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.

As CEO of Miami-based Loni Paige Events, Loni Paige has launched and managed experiential campaigns for high-profile brands such as Bacardi, vitaminwater, T-Mobile, American Express and Target. While many people used quarantine cocktailing as a coping mechanism during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the bars and everyone’s favorite mixologists who needed their own shot of help. Paige set out to do her part by creating Mixology Mixer


League City CVB manager Stephanie Polk shares her career journey.

Originally from Kentwood, Louisiana, Stephanie Polk, TDM, CTE, first made her mark on the travel and tourism industry as director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, she helped to elevate the city as a destination for recreation travelers and business groups. Wowed by her accomplishments, in 2020, League City brought her on board to lead its marketing efforts. She shares with us highlights and advice from her experience in the industry. 


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.