The Future of Convention Centers

How venues can adapt to changing planner priorities.

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This session took place Feb. 16, 2022

Planner priorities continue to shift as the pandemic stretches on. Convention centers must adapt to the changing times, while also keeping a pulse on future trends and needs.

Join us for this webinar, where industry experts will share their predictions for how Covid-19 will shape events and venues in 2022 and beyond. Topics of discussion will include new approaches to event safety, the increasing importance of sustainability, and new and emerging event technology.

The webinar also featureS findings from Northstar Meetings Group's December 2021 Convention Cities Index Interim Report.


Earns 1 Hour of CMP Credit



scott-craigheadScott Craighead

Vice President of Exhibitions & Events 
International Association of Exhibitions and Events

Scott has been involved in the events industry for over 18 years, producing exhibitions and events in the U.S. and globally. He is currently responsible for the marketplace initiatives for the International Association of Exhibitions & Events and the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, including Expo! Expo! USA, Expo! Expo! Middle East North Africa, IAEE digital marketplaces and CEIR-produced events.

He has industry-wide leadership roles in event and exhibition management, technology, environmental sustainability, and health and safety, serving in volunteer leadership for The National Safety Council, Visit Austin, International Association of Venue Managers, Events Industry Council, DFW Association Executives and BPA Worldwide.

Mark-Herrera-nmgMark Herrera

Director of Education and Life-Safety
International Association of Venue Managers

Mark Herrera is the director of education and life-safety for the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM). As part of his duties, he teaches Situational Awareness-Mindset training, which includes how to mitigate risks and control extreme situations. In his role at IAVM, Herrera works in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security to identify capability gaps across soft target community, counter threats to the pattern of life, research technology to mitigate risk, and provide information to protect our Public Facility Assemblies and all critical infrastructures.

Herrera is a seasoned law enforcement officer and trainer, having spent 20 years with the Hobbs, N.M., Police Department in numerous roles, including Supervisor of the Crime Prevention Division and Tactical Sergeant for a Special Operations Unit known as S.W.A.T. Upon retiring from the police department, he implemented security policies, procedures and training programs for the oil and gas industry. He later worked as an instructor for the Department Homeland Security, training 3,000 armed pilots to defend against acts of terrorism involving criminal violence or air piracy.

Akshar-patel-nmgAkshar Patel

Vice President of Conventions
Asian American Hotel Owners Association

Akshar Patel is the Vice President of Conventions at AAHOA where he is responsible for the planning and execution of the AAHOA Convention and Trade Show, the largest gathering of hotel owners and vendors in the country. The 2019 convention in San Diego, California drew over 8,100 attendees and is the largest event in the association’s 30‐year history.

Before joining AAHOA in 2015,Akshar worked in events management, including a leadership role at the historic Intercontinental The Willard Washington D.C. He currently serves as an advisory board member on the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, the Fort Worth Customer Advisory Board, the Visit Dallas Customer Advisory Board, and Shepard Exposition Services. 

During the COVID‐19 Pandemic he has also been a part of the PCMA Think Tank Series in providing insight on restarting the events and meetings industry. In 2019, Connect Association Magazine named Akshar one of its 40 Under 40 events industry professionals. He recently has been selected to be part of the Events Industry Council APEX Commission, recognized by Northstar Meetings Group as an Event Professional making an impact, and recently a nominee of the PCMA Groundbreaking Award.

Eric-Wallinger-nmgEric Wallinger

Director of Sustainability

Eric is the Director of Sustainability at MeetGreen where his focus on resources and the environment is complemented by 20 years of experience in event and conference planning and delivery. His areas of expertise include sustainability assessment initiatives, process improvement strategies, stakeholder engagement, carbon accounting, waste management, and data analysis.

With an interest in the built environment, Eric has managed numerous capital improvement projects for commercial buildings and became a LEED accredited professional in 2010. His work with MeetGreen allows him to work closely with destination, supplier and planner teams from around the world to integrate sustainable practices into their events and organizations.


Elise-Schoening-nmgElise Schoening

Senior Associate Editor
Northstar Meetings Group

Elise Schoening is Senior Associate Editor with Northstar Meetings Group. She joined the editorial team in 2019 and covers everything from the latest news in the Northeast region to the rising importance of sustainability and DEI. In addition to daily news coverage and social media management, Elise oversees publication of Northstar Meetings Group's biannual Convention Cities Index.