Colorado Meeting and Event Pros Share Helpful Tips Learned During Pandemic
By Beth Buehler
Destination Colorado’s “Unique Times Unique Meetings” webinar on March 26, 2021 looked at how Colorado meeting and event planners and suppliers are working closer than ever to host experiential, safe and successful gatherings. Here is a snapshot of what the five Colorado-based panelists had to say during the 1.5-hour online learning session. Look for more insights to be shared in future Destination Colorado blogs or watch the webinar in its entirety.
Destination Colorado President Ellen Collins of Vail Resorts Meetings & Events and Vice President Brady Johnson of C Lazy U Ranch served as moderators. Here are a few of the questions they asked and how panelists responded.
What elements of your 2020/early 2021 events provided a value that you will carry forward?
Pepper Dombroski, Director of Sales, The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs: We had to find areas for additional outdoor space. We used tennis courts, pickle ball courts and outdoor and indoor pool areas, and parking lots became a viable solution for certain events. … Being outside in Colorado is why groups come here from throughout the nation. We have over 300 days of sunshine and moderate temperatures; it’s that Goldilocks effect of not being too hot. Colorado is the perfect place to enjoy outdoor areas, and I think we have forever changed the way we look at how to use that space.
Callie Cornell, Director of Group Sales, Gateway Canyons, Gateway: The over communication will stick with me as a salesperson. We are very used to selling and then turning it over to our catering team. … This past year, it’s not been that way. I’ve touched base with my clients more than ever, once a week. It’s abundantly important moving forward that you can’t sell the dream and walk away from it. We’ll actually be more part of the planning process moving forward.
Justin Ball, Founder/President, Bespoke, Denver: The piece for me that I want to take forward is deepening the relationships in this industry. … There is a new level of intimacy with partners and providers, and my best hope and wish is that we continue to know each other’s businesses, better partner and stay in constant communication pre, during and post programs.
Artem Nikulkov, CEO and Executive Producer, Earth Coast Productions, Boulder: From the A/V perspective, there are new requirements and approaches. The hybrid events have been much more studio-based, so really needing to review with people regarding here’s what it looks like to be in a studio, how a teleprompter works, how the queuing will happen, and all those types of details. Incorporating the studio experience in with the in-person event and having the in-person crowd aware that this is also a TV production (or at least a live broadcasting production) makes it a different type of environment.
Tracy Blair, Director of Sales and Marketing, Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, Denver: Embracing technology; it’s here to stay. We’ve had to take meetings and events to an even higher level of engagement, pulling in attendees who were never able to attend before and providing them with an exceptional experience in the hybrid lane, and amplifying everything we are doing for in-person as well. So really drawing the two together, where before if you were attending virtually that was pretty much an afterthought. Now it becomes really marrying the two and utilizing that to expand the footprint of the messaging and engagement. Also, utilizing meeting apps and finding new ways to engage sponsors and business partners.
What piece of advice would you like to share based on your Covid work experiences?
Justin: To lean into your vulnerability, get your hands dirty, and deepen partnerships with your vendors. … It’s a great time to invest in your industry relationships, stay connected and come up with something really amazing.
Callie: Be open to thinking outside the box. We’ve all had to adjust to that mindset over the past year, hoteliers included. Just be open to the unknown and know you are in good hands, as we are all in this together.
Tracy: Have the confidence to connect.
Artem: Embrace technology and continue to check on what is happening in this industry. It’s a very fast-paced world, and the Zoom from today is not the same Zoom as six months ago or last week. Install those updates! Keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening because it is going to continue to evolve and allow you do more and more things.
Pepper: Communicate at all different levels, making sure that people above and below know what is expected, what they can expect and have the confidence to travel. Communication has never been more important.
Destination Colorado is the one-stop Colorado resource for meeting and event planners and provides connections to meeting service providers. Find statewide RFPs, detailed destination descriptions, property searches and more at www.DestinationColorado.com. All of this is provided at no cost to planners!
Lead Photo: The beautiful skyline in Denver, one of many communities in Colorado available for hosting meetings and events. Photo by Bob Ashe, courtesy of VISIT DENVER.
Beth Buehler has been editor of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine for 16 years and helped launch Mountain Meetings magazine in 2013. She has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.