Joan Eisenstodt is a “mensch” in every sense of the word. I consider her to be the social conscientiousness leader for the meetings and events industry. She’s a longtime advocate for DEIB and any underrepresented minorities in the hospitality industry and always speaks truth to power. Recently we’ve joined forces to advocate and educate the hospitality industry about Anti-Asian Pacific Islander discrimination and hate crimes. It’s an incredible honor for me to be working with such an accomplished and legendary industry leader and influencer. – Kevin Iwamoto. GLP, GTP, Chief Customer Officer, Bizly Inc.
What keeps you awake at night?
Personally - all the world's needs that I can't fix or even do more than contribute dollars to. Professionally - How sloppy as an industry we are - that w/ fewer staff and more pressures from owners, management and brands, hotel sales folks are cranking out proposals and contracts that are incomplete and lack transparency. That planners, overworked because many were furloughed or retired or left the industry, are not being thorough about their work. That COVID is surging again - see LA County, FL, MA -- and the industry continues to push unmasked events w/o care for those who work in hotels and convention centers.
In your current leadership role, what is your top priority for your teams?
My role is a bit different. As a consultant, my 'teams' are the clients with whom I work and support individuals and meetings departments who are, as noted above, understaffed and overworked. My greatest priority is to be personally and professionally supportive - to watch for signs when someone is not ok, or a client organization is 'cracking' and offer questions for them to consider.
What should the industry be paying attention to, that they are not today?
a. Mental and physical health of workers. COVID is NOT over, and illness is still possible. Taking a 'sick day' for many is not financially and otherwise possible. Inflation is up causing the cost of living to soar - meaning many are without any or adequate housing, food, childcare, transportation. We need to pay attention to those around us and show empathy and care and provide solutions.
b. COVID: we did little other than what was required during the greatest of it in 2020/2021. Now? The industry has pushed for travel and stays to open up, meetings to be unmasked, and to act as if it's 2019 and we never heard of it. It is a blatant disregard for many with underlying conditions and shows a classism that is unbecoming.
c. What meetings can be that aren't back to what they were! We had 2 whole years to reimagine meetings. Instead, time was spent hand-wringing and doing virtual events without a thought to how we can use spaces and create learning and interaction differently.