In the midst of the pandemic last year, Loris Menfi joined San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter and Riverwalk as general manager. At the time of her hire, Rivercenter had recently unveiled a renovation to its 70,000-plus square feet of meeting space. And now, Menfi is being called on to use her 25-plus years of hospitality experience to adapt the property to a new normal—one less oriented around meetings and more focused on social distancing and safety. We sat down with Menfi to find out how she successfully pivoted during the pandemic and what she sees as the future of face-to-face meetings.

TXM+E: How are you approaching the challenges we are facing today in the industry?

LM: We are continually adjusting to the ever-evolving “normal” as we navigate through this pandemic. Safety is paramount to our guests, my staff, and me, so we follow and take Marriott’s Commitment to Clean very seriously. We are continuing to use this crisis as an opportunity to be creative and think outside of the box when it comes to revenue, optimizing resources and delivering excellence in service. We are staying intentional, exercising compassion, staying positive and celebrating all wins. 

TXM+E: What do you see for meetings, conferences and events in 2021?

LM: I see the return to meetings and events in 2021 as a slow burn at the front end, but much improved toward the back half of the year. As the vaccine is distributed more widely, I think customers will continue to gain confidence. 

TXM+E: What advice would you give to individuals in your industry today?

LM: I think it’s important to realize that leadership and communication are more critical now than ever before, so continue to self-reflect on how you can show up as a better leader for your team and communicator during this trying time. Every major crisis creates unprecedented problems, but also creates unexpected opportunities. Look for these opportunities and use this as a time to be creative in your solutions. Lastly, remember that we will get through this, adapt and overcome. And we will come out on the other side better than before.

Event planning and experience design go hand in hand. Just ask Maria Moyano, experience designer for the Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC), based in NYC. “I think that everything is an event. You can go have coffee, and that’s an event. Everything is also an experience. You feel happy, and that’s an experience. It’s about what you are trying to get out of the event—and then how does an experience elevate it,” says Moyano.

 

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo—or any day ending with a ‘y’—with the Mother Mayo Margarita from JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa’s Cibolo Moon. The cocktail brings an innovative twist to the classic margarita with mezcal and pineapple. Salud!

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Dorothy Hecht was just 16 years old in 1937 when she waited on her first table at what was then Fischer’s Restaurant in downtown Frankenmuth, and ecstatically earned her first 25-cent tip. When she met and eventually married William “Tiny” Zehnder, whose family owned Zehnder’s Restaurant across the street, her happiness continued, and a legacy began.