ORLANDO, Fla. – After a year of mostly virtual meetings, Marriott International hosted its largest in-person customer event since the start of the pandemic last month.
The event was a milestone for the company’s “Connect with Confidence” program, a global initiative by Marriott Bonvoy Events, which provides resources and solutions for hosting meetings and events.
Marriott’s “The Exchange” event, held Aug. 24-27 at Walt Disney World’s Swan and Dolphin in Orlando, Florida, brought together nearly 800 attendees, including corporate and association meeting professionals as well as Marriott executives and sales professionals.
Anthony Capuano, Marriott International CEO, said: “Meeting with our corporate and association customers face-to-face at The Exchange reminds me of the power, energy, and connection that we get from being together in person—it’s an experience that can’t be replaced by screens and emails. I am continually inspired by the resiliency of our industry, our people, and our customers, and I’m enthusiastic about being back on the road and returning to group meetings and conferences.”
The event, themed “All for One,” aimed to illustrate to customers how they can host in-person events while prioritizing attendees’ well-being. Marriott implemented enhanced protocols before and during the meeting. All attendees were required to provide either a COVID-19 vaccine validation or proof of a negative COVID-19 test in advance of the event. Attendees who did not submit advance proof of vaccine validation were also tested onsite, with a negative test required for event entry.
Additionally, customers experienced various “Connect with Confidence” elements and leading practices firsthand, both before and during the event.
“The industry has been through a lot over the past year,” said Jerome Bruce, director of meetings and exhibits at the Association of Government Accountants. “I applaud Marriott for once again bringing leaders, planners, and hoteliers together for collaboration, learning, and connecting face-to-face. It is valuable to hear from Marriott leaders, listen to the stories of resiliency and perseverance of hotels throughout the pandemic, and learn about the emerging trends and opportunities.”
Attendees participated in industry meetings, collaborative breakout sessions, volunteer opportunities, and in-person networking sessions, including a marketplace connecting customers with 115 hotels. Sessions at The Exchange covered critical industry topics such as risk management, sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and global operations protocols.