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EVENT INSIDER: pandemic slowdown spurs new businesses

A short while back there was a viral-bound joke that if vaccination site managers wanted to have their operations, appointments and follow through go smoothly, they should turn to meeting and event planners. The joke continued that not only would the task be done skillfully and to everyone’s satisfaction, but all those seniors who had endured standing in long lines, (sometimes throughout the night), unsure if they’d even score a shot, would have been served snacks, a drink and maybe even a chair. I was likely among the meetings & event Insiders who didn’t see the surface humor in the proposition. I had discussed that same “duh moment” ad nauseum with industry friends and my husband and wondered why no one in charge hadn’t already figured that out. Who better to strategize all the minutia of appointments, parking, cue lines, qualified staff, and follow up visits to fulfillment, than a planner?

AM I SEEING DOUBLE OR DO ORLANDO VENUES NOW COME IN PAIRS?

Mount Rushmore handcrafted in solid milk chocolate at the World of Chocolate Museum & Cafe'. photo by Karen Kuzsel.

Mount Rushmore handcrafted in solid milk chocolate at the World of Chocolate Museum & Cafe’. photo by Karen Kuzsel.


Russell Crowe’s movie, “Noah” has me seeing things in pairs.
I first noticed that the small strip mall near my house contains three sets of restaurants: Chinese, barbeque, and Italian. I thought it odd that a second restaurant would come into the same plaza with a similar menu, but then noticed venues recreating in the same manner.
As an active member of both the Orlando area chapters of MPI (Meeting Professionals International) and ISES (International Special Events Society), I attend meetings at many newly-opened venues that cater to corporate and leisure groups. The latest pairs are upscale bowling alleys, museums about chocolate, and the unfolding of Diagon Alley, the famed street favored by wizards, witches and now muggles.
I was frankly curious how an upscale bowling alley would differ from the ones I used to frequent. And what exactly does one do at a museum about chocolate other than dream of mouth-melting morsels sans calories? Will the expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley be as skillfully-replicated as its Hogsmeade counterpart at Universal Orlando Resorts’ Islands of Adventure?
So here’s what I’ve discovered.
Both Chocolate Kingdom and The World of Chocolate Museum & Café are surrounded by the trappings of Orlando’s famed tourism districts. Both museums offer amusing and educational guided tours of how chocolate went from being a drink only the wealthy could afford to the favorite reason to crash a diet, including the ever-popular “It’s dark chocolate so its oxidants are healthy for you” excuse. Both museums offer limited chocolate samples along the roughly 45-minute interactive tour, have event space, and each has a convenient gift store. That’s where the similarities end. Here’s what makes each of them stand out. Read more

WANT A MEETING PLANNER’S BUSINESS? LISTEN UP AND LEARN!

Sweet treats from Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at the goampi Meeting Planner All Stars program. photo by Lauralee Shapiro CMP

Sweet treats from Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at the goampi Meeting Planner All Stars program. photo by Lauralee Shapiro CMP


What does a meeting planner want?
That question is as enigmatic as a clueless husband wondering what more could his wife could want after his birthday surprise of a new vacuum cleaner didn’t go over quite as expected.
The answer to what a meeting planner wants varies as much as who may be asking. Is the person pondering the hotel coordinator who’s servicing a group’s meeting or trying to solicit that business, or is it the AV tech/florist/caterer/transportation or furniture décor rep? Is the planner working for a corporation, association, or independent?
The simple answer to what a meeting planner wants is a smoothly-run event, surrounded by attentive and reliable vendors in a fantastic venue that was generous with incentives, and to have the client’s attendees wowed by the entire experience.
Easy peasy to pull off, right?
Or not, which is why an audience of about 85 were so intently focused on the questions and responses given by a panel of six Meeting Planner All Stars at the January luncheon meeting of the Greater Read more