Hilton Downtown Toronto Pays it Forward

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!


How to Make your Event more Sustainable – My Top Picks

In our work with clients hosting meetings and events, we make decisions every day from selecting venues, AV companies and décor items to exploring transportation and marketing collateral options. All these factors impact our environment. I have committed to choosing sustainable solutions so that our planet can not only survive, but thrive. I pledge to continuously educate myself, my staff, suppliers, and clients on opting for environmental friendly choices including:

  1. Creating a RFP that highlights sustainability requirements.
  2. Utilizing a carbon calculator for my events. We are all used to tracking our expenses vs. what we budgeted. Let’s take it one step further and track our carbon footprint.
  3. Selecting a venue that complies with eco-certification guidelines.
  4. Exploring off-the-grid AV options. At The Sustainable Events Forum, AV Canada used solar powered generators to power the cameras, lighting, microphones, projectors and screens. It can be done!
  5. Eliminating the use of plastic water bottles. Our water supply is safe, and contains fluoride, which is known to decrease the incidence of cavities. Instead of supplying plastic water bottles at your events, consider eco-friendly options such as Tabl’eau which uses the venue’s water supply, filters it in their mobile unit and makes it available in lovely glass reusable bottles.
  6. Asking the venue to provide food choices that comply with the 100-mile diet, thereby reducing the need for planes to transport items that are out-of-season. The fuel used in planes is a huge pollutant.
  7. Exploring ways to reduce food waste such as partnering with Second Harvest.
  8. Eliminating the use of paper. There are so many options available that can replace paper, such as posting the agenda on room screens, or using an App such as Eventmobi or Cvent, which can include speaker bios, exhibitor information, the daily agenda and numerous ways to recognize your sponsors.
  9. Not offering swag bags filled with plastic trinkets. Instead, ask your delegates to supply their own cloth bag and insist that your exhibitors select meaningful swag items that are not harmful to the environment, such as branded plastic water bottles.
  10. Selecting off-site options that are within walking distance of the venue. If there are delegates with mobility challenges, select companies with electric bussing options.




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  www.delmanor.com

Come visit the Delmanor booth at SE50+. To become a vendor or to purchase tickets, go to https://www.seniorsexpo-50plus.com/vendors-individual-tickets/.

Downsizing: How to make a Convincing Argument

Downsizing your elderly parents can be a difficult job. As their adult child, you may find that this job falls on to you. Let’s take a look at some essential factors to take into consideration when helping your parents make the decision to transition into a smaller, more accessible living space.
It may be understandably hard to convince your parents that they even need to downsize. It is important not to put pressure on your parents as this can be counterproductive and result in behaviour that is counteracting with your goals. Safety and comfort should be the primary goal. The thought of downsizing can be an emotional one, there are undoubtedly many memories and factors that your parents can be associating with the home. Asking you for help may be something your parents aren’t used to; they may not want to burden you or feel as if they are. The shift in caretaking is a big one that takes time to get used to. Mom and Dad spent years taking care of you, this role reversal can feel strange and demeaning.
Life can be hectic, as adults, we all have a lot going on. From raising our own families to working on our careers, add on to that helping your parents with the stressful and work extensive task of downsizing may seem overwhelming. It is important to avoid taking a tough love attitude. Remember to think of your parents’ positions every step of the way.
Keep in mind tone. The tone of the conversation should be open and collaborative. An excellent way to get the ball rolling is to approach the topic gently. For example, instead of saying “Mom, we need to get organized. There’s way too much stuff you ever use.” You can say “My friends’ mother found a lot of things she didn’t even realize she had since organizing her home. If you’d like, I would love to help you do the same.” By using this approach, it comes across as your parents’ choice.
Make downsizing less daunting by breaking it up into small manageable tasks. You may want to focus on one room at a time or even one part of a room at a time. If you know your parents spend a lot of time in the kitchen and bedroom, but not as much time in the basement, you may want to start in the basement. The disruption of moving things around won’t be as visible and intrusive. You wouldn’t want to discourage your parents from this lengthy process by packing up their bedroom first. This process can take months, and you want to make it as fun and enjoyable as possible. It is recommended that you take plenty of well-deserved breaks. You can use this time as quality time with your parents, put on their favourite music and even invite other family members to come over and help.

