Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Weekly Spotlight: InterContinental Hotels of San Francisco

In this week’s spotlight blog post we want to recognize the InterContinental Hotels of San Francisco for the active measures they have taken to ensure the safety and success of future face-to-face meetings. We deeply admire their initiative and commitment toward keeping their partners and guests informed on the plan they have developed to fight the spread of COVID-19. They have created a Mindful Meetings Guide that considers every precaution necessary for us to meet with confidence in the near future.
The first section of the guide focuses on how they have enhanced their standard operating procedures to meet the guidelines developed by the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These new standards were created to maintain the health, safety, and well-being of all guests and staff. Their standard operating procedures have been broken down into the following areas: upon arrival, in the lobby, in your guestroom, grab & go dining, in-room dining, in our restaurant, and, in your meeting room. Each section thoroughly considers the potential risks and provides actionable efforts to minimize them.
The next section of the guide provides an updated capacity chart for all meeting space to reflect current social distancing guidelines. Following this, you are then able to view these rooms in a 3D virtual tour with the presented social distancing floor plan and set up. With this feature accessible, we can now visualize and prepare for our upcoming meetings with ease.
The following section of the guide discusses the packages available for your meeting that include your meeting room rental (provided to meet social distancing guidelines), food & beverage needs, break attendant, and two additional bottles of water per person. As discussed further within the guide, all food and beverage meals will be individually plated or packaged, all beverage stations will include a staff attendant, and only bottled water will be served. These steps were taken to limit the contact between staff and guests and avoid further contamination.
 The last section of the guide introduces their new partnership with PSAV in which they will be offering Virtual or Hybrid technology services for your meeting. Their On-Site Virtual Events team at PSAV will provide their expertise to help you create a flawless event that meets all your objectives. PSAV offers a variety of virtual and hybrid services including video conferencing, webcasting and recording, and Chime live.
At Meeting Sites Pro, we are actively looking for new ways to reevaluate the way we meet. Our main priority will always be the health and safety of our attendees; thus, we must change and adapt to the challenges we face against the COVID-19 pandemic. We find comfort in knowing our hotel partners are doing the same. Together, we will get through this and come out stronger than before!

For more information please visit: InterContinental San Francisco

Friday, May 29, 2020

This Week’s Spotlight: Grand Hyatt San Antonio

During this trying time in the meetings and events industry, we know our partnerships will help us through. In light of this struggle, we plan on doing a weekly spotlight post to recognize the partners we work with that help make our meetings run seamlessly.

This week’s spotlight property is the Grand Hyatt San Antonio. We always look forward to working with this outstanding property. This hotel is in a great location, right on the River Walk in San Antonio. One of our favorite things about this property is the comfort of their meeting space. They offer beautiful and spacious ballrooms that are also conveniently connected to the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center. With many amazing features, the staff of the hotel is what really sells us. Every meeting we have done at this property was executed perfectly because of the friendly and helpful Hyatt team!  

As we look toward the future of meetings and events, we are actively working with our partners to navigate the safest way to meet again. We want to recognize the actions the Grand Hyatt San Antonio has put forward in effort to do so. Hyatt Corporation has announced their Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment which further builds on the safety and wellbeing of their colleagues and guests with Global Biorisk Advisory Council accreditation, hotel-level sanitization specialists, and a working group of trusted medical and industry advisors. In addition to corporate guidance and standards, the Grand Hyatt San Antonio has continuously informed us of the efforts they are working to develop to ensure a safe meeting experience. A few of these efforts include plexiglass at the front desk and keyless entry to rooms to minimize physical contact. Their team has also been proactive at reevaluating their meeting space to allow for social distancing. Although we are all faced with uncertain conditions, we find comfort in knowing our partners are working toward reevaluating the future of meetings and events.
For more information please visit: www.grandhyattsanantonio.com

At Meeting Sites Pro, we are so greatful for the work and dedication of our partners. We understand this time has been difficult for many, and we want to recognize the Grand Hyatt San Antonio for their preventative efforts, commitment, and grace. Thank you to all who are working to keep us safe and healthy.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Future of Face To Face Meetings | Virtual Think Tank

On May 14, 2020, Meeting Sites Pro, Inc. hosted a Virtual Think Tank to join with industry leaders and discuss the future of face to face meetings. The group split into breakout sessions to discuss PPE and Screening Policies, Meeting Room Set Up, Food and Beverage Options, and Meeting Flow, Registration, and Agenda Management before returning to our Main Session where we shared our small group discussions and collaborated on additional ideas and thoughts. It was an engaging discussion and we look forward to doing more in the future. In the meantime, our discussion summary and findings can be seen by downloading the below PDF. Please reach out if you would like to join these discussions, if you have additional information to share, or if we can be a resource to you on an upcoming meeting. Stay safe and be well!

