And Now, for Some Good News! 5 Event Companies Giving Back Right Now

April 3, 2020

While it’s important for all of us to stay informed about the current health crisis and its impact on our industry, TSNN believes it’s important to balance out the negative with positive and inspiring news. That’s why we’ve launched this weekly Good News column to shine a well-deserved spotlight on all the amazing events and event-related companies making a positive difference during this challenging time. Here, five reasons to smile today:

Good360 Helps Canceled Events Donate Unused Items

Good360 is helping show organizers and vendors of cancelled trade shows, conferences and festivals donate unused event materials and product samples, and then distributing these items to people facing challenging life circumstances. 

Based in Alexandria, Virginia, Good360 has been helping companies donate excess goods and merchandise through its global network of 90,000 vetted nonprofits since 1983, but this is the first time the organization has set up a program specifically for the events industry, according to charity officials. 

We are currently working with the organizers of several cancelled national conferences to donate highly needed goods to members of our nonprofit network, who then get the items to people in need,” explained Matt Connelly, CEO of Good360. “At the same time, we help sustainability efforts by keeping these unneeded items out of landfills and giving them a longer life.”

After having to cancel its annual meeting and exhibition in March, the International Association for Dental Research turned to Good360 for help finding a home for its more than 5,000 welcome bags containing toothpaste and other dental care items, explained Christopher H. Fox, CEO of IADR. 

To learn how to donate to Good360, go here. 

Los Angeles Convention Center Feeds At-Risk Students and Families

Levy donation

The convention center and its food and beverage provider, Levy Restaurants, teamed up with Musically Fed to donate and distribute 4,000 pounds of unused conference food to the Alliance College-Ready Public Schools. The donation benefitted hundreds of students grades 6-12 – many of whom depend on school meals for daily sustenance – and their families.

According to Maria Brunner, CEO of Musically Fed, a nonprofit that works to mobilize the music industry to combat hunger, charitable actions such as these are essentially life-saving for schools in low-income areas and at-risk populations.

“Our amazing partnership with Levy Restaurants and the Los Angeles Convention Center provides a beacon of light from civic-minded organizations, leveraging their resources and compassion to positively impact so many families during this otherwise dark time,” Brunner said. 

To learn more about Musically Fed, go here.

Diversified Communications Donates Hand Sanitizer to Local Hospital

Before coronavirus became a nationwide concern, Diversified Communications was gearing up to hold its annual North American Seafood Expo, March 15-17 in Boston. But when the event was cancelled, the Portland, Maine-based event producer found itself with an overstock of unused bottles of hand sanitizer. 

Diversified decided to donate the eight cases of sanitizer to medical professionals at Maine Medical Center who were working to save lives.

“We feel great that we have some way of giving back to our community here,” said Janice Rogers, corporate vice president of human resources for Diversified Communications, in a local news story. “We didn’t feel right not using it, and we wanted to make sure that people who are on the front line fighting this virus have the supplies they need.” 

Pennsylvania Convention Center and Aramark Donate 900 Pounds of Food 

Faced with a surplus of perishable food following event cancellations, the Pennsylvania Convention Center worked with Aramark to ensure that 900 pounds of unused food was donated to individuals and families in need. 

A total of 501 pounds of dairy and produce items were provided to Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, the largest emergency homeless shelter in Philadelphia; while 297 pounds of dairy and produce were provided to Valley Youth House’s Achieving Independence Center, which supports youth preparing to leave the foster/dependent care system.

“With so many individuals and families struggling during this difficult time, we wanted to make sure that this food was put to good use,” said Gregory J. Fox, Esq., board of directors chairman of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority. “Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission and the Valley Youth House do great work in the local community and we know they will make sure this food gets to those who need it.” 

MGM Resorts International Pledges $1 Million for Employee Emergency Fund

MGM Resorts International has launched an array of initiatives to support those economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These include a $1 million crisis and disaster relief pledge into an employee emergency grant fund and donating the equivalent of 400,000 meals through local food banks across the U.S.

“We know that this is an extremely challenging and uncertain time for many of our employees, their families, friends and neighbors, and we are committed to help those in need,” said Bill Hornbuckle, acting CEO and president of MGM Resorts International. 

The MGM Resorts Emergency Relief Fund provides short-term relief for employees and their immediate families in making payments or meeting financial obligations during unexpected hardships. The company’s $1 million pledge will provide expanded coverage to help full-time employees, on-call employees and those facing layoff, separation or furlough.

Since the temporary closure of its 21 resort properties across the country, MGM has also worked with local food banks in the communities in which it operates to donate 480,000 pounds of food to charitable organizations.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.