Think back to events you've attended, from big conventions to weddings to company off-sites and sales incentive trips. While you were blissfully enjoying the occasion, dedicated professionals were carefully planning, making decisions and thwarting crises behind the scenes. These meeting, event and travel professionals lead fast-paced, pressure-filled jobs managing logistics, instilling creativity and fostering attendee engagement. But these industry heroes - 100,000-plus in the U.S. alone - don't always get the credit they deserve.
To recognize and celebrate these incredible individuals, Hilton (No. 42 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) launched WowMakers, its largest-ever B2B marketing initiative. WowMakers, a fresh designation Hilton coined for meeting, event and travel professionals, will serve as Hilton's key communications platform through which it engages with customers. As part of WowMakers, Hilton will roll out a multitude of tools and resources over the next several months to support and inspire meeting, event and travel professionals to truly "Wow" their attendees and clients.
"Meeting professionals are the backbone of the hospitality, meetings and events industries, and Hilton wants to help recognize them as the WowMakers they truly are," said Andrew Flack, vice president, Marketing & eCommerce Americas at Hilton. "Experience is the most important aspect of a meeting and the WowMakers turn bold ideas into breathtaking realities."
Hilton ushered in the initiative by introducing the first set of WowMakers' stories in a "Museum of Wow" at its annual customer event during IMEX in Las Vegas last evening. The Museum showcased stories of meeting, event and travel professionals who have gone above and beyond to create "Wow" moments through an engaging audio-visual display of artifacts. These WowMakers stories include:
- Mindy Halpert, an association meeting planner who took her company's annual retreat in an indoor ballroom and transformed it into an interactive camp, complete with trees, tents and an indoor campfire built from light-sticks and burlap transported across Washington D.C.
- Jack Ezon, a luxury travel professional who sent 150 people to Tanzania for a Bar Mitzvah, chartered a 757 and 20 private jets and recruited 100 Maasai tribespeople to greet the group.
- Joe Landers, a sales promotions manager who recreated Bavaria's late 19th century "Mad King" Ludwig's castle in Munich for a ball fit for Cinderella herself. He garnered a 99.02 percent satisfaction rate.
"I plan roughly 20 meetings a year for groups between 15 and 500 and no two events are the same," said Joe Landers, manager of sales promotions, Shelter Insurance. "I like to know that what I do has an effect on our people as well as the company's objectives and having a partner like Hilton that is committed to creating outstanding events helps me do that."
In addition to the Museum of Wow, Hilton will bring the WowMakers initiative to life in a variety of ways:
- Expanded website: When developing the WowMakers concept, Hilton spoke with Sales Team Members and WowMakers themselves to determine how best to support them in their roles and continue creating "Wow." Based on these conversations along with industry trends and insights, Hilton revamped Meetings.Hilton.com to incorporate resources for meeting, event and travel professionals such as tips - "When negotiating, think beyond room rates"; "Book early to get the location that you want" - engaging content and instant access to Hilton information about planning particulars like food and beverage.
- #WowMakersContest: Hilton launched a Twitter contest inviting travel professionals to share their favorite stories, now through November 15, of how they've "Wowed" clients, using the hashtag #WowMakersContest, for a chance to win a "Wow"-worthy trip of their own. Hilton will reward 12 grand prizes (three per week for four weeks), each to include a $250 Ticketmaster gift card and a one-night stay at a Hilton property. There will also be 20 runner-up prizes (six per week for four weeks), each to include $250 in Unlimited Rewards for entrants who are a part of the program.
- New offerings: Hilton recently expanded its "Meet with Purpose" program to make it more seamless for meeting and event professionals to incorporate healthier food and activity breaks during meetings. As experience is a top driver for meeting professionals, this health-focused package will be a resource for WowMakers to impress attendees and provide inspiration on how to better meet their attendees' needs in every aspect of the meeting.
Stay tuned to Meetings.Hilton.com and follow our social media channels for new WowMakers stories, along with innovative resources and solutions for its customers under the "WowMakers" banner. The website also has more information on the WowMakers initiative and specific Meet with Purpose information can be found at http://meetings.hilton.com/meet-with-purpose/.
For information on how meeting professionals can earn rewards for their "Wow" events through the Hilton HHonors Event Planner Bonus Program, visit HHonors.com.