Download PDF Meeting Summary

Visit Our Website:  www.meetingsitespro.com and www.smsquared.com
Follow Our Blog:  www.meetingproblog.blogspot.com
Connect with Us on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/michellebartolone

Meeting Sites Pro, Inc. & SM Squared
Worldwide Meetings & Conferences
Woman-Owned Small Business | HUBZone | GSA 

Meeting Sites Pro… Your Meeting is Our Passion”
“SM Squared… Worldwide Strategic Meetings Management”

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Meeting Sites Pro, Inc. Celebrates 20 Years

Contact: Michelle Harty, CEO
Phone: 619-749-1133


[Naples, FL, May 2020] Through the uncertainty and challenges of the past few months, we at Meeting Sites Pro have been impressed and amazed by the passion, resiliency, and adaptability found in our industry and the world. While there has been hardship, there has also been optimism and kindness. We have found joy and happiness in embracing our community and cherishing each moment. It is with that sentiment that Meeting Sites Pro, Inc. is pleased to be celebrating 20 years of business.

This anniversary marks an important milestone for the company as we look back on the growth, successes, and relationships built over the years. From our beginnings as “Michelle’s Meeting Services” to where we are today as a full service worldwide meeting management company with a separate division (SM Squared) operating in the life science industry, we are proud to have a legacy of serving our clients and building partnerships. Our goal is to always provide our clients the best-in-class quality services and cost savings while offering a personalized experience unique each meeting. We go above and beyond to create not just a meeting, but an experience. This is as true as ever as we look forward to the future of meetings and events and explore opportunities to offer creative solutions and superb service even through unique circumstances.  

So many people, places, and events had an impact on our company trajectory, and in reflecting on this milestone, we want to extend a warm thank you to each and every one of them. To our amazing clients, thank you for your trust and support. To the staff of Meeting Sites Pro, past and present, it is your hard work that lead to the accomplishments that built the legacy we have today. To our partners and vendors, thank you for your continued collaboration and dedication to helping us build successful events.

Looking forward to the second half of this year and beyond, we understand the importance of health and safety as a top priority. Meeting Sites Pro has been preparing for our new normal by strategizing on how to have meetings while ensuring safety and your peace of mind. We are excited for our future in the meetings industry as we continue to strive to exceed your expectations even in these unusual times. Please know that when it is time to meet again, we will be here, ready and excited to create safe, functional, and flawless meetings that meet our client’s objectives. Thank you to all involved with Meeting Sites Pro and cheers to 20 years!

[Meeting Sites Pro is a woman-owned, full-service, worldwide meeting & event management company specializing in creating high quality meetings for a diverse client base to include companies large and small in the pharmaceutical, medical device, government, high-tech, association, franchise, education, insurance, energy, and defense industries.]


If you would like more information about this topic, please call Michelle Harty at 619-749-1133 or email info@meetingsitespro.com. You may also visit our websites www.meetingsitespro.com and www.smsquared.com or connect via LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/michellebartolone)

Health and Safety Plan for Future Meetings

Throughout the past month we have all experienced drastic changes to our normal schedules, business operations, and everyday life due to COVID-19. At Meeting Sites Pro, we have worked to adapt to our home offices and increased demand for virtual meetings. As we continue to navigate this time of uncertainty and begin looking toward the future of meetings and events, we want to ensure we are prepared to produce safe and functional meetings for our clients by implementing the proper safety measures.

Under the guidelines and instructions provided by the CDC, we have developed an Emergency Operations Plan for holding meetings in the coming months. Our plan encompasses specific recommendations for registration and meeting materials to meeting set up, audiovisual, and meal functions. We have tailored plans for each specific meeting as these decisions are dependent on the specific meeting objectives, agenda, and scope, and we would love to connect personally discuss your meetings unique needs. In the meantime, please see just a few of the measures we are suggesting as a 
standard for most of our meetings.
  • Display signage throughout the meeting space advising attendees to frequently wash/sanitize their hands, maintain six feet between other meeting goers, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. 
  • Design meeting set ups to allow additional space between each participant.
  • Provide more virtual materials to reduce materials being provided and handed back in forth.
  • Provide hand sanitizer throughout the meeting space.
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces including tables and chairs between each meeting session.
  • Allow opportunities to attend meetings via virtual platforms when possible.

