This week we hear again from Windsor Crawford, Regional Sales Manager at Cultivate. She gives us her take aways from the SITE Week Ideation session on Partnerships: Competitors to Colleagues, which took a deep dive into the meeting and incentive industry’s partner relations. This session was hosted by Lisa Marks, owner of Brand Alive and Dustin Westling, Partner at OneWest Events, both representing the ILEA – International Live Events Association.

Meet our SITE Week Ideation Session Scribe:

Windsor is a Regional Sales Manager at Cultivate – industry leader of virtual and on-site gift experiences for corporate meetings, events, and incentive programs. As a SITE member, Windsor leads the Southeast’s Young Leader program and serves on the Young Leader’s Conference Committee. When she’s not working, you can find her exploring her new hometown of Nashville, Tennessee!

This article has been sponsored by Kerzner International, experts in the hospitality sector, devoted to creating amazing experiences and everlasting memories.

Silver Linings

As an industry, we have seen some really tough times, yet have also been brought closer collectively by COVID-19. Sometimes you have to look for the silver lining, but when you take some time to reflect over the last 10-11 months, you’ll find some. The development of industry partnerships has been one of those areas. Brought together in our combat against Covid-19, the tourism, events and hospitality industry has banded together, turning competitors into colleagues through the forging and enhancing of partnerships.

Below are some of the questions posed in relation to this theme during this session, and the response from our industry across the globe.

How has COVID-19 times changed the way we view partnerships?

Boy is that a loaded question. We’ve all seen a change. Some relationships were cut short, some never came to completion, some went up in flames, some deepened, and even new relationships were formed.

One hotelier shared, that for him, he focused on the new partnerships formed. Below are some of the ways this has unfolded.

Local Artisans:

Hoteliers need to find a way to transcend the experience of being on property for meeting planners. That’s no easy job! So, to help tell their story and sell their property, hotels are looking to partnerships. Working with local artisans has been one such way! Delivered scented candles and tasty local treats all help to engage the meeting planners’ senses and give them a great sense of proximity and intimacy with the hotel.

Client Diversification:

Another way hoteliers are forming new partnerships is through those that are currently booking business. Many hotels have seen a rise in recreation and artistic groups, such as art classes, fitness groups, and certification programs.

Partnership Enhancement – from good… to great!

Not only are new relationships being formed but we are also seeing how good partners become great partners. Time and again, we’ve heard of hotels extending their contracts into 2021 and sometimes even 2022! This gesture is not to be taken lightly. There are only so many good times to travel to certain locations each year.

Partnership Solidarity

We’ve also seen examples where those that are flourishing reach out to help those partners who could really use the revenue stream. One SITE member shared that their end user client paid the full invoice upfront this year to use as a credit for their 2021 event. Now that is generosity – and an amazing partner! 

How are we diversifying ourselves? Who can we partner with to enable this?

We hop on and off Zoom calls all day long. What is going to set your event or meeting apart from the tens of others people have sat through this week? For a second we may have heard some crickets on this one as it is no easy task. Then out of the silence a brilliant yet unassuming response emerged.

To diversify you must first know what you stand for. By taking a look at your company’s core values and purpose, you can decide on what exactly you need to do to expand your offerings.

Are you willing? Is there a sustainable market for that? Is it in your wheelhouse? Then take a look at what partners you already have and think about what partners you need to help you achieve this initiative.

How can we leverage our current partnerships to propel our industry forward?

The answer is simple. Ask questions! Ask your partners what they are doing that is new or different. Explain to them about your new initiatives and see where you align or where they could help you or you could help them! Curiosity is key. Everyone has shifted in what or how they are offering their goods or services and we can all benefit from a little sharing. The way we share information now is crucial to how we rebuild our industry.

The final discussion was almost taboo to talk about and I applaud Lisa and Dustin for addressing this with our group. They said that at ILEA they like to hit these topics and questions head on. I know… I know… hurry up and get to the question!

Where are we failing on anti-racism in the industry? What do minority owned businesses need from us?

Wow! With only 5-10 minutes left in the session, these questions really packed a punch.

Dustin Westling put on his gloves and led by example. He shared that what minority owned businesses really need is a fair process. They do not know of these large RFP’s and thus aren’t able to bid on them. He challenged the group to be offensive in this effort, urging us to seek out small, minority-owned businesses and to promote using them. It is our responsibility.

How? – you may ask. Look to associations like black-owned businesses, female-owned businesses, and sectors of business that incorporate them. Then once you use them, share! Share your success stories with your local SITE & ILEA chapter.

Partnerships for Power

There you have it folks. I’ll leave you with that. Let’s leverage our current relationships, look to engage others, and share in our success. How you engage in the industry now is vital to how we rebuild together. Partnerships can only serve to make us stronger. So look to your network, your locality, and beyond and embrace the potential of partnerships to build us all up. Collaboration is the tide that will lift all boats.

Sponsored by Kerzner International

Massive thanks to Kerzner for their support of SITE.

SITE Week Ideation Session Series:

SITE Week saw SITE Global hosting 46 Ideation Sessions over the course of 2 days, 2 times zones, and catering to over 1500 registrations. The idea was simple – facilitated brain-storming to help us all prepare for the road ahead, collaborating through the sharing of thoughts, insights and perspectives from across the globe, while collaborating and celebrating the togetherness of the larger SITE community. A scribe attended each session, with the role of articulating of his/her thoughts into an informative article which would be a summation of their takeaways from the session.