Meeting Professional to Watch: Robin Lockett

Robin Lockett, CMP, Director, Global Meetings

TTI/VANGUARD

New York, N.Y.

 

 

Can you provide some of your background as a meeting professional?

My career path after graduating from was catering management trainee to catering manager at the Hyatt Regency Chicago,  project manager at a boutique incentive house, working in Los Angeles as operations manager at a DMC, and then into my current meeting planner role at TTI/Vanguard.  In my 16 years at TTI, I have produced events throughout Europe, Asia, and all over North America.

What was the most challenging/fun event you have been involved into date?

I am a planner at my core and have a true passion for logistics management. Bringing people together from all walks of life to learn together is what opens our minds and hearts, and supports how we grow into more interesting people. I enjoy utilizing my creativity and expertise to elevate the attendee experience.

What was the most challenging/fun event you have been involved into date?

Our first conference of this year was in Seattle during the first week of March. More than 30 per cent of our attendees canceled, including three speakers.  We were able to get a local leading epidemiologist to provide a very timely talk and livestreamed the other speakers.  As everyone was trying to figure out what was going on, I could not have asked for a better partner in the hotel in redesigning meals, providing hand sanitizer, increasing cleaning protocols, and making our attendees feel safe in an uncertain time. It is hard to imagine, but it was a terrific conference and no one got sick.

What are the greatest rewards of being a meeting professional?

The greatest professional reward is when our attendees say it is the best conference they have attended, and the travel and opportunity to produce international events has been my greatest personal reward.

How has COVID-19 affected you personally?

We have had to make significant staff changes and closed our physical office space. It has been important for me to look for the positive in all of this, and that has helped me focus on the many blessings I have. I’ve had virtual reunions with people I never expected and I’m finally taking a bucket list road trip.

Have you or are you in the process of planning any virtual/hybrid events? If so, which platform are you using?

We have held two virtual conferences and three virtual field trips through Zoom. I’ve evaluated over 20 platforms, and Zoom is the best fit, with the best outcome.  We plan to move to hybrid next year, based on availability of a safe vaccine. Although we have found ways to include networking within our virtual events, it is not the same. Because most business networking happens at our planned meals, we cannot recreate that value right now.

What do you see as the future of the travel and tourism industry?

This is an existential time for travel and tourism. I need to believe when we are ready; we will come back stronger than ever.  If this has shown us anything, it is people want to meet face to face.  I’m confident that this industry will thrive once again, in time.

 

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