As a company, we remain dedicated to staying up to date on the regulations and recommendations of public officials to ensure the safety of our attendees, staff, and hotel partners.  We thank you all for your support and collaboration as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times together. Stay safe and stay strong!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Weekly Spotlight: Grand Hyatt DFW

During this trying time in the meetings and events industry, we know our partnerships will help us through. In light of this struggle, we plan on doing a weekly spotlight post to recognize the partners we work with that help make our meetings run seamlessly.

This week’s spotlight property is the Grand Hyatt DFW. This is one of our favorite properties for Investigator Meetings and Advisory Board due to its central and convenient location, great meeting space, and exceptional service.

Conveniently located within Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, this hotel will be perfect for your next meeting. A few reasons we always look forward to returning to the Grand Hyatt DFW is of course the ease and accessibility of the property, their outstanding service, and exceptional meeting space. This property offers more than 34,000 square feet of luxury meeting space that will impress your attendees and take your meeting to the next level. With access to high-end, soundproof rooms and suites, exquisite in-house dining options, fitness center, rooftop pool, and spa, you can enjoy your stay comfortably. Next time you land in DFW, deplane and conveniently indulge in everything this beautiful property has to offer!

At Meeting Sites Pro, we value our partnership with the Grand Hyatt DFW and always look forward to returning. We recognize and appreciate the hard work of their staff and wish them all the best during this time. First stop, Grand Hyatt DFW!

Industry Update: Hilton Defining a New Standard of Hotel Cleanliness

As we all look forward to a new normal in the hospitality and meeting and event industry, brands and companies are starting to come out with defined plans and goals for moving forward. We are working with our individual clients and partners to determine general guidelines as well as specifc plans unique to each meeting. As we move forward, we welcome the opportunity to work together and learn from our partners 

Hilton has recently announced a new program that will launch in June 2020 to upgrade their level of cleanliness and disinfection in their properties around the world. The Hilton CleanStay will build on the current cleaning and hygiene standards of Hilton properties with the help and collaboration of RB cleaning products and experts from Mayo Clinic’s Infection Prevention and Control team. 

The program will focus on increasing cleaning and disinfection protocols that will work to protect Hilton Team Members and guests. Hilton CleanStay was developed to meet the health expectations and guidelines put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The full details outlining the program will be announced soon, however, the current considerations discussed within their press release include the following:
  • Hilton CleanStay Room Seal: Adding an extra measure of assurance by placing a room seal on doors to indicate to guests their room has not been accessed since being thoroughly cleaned
  • 10 High-Touch, Deep Clean Areas: Extra disinfection to most frequently touched guest areas
  • De-clutter Paper Amenities: Removing guest room paper amenities and substituting with digital or available upon request  
  • Focus on Fitness Centers: Enhanced guidelines for disinfection, possibly closing for cleaning multiple times daily, and limiting the number of quests allowed at one time
  • Clean and Clean Again: Increase the frequency of cleaning public areas
  • Guest-Accessible Disinfecting Wipes: Provide stations at primary entrances and high traffic areas
  • Contactless Check-in: Encouraging and improving the Digital Key technology for more contactless arrivals
  • Innovative Disinfection Technologies: Hilton is exploring the option of adding new technology to improve disinfection; adding electrostatic sprayers which use an electrostatically charged disinfecting mist, and ultraviolet light to sanitize surfaces and objects
In addition to this, Hilton will provide their Team Members with personal protective equipment and training to ensure their health and well-being. This is an industry defining moment that will pave the way for hotel cleanliness and sanitation protocols as we approach the reopening of travel and business. At Meeting Sites Pro, we are proud to come together as a community to navigate through this time together and look forward to having meetings again soon.  

For more information on this press release, please visit: Hilton CleanStay Press Release

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Weekly Spotlight: Sheraton Denver

During this trying time in the meetings and events industry, we know our partnerships will help us through. In light of this, we plan on doing a weekly spotlight post to recognize the partners we work with that help make our meetings run seamlessly.

This week’s spotlight property is the Sheraton Denver Downtown. We have been working with this property for over 5 years and always look forward to returning. Their attention to detail and amazing service has always impressed us and helps create a memorable experience for our team and the attendees. The banquet staff in particular are a highlight of the property.

Not only do they have an excellent team on property, but the hotel itself has recently gone under an $80 million renovation with brand new beautiful guestrooms, meeting space, lobby, restaurants, and club lounge. If you have not visited this stunning property yet, you are just in time because the bulk of the renovations will be completed by summer of 2020. Located right in the heart of downtown Denver, this hotel allows access to endless shopping, dining, nightlife and entertainment while still offering a breathtaking view of the Colorado mountains. As the largest meetings hotel in the city, the hotel offers 133,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space that also provides easy access to The Colorado Convention Center.

