The coronavirus pandemic has brought the meetings, incentives and events industry to a standstill—for now.

To help shine a light on how meetings, incentives and events professionals are weathering the crisis, Meetings Today has teamed with the German Convention Bureau (GCB) to offer a free one-hour virtual panel April 16, featuring speakers from major U.S.-based organizations that have had their meetings and events impacted by the pandemic.

The “COVID-19 and the Meetings Industry” video webinar is hosted by meetings industry webinar leader Meetings Today and will be conducted over an online platform that has become all-too familiar to those who have been required to work from home since the spread of the pandemic: Zoom.

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“In collaboration with our New York based communications agency, Quinn PR, the GCB German Convention Bureau team in New York created this concept of virtual chat,” said Lumi Hilchey, regional director USA/Canada, for the GCB.

“The concept is meant to bring together various professionals from the meetings and incentives industry and to allow them to share their first-hand experience in a world affected by COVID-19.”

Although dealing with a topic that has presented the greatest challenge in the history of the modern meetings, incentives and events industry, the discussion will focus on learning from the experience to present forward-thinking strategies for the future.

The Roster of Panelists

Panelists will include representatives for The Optical Society, Estee Lauder, Origin Event Planning, NYU School of Professional Studies the German DMO community and Estrel Berlin Hotel, the largest in Germany.

“We wanted this webinar to be a personable, human and organic conversation between partners going through the same thing at the same time,” Hilchey said. “Our panel consists of a German DMO, a Berlin hotel/conference center, an agency, a corporation, an association, and a professor teaching Destination Marketing at New York University. They will be sharing how they have experienced moving their work online, what kind of initiatives some of their organizations have taken, as well as an industry forecast—as seen from different vantage points.”


The panelists are as follows:

  • Michael Nelson, Managing Partners, Origin Event Planning (Las Vegas)
  • Jessica Pagonis, Director of Meeting Operations, The Optical Society (Washington, D.C.)
  • Victoria Lee, Global Meetings & Travel Director Estee Lauder (NYC)
  • Richie Karaburun, Clinical Assistant Professor, NYU School of Professional Studies (NYC)
  • Diane Pentaleri-Otto, Director of International Sales, Estrel Berlin (Berlin)
  • Katharina Bitterle, Convention Marketing Stuttgart Convention Bureau (Stuttgart, Germany)

The virtual chat will be moderated by Tyler Davidson, vice president and chief content director of Meetings Today.

“When the GCB approached me to moderate this innovative virtual chat, I immediately saw a great opportunity to share the panelists’ wealth of knowledge and industry experience to help our audience navigate this unprecedented time,” Davidson said. “It’s my hope that by communicating what they have learned, meetings, incentives and events professionals across the spectrum of industry segments can apply their knowledge to help solve their specific challenges.”

Panel Discussion: COVID-19 and the Meetings Industry

Thursday, April 16, 11 a.m. EST

Register for free here.

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