Hosts Global Liaison Team: Here’s Heather
We’re delighted to introduce to you the newest member the Hosts Global Liaison team, Heather McLeod, Director of Global Sales. Heather specializes in connecting opportunities to solutions. She’s a proud supporter of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence and Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals. Heather brings over 20 years of experience to her global sales role and was eager to share her industry insights in our recent interview. . .
Q: What do you enjoy most about your Global Liaison role?
A: I adore the event industry and have worked on all sides of it from catering, logistics, creative, planner, etc. I love my role at Hosts Global because I can utilize my strengths, enthusiasm and passion to help find solutions to meet the client’s vision and objectives to create those moments that simply wow. Seeing a program unfold into something spectacular is so fulfilling. . .and then, because we’re dedicated to our clients from destination to destination, I get to take that client and their guests on another journey to a new location and build on everything we just did. Bam. Is there anything better.
Q: What do you find most interesting about your sales focus?
A: I really enjoy getting to know each one of our clients and enjoy learning about them and what our goals are for each program. An event or program is an experience and experiences are really, at their heart, stories that you live within. My client and I start figuring out what story we want to tell: how are people going to feel when they get there and how do we want to make them feel while they’re there? How do we want to change them and how do we want them to feel when they leave? It is a journey and we need to put ourselves in the position of the guest. If we’re working with a brand, there’s obviously always a story there around the brand. We try to bring that to life with the event and use the tools of hospitality. Events are a compelling and persuasive platform for communication and I like to help create the story with my clients.
Q: Where do you find inspiration for innovative offerings and creative concepts that “wow” your clients?
A: I love anything quirky and fun – the crazier the better. I get inspiration anywhere and everywhere; fashion and interior design magazines, runway shows, windows at Barneys, TV shows, hotel lobbies, films, Instagram – you name it. I love color, pattern, adventure and something that makes me want to try something new, so if it gets my attention then I am pretty sure that it will get the guests attention.
Also. . .celebrity event planners. They tend to bring it and push the limits and I adore that! Their budgets seem to be infinite, so that always helps!
Q: What’s the advice you find yourself sharing with your clients regularly about our industry?
A: My clients bring so much knowledge and experience to the table that it really is a true collaboration when creating a program that is unique and custom experience for the guests. We all bring together ideas and solve problems as a team based on the layers of experience that we all bring to the planning process. So, there is lots of advice volleyed back and forth.
Also, there is no bigger buzzkill that waiting for a cocktail.
Q: What are your favorite industry trends, and which would you like to see retired?
A: I am not one to follow trends. If it is a trend, then it has already been done one to many times – hence the name trend.
In the same breath, while I say I don’t follow trends, I can’t ignore the ever-increasing encroachment of social media on the event industry. Social media has changed the nature of events. The world is our audience, not just the guest list, which can be good or bad. Attention to detail is more important now than ever and gives us a new challenge. We need to create moments of an event or program that are worthy of sharing.
Q: What’s something that has surprised you during your hospitality career?
A: After designing and implementing programs for years, I don’t know if anything surprises me anymore. That is part of the fun, right? We plan for everything knowing that something might happen that we can’t control. Oh wait, I did have a spouse of an executive recently who kept stealing items from the hotel. That was a fun conversation.
Q: Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
A: Your number one job is to listen to the client. My job is to hear the client’s needs, wants and desires and then create those moments. Always try to get the clients voice right. It is not my voice or yours. . . It is the client’s voice and I/ we are just here to arrange the notes.