Updated Aug. 19, 2021
For many participants, SMU International 2020, held Feb. 27-29, was their last in-person meeting before business came to a sudden halt last year. When this year's SMU International kicks off at the Sheraton New York Times Square Aug. 26-28, it will be the first in-person event to welcome back the global meetings market.
It will also be the first Northstar Meetings Group event that will require all participants to show proof of having received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, per an executive order that went into effect on Tuesday, Aug. 17. Furthermore, in an abundance of caution, all participants will be encouraged to wear masks throughout the program. Enhanced safety protocols for the event outline other health-safety measures.
SMU attendees received an emailed notice from event organizers yesterday that stated, “We recognize the need to be flexible with regard to the protocols and policies required to meet as safely and as effectively as possible. Though circumstances continue to change and vary by location, Northstar remains committed to producing its live events in partnership with its destination and venue partners, and in compliance with the latest health and safety guidelines.”
A Cause for Celebration
This year marks the 17th anniversary of SMU International, which was created in 2004 to connect North American meeting and incentive travel buyers who hold programs around the world with global destinations and suppliers. In addition to one-on-one meetings, the agenda offers timely education and the opportunity to experience the magic of New York City. This unique event is hosted by Northstar Meetings Group's industry-leading brands: Successful Meetings, Meetings & Conventions, Incentive and Meeting News.
Loren Edelstein, Northstar Meetings Group's vice president, content director, describes what attendees can expect at this year's SMU International.
The timing is ideal, noted Caroline Pidroni, head of the Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau. The "new New York" is ready to impress planners, she said, and as international borders are beginning to open, "SMU is a one-stop shop for planners to find out what's happening from the local specialists."
Pidroni, now in her 13th year leading Switzerland's New York-based bureau, has never missed an SMU. "It has always been better than any other event for targeting buyers who bring business to Europe," she added.
“New York City is reawakening, with countless new and iconic experiences for meeting delegates to enjoy," said Jerry Cito, executive vice president, convention development, for NYC & Company. "As in-person events continue to ramp up in the five boroughs, we are delighted to welcome back SMU International this summer and look forward to showing attendees all that NYC has to offer, complete with a special musical performance by the cast of Chicago, the longest-running American musical in Broadway history.”
Critical Topics on the Agenda
Educational sessions will follow a moderated Q&A format, with industry experts directly addressing participants' questions. Among featured speakers will be Terrell Jones, known as the founder of Travelocity and co-founder of Kayak and now managing principal of ON Inc. A specialist in disruptive technologies and entrepreneurship, he'll discuss digital health credentials and other imperatives for the return of international travel.
Also timely and critical for our industry: Global risk management expert Bruce McIndoe, president and founder of McIndoe Risk Advisory LLC, will share the latest insights and advice on risk mitigation for international meetings and events. McIndoe, who co-founded iJET International (now WorldAware) in 1999, is a recognized thought leader in global intelligence, technology and business resiliency.
Ready to Reconnect
After a year out of the spotlight, SMU exhibitors are anxious to connect with planners and peers during SMU. "This is a perfect platform for us to reacquaint with partners in the business events industry," said Richard Knight, director of marketing, the Americas, for VisitScotland Business Events. "This is our opportunity to forge new relationships and highlight many of the new opportunities that are coming down the road in Scotland," he added.
Find the agenda, hosted buyer information and more at the SMU International website.
Interested in other Northstar events? Register now.