Submitted by Washington State Convention Center
Although Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) did not as a governmental entity qualify for the first round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans offered last spring, they were determined to apply again when the Second Draw PPP Loans opened in January.
The Center’s hopes were lifted when they learned from their general counsel that loan regulations had changed and, as a Public Facility District, WSCC could apply as a destination marketing organization in this round.
They also understood finding the right bank to apply through was critical. After vetting various institutions and tapping into professional networks, they went with a local community lender. First, the lender was familiar with the Small Business Administration (SBA) loan process and were already prepared with web forms. Second, unlike the First Draw PPP Loans, the SBA accepted PPP loan applications only from community financial institutions at the beginning of the Second Draw to ensure a more equitable distribution of funds.
Another element that helped move the process along was providing thorough documentation. This made it easy for the bank to identify how WSCC qualified for the loan, and the bank could quickly verify accuracy of the Center’s financial information with payroll and tax back-up documentation.
“Awareness, preparation and persistence are key elements in situations like these. We were ready to act when the opportunity presented itself,” said Sam Hecker, WSCC Director of Finance/CFO.
“We appreciate the tremendous support of IAVM leadership to amplify the knowledge-sharing regarding these programs with venues,” said WSCC CEO Jeff Blosser. “It’s important for the collective recovery of our business to maintain a strong network among IAVM members.”
By R.V. Baugus
With another GuestX having completed, this time in a virtual environment, three attendees to IAVM’s premier meeting on all things involving the guest experience got an educational indoctrination courtesy of the Diversity & Inclusive Leadership Committee’s awarding of scholarships to these very deserving individuals.
Scholarships were awarded to IAVM member Shaunici Morgan, Maintenance and Ops Crew Supervisor, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Raleigh, NC; non-member Agmar Varela Lopez, Guest Services Supervisor, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas NV; and student James Mark Dodd, graduate student at The University of Southern California in the Annenberg School for Journalism & Communication with pursuit of the Master’s degree in Communications. We contacted all three both before and during GuestX to get their thoughts about their experience at this valuable educational offering.
How did you take advantage of your attendance at GuestX?
SHAUNICI: I did so by attending all sessions, asking questions, and taking notes. Put on my listening ears and took as much away from this conference as possible.
AGMAR: Outside of participating as much as possible and attending every event, I wanted to focus on taking the time to make genuine connections. I’m thrilled to be around other members of the live entertainment community once again and look forward to sharing our stories.
MARK: With this being my inaugural experience with this conference, and being that I am a scholarship recipient from the University of Southern California, I feel a moral, ethical, academic, professional, and scholastic obligation to attend as many conference sessions as possible to holistically experience this global conference. It is an honor as a graduate student to be afforded these opportunities, and in order to be enriched, learn, grow, develop, and be inspired I must attend the various sessions to embrace the vision, purpose, and mission of the conference.
Are there any sessions that held particular interest for you?
SHAUNICI: I really looked forward to hearing Fanny Dunagan speak on Leveraging Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for Guest Service.
AGMAR: They were all fantastic and most importantly, timely. But I looked forward to Fanny Dunagan’s session on Leveraging Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for Guest Service. It makes perfect sense to look toward psychology to explore new tools that may help us navigate the fast-evolving guest experience climate. Also, as a huge Disney fan, I am ridiculously excited for Disney trivia night.
MARK: Yes, I was fortunate to attend a session where an amazing moderator and speaker used technology to show venue managers innovative and alternative ways to visually showcase their venue to their clients, especially during this pandemic. This technology was so sophisticated and illustrated the venue in such a manner that was both an excellent marketing tool, but also informative to answer questions that would attract clients. The session also spoke to immediate changes to support safety guidelines as we face an on-going challenging pandemic that has impacted venues from around the world from sports, theater, trade shows, conferences, and special events. As an Executive Producer and Chief Creative Officer this session was both interesting and practical to me as a professional on both the operations and creative side. I felt that this session would be so beneficial to producers, directors, and creative minds that play a vital role in the decision process of what venue over another for an event or season for a show. I felt this inclusion would enhance another level of education among producers that would give them intellectual knowledge without deferring exclusively to the technical or production team to make the decision about specific venues, but this knowledge would bring them into the narrative on making those decisions with accurate knowledge.
GuestX as its title implies deals largely with the guest experience and crowd management. How do you work at your job to make for a better guest experience (at least once we are again able to have large audiences after COVID!)?
