When Virtual Is Reality

Feb 04, 2021

Speakers to discuss the meeting and event planning industry a year into the coronavirus pandemic.

cal u

The coronavirus pandemic transformed the tourism, hospitality and event industries in the past year as events were held virtually or with limits on the number of in-person attendees. 

A series of speakers will share their professional experiences with Cal U students from 10-10:50 a.m. Feb. 10, Feb. 17, March 17 and March 24. For a Zoom link, email Dr. Susan Ryan at ryan@calu.edu. The program is part of Ryan’s “Meetings, Expositions, Events and Convention Operations” course. 

The lineup: 

  • Kristen Turner, director of convention services for VisitPITTSBURGH, will speak Feb. 10. 
  • Connor McGarvey, director of facility operations for the National Aviary, will speak Feb. 17. 
  • Dan Bickerton, a Cal U alumnus, president of Meeting Professionals International Pittsburgh and wedding and event sales manager for the Gateway Clipper Fleet, will speak March 17. 
  • James Gavigan, vice president of production at Momentum Worldwide, NYC, with projects including the Coachella Music Festival, will speak March 24. 

“The meeting and event planning industry is beginning to bounce back,” said Ryan, a professor in the in the tourism, hospitality and event studies concentration. “Some of the ways we have held events virtually in the past year will be standards in the industry moving forward. It’s important for our students to hear from the professionals who are living it right now.”

The speakers were chosen for their breadth of experience. 

“It’s an interdisciplinary program, appealing to students with majors or concentration in event planning and management; tourism, hospitality and event studies; parks and recreation management; education; and sport management,” Ryan said. “A student with a dual major in education, for example, ended up working in programming at the Carnegie Science Center. I want to expose students to a full range of what our curriculum is.”