When a meeting planner is looking for that little something that will make a gathering extra special, help can come from just about anywhere -- and anyone -- in the hotel.
Two recent examples from the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas underscore the point. Before Emcore Corp. came to town for its annual sales meeting last year, the 397-room property's conference department was asked for a recommendation of someone who could put together a karate demonstration to illustrate the conference theme of black-belt excellence. Certainly: Christian Jakobi, the resort's director of yield and revenue, has a brown belt in the martial art. Jakobi staged a 10-minute performance that incorporated one of the company's executives. "She broke a few boards," says Jakobi.
Senior conference planner Paula Fitzpatrick, whose hobby is cycling, used her firsthand knowledge of the roads around the Irving, Texas, property to design a 25-mile bike route for a group from the Midwest Regional Medical Center. "They enjoyed it so much," she says, "they did it again the second day."
When a planner coming to the 161-room Wentworth by the Sea Hotel & Spa in New Castle, N.H., asked for a program suggestion, the conference department thought of the property's public-relations representative, Stephanie Seacord, whose passion is the 1905 Portsmouth Peace Treaty that won Theodore Roosevelt a Nobel Peace Prize. She turned that passion into a leadership seminar.
Even the bell staff can be tapped. John Roux, an avid hiker and a bellman at the 511-room Omni San Diego Hotel, leads a three-mile hike that incorporates challenges designed to build camaraderie.