CAM+E: What’s a typical working day like for you?
MM: There’s never a dull moment. The wonderful thing about my position is it’s so varied. Some days are customer-centric, where I’m engaged with my clients on FAMs, site inspections, trade shows and assorted industry events. Then there’s the sales leader part—productivity reports, bookings, leads, all the things that drive our business. There are the administrative elements, and there’s the community-facing part of my job, which means participating in community events, serving on client advisory boards and on our conference center advisory board.

CAM+E: What do you want planners to know about Monterey?
MM: Our tagline in the meetings space is “Inspired Moments in Meetings.” We’re not your ordinary destination. You can have meetings that are transformative here.

You don’t have to conform to the standard ballroom. You can be in a vineyard or on a boat, you can take a hike along the coast or in the redwood forests. You can hang out with bees or with otters. You can make your own wine or pick vegetables from the fields. There are so many ways to inspire your team, your company, your colleagues!

We have 12,000 hotel rooms in the county and 4,000 of those are part of the group room inventory. These range from a 550-room hotel with commensurate meeting space to a 90-room inn in a vineyard. We have 800 rooms in downtown Monterey alone, adjacent to or in walking distance of the Monterey Conference Center that recently completed a $60 million renovation.

CAM+E: What are the challenges Monterey faces as a meetings destination?
MM: The biggest thing is awareness of all that Monterey encompasses. People have heard about Monterey, but they’re not exactly sure where it is. They may not know that the beach is a part of Monterey or that Big Sur is a part of the county.

And while Pebble Beach and Carmel are places of renown, they’re not always linked to Monterey. People are often surprised to hear that we have an airport. Well, we do, and it has direct connections to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Dallas, Denver and Phoenix.

CAM+E: What’s on the calendar for Monterey in 2020?
MM: The first thing is that Monterey is turning 250! We’re going to have a year-long celebration to commemorate the founding of Monterey in June 1770, with the biggest events taking place over the summer. 

For Andrea Mokros, Minneapolis-based public relations executive and independent event consultant, the last decade has been a whirlwind. From serving as special assistant to President Obama and director of strategic planning for then-first lady Michelle Obama, to welcoming newcomers to the Bold North as the vice president of communications and events for the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, Mokros shares the key takeaways that inspire her work today. 

 

Tony Michaels is no stranger to navigating choppy waters. The CEO and executive director of The Parade Company, which puts on traditions like America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Ford Fireworks, took the helm of the Detroit nonprofit during tough times, at the height of the financial crisis. “2008, 2009, are you kidding me?” says Michaels.

 

Originally from Ontario, Heather Odendaal got her start in event planning early, serving as her high school’s head of social events. She ended up on the West Coast, courtesy of her studies at the University of British Columbia, and launched her career in Whistler, working for the resort in marketing and events. Today, she’s CEO of Bluebird Strategy, a boutique event planning firm, and CEO and founder of WNORTH, a global community of women who have their sights set on the C-suite.