Prevue September-October 2017 - 59
Navigating international meetings with Prevue's Visionary Summit
[ON LOCATION] BARBARA SCOFIDIO
ttendees at the Prevue Visionary Summit, "Navigating
International Meetings," a two-day event held this
past May in Houston, Texas, sampled the flavors of
Texas while also gleaning tips on the many nuances of
international meeting planning.
The host hotel, the Royal Sonesta Houston Galleria, rolled
out the red carpet for the group of 30 meeting planners, along
with sponsors from Tourism New Zealand, with an elegant
opening night reception featuring a performance by Air New
Zealand Maori Cultural Group and a selection of New Zealand
wines. The convention services staff displayed their creativity
around food and beverage, with many DIY options, a Tex-Mex
station showcasing locally inspired choices and a stunningly
beautiful dessert wall with assorted tarts and flans. Attendees
received leather carry-all bags from Stash, a Houston retailer
featuring artisan leather goods handcrafted in Texas, as well as
chic Blunt umbrellas, made in New Zealand.
The 23-story, 485-room Sonesta tower is tucked away in the
exciting Uptown district, anchored by the Houston Galleria Mall
and its 400 stores and restaurants. A recent $30 million renovation
updated every inch of the property-lobby (which now includes
sculptural art glass lighting that stretches organically across the
ceiling and a stunning backlit abalone onyx wall) and restaurants
to guest rooms and the hotel's 50,000 sf of meeting and event
venues. On the rooftop, the swimming pool and fitness center also
underwent a refresh. The look is chic and cosmopolitan, meant
to reflect Houston's position as a leader in energy, medicine and
58 | prevuemeetings.com
The focus of the hotel's meeting space is a dramatic two-story
atrium with floor-to-ceiling windows. Meals can be held in the
atrium, so it feels like the group is dining outside without actually
leaving the building.
A highlight was a joint presentation by Theresa Thomas of iJet
and Kevin Iwamoto of Goldspring Consulting, both of whom are
passionate about companies developing strong risk management
plans and communicating them to stakeholders. Iwamoto shared
experiences from his days overseeing corporate travel and
meetings at Hewlett-Packard.
"Not enough of us fully understand what duty of care means
and what specifically applies to meeting and event leaders as part
of their on-site planning responsibilities," he told the group. Thomas
emphasized the difference between individual business travelers
and meeting attendees, and how the latter are a more visible
target, often traveling in large groups on buses or exploring the city
wearing their name badges.
Attendees also heard from legal guru Tyra Hilliard with advice
on how to navigate the areas of international meeting and incentive
planning that pose the greatest legal risk, and American Express'
Kristel Nesrallah, who shared her company's trends forecast for
international hotel growth and development.
As of press time, the Royal Sonesta Houston Galleria reported
no damage from Hurricane Harvey.