Editorial Board   Guest Author

Ms. Pingston

Julie Pingston

President, Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA)

Julie Pingston, CMP, CTA is the current President of the Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) and is Senior Vice President for the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau in Lansing, Michigan. She has been with the GLCVB for 21 years and works in conjunction with the Bureau's President in overall organizational operations. She also has direct oversight over convention services, membership, the Greater Lansing Sports Authority, the Certified Tourism Ambassador Program and special events which are coordinated by the organization. Previously, Ms. Pingston worked in Washington, D.C. for the United States Travel & Tourism Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce. While there, she assisted in planning international conferences and Board Meetings as well as administering a disaster relief assistance grant program. Ms. Pingston chaired ESPA's 2014 Annual Conference and is a member of MSAE, MMPI and the Rotary Club of Lansing. She also serves as the President of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, President of the Rotary Club of Lansing Foundation and Secretary of the Tourism Industry Coalition of Michigan. Ms. Pingston was Michigan Meetings and Events Magazine's Hall of Fame Inductee/Supplier of the Year (2008), MSAE's Diamond Award Winner (2009), MMPI's Mentor of the Year (2011), ESPA's Member of the Year (2004), ESPA's President's Award Recipient (2009) and ESPA's Executive Excellence Award Recipient (2013).

Ms. Pingston can be contacted at 517-377-1412 or jpingston@lansing.org

Coming up in September 2019...

Hotel Group Meetings: Uncommon Destinations

The last few years have been good to the Hotel Group Meetings industry and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. Planners are brimming with confidence due to an expanding economy and increased job creation, which typically results in a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are trying to outdo themselves to satisfy the high expectations of their clients. One notable trend is to integrate unusual settings into the meeting experience, hosting groups at local zoos, aquariums, museums, event centers, or other outdoor facilities. The goal is to embrace uncommon destinations, rather than a typical hotel conference room, so that meetings can be memorable, unique and stimulating. This is also part of another trend which is to support all things local - from hosting events at landmark city venues; to catering through local restaurants, food trucks and microbreweries; to hosting off-site excursions like agri-tours, athletic events or scenic 5k routes. However, though the setting might be spectacular, there are still some bedrock components that must be provided to ensure a successful meeting. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is still one of the most requested services. Planners have to make sure that a comprehensive communication infrastructure is in place so clients can easily connect - and stay connected - to the network throughout the entire meeting experience. Also, technology tools can be used to streamline the booking, registration, and check-in process, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) materials can be utilized to ensure seamless access to conference events. There are also numerous software tools that encourage audience participation, as well as integrating polls, Q&A, surveys and games into speakers' presentations. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.