,000. They also integrate with marketing softwares like Hubspot, payment portals like PayPal, and even transcription services.

Being Creative and Engaging

Don’t shy away from virtual tradeshows, keynotes, live entertainment, or town-hall-style panels. Technology and production teams are dedicated to hosting nearly anything virtually or through combined live and virtual hybrid presentations.

Regardless of the type of event, creativity and a focus on participant engagement help the event be successful. Understanding the target audience, using good pacing and/or layout, an engaging master of ceremonies, event swag, and opportunities to connect are all part of this engagement piece.

(Read this interview with AMI Partner Jason Alpert on why and how to hire a master of ceremonies for virtual events.)

Promoting Wider

One benefit of virtual and hybrid events is the ability to market and promote them outside a specific location while not requiring participant (or speaker) travel. Utilize QR codes to drive those engaging with tangible marketing materials online for information and registration.

Seamlessly connect registration and attendance for security and valuable data gathering, such as surveys, polls, and feedback forms.

Event planners, if you need support in building your hybrid production skills and teams to better prepare for virtual and hybrid events, AMI can help. Contact us today for more information.