St. Louis Goes Virtual for Global Meetings Industry Day 2020

Thursday April 16, 2020

By Mark

View the entire meeting:

In recognition of Global Meetings Industry Day, on Tuesday, April 14, Explore St. Louis, Maritz Global Events and The St. Louis Area Chapter of Meeting Professionals International brought together 360 community members to discuss relevant topics related to current challenges, what people can do to help now, and how we will turn the corner to recovery together.

We treated the web conference as a “working lunch,” encouraging people to order takeout or delivery from their favorite St. Louis restaurant to enjoy during the event.

The program kicked off with remarks from moderator Greg Bogue, Chief Experience Architect, Maritz Global Events.

To make the web-conference more interactive, we polled the audience with various questions: (Click to enlarge each graphic)

We then heard from our panelists:

Gerard Craft, Chef/Partner, Niche Food Group, expanded on the restaurant industry and the challenges it is facing. He also went over best practices for food safety, food handling, etc. and introduced STL Take It Home.

Robert O’Laughlin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, LHM, provided more information on the hotel industry and local attractions the St. Louis Aquarium and the St. Louis Wheel. Occupancy is low; although most hotels are still open. Attractions are pivoting by engaging with visitors virtually.

David Peckinpaugh, President, Maritz Global Events, explained that most events leading up to July have been postponed/canceled. However, there is a pent-up demand for socialization and in-person collaboration.

Kitty Ratcliffe, President, Explore St. Louis, posed the question how do we move forward? As an organization, Explore St. Louis is responsible for the health of the industry and the community. We are focusing on not only surviving these trying times but recovery.

Roo Yawitz, owner, The Gramophone, repeated the need to focus on recovery but also help those who are currently struggling. The Gateway Resilience Fund, a fund developed by the St. Louis Community Foundation, was born out of that need and goes toward helping those in the hospitality industry who are unemployed.

The Gateway Resilience Fund thus far has helped out 879 people and local businesses totaling over $1 million in relief.

Greg Bogue then asked the group about examples of innovation they have experienced. Kitty Ratcliffe spoke about Virtual St. Louis and how St. Louis attractions have done an amazing job on being creative, keeping their customers engaged and offering virtual experiences.

David Peckinpaugh mentioned great innovations around home-based workouts and the services being offered by gyms. Robert O’Loughlin mentioned how many of his employees, in place of being furloughed, are helping stock shelves at grocery stores. Gerard Craft and Roo Yawitz commended St. Louis’ local restaurant and music scene and how they have pivoted to survive. The main takeaway: partnerships are vital, the more we can come together the better, and the only way we get through this is to collaborate.

The panel answered many other questions, touching on topics of the day.

The web conference concluded with a final question: what single word of encouragement would you like to share with your colleagues? Hope, Kindness, Perseverance, Positivity, Strength, Resilience.