Stephanie A. Watson, Luxury Meeting, Travel & Event Planner
DZS Luxury Meetings & Events
Can you provide some of your background as a meeting professional?
I have 25 years of experience as an independent meeting, event, wedding and travel planner. As the principal planner and Creative Design CEO, I pride myself in providing optimal professional planning, design and execution of events my clients will be proud of.
Why did you choose to become a meeting professional?
The passion for meeting and event planning has been part of me since my early middle school years. Believe it or not, I found myself working with my classmates to design gatherings on the playground. When I attended Western Michigan University, I began planning events, meetings, scholar forums, and educational seminars as a freshman for the chairman of the Black American Studies Department. I always found planning and management of meetings, events, and conferences to be intriguing and challenging.
What was the most challenging/fun event you have been involved in to date
The design, development and planning of an annual Afternoon of Pink Awareness/T. Joiner Cancer Foundation fundraising luncheon and gala in was one of the most fun and challenging event I have done. The client gave me autonomy to be creative, and it was refreshing and rewarding to be instrumental in the fundraising and event planning efforts of organizations desiring to enhance the quality of life of others with kindness and love.
What are the greatest rewards of being a meeting professional?
The greatest rewards of being a meeting planner are being able to bring my organizational skills, unique designs, and flair for fun together to make my client’s meetings relevant with content and design. When the two join together the synergy and outcome are spectacular.
How has COVID-19 affected you personally?
Initially, COVID-19 created sadness and disappointment with the thoughts that the meeting industry and my career I built would come to a crashing halt. I then prayed and asked God to bring my passion back, and I began to bring back my spirit of excitement day by day. I knew a new strategy was necessary and I proceeded to prepare for future meetings.
What are your thoughts on virtual/hybrid events?
I am a person who believes in-person meetings are the best meetings when done safely and effectively. I am getting training on enhancing my skills in the virtual/ hybrid events but the ultimate goal is to introduce my clients to viable in-person meeting options by altering what they are accustomed to.
Are you in the process of planning any in-person events in the remaining months of 2020?
I am planning a small retreat conference this fall. My goal is to slowly introduce and show attendees they can meet safe, well, and together and still achieve the desired outcome.
What do you see as the future of the travel and tourism industry?
As a planner, I see the future as bright. You can only achieve what you believe and speak into existence in a positive light. I believe that the industry will not only come back strong, but come back better.