All posts in “In The News”


“Working in partnership with pcnametag to deliver an engaging virtual conference for CanSPEP was wonderful. The virtual event kit is a superb way to generate buzz about the event and transform it to an elevated experience! Delegates reported being excited to receive something in the mail. When they opened their kits, they found lots of fun items, some of which they were only allowed to use later in the week. This was captivating indeed!”

– Malak Sidky, Vice President, Partnerships, CanSPEP

Hilton Downtown Toronto Pays it Forward

In these challenging times of COVID-19, there are ways to extend kindness and compassion.

A unique partnership between the a hospital Foundation and a few downtown hotels including The Hilton Downtown Toronto, was struck in order to assist several customer groups. One customer group are essential health care workers that are either too tired to go home and just need a safe place to relax and recharge after a long shift or have immunocompromised family members that they are afraid of infecting.

Another group was identified which consisted of people living in women’s shelters, that due to the crowded conditions, were at risk of contracting COVID-19. The hotels agreed to open their doors to this clientele and the rates charged were just sufficient to defray their costs to have a skeleton crew be on site.

This is an amazing collaboration which allows the Hilton Downtown Toronto to operate since most hotels are still closed, while at the same time, helps keep health care workers and other vulnerable populations safe.

The link to register for the discounted rates at the Hilton Downtown Toronto is:

Cleanliness is of paramount importance these days and Hilton has developed a global program that will introduce a new standard of hotel cleanliness and disinfection: Hilton Cleanstay with Lysol protection. Travelers and hotel guests are expecting a higher level of cleanliness than ever before so this is a great comfort to those guests that are staying at the hotel.

Stay Safe!

Sustainable Approaches to Combat Burnout & Stress

In various surveys, event planners rate their jobs as highly stressful. Typically, it rates as within the top 5 of all time stressful careers. So what is it about the industry that makes our roles so stressful?

At the recent 8thAnnual Global Pharmaceutical and Medical Meetings Summit in Boston, I co-hosted a roundtable discussion about this topic. The delegates were split into 3 groups. The first group was asked to identify their top stressors in their jobs; group 2 was asked to list challenges that are out of their control and group 3 was asked to brainstorm tactics to mitigate stress.

What emerged was very interesting. Planners cited the following key stressors, most of which are out of their control:

  • Mergers & acquisitions
  • Strikes or union labour disputes
  • Ineffective timely communication from clients that lead to delays in decision making
  • Last minute unreasonable planning requests from their clients
  • Champagne expectations on beer budgets
  • Unpredictable severe weather emergencies (e.g. flood, fire) or infectious diseases that impact attrition rates

So what’s a planner to do to decrease the stress levels associated with these challenges?

Tactics varied, but the essence of it was to implement a risk management plan, replete with emergency preparedness mitigation strategies enabling planners to embrace the challenges and lower their stress level.

We have planned multiple events over the years and we fully understand the planning cycle. Hence, we can anticipate that there will be times when we need to pivot and change the agenda for example. We also recognize that there are tools that we should use to help reduce our stress levels such as establishing and monitoring our critical path and sharing this with our client at regular intervals. These checkpoints are key and need to be established early on. They are especially useful when the client communication is sparse.

To reduce your employees’ stress level, make sure you share your challenges. There is no need to take on all the stress. Your colleagues and/or employees can assist you in identifying solutions when a program budget gets slashed for example, yet you are still expected to deliver a high-quality product.  As a risk mitigation strategy, you should have a comprehensive database of vendors at various price points. This will enable you to quickly identify solutions.

As things heat up ~6 weeks pre-event, there are so many stress relieving tactics that may be effective to event planners. These include:

  • Eat well and ensure you get sufficient sleep
  • Disconnect from tech and distance yourself from work every evening. Working 18 hours days in the weeks leading up to the event can lead to burnout. Realize that you will be less effective if you are exhausted.
  • Take a yoga class or partake in any exercise such as going for a walk outdoors. This changes your mindset and has been proven to be invigorating
  • Engage in daily meditation – you cannot learn this at the last minute
  • Listen to music
  • Talk to a trusted friend or colleague about your feelings

On-site, we need to have a checklist with all the important phone numbers of our client representative, keynote speakers, vendors, and banquet manager so that if we need to shift suddenly, we can proactively communicate the change or escalate the decision if we need to evacuate for example. We do not need to be the on-site superhero and solve all the problems ourselves; we need to preassign roles to our staff and volunteers.

