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ESPA 2022 Annual Conference – January 21-23, 2022

Kansas City, MO

ESPA Annual Conference

ESPA 2022 Annual Conference

January 21-23, 2022
Westin Kansas City at Crown Center

The Heart of it All… Services!

As Event Service Professionals, we are all about live events, and our heart goes into each and every event we manage. Now, it is our time to attend an event created with our needs in mind — on January 21-23, Event Service Professionals from across N. America will gather together for a few great reasons.

  • We have learned so much over the past 18 months. But there is so much more to learn! At the Annual Conference, Service Professionals share, listen, absorb, and experience a lot of ah-ha moments. We are here to help you grow in your role.
  • Our education and networking are crafted and created specifically for Event Service Professionals. And you can build your CMP-qualified education at our sessions. From breakout sessions & roundtables to keynotes & mobile workshops, we’ll keep you engaged.
  • You will build a valuable network of fellow Services peers. And you need that now more than ever! Build relationships so you have go-to resources in this ever-evolving events environment.

Whether you are with a CVB or Venue (Convention Center, Hotel, Conference Center), this is YOUR conference. Come learn and grow with us.

Read more about our Health + Safety protocols and requirements.

Featured Speakers

Johnny Quinn, Olympian
Breaking Through Barriers

AmyK Hutchens
GET IT: Communicating from the Heart

Greg DeShields, Executive Director, Tourism Diversity Matters
The Fundamentals – Creating Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Meetings

Mark Herrera, Director of Safety & Security, IAVM
Team Engagement and Building your Security Culture

Partners & Sponsors

Join us as a sponsor of the Event Service Professionals Association Annual Conference!

Members of ESPA make their own purchasing decisions and have influence on tens of thousands of meeting planners who hold events at their venues and destinations. The exposure is tremendous – and we can find the perfect partnership with your business to make the experience with ESPA truly successful.  Contact Lynn McCullough if you are interested in learning more.

Schedule (In Development)

All times are posted in ET, Eastern Time Zone.
CMP credit information to be posted shortly.

14:00 - 17:00
Optional Sightseeing Tours – See Tours section for details
  • Kansas City Convention & Entertainment Facilities Tour, Featuring Bridging the Gap
  • 18th & Vine Experience
  • The Kansas City Gangster Tour – Note: This tour departs at 3:00pm
14:00 - 17:00
Leaders Program (Optional, for Associate Dir, Director, VP level)

Don’t miss this opportunity to collaborate and learn with your fellow peer leaders

  • Friday afternoon, January 21, 2:00-5:00pm. Featuring roundtable discussions and a workshop led by our Keynote Johnny Quinn, titled Developing a Champion Mindset – Strengthen your resilience and engagement to thrive today and into the future.
  • Saturday morning: Join roundtables dedicated to topics that are impacting leaders in Event Service positions.

Note: The Friday session is an optional program with a fee of $69.

18:00 - 18:30
Newcomers Reception (by invitation to new members and first timers)
18:30 - 19:00
Welcome Reception: Hometown Spirit!
08:00 - 09:00
Networking Breakfast
09:15 - 10:30
Grand Opening and Keynote: Breaking Through Barriers, Johnny Quinn, Olympian

In order to grow, you must overcome challenges. Challenges come in different shapes and sizes for everyone. They can make you or break you. Johnny delivers straight-forward strategies to break through barriers so you can thrive at work and in life. Challenge accepted!

About Johnny Quinn

Johnny Quinn was cut three times, lost 2.6 million dollars in NFL contracts and blew out his knee. Then he became an Olympian for the United States of America. From an NFL failure to a U.S. Olympian, Johnny’s “what’s next” attitude led him to success he never imagined.

Johnny Quinn is a highly sought-after speaker for businesses and organizations of all sizes. He is a U.S. Olympian in the sport of bobsled and competed at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Johnny is also a former pro football player spending time with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers and Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL. Johnny has been featured on various media outlets around the world, such as: ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, ESPN, FOX, NBC, TIME, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.

Fun fact:  Johnny is the third person ever to have played in the NFL and to have competed in the Winter Olympics.

10:30 - 11:00
Networking Break
11:00 - 12:30
Perspectives – Interactive Roundtables by Segment: Leaders, CVB, Convention Center, Hotel
12:30 - 13:30
Networking Lunch
13:45 - 14:30
Breakout Sessions

Topic 1: Meeting Planners Tell All

A group of local meeting planners will join us for a jam session! They will tell it all – what they love, what they need, and what they wish for. Attendees will have an opportunity to ask the questions they have always wanted to ask planners but couldn’t ask their own clients. (Space is limited based on the number of planners that will participate.)

Topic 2: The Hybrid Pivot

The HYBRID session for all your “hybrid” questions. In a world where technology and business demands are ever changing, how will your team help clients showcase assets in your own destination to attendees that are not physically there? Stay on top of the latest trends and discover your unique value proposition to increase engagement for virtual attendees. Learn what you can you bring to the table through virtual and hybrid content. This session will embrace how to successfully service a hybrid meeting while taking into consideration services which are based on fulfillment levels deemed by peak room nights.

