NAME: Leonie Wood

BUSINESS NAME: Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

POSITION: Associate director of sales/ conference & events

What are you working on right now in anticipation of a return of events?

Currently working on our Covid-19 safe plans to relaunch our conferences and events, which includes creative floorplans following the social distancing guidelines. We are collaborating with our F&B team on new and creative ways for our clients to experience our conference catering. We also have to think outside of the box with creative opportunities for our meeting space i.e office space or studios for virtual meetings. We’re working closely with Encore, our AV team, who are playing a key role in providing virtual event space.

What’s one lesson you have learnt during the COVID-19 lockdown period?

Flexibility is key. In an ever-changing environment we need to be ready to deal with constant changes and interruptions.

What do you value more now than you may have pre-COVID-19?

The crazy times. When it’s peak season and you are working around the clock on back-to-back events, quotes and contracts, the hotel running at full occupancy and the entire hotel team working together to make client visions a reality, you’re on a high but you were always looking forward to the next quiet period and a little down time. I miss the energy when everyone is working around the clock to make multiple events happen. It’s an adrenaline rush that we all love and are missing at the moment. Post Covid-19 I think we will all value those “crazy times” a little more.

How do you think events will change in the future?

I think we will see more events adapt to include a virtual element for interstate and international travelers. We have seen the success of online communication over the past few months and the world adapting to hybrid events, however, nothing can replace meeting people in person, we all need human connection and personal engagement that can’t be effectively achieved through a computer screen.

Why are events important?

They give people an experience, an opportunity to engage, to network and to meet face to face. When you see people at events now, they are so excited to be out and about and chatting with one another. It’s only natural for people to crave that human connection. As much as virtual will be the new reality, I believe events will continue to bring people together.