Changes are inevitable in any meeting or event; it is incumbent upon us to embrace these changes by being prepared to pivot and not sweating the small stuff!

Thanks everyone who participated at this session and to my co-facilitator Brenda Miller!


Senior’s Expo 50+ Features Delmanor Retirement Home

Ronnie’s Home Care Services is proud to present Senior’s Expo 50+ taking place at Eagles Nest Golf Club on September 25th. This high-calibre event features educational seminars and a niche array of vendors catering to seniors. Our sponsors include: Remax, RBC, Vaughan Chiropractic, Ward Funeral Home and D’Air Dance Collective. Our profiled vendor is Delmanor Retirement Home who have provided the following information about their homes:

Retirement is the time to reward yourself with the lifestyle you’ve worked hard to achieve. Delmanor understands that. Residents at every Delmanor community embrace the opportunity to learn and discover all their new lifestyle has to offer.At Delmanor, you can enjoy a spectacular turn-key lifestyle that doesn’t come with a chore list, only a calendar of events to keep you active. You choose the service package that suits you, from independent to assisted living. This is your opportunity to try new things, and to enjoy the company of good friends, enhanced by the Delmanor Living Well™ program which promotes an active mind, body, and spirit.Enjoy a variety of menu choices including vegetarian options prepared by Red Seal Chefs. Delmanor sources the freshest ingredients from local farmers and can also cater to special diets.

As a proud member of the Tridel group of companies, Delmanor is dedicated to providing service that focuses on individual preferences. Team members are selected for their passion and commitment to delivering exceptional service.With five convenient locations across the GTA and the addition of Delmanor Aurora opening in late 2021 — Delmanor welcomes those who love life and expect the best.For more information, please visit

Come visit the Delmanor booth at SE50+. To become a vendor or to purchase tickets, go to

Business Women’s Network of York Region 5th Annual Awards Gala

On April 11, the Business Women’s Network of York Region hosted their 5th Annual Awards Gala at The Venetian. Each year they highlight successful business women in York Region in seven categories and one deserving recipient is awarded Business Woman of the Year.

Click here to read the full article in Snapd Vaughan.

Photo by Mike Aceto.

Guest Lecturer at Centennial College

I was delighted to be a guest speaker in Alison Fryer’s class yesterday morning. Alison teaches in the Event Management Program at Centennial College. These students are poised to graduate in April and were naturally curious about the possibilities of owning and operating an event planning business. I spoke to them about the advantages of being an entrepreneur and how I started Health Care Event Planning over 20 years ago. I encouraged them to find a niche within the industry such as incentive travel, corporate events or weddings and demonstrated that by having a specific focus, it resulted in being seen as a specialist or expert in the field which yielded a competitive advantage.

I went on to discuss the importance of balancing servicing clients and continuing to prospect former and new clients so as to ensure a continuous sales funnel. Allocating time to prospecting is essential to continued growth of the business. This is relevant even if you do not have your own business as many event planners working in hotels or convention bureaus are on the sales side of the business.

I urged the students to seek industry connections via LinkedIn or Facebook groups, to practice their elevator speech and to join event planning associations such as CanSPEP, PCMA or MPAHT.

Connect Medical And The Mayo Clinic

Recently, Health Care Event Planning was asked to become an Executive Advisory Board member for Connect Medical, the medical arm of Connect Meetings. Connect Meetings is a US-based company located in Atlanta with 34 divisions (e.g. sports, expo, medical) that produces conferences and shows which connect professionals involved in travel, destination management, hospitality and events.

The purpose of the Connect Medical Executive Advisory Board is to gain insights from health care planners into the programming and content of future medical industry events as well as how to attract planners to Connect Medical events.

During the executive advisory board meeting, we were privileged to visit the world renown Mayo Clinic and their state-of-the-art medical facilities. The Mayo Clinic is located in Rochester, MN. The history is quite interesting. Over 150 years ago, Drs William J Mayo and Charles Mayo began their medical careers alongside their father William Worrall Mayo, who believed that “2 heads were better than one.”  This led the brothers to invite specialists from many fields to join their practice; thus the Mayo Clinic was born.