SHAUNICI: Since I am over cleaning and set up, I want guests to feel safe coming into our venue. Make my team more visible to show the guests that the building is clean and getting disinfected. We will provide certain PPE if that is what guests feel that they need while attending a show. We will show that we are here to serve them.
AGMAR: By prioritizing and empowering staff via specialized training, recognition programs, and development initiatives. This quote from Disney’s Approach to Employee Engagement course says it all: “The extent to which you genuinely care for your people is the extent to which they will care for your guests and each other.” The guest experience starts and ends with the staff. I can’t expect the team to create unique and magical experiences if they feel undervalued and unsupported. You have to earn their buy-in and nourish it by remaining clear, consistent, and showing genuine care. I am very lucky to be part of a leadership team that truly embraces and adopts this philosophy.
MARK: This conference has embraced the customer/guest experience with considering the apex of safety while working to reopen its venues and follow strict safety guidelines. I will learn how to manage large crowds, how to make guests feel safe with safety checkpoints, how to social distance in the space, how to understand the capability of the space to ensure guests get the best experience. Outside of safety with incorporating pandemic guidelines, there is still the premium customer service and attention to details that cannot be compromised, and I hope to incorporate that into my next major event.
Would you share any comments for the Diversity & Inclusive Leadership Committee that helped make these scholarships available?
SHAUNICI: I personally would like to thank the DILC for having these scholarships available. If it wasn’t for these scholarships it would be hard for people like myself to attend these conferences. The scholarship questions do make you put yourself out there if you are not comfortable with yourself. With these scholarships, I know that you are looking for something different. People like me get looked over all the time. This gives me hope, makes me feel like I actually have a chance to compete. I worked really hard to get where I am today and attending these conferences will help me grow and learn in the long run. Thank you for this opportunity.
AGMAR: I am incredibly grateful to DILC for granting me room to grow in my craft during a time of complete career uncertainty. For me, leadership and guest services are duties of care, and part of caring is putting in the work and developing your skills so that you can best support your team. Thank you also to IAVM for providing me with the resources to do so. For the first time in my career, I am part of a completely diverse management team. I have two inspiring female leaders, Eboni and Sam, who support me, believe in me, and have given me opportunities I may not have had otherwise. My counterpart Ken and I are able to thrive because we have that kind of support behind us. Representation matters. With the skills I learn from this experience, I commit to creating space for others and being a champion for inclusivity and representation.
MARK: As an African-American male at a majority institution, The University of Southern California, I am grateful that the board of trustees, administration, and senior leadership of the university has embraced the understanding for diversity, equality, inclusion, and enrichment, especially for people of color. I am a member of the USC Black Alumni Association as a scholar. I learned of this opportunity via my organization. I am humbled that the leadership and board members of GuestX and its board of sponsors understand the need for providing scholarships of diversity that will enhance the professional development for minority professionals. As a minority professional and graduate student I have benefited from the decorium, knowledge, and information from a conference of this magnitude. To continue offering such diversity scholarships affirms the values, corporate social responsibility, and commitment to the diverse community by which we live to be a part of enhancing it with these opportunities. Again, it was an honor to participate. I look forward to hopefully attending next year to continue my professional growth and development. Thanks for this amazing experience, and in the words of our Trojan family, Fight on!
By ISSA and R.V. Baugus
The Global Biorisk Advisory Council™ (GBAC), a Division of ISSA, announced the latest venues to achieve the GBAC STAR™ Facility Accreditation Program.
“Accreditation sets facilities apart by equipping organizations with the correct work practices, procedures, and systems,” said GBAC Executive Director Patricia Olinger. “As more facilities reopen and increase their occupancy limits, it will be important for them to follow infection prevention best practices. GBAC STAR enables them to successfully uphold cleanliness and safety.”
The following venues are the most recent to achieve GBAC STAR accreditation:
College Park Center in Arlington, Texas
Durham Convention Center in Durham, N.C.
George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston
The Forum at Infinite Energy Center in Duluth, Ga.
Theatres or Performing Arts Centers
Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts in Houston
Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston
PTG Live Events, LLC in Milwaukee
Wortham Theater Center in Houston
“Displaying the GBAC STAR seal shows that a facility is cleaning and disinfecting at a higher level for the benefit of its employees, occupants, and visitors,” said ISSA Executive Director John Barrett. “With new facilities accredited each week, we are giving people access to an increasing number of safe public spaces, from hotels to convention centers to airports.”