At Meeting Sites Pro, we are taking this time of uncertainty to focus on the partnerships that have contributed to our success and development over the years and will continue to do so in the future. We value the time we get to work with this property and look forward to returning soon. We can’t wait to see the newly renovated and beautiful property doing what they do best. For more information or to check out the property’s renovations yourself please visit www.sheratondenver.com or Renovation Newsletter

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Weekly Spotlight: The Hyatt Regency Seattle

During this trying time in the meetings and events industry, we know our partnerships will help us through. In light of this, we plan on doing a weekly spotlight post to recognize the partners we work with that help make our meetings run seamlessly.

This week’s spotlight property is the Hyatt Regency Seattle. This stunning property recently opened in December of 2018 and has so far done nothing less than impress us. The work of their sales team goes beyond our expectations in the planning process. We admire the responsiveness of their team and their dedication towards understanding our client’s needs. Not only do they have an amazing team of professionals but the property itself is phenomenal! One thing we love the most about this property is the layout of the space and meeting rooms. With 103,000 square feet of meeting space, the Hyatt Regency Seattle is largest hotel in the Pacific Northwest. Located right in the heart of downtown, this hotel offers everything you would want for your meeting. With access to shops, dining, city attractions, and the Washington State Convention Center facilities, everything you need is right there with you. The last thing we want to highlight is that the Hyatt Regency Seattle is the city’s first and only LEED Gold-Certified Hotel, who doesn’t love a green property! 

At Meeting Sites Pro, we value our partnership with this property and look forward to the long-term success we will achieve together. Next time Seattle comes up, whether you are planning a meeting or just taking a trip, be sure to check out this property at hyattregencyseattle.com!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Weekly Spotlight: The Boom of Zoom

During this trying time in the meetings and events industry, we know our partnerships will help us through. In light of this, we plan on doing a weekly spotlight post to recognize the partners we work with that help make our meetings run seamlessly.

In light of current events, face-to-face meetings have been put on pause and the the meetings and events industry is facing a complex shift in the way we do business now, and in the next coming months. As frightening as this may seem, we are taking this as an opportunity to learn and engage with new technology to build our skill-sets and versatility. One of the most helpful tools we use is online video meetings through Zoom. This platform has been the basis of how we stay connected as a company. We have found daily morning video calls with the entire team to be the most effective way to start the workday. This call gives everyone the opportunity to see and interact with each other as we normally would in person. We are also using this platform for some of our upcoming meetings including a couple advisory boards.  Zoom offers many great features that promote a fun and engaging environment for all.

Here are some of the benefits of Zoom we enjoy and encourage you all to use:

  • Virtual Backgrounds: Change your personal background with the use of this feature. For internal meetings this can be sandy beaches in Hawaii or personal photos of your dog and for more formal meetings, we recommend customizing a background with a company logo. You have the option to create your work environment! 
  • Chat: Use the chat box to comment or ask questions to anyone in the meeting during your call.
  • Screen Sharing: Allow others to actively see what you are working on by sharing the visibility of your computer screen.
  • Polling: This is a great way to involve everyone in the call and gain a better understanding of your audience.
  • Reactions: Instantly react to the present conversation with the use of a thumbs-up or clapping hands; this allows others to communicate without disrupting the person who is speaking.  

These are just a few tips and tricks on how to make your video calls more engaging. Zoom offers a variety of different features you can use to host a smooth and effective meeting on a much larger scale. Although a lot has changed in the past few weeks, we are glad we have the resources to stay connected, and we are excited for the future.

Check it out yourself!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Weekly Spotlight: Hyatt Regency Orlando

During this trying time in the meetings and events industry, we know our partnerships will help us through. In light of this, we plan on doing a weekly spotlight post to recognize the partners we work with that help make our meetings run seamlessly.

In our first weekly spotlight, we want to share some of the many reasons we love Hyatt Regency Orlando. We have been working with this property for several years and in the past 4 years have been doing 3-6 programs there each year. It is this property’s excellent staff and meeting space that keeps us coming back year after year. Each member always goes above and beyond to ensure the success of our programs whether from Banquets, Sales, or Convention Services. Over time, they have carefully noted the details of our programs to make sure that each program is better than the last. Not only do we love this property, but our clients and their attendees enjoy visiting the hotel and always have nothing but good things to say.