What I find fascinating about the Mayo Clinic is its rich association with the Nuns of St. Francis, who to this day are involved in the clinic. Another interesting fact is the Mayo Clinic’s commitment to salaried physicians. In North America, the majority of physicians are paid fee-for-service and that system has its challenges. Moreover, Will and Charles started a fund for medical research and education that was derived from contributing half their income to the fund! The fund continues to this day and permits the transformation of  research knowledge into breakthrough therapies and advances in patient care.

For me, the highlights of the Mayo Clinic were numerous but two examples stand out. The first is the Healthy Living Program. Imagine your local hospital investing in a state-of-the-art kitchen and staffing it with nutritionists and dieticians who could show you how to prepare healthy recipes so that you could attain your weight loss goals and reduce your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease? Further imagine, a gym equipped with all the best machines and staff to encourage you to be fit? Finally, add in yoga classes, guided meditation and other stress reduction strategies. That is what the Healthy Living Program is all about.

The second example of excellence is the Simulation Program. This provides a chance for doctors to practice a variety of situations including but not limited to operations, perfecting techniques and communicating bad news to patients (who are represented by actors).

For more information about the Mayo Clinic, visit

Starlight Foundation Halloween Party “Trick or Suite”

Starlight Foundation held its annual Halloween Party “Trick or Suite” at the Markham Hilton Suites. The event, organized by Debbie Arato Entertainment was a huge success. Children were able to enter themed suites and experience a unique Halloween. Normally these children, who have a variety of medical conditions, are not able to participate.
The highlights were the Puppy Room where children were able to interact with golden labs and other adorable pups. The themed rooms included:
  • Star Wars, with a special appearance by R2D2;
  • Harry Potter room where kids could make their own potions
  • The Princess Room which featured several princesses singing Disney Classics
  • The Donut Wall – real delicious donuts lit up to form a pumpkin
  • The Singing Pumpkin Room – Carved pumpkins singing a bunch of songs
Different candy and chocolates were available in every room so the children left very satisfied.
The event was very well organized. Volunteers cleaned up and all rooms so that  families living far away were able to spend the night at the hotel.
Health Care Event Planning’s staff was privileged to be part of such an awesome event! We plan on volunteering there next year. Starlight Foundation hosts these halloween parties in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City.

Cannabis Use: Balancing Rights and Adverse Effects

The Cannabis Act legalizes recreational cannabis use nationwide in Canada in combination with its companion legislation Bill C-46, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code.

It’s been one day since the passing of the Cannabis Act and already some property managers are implementing new rules and regulations to restrict the consumption and cultivation of cannabis on their properties. For example, an apartment complex in Ottawa just sent their tenants a letter which stipulated that “in the interest of promoting the safety and well-being of our residents, this property is transitioning to be free of smoke and cannabis cultivation.” Under the tenancy agreement, the owners are allowed to prohibit occupants and their guests from the smoking of tobacco, cigarettes, cannabis or the burning, smoking or vaping of any substance unless this is required to accommodate a person under the provisions of the Human Rights Code. This means that if a tenant has been prescribed cannabis for medical purposes, then they are still allowed to continue doing so.

Under the new rules, tenants are also not allowed to cultivate, produce, sell or distribute cannabis in the rented premises. Any breaches to these new rules will form sufficient grounds for the landlord to seek termination of the tenancy.

These new rules were put in place to reduce potential complaints from residents about the impact of second hand smoke and odor escaping into the hallways and common areas. In addition, it was stated that “there is an attempt to minimize the adverse health impact as well as environmental and physical hazards associated with mould growth, excessive electricity consumption, fire risks and security issues that can arise if it is known that cannabis growth is occurring at a specific location.”

So it you live in an apartment building or condo, check with the property management company for any new policies and rules governing the smoking, vaping and cultivation of cannabis.

Feature in Convene Magazine: Meetings Industry Responds to Homelessness

A homeless man was following a member of Windy Christner’s team. He wanted cash.

Malak Sidky, the CEO and founder of Health Care Event Planning in Toronto, makes similar connections between human trafficking and homelessness. Sidky is active in Meeting Professionals Against Human Trafficking (MPAHT), an organization founded last year in Toronto to create awareness in the events industry about human trafficking. “Traffickers go out of their way to go to where homeless people congregate and that’s where they’re picked up,” Sidky said. The homeless “are a vulnerable population already, because they don’t have social support. These are the very people we are trying to support.”

Click here to read the full article in Convene Magazine.