Buyer Q&A: Thinking Outside the Box, Giving Opportunities and More

In our latest “Buyer Q&A," Meeting Spotlight recently caught up with Kimberly Newman, an event strategist with Maritz Global Events. She spoke at length about the definition of “luxury,” how it has changed over the years and how it can be applied to the current MICE market. Newman also spoke about giving chances to opportunities that others have not and ways to change up the same conversations the industry has been having over the years.

Read on for our full conversation:

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

Technically speaking, yes, absolutely. MICE covers a multitude of types of services. This literally can span the full spectrum of the events industry.  In the true fashion of luxury MICE, we are referring to an exclusive elevated experience. However, I believe that in today's market the question is, elevated from where?

Within each segment, the starting foundation is different depending on the demographic you are servicing. I think gone are the days when there was a clear and concise distinction between levels of service; the expectation was outlined and adequately conveyed in the category titling. However, as the travel, events and experiential markets have expanded, levels of luxury are literally accessible to everyone, in different forms. 

Thinking of Maritz, for example, and working within automotive, you have your automotive and then your luxury automotive. So, planning and conducting meetings within this group could incorporate a demographic from any curve of the coin. We may serve one demographic where they express that the "luxury" expectation is a three- or four-star property that provides all-inclusive and access to excursions. Whereas in another what I've just outlined is their typical meeting expectation and creating a luxury incentive would have to incorporate an elevated experience from there: no lower than a five-star [hotel] with private amenities, gifts and off-sites. This is all to say, while I think that luxury MICE is different than MICE, in today's markets I think it is difficult to continue to blanketly define what is “luxury” and how do we create a luxurious experience.  I think some level of drilling down on the term "luxury" is required in today's market and requires having the experience with all levels of service and the varied clients to understand how to apply appropriately and successfully.

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?

Kimberly Newman
Kimberly Newman, event strategist, Maritz Global Events (Photo courtesy of Kimberly Newman)

Because of the industry I came from prior to working with hotels, I learned that "luxury" means very different things to different people. So, this is a loaded question. I think, for me, having been fortunate enough to see the evolution of luxury over the last few decades, I have a broader view now. However, I still hold sentiments to the true essence of providing luxury to our guests. White glove, private/first class, black car, five-star and exclusive are all the areas that we focused on whenever "luxury" was involved in sourcing.  There had to be the illusion that this experience was inaccessible to the majority of guests.  

During Wine Festival Month in Barcelona, Spain, we hosted a group of executives. The location of stay was on the coast, however, because the focus of activities surrounded the wine festivals, none of the excursions included yachting. We were able to secure a private sunset yacht sail around the coast with a private sommelier with dinner pairing. It was beautifully elegant.   

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

Absolutely! This is one of the most important vehicles to learning and opportunity. This is almost as valuable as a degree. I have received mentorship, advice and promotion within my career and my life. It has taught me some of the most important lessons about myself, our industry, and the importance of reliable relationships.  

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

Influencer marketing.

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

  1. To always think outside of the box
  2. To never make assumptions based on how we have always done things. How, honestly, can we fully rely on STLY (same time last year) when we are looking for growth?
  3. To not be afraid to "Just Do It"
  4. To give chances to opportunities that others have not

What is your vision for the MICE Industry?

I am looking forward to seeing how we are able to incorporate diverse strategies in the ways we offer ROA for attendee time, investment and engagement. I think our industry was built on the core ideas of education and experiential style learning, but I believe that this reward system is changing. And it is changing fast. I believe influence and accessibility will be more of a frontrunner for industry competitiveness.  

I think thought leaders need to also look different. With all due respect, allowing space for newness is needed. The same conversations being had by the same people just in different fashions is not going to drive new development and will surely only further complicate when future disruptions to our model happen.

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