Buyer Q&A: Events Can Be Luxurious and Fun—And Still Make a Difference

The MICE industry has business at its core—but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, luxurious or make a positive impact outside of those attending. In our most recent Buyer Q&A, Meeting Spotlight spoke with Kelly Gallagher, CEO and co-owner, Canvas Meetings & Incentives, where she discussed what it takes to make an event “luxury,” as well as how meetings and incentives can “change our impact on the world and offer our clients experiences that they can’t get anywhere else.”

Here's what she had to say:

Do you think the luxury MICE market is different from the overall MICE market? If so, why?

Of course! The high-level touches are the name of the game. Whether it’s upgraded F&B experiences, entertainment more often or VIP moments, it has to all create a truly magical experience to get these kinds of attendees to dedicate their time away from their jobs and families.

Kelly Gallagher, Canvas Meetings & Incentives
Kelly Gallagher, partner, Canvas Meetings & Incentives (Photo courtesy of Kelly Gallagher)

What makes a meeting or incentive “luxury” in your experience? Is there an example of a luxury service or a “special touch” you’ve created or experienced?

To me, it’s all about service. I know it’s "luxury" when my attendees don’t have to “think” throughout their experience. They tell someone that they like a certain kind of vodka and it’s shared throughout the whole staff so that everyone knows to not offer anything else. They are greeted by name anywhere possible; they are given information and details of where they need to be and when at any given moment. It’s all about letting them truly enjoy themselves and not worry about the details.

Do you have or have you had a mentor relationship? How has this impacted you?

I feel like I’ve had so many over the years, but, frankly, my most impactful mentor was my very first sales director, Kathy Slater. She was tough in the absolute best way for my personality, but she really knew when to coach me versus when to push me versus when to just be there for me. She also taught me the importance of diversifying my business, valuing relationships over revenue and actually having fun in my job. I will never forget what she did for me in the formative years of my career. (And Kathy, sorry for thinking I knew everything back then!)  

What do you believe will be a game-changer for the MICE industry in 2024? 

New openings. I think that the “normal” way of doing things is being challenged in the most exciting ways. Unique offerings that are out there are giving our clients more options and really making things exciting and different.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career?

To never get complacent. I am asked all the time what our “niche” is, and I can genuinely say we don’t have one and we don’t plan to. We thrive on change and doing all things logistics, and I hope that I can always stay that course.

What is your vision for the MICE industry?

To be better to our world. Diversify our teams, change our impact on the world and offer our clients experiences that they can’t get anywhere else. I really want to be a part of the change in our industry to show that while we can be extravagant, we can still make such a difference in so many ways. I love collaborating with my competitors to share best practices in these areas so that we can all make a difference and change so many lives for the better.

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