David N. Bruce, MMP, HTS, Managing Partner
CMP Meeting Services
Can you provide some of your background as a meeting professional?
I was fortunate to start my hospitality career on the hotel side in both operations and sales. After 14 years in the hotel industry, being a meeting professional was a relatively smooth transition. The clients I had as a hotelier, were the clients I started with when I opened my business in 1986.
Why did you choose to become a meeting professional?
My father was a big supporter of my move to being an independent planner. He owned his home-based business in the late ’60s and ’70s, and he being self-employed can be very lucrative and very satisfying. Until 2020, I have never looked back at my decision to move over from the hotel side to the independent side.
What was the most challenging/fun event you have been involved into date?
The most challenging meeting was bringing in the Vice President and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to a large event in San Antonio in a few days’ notice. Coordinating the Secret Service needs, the White House Press Corps, and The Vice President’s advance team, along with making sure our group’s needs were all met. It was a complete success and one of the most enjoyable weeks in my career.
What are the greatest rewards of being a meeting professional?
The most significant rewards are when the client wants to move forward on the next year with our team. Nothing is more satisfying is helping our clients to enjoy a stress-free meeting, and then receiving praise for a great event. Twenty years of working with some clients, we continue to see their growth in their meetings have been enjoyable to me as a contractor.
How has COVID-19 affected you personally?
While I have avoided catching COVID, the damage to our businesses has been quite dramatic. As with all independent meeting professionals, we have seen an abrupt loss of business, which will continue well into 2021.
Have you, or are you in the process of planning any virtual/hybrid events? If not, what are your thoughts on virtual/hybrid events?
We have always offered hybrid events; I believe long-term, the use of virtual events is not practical. People want to meet in person, and virtual methods for the long-term can’t fulfill this need, and we are advising our clients to move back to an in-person format as soon as they feel comfortable. Our goal will be to continue the Zoom conferences for the foreseeable future but schedule an in-person meeting for the fourth quarter of 2021.
Are you in the process of planning any in-person events in the remaining months of 2020?
In October, we met at the beautiful Loews Nashville Hotel for a hybrid event, and also had a Texas statewide conference scheduled the month in Houston.
What do you see as the future of the travel and tourism industry?
One of the giant red flags I have seen is Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport has suspended terminal F development, a new terminal to expand the airport further.
The construction of this terminal would not have finished until late 2028 to 2030, so stopping this project indicates their reluctance moving forward and indicating they do not expect needing new gates.