Meeting the Moment: A Vision for Meetings in 2021
The Meeting the Moment Program is a strategic initiative designed to address today’s issues while laying the foundation for safer, healthier and more productive meetings in 2021.
As the meetings industry continues to confront the profound changes and challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Benchmark, a global hospitality company, is launching a new educational initiative to help meeting planning professionals. The Meeting the Moment Program is a strategic initiative designed to address today’s issues while laying the foundation for safer, healthier and more productive meetings in 2021.
The program provides customized information and solutions to help planners deal with the complexities of creating and preparing in-person meetings in 2021 and going forward. Meeting the Moment channels the expertise of Benchmark’s leaders in technology, food and beverage, team-building and meeting design. Working as a team, this panel of experts meets virtually with individual planners, whether they have an immediate need to schedule a meeting or event or not. The program is designed to be an educational and consultative resource to the industry — a personal and individualized think tank for planning professionals.
Last May, Benchmark created the Meetings Accelerator Program aimed at mitigating the immediate effects of the crisis with zero-risk clauses and safety initiatives, according to Eric Gavin, Benchmark’s chief sales officer. “These many months later, we have a much better idea of what works, what is needed, and what we must do to help create a very different kind of safe and productive meeting experience for the long-term.”
“Though devastated by the pandemic, the meetings industry and its hospitality partners have shown incredible courage, creativity and resilience,” Gavin notes. “And while many see a bright light at the end of the tunnel, more challenges and questions lie ahead. The Meeting the Moment initiative addresses many of those questions and seeks to create long-term solutions that will permanently impact how meetings are conducted safely, constructively and with successful results.”
The Meeting the Moment panel consists of experts in key aspects of conference planning, including:
What kind of advice can meeting planners expect? The Meeting the Moment team can address planners’ specific goals, budgets, safety concerns, and the physical and psychological needs of attendees following a year of quarantines, isolation and demanding work conditions. The initiative focuses on four components of contemporary meetings: group dining reimagined, meeting technology solutions, the evolution of teambuilding and wellness, and innovative meeting design.
“Food and beverage experiences are an essential aspect of group gatherings,” says Berwald. “However, getting together for a meal is not as simple as it used to be.” He highlights suggestions for organizers working to reimagine dining plans, while going into depth in each area in panel discussions with planners:
“Keeping up with technology has always been an issue for planners and COVID-19 presents new problems that we have not had to address pre-pandemic,” says Wells. “Technology is key to keeping us safe, and to designing meetings that are productive and inclusive.” Wells goes on to discuss:
“Teambuilding and wellness initiatives are a terrific way to help teams reconnect and reenergize after a stressful year of working alone, too many Zoom calls, lack of social contact and dealing with other challenges brought on by the pandemic,” according to Varden. He suggests meeting planners:
“Planners today have a dual challenge in designing impactful, successful meetings in a safe, productive and, increasingly today, outdoor setting,” according to Carter. “Now, more than ever, each meeting must excite and inspire attendees, while providing learning and personal connections safely, doing so in an environment where attendees can feel secure, so they are free to focus on the meeting’s content, goals and objectives.”
Creative meeting space setups optimize healthy hygiene practices, while providing a setting that stimulates collaboration and innovation, according to Carter. She highlights the following recommendations for planners:
Planners can access Meeting the Moment resources, view video presentations by Benchmark’s team members and schedule personalized sessions by visiting benchmarkresortsandhotels.com/meeting_the_moment.
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