Importance of Event Design, CSR Key Topics at Destination East

The annual Northstar Meetings Group event brought nearly 100 planners and suppliers together in Albany, N.Y.

Photo Credit: Ketara Gadahn / Studio Alani

Northstar Meetings Group's second-annual Destination East brought together nearly 100 event planners and suppliers for three days of networking and learning in picturesque Albany, N.Y. The event, held Oct. 19-21 at the Crowne Plaza Albany — The Desmond Hotel, featured in-depth education sessions, productive one-on-one appointments between suppliers and buyers, and local activities showcasing the best of the destination's group offerings.

A recurring theme of the meeting was the push for planners to rethink their events strategy coming out of the pandemic, instead of reverting to old tactics. In an educational session, Devon Pasha, director of North America for the Event Design Collective, spoke about the neuroscience behind event design and shared strategies for how planners can elevate the event experience with more purposeful, human-centric design.

Her tips included designing the event agenda to include more education in the morning when the brain is fresh, as well as setting aside dedicated time for breaks that give the brain a chance to decompress and absorb information. To combat the post-lunch slump, Pasha suggested planning opportunities for peer-to-peer connections in the afternoon. She also recommended ending the event with a closing session that will activate attendees' emotions and help leave a lasting impression.

The following day, Dominick Purnomo, a local restaurateur and the founder of Feed Albany, led a session on the importance of corporate social responsibility and urged planners to partner with local nonprofits to find ways to use their gatherings for good. Purnomo shared the story behind his own nonprofit, which was started during the pandemic to provide restaurant-quality meals to people in need. He stressed that the spirit of hospitality should extend beyond a meeting or dining room. By thinking outside these walls, planners can create more meaningful event experiences while also giving back to the local community.

The generous sponsors who helped make Destination East a success included Crowne Plaza Albany — The Desmond Hotel, Discover Albany, Discover Schenectady, Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau, Delta Airlines, Seiko, Madison Avenue Inc.Kalahari Resorts & Conventions, pc/nametag and Stova.

Following are more highlights of Destination East. All photos are by Ketara Gadahn / Studio Alani.

Destination East 2023 will take place Oct. 10-12 at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. View the full roster of upcoming Northstar events for more information or to register your interest as a hosted buyer or supplier.

Day One

Destination East was hosted at Crowne Plaza Albany — the Desmond Hotel, which completed a propertywide renovation during the pandemic.

Upon arrival, attendees were treated to a gifting experience and were invited to pick out a complementary luxury watch, courtesy of Seiko.

Planners and suppliers mingled over drinks and hors d'oeuvres during a welcome reception at the Koi Pond.

Day Two

Day two kicked off with an education session from Devon Pasha of the Event Design Collective, where attendees learned science-backed strategies for improving the meeting experience and boosting engagement.

In one-on-one appointments, meeting planners and suppliers discussed current business needs and opportunities for future partnerships.

Attendees headed to downtown Albany in the afternoon for group activities ranging from a museum and monuments tour to hatchet throwing.

The day ended with a waterfront reception at the Landing Hotel in Schenectady. Afterwards, attendees tested their luck at the Rivers Casino next door.

Day Three

Dominick Purnomo, founder of Feed Albany, shares the story behind his nonprofit organization and discusses the importance of giving back within the hospitality industry.

Planners and suppliers met for a second set of productive, one-on-one appointments.

Attendees gathered for a farewell lunch, where it was announced that Destination East 2023 will be held at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.