Meeting Trends from The Alfond Inn at Rollins
Q & A on Trends, Forecasts and the Value of Keeping Teams in Touch
MaryBeth Smith is the Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing for IRadimed, the leader in MRI patient care and the producer of the world’s first and bestselling non-magnetic MRI infusion pumps and patient monitors. The company is headquartered in Winter Springs, Florida. This Fall IRadimed conducted its first in-person meetings at The Alfond Inn at Rollins since Covid-19. We reached out to find out more about the meeting planning process at a global corporation during Covid-19 and the impact of getting teams back together again.
Under normal circumstances, how many business meetings are you planning for IRadimed in a typical year?
In pre-Covid-19 times, we had nearly 30 meetings in the course of one year, which included three large meetings for our sales team, another four for management and at least 15 – 20 meetings in conjunction with trade shows in various cities in the U.S. and internationally. Now, most of those gatherings have gone virtual.
How are you keeping your team connected and engaged during these challenging times?
Our industry requires regular team training for FDA compliance, demonstrations and forecasting for the months ahead, all of which have gone virtual since Covid-19. We’ve had to drastically change the way we approach our business and have found that we can accomplish most of it virtually. That being said, nothing can replace being in a room together with a team.
When did you conduct your first in-person team meeting since Covid-19 and what was the catalyst for bringing everyone back together?
We had our annual sales meeting in Orlando in January 2020 and that was it for nine months, everything went virtual. In October, we were able to hold our first in-person team meeting, which took place at The Alfond Inn over several days, with 15 people attending per day to ensure distancing and safety protocols were in place. It made an enormous difference to be together in the same room. People are so much more engaged, responsive and ask better questions when they aren’t alone staring at a screen. Overall, it’s just so much better to be together.
Does the distancing set up in the space make a difference?
Yes. The meeting space at The Alfond Inn was large and open, with fewer people and at least 6-feet between the chairs. We arranged it in a U-shape to give it a more congenial feel and after a while everyone grew comfortable and adjusted. The powerful energy of being together eclipsed any hurdles with the set up.
What considerations do you take into account when looking for an in-person meeting locale during these usual times?
The ability to spread out, be safe and have creative ways to set up are key factors. Beyond that, the same standards come into play: the location, are there multiple locations for serving meals and having breakouts, is there natural light and outdoor space, how is the food, is the staff accommodating? I can say that The Alfond Inn checked all of the boxes!
What’s the impact of all this on business meetings going forward?
Our industry is already coming through this being much more innovative in terms of how we approach meetings and the space and resources that we require. Rather than one large ballroom, we’ll look at several small rooms and rotate among them. We’ll step outside more often. We’ll serve plated meals rather than buffets, which is a nicer, more personalized option anyway. And we’ll keep the numbers down for time being.
Is there a silver lining to all of this?
Well, the flip side to the challenges that hotels are having is that the meeting space and rates, which may have been prohibitive in the past, are now more accessible to companies like ours. Our team was able to experience The Alfond Inn for the first time and thanks to the truly outstanding service, I know we’ll be back. It’s a long-term win-win for everyone.
These are stressful times for everyone, including senior executives like yourself. What are you doing to destress?
I’m fortunate to live in an area of Florida where I can walk, practice yoga and do Pilates. I split my time between Florida and our home in Reno, NV where my husband and I love to ski and hike at Lake Tahoe. It’s important to get outside and clear the mind so one can meet the challenges in the workplace.
Safe Meetings at The Alfond Inn at Rollins
The 112-room boutique hotel, long-known for accommodating C-level meetings, board retreats and other types of business gatherings in the greater Orlando area, has plenty of flexibility when it comes to welcoming this new breed of meetings. The Alfond Inn at Rollins has 10,000 square feet of dedicated meeting space and another 10,000 square feet of landscaped gardens, which offer space to distance, spread out and gather indoors or outside. The areas can be configured in myriad ways, providing distancing and privacy. The lavishly landscaped grounds and manicured gardens surrounding the property are perfect for alfresco meetings, after work cocktails and evening gatherings around the fire pit.
To ensure safe dining experiences, The Alfond Inn’s Executive Banquet Chef Bryan Butler creates gourmet boxed lunches and individualized breakout snacks for attendees to enjoy in the meeting space, or in relaxed outdoor settings, including alfresco on the patio or poolside under the shaded pergola.
Walkable Winter Park
The Alfond Inn is in the heart of the historic city of Winter Park, just 15 minutes from Orlando. Meeting attendees quite literally have the world at their door just a short walk from the hotel. The Alfond Inn at Rollins has an in-town location and is just a couple of blocks from elegant Park Avenue, with its upscale boutique shopping, vibrant restaurant and sidewalk café scene. Winter Park’s southern charm is highlighted by centuries-old Spanish moss trees, lush urban plantings and cobblestone streets lined with 19th and early 20th century homes.
Working groups can explore Winter Park on foot, get a bike rental or take a canal boat tour on the city’s chain of lakes, where capacity is limited to ensure distancing, to see some of the most stunning examples of Spanish Mediterranean architecture in the state of Florida.
Inspiring Art and Giving Back
Art also provides a creative backdrop at The Alfond Inn at Rollins. The hotel was designed as the imaginative extension of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College, displaying important masterpieces from The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art. It is the only hotel in the world that also serves as part of an art museum.
Net operating income from the hotel is directed to The Alfond Scholars fund, the Rollins College's premier scholarship endowment program. Meeting attendees appreciate the pay-it-forward reward that comes with doing business with a purpose-driven hotel as they help to contribute to the education of deserving students.