Louisville Welcomes Northstar's 8th Annual Independent Planner Education Conference

Agreeing not to hug one another was the most difficult challenge facing the 112 participants at Northstar Meetings Group's 8th Annual Independent Planner Education Conference in Louisville, Ky., last week. Just days before Kentucky Derby Week began, leading up to the storied horse race itself on May 1, Louisville Tourism offered a warm welcome to its first midsize pandemic-era meeting, April 21-24, at the Omni Louisville Hotel.

Video: Watch highlights and comments from attendees of IPEC 2021.

Among other sponsors of the event were the Daytona Beach Area CVB, Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, PC/Nametag and Aventri. Sponsors of IPEC's health-safety measures were Safe Access, which managed participants' vaccination or Covid-test documents; and Volan Technologies, provider of the event's contact-tracing service.

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.
We invite you to view, download and share photos from IPEC’s photo gallery, with credit to photographer Ketara Gadahn/Studio Alani. Following are some highlights from the event.

Day One

David Blansfield, executive vice president and group publisher of Northstar Meetings Group, welcomed this year's 112 attendees to the 8th annual Independent Planner Education Conference.

Our generous partners from Louisville Tourism (left to right), Cleo Battle,Karen Williams and Doug Bennett, joined IPEC's opening reception at the Omni Louisville Hotel.

Masked and ready: Northstar's Loren Edelstein with hosted-buyer Brett Sterenson, founder of Hotel Lobbyists.

Day Two

Opening speaker Mason Harris emphasized the need to be kind yet aggressive in today's business market, during his presentation: "The Chutzpah Advantage: Eight Behaviors for Moving Forward in 2021."

Travelocity founder and digital disruptor Terry Jones presented on a hot topic: "Are Covid Passports Next for Meetings?" (His conclusion: yes.)

“Can you force people to be vaccinated to attend your meeting? Can you exclude the unvaccinated? The legal answer, most scholars say, is yes — if you offer an alternative, like virtual participation.”
—Terry Jones

Distanced seating and masks did not deter planners and suppliers from a slate of face-to-face meetings. Note: The bare tables are not a cost-saving measure! Tables were sanitized frequently, and a stack of cloth napkins on each table provided a clean surface, to be changed between each appointment.

Evan Williams Bourbon treated IPEC planners to a tasting that featured some of Kentucky's finest.

Participants Tracey Bockhop of Meet Meetings (left) and Clarissa Baca of Visit Albuquerque "sparred" at the incredibly inspiring Muhammad Ali Center, where the group enjoyed dinner.

Inspired by "The Greatest" at the Muhammad Ali Center.

Enjoying the view from our dinner venue on the top floor of the Muhammad Ali Center were (left to right) Jordan Clark of Face2Face Meetings & Incentives, Christy Froehlich of Precision Planners, Northstar content director Loren Edelstein and Northstar buyer development manager Nicole Goddeyne.

Day Three

Morning speaker Jonathan T. Howe Esq. addressed new legal concerns for Covid-era meetings and events.

Appointments continued on Day 3. Masked for business, above: Jordan Clark (left) of FACE2FACE Meetings & Events and Joe Marcy of the Monterey County CVB.

Differing perspectives made for a lively conversation about "Planner – Supplier Partnerships Today," moderated by Northstar's Loren Edelstein (far right) featuring panelists (left to right) Pepper Dombroski, director of sales for The Broadmoor; Cleo Battle, incoming CEO of Visit Louisville; and Christy Froehlich, CMP, owner of Precision Planners.

An axe-throwing outing at Overdrive was a welcome break from appointments. Pictured: Alison McMaster of Masterfully Planned Events.

Just days before the Kentucky Derby, Visit Louisville hosted IPEC's closing dinner at Churchill Downs.

Getting in the Derby spirit at Churchill Downs: Kristen Dobbins Thomas, CMP, DES, owner of KCD Event Partners (left), and Carla Salvans-Buchborn, CMP, president of Meeting Innovations.