Destination Southeast in Pictures

The sold-out event in Marco Island, Fla., brought in nearly 140 meeting professionals and showcased the strong demand for face-to-face meetings.

This gorgeous sandcastle greeted Destination Southeast participants at the JW Marriott Marco Island. Photograph by Ketara Gadahn for Studio Alani

In a testament to the rising demand for face-to-face events, Northstar Meetings Group's annual Destination Southeast, held July 25-27 in Marco Island, Fla., sold out weeks in advance. The event brought together nearly 140 meeting professionals at the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort for a chance to network in person, learn from industry experts and soak up the Florida sun.

In addition to our wonderful host property, Destination Southeast was supported by a number of generous sponsors: Naples, Marco Island & EvergladesVisit St. Pete/Clearwater, Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Explore Asheville, Goodman Speakers, Seiko Watches, Delta Air Lines, Maui Jim, Aventri Software and pc/nametag
We invite you to view, download and share photos from the Destination Southeast Photo Gallery, with credit to photographer Ketara Gadahn/Studio Alani. (Please tag @studioalaniphoto on Instagram or Facebook, and Ketara Gadahn on LinkedIn.)

Northstar Meetings Group will hold a full slate of in-person events this year. Planners and suppliers can register their interest in attending upcoming meetings at any time.
Following are highlights from Destination Southeast 2021.

Day One

Our beachfront host property was the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort, which debuted in 2017 after a $320 million renovation and rebranding.

Per our safety protocols, attendees were required to show proof of full vaccination or present a negative Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours prior to the event. Once on-site, temperature checks were conducted daily.

Jeffrey Brenner, director of special markets for Seiko Watches, helped Pat Fogleman, president of Conference Resources, pick out the perfect timepiece at Seiko's gifting station.

A Zen Den down the hall from check-in provided guests with a chance to rest and reset whenever the need arose.

Participants mixed and mingled during the beachside welcome reception.

Charcuterie cones were among the Instagram-worthy F&B offerings at the welcome reception. The menu also dished up oysters, sushi and pork ribs.

At the Maui Jim fitting station, guests could select the perfect pair of polarized, lightweight sunglasses to take home.

The night ended with an afterglow party at 10K Alley, the JW Marriott's gastro pub and gaming emporium, where guests competed in air hockey, bowling, mini golf and virtual-reality fun.

Day Two

Early risers were rewarded with a stunning rainbow.

Day two's educational session, sponsored by Goodman Speakers, featured former Ritz-Carlton executive Bart Berkey, who discussed the industry's recovery, noting that meeting planners can get ahead by "doing what most people don't."

Getting down to business: One-on-one appointments allowed buyers and suppliers to meet and plan for future business in the Southeast region.

In the afternoon, participants headed out on the water for activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding and jet skiing.

Dinner on the hotel's aptly named Sunset Terrace didn't disappoint.

Day Three

The morning's session on Covid-19 safety for future events featured Patrick Gahagan, vice president of customer development for InHouse Physicians.

Sue Rugala, senior sales executive for the JW Marriott Marco Island Resort (left), met with KatieLyn Miller, program coordinator for Cain Travel Meetings and Events (right), during the second round of appointments.

Participants mastered the art of sushi-making during a cooking class led by a JW Marriott Marco Island sous chef — one of many activities offered on the final day.

A fire-dancing show held on the beach at sunset closed out the final night's reception.

Interested in other Northstar events? Register now.