Learning Objectives:

  • Current trends and projections for virtual and hybrid meetings
  • Technology tips on how to integrate local flavor onto the virtual “stage”
  • Case study for a successful hybrid meeting

Topic 3: Innovative Services: A New Era of Support Tools

As the world experiences new breakthroughs in public health and sustainability, our industry has naturally followed suit. From marketing materials to giveaways- what new and innovative tools can Event Professionals use post-pandemic? Join us as we discuss what CVB’s and Hotels have been doing to support their meeting planners.

Learning Objectives:

  • What creative tools have event professionals been able to implement with meeting planners to rebuild trust in safe in-person meetings?
  • What’s trending post-pandemic for promotional giveaways, welcome amenities, and gifts a meeting planner can take home on a flight?
  • How is the value of event servicing being maximized post-pandemic?
  • How has marketing, advertising, and destination videos changed since the pandemic?
14:45 - 15:45
Breakout Sessions

Topic 1: Surprise & Delight: Managing New On-site Client Expectations

Ever wonder how to master expecting the unexpected? Over the last two years, our industry has had to adapt to constant change. One of the changes we have had to overcome has been managing the new expectations that our clients have. In this session, we will dive into ways of anticipating our clients’ needs in a way that can help the services side of the industry stay one step ahead in surprising and delighting our guests. Join us as we go over the NEW expectations for amenities, set-ups, food & beverage trends “post-covid”, site visits and the cleaning standards that our clients are looking to see.

Topic 2: All About the Tech: Digital Tools & Trends

Digital Technology is trending more than ever during these evolving times. The hospitality community has joined together to stay on top of trends and provide the latest platforms and assets to ensure the highest level of customers experience.

Topic 3: Beyond the Sessions – Creating Community Connections & Authentic Experiences

How destination organizations leverage intellectual capital within their communities with increased partnerships and engagement with Destination Champions, i.e., community leaders, local business partners, Colleges and Universities, industry experts and thought leaders.

Takeaways from this session will include how to increase economic growth that can be derived from Community Partnerships at meetings and events as well as how to connect conventions and events with local community influencers. Discussions will also touch on Volunteer Ambassador Programs and how to harness the power of volunteers and community resources- this has gotten harder post Covid. Finally, we will look at how to create community experiences for group attendees.

16:00 - 17:15
General Session: Team Engagement and Building your Security Culture, Mark Herrera, Director of Safety & Security, IAVM

Team Engagement and Building your Security Culture

Securing Mass Gatherings through Exceptional Focus, Performance and Control in Extreme Situations

Mark Herrera, Director of Safety & Security, IAVM

In this session Mark will provide an overview of:

  • How the health pandemic has impacted security
  • How do you build the right culture so that everyone has buy in? What is your security culture?
  • What are the current challenges that the event industry needs to focus on?
  • How do you build heightened awareness?

Through a checklist of nine objectives, Mark will describe how to build a security culture, increase heightened levels of Awareness and De-escalate undesired behavior when facing potentially aggressive Situations.

Course Objectives:

  • Increasing personal safety & decreasing stress when encountering someone uncooperative
  • Securing facilities with a bottom to top approach
  • Utilizing De-escalation strategies and techniques to avoid potential explosive situations
  • Programming the mind through mental preparation to see beyond one’s normal pre-conditioned expectation as it relates to potentially disruptive behavior and by providing a tool for maximum team engagement.
  • Enhancing conflict management to assist one in preventing confrontations from becoming volatile situations
  • Enhancing professionalism and assisting employees in recognizing the impact their words or actions have on the public
  • Controlling the body’s physiological effects during uncomfortable situations in order to gain maximum control with a positive outcome
  • Reducing vicarious liability by training employees how to handle encounters skillfully and professionally thereby, reducing potential complaints and lawsuits
  • Leveraging guest services to mitigate safety and security risks
18:30 - 20:30
Reception: ESPA Speakeasy sponsored by Visit KC

Shhh.… it’s a Speakeasy, sponsored by Visit KC!  Calling all guys and dolls to dress to the 9’s and channel your inner flappers and gangsters as we celebrate ESPA “roaring 20’s” style.  Experience firsthand how we earned the nickname “Paris of the Plains” and remember the secret password is SERVICES! 

06:30 - 07:15
Health + Wellness
08:00 - 08:45
Networking Breakfast
Grand Opening and Celebrating Event Services Achievers
09:00 - 09:45
General Session: The Fundamentals: Creating Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Meetings, Greg DeShields, Executive Director, Tourism Diversity Matters

As our industry rebounds, are you prioritizing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

There has never been a more relevant time for organizations to prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  And Event Service Professionals have the power to make a DEI impact in their own destinations and venues.