Voted “#1 Convention Property in Florida and Orlando” (CVENT 2013-2018) and located centrally within Orlando, you will have access to all major theme parks, the best restaurants, fun bars, and so much more when you stay at Hyatt Regency Orlando. With 315,000 square feet of meeting space, the options at this property are endless. The hotel also features beautiful outdoor terraces, private dining rooms, and pillar-free ballrooms that will make your meeting one to remember.

At Meeting Sites Pro, we value our partnership with Hyatt Regency Orlando and always look forward to staying at this hotel. Next time you’re searching for your next meeting location or planning a trip to Orlando, be sure to check out this property: hyattregencyorlando.com!

From Our CEO - A Message To My Clients and Suppliers.

Dear Friends,

We are experiencing unprecedented times in our lives right now as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve and impact us all. 

At Meeting Sites Pro, Inc., we are adapting and changing in this fluid situation. Many of our meetings for the upcoming months have been postponed or moved to virtual formats and we are experiencing how this affects not only us, but also our clients and suppliers. Following the California lockdown order issued late last week, our team is working from our homes to ensure safety and allow our team to continue to take care of our clients and their attendees. We remain flexible while waiting for direction on an estimate as to when we may begin to get back to some ‘normalcy’. In the meanwhile, we are available by email and cell phones and are happy to discuss meeting solutions with our partners.

During this uncertainty, I have been reflecting on our past and I am hopeful for our future. In 2000, I started Meeting Site Pro from the garage of my condo with a strong passion for serving my clients and their attendees. This passion has grown over the years as we developed so many strong relationships with our loyal clients and dedicated suppliers.

As we move forward, I have asked my team to take some time during this period and really think about those supporters who have made Meeting Sites Pro what it is today. During this challenging time for the meetings/events industry, we want to remember that we are all united and provide some encouragement in this trying time. For this reason, we will be posting a weekly blog spotlighting some of the people, places, companies, or events that have impacted the trajectory of Meeting Sites Pro and extend a warm thank you for your support.

For the past 20 years, we have all gone through our up’s and our down’s. I continue to be amazed by our passion, resilience, and ability to adapt. While these are testing times, we are in this together. Our team is standing by and eager to continue to serve and support you.

Please remember to make time to refresh, laugh, exercise, and have faith that this will end soon. Be well and stay strong.

Warm Regards,
Michelle Harty, CMP-HC, CEO
Meeting Sites Pro, Inc./SM Squared

VIEW OUR FIRST SPOLIGHT: Hyatt Regency Orlando 

Friday, February 28, 2020

Green Meetings – Tips from the Georgia World Congress Center and Meeting Sites Pro

The Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta is currently the largest event space to be environmentally certified by the US Green Building Council. For the past 10 years, the center has been investing in sustainability in efforts to improve the carbon footprint caused by the events industry. The center positions itself as a highly efficient and climate-conscious venue in hopes of encouraging other convention centers around the world to prioritize this issue and make the change to become more sustainable.

Here are some tips they shared and how we embody these at Meeting Sites Pro:

Public transportation is a number one priority – At MSP we include instructions and encourage public transportation instructions to all attendees and use airport hotels for shorter meetings.
  • More can be recycled than you think – We recycle everything from name badges and signage to paper in the office. We encourage our hotel partners to use reusable banquets items over plastic and have moved towards paperless onsite management and registration with our Surface Pro’s, We are always thinking of creative ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle!
  • The details are hidden in the design and connected hotels mean greener housing – We always try to keep all sleeping rooms at the same venue and when our meetings are held outside of the hotel, we do our best to place our attendees within walking distance of the meeting venue.
  • The social footprint is just as important – From partnering with socially conscious hotels and clients to sourcing local event staff and giving back to our community whenever possible, Meeting Sites Pro believes in the importance of monitoring your social footprint.
What are your favorite tips and tricks for green meetings?

To learn more about efforts at the Georgia World Congress Center, please see their article below.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Sacramento: More Than Just a Government Town

As the capital of California, Sacramento has always been a city centered around government. However, in recent years, the city has started to attract attention as a growing destination for meetings. While most businesses are drawn to the San Francisco Bay Area that is located only a couple hours away, Sacramento now offers a comparable experience at a lower price point. The city’s conference center is currently undergoing a complete renovation and expansion that will almost double its current size. In addition, multiple hotel renovations are currently underway allowing hotels to expand by a total of over 1,000 rooms.  Finally, Sacramento's Michelin rated restaurants, brand-new sports arena, and food tours offer plenty of activities to keep your attendees entertained.