Valerie Pagan, Director of Sales
Playa Largo Resort & Spa
Key Largo, Fla.
Can you provide some of your background as a meeting professional?
I have been in the hospitality industry for 25 years in nearly every department of a hotel, which give me a very well-rounded balance of what we can offer our clients. While I strive to take every event to new limits, I always under promise and over deliver to create a ‘wow factor’ for clients.
Why did you choose to become a meeting professional?
Whether I am working with a corporate client or a wedding I have the opportunity to create memories for people, which gives me a sense of purpose and great pride.
What was the most challenging/fun event you have been involved in to date?
I have worked on several events that were both challenging and fun. My favorite events are when clients really want to think outside of the box and create something different, such as one corporate event where all breakout spaces had beanbags and hanging hammock chairs so attendees would get out of their ‘corporate think-tank’ to come up with creative solutions to issues discussed in the meetings.
What are the greatest rewards of being a meeting professional?
This goes back to why I decided to become a meeting professional. The best reward is being a part of creating memories that last a lifetime. Any event, corporate or social, may be the only trip the guests have, so it is our duty to make it special.
How has COVID-19 affected you personally?
Like most, COVID-19 has pushed me to think farther outside of the box than normal to come up with creative solutions while ensuring guests feel safe and comfortable.
Have you or are you in the process of planning any virtual/hybrid events? If not, what are your thoughts on virtual/hybrid events?
While we have been open to hosting virtual/hybrid events, our clients feel comfortable in our destination market and have wanted to attend in person.
Are you in the process of planning any in-person events in the remaining months of 2020?
We have several in-person events for the remainder of the year and are taking all necessary precautions to ensure our guests are safe.
What do you see as the future of the travel and tourism industry?
I foresee travel and tourism being closer to home for a while. However, I feel companies in the tourism industry are taking COVID-19 very seriously and doing everything they can to take their cleanliness to the next level while changing processes to reduce exposure. We have a long recovery in front of us and certain areas will recover quicker, but we are heading in the right direction.