Learn more and apply for GBAC STAR™ facility accreditation at gbac.org/star.
Find accredited facilities and those pursuing accreditation via the GBAC STAR Facility Directory at gbac.org/directory.
IAVM members seeking to apply for accreditation through GBAC, please use the link https://gbac.issa.com/iavm/!
By Nadia Vanderhoof, MA
Continuing to sustain new business and economic growth for the Central Florida region, the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in Orlando recently welcomed MAGIC Pop-Up Orlando, OFFPRICE Orlando Market, and WWIN Orlando Showcase for three-days of face-to-face fashion buying and selling.
“The health and safety of all those who participate is our utmost priority and the Orange County Convention Center provides the perfect venue to gather the market together, with a campus-like property and space to accommodate proper social distancing. It’s also in close outdoor walking proximity to hotels and restaurants, therefore limiting the need for shuttles – among other additional benefits,” said Clarion Events Executive Vice President, Desiree Hanson.
Attracting more than 20 events from competing destinations, the OCCC’s drive and commitment to Meeting Safely continues to resonate with the convention and trade show industry, offering practical and demonstrable examples on responsibly getting back to business.
MAGIC, OFFPRICE and WWIN planners worked cohesively with the OCCC team to provide a safe and productive trade show environment keeping safety at the forefront. Guided by Informa AllSecure – a detailed set of measures developed collaboratively with industry associations, event organizers and venues – organizers protected sellers, buyers and employees by:
COVID-19 testing: requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test on entry.
Health partnerships: collaborating with certified COVID-19 testing companies to procure and administer tests to all attendees, exhibitors, staff and vendors, and work with Orlando Health for expert medical guidance and support.
Cleaning and hygiene: increasing air circulation throughout the building, enhancing cleaning schedules and providing ample sanitation stations for personal hygiene.
Physical distancing: facilitating a safe distance from other groups by offering a limited to no-contact registration process, wider aisles, credential scanning on entry for crowd management and rearranged furniture to avoid congregations and groupings.
Detect and protect: monitoring temperatures on entry to the exhibit hall, face masks requirement, and providing access to a first aid responder for any immediate medical needs.
Attracting thousands to the Convention Center District, these three relocated events delivered substantial economic impact to the region, supporting local hotels, restaurants, retailers, and entertainment, not to mention sustaining revenue for the OCCC and its hundreds of full-time and contracted employees.
“We were honored to have played a role in successfully hosting the MAGIC Pop-Up Orlando, OFFPRICE Orlando Market, and WWIN Orlando Showcase,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “Our commitment to keeping employees, guests and attendees healthy and safe is evident as we continue to lead our industry to a recovery by hosting modified events.”
Nadia Vanderhoof, MA, is Marketing and Communications Manager | Marketing and Communications Division for the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.
By Sherrif Karamat
Arne M. Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, passed away on Feb. 15. He had reduced his schedule earlier in the month to facilitate more demanding treatment for pancreatic cancer.
We are deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of Arne. This is truly a loss for the hospitality and business events community. We extend our deepest sympathies to Arne’s family and his colleagues at Marriott.
Arne accomplished a great deal during his too-short time at the helm of Marriott. He will be remembered for his thought leadership and dedication to the industry, and to causes he cared about, including DEI, sustainability, and to increasing awareness of human trafficking.
Marriott has been a long-time friend and supporter of PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association). Under Arne’s leadership, Marriott has been an Uber partner since 2019, with the primary objective of supporting innovation, education, and research in the meetings and conventions industry. Marriott partnered with the PCMA Foundation on the “The Future of Business Events” study, which was released at 2019 Convening Leaders, and offered insights on key trends for the industry. The following year, Marriott partnered with the PCMA Foundation again on another research series, “Beyond ROI … to ROE (Return On Events): Measuring the Impact of Business Events,” released in December.
Most recently, Marriott International and the Gaylord Rockies Resort hosted 100 attendees for an in-person event as part of PCMA Convening Leaders 2021, to demonstrate how events can take place safely in the current pandemic environment.
In addition, Marriott has been an in-kind sponsor providing meals for volunteers for more than 10 years during Convening Leaders Hospitality Helping Hands program.
We join the rest of the travel, hospitality, and events industry in mourning Arne’s loss.
Sherrif Karamat is President and Chief Executive Officer of Professional Convention Management Association based in Chicago.