• Meet Laila Ea, Hospitality Across Cultures

     
    POSTED August 7, 2017
     

Laila Ea was crossing cultures before she was even born. The child of Chinese and Cambodian parents, Ea was born in a refugee camp in Thailand. “My parents were lined up at the camp and told they would marry each other,” she explains. Her parents eventually fled Cambodia for Thailand, but it wasn’t an easy escape. “My mother was pregnant with me and my parents walked to Thailand,” she says. Ea’s family eventually landed in Philadelphia where they worked hard to secure a new life for Ea and her sister. “My parents taught me the value of hard work, but it was my mother who always welcomed everyone so graciously, who taught me the value of hospitality.” 

Ea began her career at Marriott before returning to Philadelphia to work at the Inn at Penn and as part of the opening team for The Logan before tragedy struck; a dear friend died unexpectedly. “Suddenly, I realized that if he could die in his 20s … it forced me to reevaluate what I wanted to do with my life.” Laila left The Logan and decided to branch out on her own, creating The Sosi as a way to celebrate cultural identity in events. 

Her days spent in hotels helped inspire the business. “Often we’d have groups of foreigners staying with us and we’d be rushing around trying to find translators or learning how to deal with different customs at the last minute,” she says. The Sosi was designed to fill that void. Whether it’s sourcing a venue to host a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, hiring a caterer that knows how to prepare a classic Nordic dish, or celebrating the rich diversity of a company at an annual event, The Sosi weaves elements of cultural recognition through intimate social celebrations or large corporate gatherings, as well as everything in between. As for the name, it all goes back to her mother. “The Sosi is derived from the first and middle names of my mother,” she says. “She is the most hospitable woman I know.” 

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.