Emily Hartstone – Magellan Management

Emily Hartstone

Vice President, Magellan Management

Boca Raton, Fla. 

Describe your job.

I currently oversee all meeting and event logistics within our company.  This includes sourcing, contracting, planning, and then through final execution. My main focus is to ensure our clients’ goals and objectives are not just met, but exceeded.

How did you get started and what got you from there to today?

The first event I ever worked was the FDIC Firefighters Convention, and I was just helping out as booth staff. Over the three-day event,
I realized this was an industry I wanted to learn more about and applied for a job as an assistant to a convention manager for a large convention taking place in Las Vegas. As we all know, Las Vegas is a different “world” in events, so I was able to learn the ropes quickly. A year later
I moved onto another role as an events manager for a corporate company. I spent several years with them learning as much as possible, while also teaming up with a production company to produce entertainment events, as this had always been a passion of mine. When the opportunity with Magellan came along, I couldn’t pass it up and it’s been my home ever since. I was extremely lucky to have been in the right places at the right times, when people needed assistants or coordinators in my early career. The events I was able to be a part of definitely fast-tracked me to learning the ins-and-outs of the industry. I’m extremely grateful for that.

Do you have a favorite type, size, or style of event to plan? Or do you like variety? Why?

As a planner, we always have to be ready for anything thrown at us—so for that reason I really like all kinds of events… except weddings!
I don’t know how planners deal with brides on a daily basis, but kudos to them, I do have a personal passion for live entertainment, so large events in Vegas have always been the most fun for me. I’m a very logistical type of person and
I love spreadsheets, so as silly as it sounds, I also like conferences that have multiple tracks and take more logistical coordination to plan. The more puzzle pieces, the better.

What’s your best experience of turning lemons into lemonade?

Maybe an example of quick-thinking and resourcefulness. A recent experience is when we had a keynote speaker miss his flight and of course couldn’t show up for the keynote. We got the call four hours before he was due to speak, so there wasn’t much time to find someone else. We were scheduled to have a speaker panel the following day, and fortunately it was made up of industry speakers who were already onsite, so we flipped the panel to the first day and had the keynote speaker fly in for the second day.
Of course, we all know it wasn’t that simple—I spent those four hours redoing all of the presentations that came before the announcing of the speaker, but we got it done, nonetheless. In the end it just made my entire team realize how well we work together, and all of the smiles and high fives at the end were worth it!

What’s your proudest moment so far in your career?

My proudest moment in my career so far would probably be being a Connect 40 Under 40 Honoree. That year was an extremely difficult one for me as I was in and out of surgeries, but wouldn’t allow myself to miss a beat with work. It was really my career and the events industry that kept me going and looking forward. A close second would be starting my company, PromoGuard, to help bring back meetings safely. COVID had such an impact on our industry and I really wanted to find a way to reverse the negative with a positive impact. We are still working on this today, but I am so happy to see hotels starting to fill up again.

How has your business adapted to the ongoing uncertainties and challenges of the pandemic?

As I mentioned above, we did start a new company, PromoGuard, that promotes safe meetings by bringing germ-free products to the industry. We are living proof that these products work because we used them at our own meetings, and can very proudly say we had zero COVID cases as a result. We did move some smaller trainings to online webinars and add different language in our hotel contracts, but I think we can all agree on one thing: Face-to-face meetings are never going away, and nothing can replace them. Zoom and other virtual platforms are a great solution when it’s impossible to meet in person, but this isn’t going to last forever.
The only thing that’s impossible in my eyes,
is keeping people apart.

How do you keep up with industry trends and cutting-edge developments in the events business? What new event industry trends are you excited about?

I keep up with the industry trends by attending the industry shows like MPI, IMEX, CONNECT, etc., and of course attending webinars and reading various articles. I am most excited about the direction of event technology, particularly RFID and all of the features for sponsors and exhibitors, not just attendees. It’s always a challenge to find new ways to involve sponsors and exhibitors and help increase their ROI, and I think a lot of the new event technology has really helped with that.

What are the essential skills that every newcomer into the industry should possess?

A passion for hospitality is a must! I know COVID has taken a massive toll on our industry, but lately it seems a lot of people have forgotten this is a “service” industry—everything is about customer service, no matter what your position is. It’s our job to create lasting experiences and memories, and you have to have the right attitude to be able to do that. You must be organized, work well under pressure, and easily adapt to change. The best quote I’ve seen for the definition of an event planner is, “I do precision guesswork, based on unreliable data provided by those of questionable knowledge.” Those of us who have been in the industry would say that’s absolutely accurate.

What is your main takeaway from navigating the events industry during a pandemic? What changes made during the pandemic do you think will still be around in a few years?

Again, my main takeaway is face-to-face meetings can never be replaced. I think virtual and hybrid meetings will stick around in some capacity, as they did drive attendance where budgets might not have allowed as many people to travel and attend live from one company. That being said, you can never replace being able to read body language and meet in person. I also believe planners and hoteliers must work together to navigate through these times, and make sure all is fair on both sides. We’ve all heard so many horror stories of canceled meetings and penalties, but it’s up to us to push this industry forward and we all have to do it together.

What’s the oddest or funniest thing that ever happened to you during one of your events?

I think the oddest or most random thing was having a concession in our contract for a band at a welcome reception from the hotel. However they canceled last minute, so instead the hotel brought two llamas! It was so random, but everyone loved them! I mean who doesn’t love animals? I will say it’s not everyday you see two little llamas walking through the pre-function space!

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