Mark Freeman, Meetings Manager
Can you provide some of your background as a meeting professional?
While working as an executive assistant to several health care executives I was asked if I would be interested in assisting with the meetings team and their offsite conferences. It meant lots of traveling and learning about the hospitality industry. From that last job, I began coordinating and managing very small committee meetings and conferences, after which I moved to a meetings manager position.
Why did you choose to become a meeting professional?
I love social engagement and this career allows me to utilize skills acquired over many years of meeting new people and seeing new places. It also keeps me mentally stimulated, as I love knowing that no two days will ever be the same and it is all totally worth it in the end.
What was the most challenging/fun event you have been involved in to date?
I worked an event a few years ago, where we were onsite at an incredible resort tucked away lakeshore full of forestry. The first night there was a big storm; a tree came down, blocking the main road. Knowing some guests would be late, my supervisor and I sat down and adjusted the schedule. In the end, most people barely noticed.
What are the greatest rewards of being a meeting professional?
My main one is knowing I make a contribution towards an amazing experience for someone.
How has COVID-19 affected you personally?
In many ways my life has improved tremendously due to COVID-19. There is considerably less stress or rush, no rat race, and lots of time for self-improvement, yoga, meditation, reading, quiet time, and rest. In other ways, I am more aware of how fragile this life we live actually is.
Have you or are you in the process of planning any virtual/hybrid events? If so, which platform are you using? If not, what are your thoughts on virtual/hybrid events?
I have not yet planned any virtual/hybrid events, but have had to explore several platforms for potential clients weary of face-to-face right now. One client is eager to be introduced to several event technology companies offering full-featured virtual events suites in an attempt to recreate multiple features of in-person events. It is all a bit overwhelming but also exciting to learn all this amazing technology.
Are you in the process of planning any in-person events in the remaining months of 2020?
All the remaining in-person events have been shelved to 2021
What do you see as the future of the travel and tourism industry?
I think there will be lasting decline in business travel, but leisure travel will bounce back robustly. That means airlines and hotels will have to change their business plans, and also the airline industry is going to have to examine its business plan. We probably will never see the volume of business travel that we saw in the past.