More than 200 planners and hospitality industry professionals took part in destination management group Hosts Global's seventh annual Global Forum in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, June 27-30. The event, held at the Paradisus Palma Real, included a roster of sessions on managing disruption in the events industry. Experts addressed disruption as a positive, focusing on the new and coming factors shaping our industry, and outlined ways to evolve with the changes across the hospitality community. Disruption topics and keynote speakers included:
• Leadership: Steve O'Malley, division president, Maritz Travel, and chair, Meeting Professionals International, who told the group, "Experience is the new status symbol. Yesterday's currency was trophy value. Today, it's selfie value."
• Professional growth: Simon T. Bailey, breakthrough strategist, innovator and author, who reminded the audience that "there is never a perfect time to be who you might have been. The universe needs you. Tell yourself, 'We got this!'"
• Technology: Crystal Washington, futurist, technology strategist and author, recommended that planners "figure out which technology makes you more efficient, effective and connected. Then, throw away the rest."
• Prevent human trafficking: Michelle Guelbart, ECPAT USA, revealed that traffickers and buyers believe the travel industry is anonymous and low-risk. She urged the group to prove them wrong by recognizing the signs and reporting any suspicious activity.
The three-day conference also saw Hosts implement the Sustainable Meeting Planning Program, a system devised to help planners and their teams embed sustainability throughout their entire event in accordance with international industry standards. The company partnered with the Events Industry Council to offer the course in the days leading up to the Forum. After completing the program, attendees received their Sustainable Event Professional Certificate. At the event, Hosts reduced the use of paper and instead heavily leveraged their event app, which featured new security elements including a one-touch emergency button and a mark safe feature. By using the conference as its official sustainability case study and delivering resources that showcased best practices, Hosts enabled attendees to learn how to initiate sustainable measures in their own event planning activities.
During the opening session, Hosts introduced the Forum's CSR program Boomerang! delivered by the Above and Beyond Foundation. The program was created to acknowledge and award hard-working, frontline hospitality employees who continually go above and beyond in their guest service. Using the event app, attendees had a chance to vote for five employees of the Paradisus Palma Real; winners received a $2,000 cash award during an end-of-program recognition night.
At the close, Hosts unveiled the location of the 2020 Hosts Global Forum, taking place July 10-13: Seville, Spain.