Convincing others over to help may be an issue on its own. However, this may be a good time to assign and schedule tasks that you know align with their strengths. For example, if your brother is good at filing papers, that could be a specific task you ask him to help you with. A simple task that one is good at is far less daunting than a massive project such as organizing and packing up a whole house. As a best practice, you should have a designated box for valuable items such as jewellery and money, as well as a safe place when you keep things such as banking information and wills. During the process of downsizing, you are in an excellent position to get things organized from a financial standpoint. This may be the perfect time to organize and make important decisions about the future. Involving your siblings in these decisions may lead itself to the transition of help in other areas.
Downsizing is emotionally draining. This is a significant life change for yourself and your parents. It may be hard for you to say goodbye to your childhood home, and it may be hard for your parents to give up the house where they held so many important family milestones. Understanding both points of view and finding some middle ground is ideal. It’s okay to let your parents know how difficult this change is for you as well, this may even be a bonding experience where you can both find closure. Moving, in general, is stressful, but when you downsize you not only leave behind your home, you are also forced to part with a lot of your possessions. That means sorting and parting with memories. Remember to be understanding and be patient with your parents as you embark on this life-changing transition.
The Connecting Generations Team

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.

Key Considerations in Planning an Event

When planning an event, there are many factors to consider, the overarching one would be whether to attempt the coordination to oneself or to hire a professional. Event planners have expertise acquired through many years of executing a variety of events and are aware of current trends in event design. They have established processes in place such as the development of a critical path in order to ensure event success. Professional event planners are part of planning bodies (such as PCMA or CanSPEP) and value educational opportunities. They possess insurance and operate with a risk mitigation approach when reviewing venue and entertainment contracts. Moreover, they have a myriad of connections with suppliers (e.g. décor companies, DJs, caterers, photographers, florists, printers).

The following is a listing of key elements to consider when planning an event; all of these will impact the amount of time needed to execute the event.

Event Type and Scope–  Gala, annual conference, launch event, webinar, hybrid event, XMAS party, trade show, fundraising walk, think tank meeting, board retreat

Event Timing– half day event, full day event, multi-day event, sequential or break-out tracks

Event Size– Less than 100 delegates, 100-250 delegates, 250+. This affects venue size and room configurations.

Content Development & Speaker Management– Content to align with event theme, need for keynote speakers or panelists, abstract management services, liaison with universities for CME, coordination needed for receipt of bios and PowerPoint presentations

Marketing – Event promotion is key to the success of any event. Event promotion starts with the development of a marketing plan and can include the production of communication materials (flier, signage, tickets, invitations, event program), media relations (print, radio, TV) and social media.

Logistics required– Arranging for promo codes with various airlines or train/bus companies, need for swag bags, social program, spousal program, transportation during the event,  catering, AV services, photography, videography.

On-site services– Production of name tags, registration, flow of event, run of day (event script)

Evaluation– Creation of a survey and analysis of results

Once the scope of the event is clearly established, the fun begins with the development of the event’s theme and the budget. At Health Care Event Planning, we create optimistic, break-even and pessimistic budget scenarios so that the client is fully aware of the financial realities of the event. We also specialize in working with volunteer committees to establish the content and assist with sourcing engaging speakers that are experts in their field.

What ultimately sets us apart are the value-added services which include:

  • Expertise in the health care field
  • Translation of documents from English to French
  • Extensive media training which enables our team to interview speakers and produce short videos that can be used to promote the event
  • Expert moderation and facilitation of workshops and panel discussions

As can be seen, hiring an event planner is an investment that is worthwhile. Let us plan your next stellar event!

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 www.mayoclinic.org