by Michael J. Shapiro | October 17, 2018
The Marriott Convention & Resort Network will soon launch a peer-to-peer community for meeting planners, known as Mastermind. The hospitality giant has long been developing the idea, first teasing it in January of this year in Nashville for PCMA's Convening Leaders conference. During IMEX America this week in Las Vegas, the company has revealed a planned launch date of March 2019.
The Convention & Resort Network, known as CRN, consists of 110 meetings-focused properties in the Marriott family across a wide range of brands -- the Autograph Collection, Gaylord, JW Marriott, the Luxury Collection, Marriott Hotels, Renaissance, Sheraton and Westin among them. The new Mastermind program will provide a closed forum for planners in a focus-group style, allowing them a place to communicate, collaborate and exchange ideas.
 
Marriott will guide the conversations among small groups, each of which will consist of just eight to 10 planners, a Marriott CRN executive to serve as a mentor and a Marriott subject-matter expert. The inaugural session will last five months featuring once-a-month sessions with high-level discussions around key industry topics such as culinary trends, engaging attendees outside the conference room and networking ideas. A different CRN subject-matter expert will join the group for each discussion, but the Marriott mentor will remain with the group for the duration of the five months.
 
"Meeting planners have the desire to push the envelope and inject creativity into meetings based on the changing demands of their customers," said Mike Wainwright, vice president of sales for CRN. "I am proud of our vision to have Mastermind provide a platform that brings these talented planners together to knowledge-share, brainstorm and build lifelong relationships."
 
Planner participants will be able to consult individually with the Marriott experts if they choose, in addition to the monthly group meetings. The entire group will be able to keep the conversation going online in the Mastermind Lab as well. Additional CRN planners will have the opportunity to join a roundtable discussion scheduled to take place during the five-month session.
 
The CRN is further supporting the planning community via two video series -- ":60 Smarter," bite-sized episodes meant to inspire meetings creativity, and "Meetings. Made Here. A Marriott CRN Travel Show," which spotlights various properties and destinations.