This post was written by Laura Lopez, community manager for Social Tables.
Building communities is a top priority for us at Social Tables. What exactly does building community even mean? For us, it’s a way to add value to those within the meetings, events, and hospitality industry by empowering each other to be successful. One way we go about building and supporting our own community is by hosting offline events. What would a meetings and events company like ourselves be without hosting our own live events?
We decided to host not one but two consecutive events for the hotel, meeting, and event planning-focused communities. To kick off the day, we hosted a luncheon in the historic Vault Room of Cipriani’s on Wall Street. To culminate the night, we hosted a dinner at Convene at 32 Old Slip. To top things off, both events had panel discussions. Here’s why these events worked and how you can pull off an event to support and delight your own community.
Our first event was held at the Cipriani in Wall Street, which has the capability to host large-scale and intimate events. For our luncheon, we envisioned a much smaller group of attendees so we hosted it in the historic Vault Room. Randy Janis, Catering Sales Manager at Cipriani, kicked off the meal with the story of how Cipriani grew from a thriving restaurant into a full-fledged landmark venue space in New York City. We ended the luncheon with a panel discussion with New York City’s hospitality leaders: Maya Stanic, Director, Marketing & Brand Development, Convene, Alissa Hendel, Vice President, Strategic Sales, Sabre Hospitality Solutions and Liza Lipstein, Director, Sales and Marketing, The Roger New York.
The Cipriani Team had an incredible staff on-hand to help manage the luncheon portion as well as moving attendees into the Screening Room for the panel discussion. The size of the event also worked to meet our event objectives. In working with a smaller group, each attendee was able to get to know other attendees from neighboring hotel properties in an intimate setting. The moderated panel discussion was conducive to productive, open conversations, which was aided by a classroom-style room setting.
To boot, the panel discussion covered a relevant, hot topic: how the sharing economy emerging technology is impacting the hotel world and how properties can remain competitive. In pulling thought leaders both from the hotel and technology world, our panelists were able to host a meaningful conversation with actionable takeaways for our attendees.
Our second event of the day featured dinner and a fireside chat with Chris Kelly, co-founder of Convene, in partnership with PCMA and MPI Greater New York. In working with two of the largest associations, not only in the New York area but in the industry in general, we planned for a much bigger event. The evening event drew a crowd of nearly 100 attendees from the meeting and event planning industry. Our fireside-style chat preceded a roving dinner, featured Social Tables’ Dan Berger and Chris Kelly where they discussed the importance of meeting design and how venues can help.
Despite such a large audience, we planted microphones throughout the crowd to allow for questions no matter where the attendee was seated. This allowed for active engagement between the speakers. One discussion point that resonated with the audience was the disparity between what clients expect out of a planner and the end result of planning. While there is no one way that expectations can be fully managed, our attendees and panelists both agreed that technology and clear communication could help manage those expectations, making for happy planners and clients.
Why It Worked
Tailoring your events for your attendees will not only create value for them, but will help boost their ROI, whether it’s in the topics of discussion during a panel or right down to the room setup. We found that partnering with local suppliers and industry associations helped to reach audience members within our target community. As an added bonus, pair your event with panel or fireside chat-style discussions relevant to your community to boost your attendee’s return on investment.
Do you have a community-centric event idea that worked for you? Is there a city that is the epicenter of planning and hospitality that you think we should host our next Social Tables Social? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @socialtables!