Before joining the Cvent Elite Meetings Alliance (EMA) team, I was a part of a company that had participated in EMAs for years. I had heard about these grand and lively events but was never lucky enough to attend. Then, at the end of 2015, I made a change; I joined the Cvent EMA team and was finally able to see the inner workings of this program that I had heard so much about.
The November EMA, hosted by the new Paséa Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach, California, was my fifth EMA of the year. What I’ve learned during 2016 is that you can never really know the magic of an EMA until you experience one. Each EMA is unique, between the different host properties we work with, to the variety of locations, to the people we meet. From the time I arrive to the time I catch my return ride to the airport, I am enchanted by this crazy cool program that has continued to draw in the best-of-the-best meeting planning and hospitality professionals over the past 10 years.
The November EMA taught me a number of things, but there were a couple of lessons that really resonated.
Break your routine
Breaking a routine can be a positive and energizing experience. The November EMA was the first time in many years that we switched up the schedule, and it proved to be very successful. We still hosted multiple education sessions and offered just as many 1:1 appointments, but I watched our guests get excited to embrace something new. And the positive energy was contagious. Our guests, our speakers, and our team were fully present and mindful.
Peer knowledge is power
I have been fortunate in my very short career to meet men and women who’ve done spectacular things in their lives, both professionally and personally. I have been privileged to learn about our industry from those who’ve have been part of it for many years. I have created friendships with people I likely would never have met outside of the EMAs. I have watched great business deals be made, feeling proud that my team had a hand in helping to making the introductions. With each EMA, I watch our guests, both planners and suppliers, return to do business and build friendships. It’s both eye-opening and motivating.
Music makes everyone have fun
SongDivision joined us at both the April and November 2016 EMAs. Based out of Vegas, SongDivision absolutely kills it by bringing people out of their seats and onto the stage. After teaching participants how to write songs and rock karaoke, they transform the energy in the room. After the stage performances, we always move to a lively dance party, complete with lights and thumping bass. I can tell you this: not one person sat; not one person sulked. When the DJ bumps, there are no fuddy-duddies in the house. The next morning, all of our guests have an even greater sense of camaraderie—the kind of camaraderie that only comes when a group of 120 people sing “Don’t Stop Believing” together.
There is nothing like a California beach
Huntington Beach is located on the sunny Southern California coast between Long Beach and Newport Beach. Many of the November EMA guests traveled from the Midwest and the East Coast. They all had a look of amazed awe as they stepped onto the Paséa property, which sits on the famous Pacific Coast Highway, steps from the Pacific Ocean. Here, palm trees and volleyball courts line the strand. Even being born and raised in Southern California, I have yet to find anything more stunning than a sunrise over the Pacific. Despite a full schedule and crazy in-box, I made time for the kind of bliss that can only be found on a California beach.
Whether breaking the routine, creating and growing new relationships, dancing the night away, looking out over the Pacific Ocean, or the numerous other memories and experiences that took place, the EMA, like so many that came before, brought magic to meeting planners and hospitality professionals. If you haven’t joined us before or if you are a longtime EMA advocate, we hope that you will continue to experience the magic with us. Going from outsider who had only heard about it to someone who helps to build the EMAs, I can say there is something exceptional about being part of this community.
Photo credits: Andrew Shafer Visuals