Education & Training

We’re Going There: Digging Into Hot Topics at ELI’s Business, Design & Strategy Summit

The Event Leadership Institute’s Business, Design & Strategy Summit on June 3 will present vital topics that speak to today’s unique environment – from the pandemic to politics and more.

Here’s a preview of the summit’s general sessions and keynote.

State of the Industry:

The summit’s opening session will set the tone with a “State of the Industry” report that uses data to show where we stand with regard to the return of in-person events.

Kicking things off will be Jessica Malaty Rivera, an infectious disease epidemiologist and the science communication lead for the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. She will present an overview on the current status and how meeting and event professionals can use data to chart their course ahead.

Freeman has been tracking attendee and exhibitor sentiment relating to returning to in-person events since the start of the pandemic along with a variety of metrics relating to vaccination rates, opening data by region, and variances by industry. Ken Holsinger, Freeman’s SVP Strategy – Data Solutions, will explain top-level findings and what the trends mean for industry recovery.

Finally, Gus Vonderheide, Vice President of Global Sales – Americas for Hyatt Hotels, will share insights on group business nationwide. Using his perspective from years of sales experience, he will advise how to sell when no one is buying, building relationships, and more.

Institutional Resilience:

The COVID-19 pandemic upended the meeting and event industry, forcing businesses to immediately reevaluate everything from their event portfolios, services, staffing, technology, and more. Those that didn’t quite simply didn’t survive. What were the big lessons from the pivot? How can you prepare for the next disruption?

Juliette Kayyem, former assistant secretary of Homeland Security and CNN national security analyst, will share strategies for building institutional resilience in your events, teams, and organizations.

Health Passes: Opportunities, Logistics & Legalities:

One of the hottest issues facing the industry now is whether to require a health pass that certifies a person’s vaccine status or a negative test result for the virus. Venues and event organizers now have options through apps and other solutions, but in some cases the issue is being decided for them at the federal, state, or local level.

Steve Adelman, head of Adelman Law Group and vice president of the Event Safety Alliance, is closely following the legalities of the issue and will share observations and insights on how the process is playing out.

For a case study of health passes in action, hear from Lee Brian Schrager, SVP, Communications & CSR, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, and Founder & Director, SOBEWFF® (South Beach Wine & Food Festival) & NYCWFF, share how the festival implemented its health pass program. The festival—one of the nation’s top food events—has a robust COVID protocol to keep its thousands of attendees and celebrity chefs safe.

The Boycott Dilemma: What’s at Stake for Event Organizers?

When Major League Baseball moved this summer’s All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in response to Georgia’s restrictive new voting law, it potentially set a precedent for other major events in the state.

It’s not the first time the industry has faced boycotts over social events: In 2017, the N.B.A. moved its all-star weekend from Charlotte to New Orleans in response to an anti-LGBT bill in North Carolina. In 2015, Salesforce was among the businesses that cancelled events and prohibited travel to Indiana following an anti-LGBT bill there.

To what extent should meeting and event organizers respond to boycott pressures? And as other states pass their own voting laws—as Florida did on May 5—how do planners make sure their values match the moment?

Hashing out the issue will be Michael Gordon, principal at the Gordon Group and former spokesperson for Attorney General Janet Reno; Jack Johnson, chief advocacy officer at Destinations International; and Michael Skolnik, CEO of The Soze Agency.

There’s More:

More than a dozen other sessions on topics ranging from how changes in work flexibility and business travel will impact meetings to making DEI principles part of your event DNA to creating a winning event portfolio strategy for nonprofits.


Register now for the Business, Design & Strategy Summit.