• April 7, 2016

Case Study: How to Host Hospitality Execs


For Starwood Hotels & Resorts 2016 America’s Leadership Conference in February, the Starwood meetings and event team and the host hotel, Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, were under pressure and under the microscope. Responsible for wowing 1,400 of their company’s top hoteliers and corporate leaders, the creative team was tasked with creating a grand multiday event for some of the most influential names in the hotel industry.

An event that would typically be planned six months to a year in advance, event planners for this year’s America’s Leadership Conference had just three months to plan and execute a topnotch event. With the short turnaround, Starwood chose Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel because of its depth of experience and tenure executing extremely large and creative events flawlessly. More than just creative license, Starwood presented both the Sheraton and its global meetings and events team with a blank canvass to create, plan and execute a world-class conference.

By focusing on experiential meeting components that would connect guests to the various countries represented by Starwood’s America’s Division, Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel engaged and excited guests, bringing this large, extended family together with unique shared experiences. The Sheraton team also knew it couldn’t do this with just the core planning team. Three of the top event design firms from Denver were selected to assist with decor, entertainment and vendor management. Destination Services Corporation, Access DMC and Eclectic Hive were brought into the planning process early on and played an integral role in the event’s success.

“Hoteliers who are usually tasked with executing the meeting plans of clients in this instance were also put to the task of planning the meeting,” said Tony Dunn, general manager of Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. “Our team experienced both sides of the event this time, which made us a better executer in the end.”

The leadership team at the hotel understood that these guests would be experiencing the event and critiquing it. And it was clear that what impressed the visitors more than anything was staff members’ level of confidence, attention to detail and ability to seamlessly execute.

“Considering this was a large event for industry peers—from corporate VPs of global food and beverage to executive chefs and some of the most successful general managers in the world—you might be surprised that our mantra was to have fun,” said Tracy Blair, director of sales and marketing for Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.  “Because we spent hours and hours in planning meetings, verbally and mentally walking through every detail for weeks leading up to the events, our staff were able to execute a flawless event while also having fun.”

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