Marriott hosts largest in-person customer event since start of COVID pandemic

Marriott International hosted its largest in-person customer event since the start of the pandemic last week, marking a positive sign for the recovery of the meetings and events industry.

After a year of mostly virtual meetings, the event was a milestone for the company’s ‘Connect with Confidence’ program, a global initiative by Marriott Bonvoy Events, which provides resources and solutions for hosting meetings and events.

Marriott’s ‘The Exchange’ event, held from 24 to 27 August at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin in Orlando, Florida, brought together nearly 800 attendees, including corporate and association meeting professionals, as well as Marriott executives and sales professionals.

“Meeting with our corporate and association customers face-to-face at The Exchange reminds me of the power, energy, and connection that we get from being together in person – it’s an experience that can’t be replaced by screens and emails,” said Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano.

“I am continually inspired by the resiliency of our industry, our people and our customers, and I’m enthusiastic about being back on the road and returning to group meetings and conferences.”

The event, themed ‘All for One’, showed clients how they can host in-person events while prioritising attendees’ well-being, as the COVID-19 landscape continues to evolve.

All attendees were required to provide either a COVID-19 vaccine validation or proof of a negative COVID-19 test in advance of the event, submitted using the free CLEAR app’s Health Pass feature.

Attendees who did not submit advance proof of vaccine validation were also tested on-site by ITA Group/Eurofins, with a negative test required for event entry.

Clients got to test out Connect with Confidence elements and best practices firsthand both before and during the event.

Attendees participated in industry meetings, collaborative breakout sessions, volunteer opportunities and in-person networking sessions, including a marketplace connecting customers with 115 hotels.

Sessions at The Exchange covered critical industry topics such as risk management, sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and global operations protocols.