DEI fosters higher degrees of engagement, productivity, and innovation that contribute to increased revenue.

When we make a case for the value of DEI, there are two crucial perspectives, the Moral Case and the Business Case. The Moral Case refers to our shared humanity and how when one group suffers, we all suffer, and when we invest in the equity of every group, we all benefit.  The Business Case, diverse companies are more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.

Implementing your DEI strategy is the actual walk behind the talk. It is not enough to talk about it when it comes to creating change with meetings and events. There must be action behind the words and meaning behind your DEI comments as values.

When working with vendors and suppliers, develop broader diverse and equitable perspectives for problem-solving and creating inclusive creative service solutions.  Be sure to reflect the kind of diversity your clients and attendees want to see, so they know they are being represented and understood. Diversity and Inclusion are essential to building an infrastructure that mirrors the destinations we represent.

This session will provide subjects that will enhance your professional expertise:

  • Understanding The Fundamentals of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • TDM The Black CVB Leaders Open Letter to the Industry Research Report
  • Action Steps and Resources for Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Meetings
  • How to deliver more Equitable Hybrid and Virtual Meetings
  • Credentialing and Self Improvement Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Recommendations
09:45 - 10:15
Networking Break
10:15 - 11:00
Breakout Sessions

Topic 1: Know the Risk: Cybersecurity Incident Response

How well do you understand the risks of cybersecurity? According to a recent industry report, hospitality ranked third among industries compromised by cybersecurity breaches in 2019, and the industry suffered 13% of the total incidents. Cybercrime, which includes everything from theft or embezzlement to data hacking and destruction, is up 600% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic as reported by Embroker. Nearly every industry has had to embrace new solutions and it forced companies to adapt, quickly. What steps do we need to take to incorporate key planning, preparedness, and cybersecurity response functions as a venue? How do we integrate our Federal, State, and local partner agency roles, resources, and responses into a cyber incident? This session is an opportunity to learn more by using an event scenario from a leading cybersecurity expert. We will examine both the IT aspect and the consequence management aspect of a cybersecurity incident during a live event at a large venue.

Topic 2: We know you want more: DEI & Business Events, A Deeper Dive

In this session, we will do a deeper dive into the Language of Diversity, providing a tangible and substantive takeaway for DEI awareness and learning. Our guest speaker, Greg DeShields, will present on the importance of understanding who we are talking to, how pronouns play a role, guide us on able/disabled community interactions and he will share best practices for integrating DEI concepts into your day to day interactions. As part two of the session, our DEI Task Force will share a list of actions that Event Service Professionals can take now in your own venues and destinations.

Topic 3: The ABCs to CMP

Are you thinking about earning your CMP designation? Here is an opportunity to join like-minded peers to learn about the benefits of becoming a CMP. Experienced CMPs will share their knowledge in an open conversation. Here’s your chance to have your questions answered about what is involved and to explore best practices on how to prepare for the exam. We’ve got you covered

11:15 - 12:00
Breakout Sessions

Topic 1: Making a Splash on Social Media During Large-Scale Events

From craft beer to comic books, Big 12 basketball to big-name productions, Kansas City delights in welcoming large-scale events designed for locals and visitors alike. It’s a no-brainer to capitalize on these events via social media, but proper execution requires planning, engagement, identification and follow-through. Our speaker Derek Byrne, Visit KC’s Social Media Manager, has played a key role in some of KC’s large-scale events and will share their tips and tricks on executing coverage in a meaningful, memorable way.

Topic 2: We Know We Are Valuable: How do We Prove it?

Proving the value of your Convention Services Team is hard, but how do we do it anyway? In this session we’ll discuss ways to measure, explain and share the metrics that matter. We’ve all shifted, adjusted and taken on more responsibilities during COVID. Now it’s time to showcase the value and breadth of services that we provide!

12:00 - 13:00
Networking Lunch
13:00 - 13:30
ESPA Business Meeting
13:30 - 14:30
Keynote – GET IT: Communicating from the Heart AmyK

Imagine having the ideal set of communication skills to break down barriers, inspire action, heal relationships, solve problems and create real connection. What if you had the confidence and courage to share your ideas, speak with conviction and honor the worth of your own voice? You’d be unstoppable: both brilliant in business and happy in life.

As an international award-winning speaker, Amazon #1 best-selling author, and 20+ year coach and consultant, AmyK Hutchens introduces leaders and go-getters to the power of taking life one conversation at a time. Her Magical Phrases and communication techniques, used around the globe, have helped close multi-million dollar deals, save marriages, advance careers, heal family dynamics, and align individuals with their “right” and best lives.

AmyK’s humor and wisdom shines through in this compelling and energetic program filled with practical tools that will inspire & equip you to communicate confidently. Join us and get the results your heart desires!

15:15 - 17:00
Bonus Content! Mobile Workshops

On Sunday afternoon, we will get out into Kansas City to some great venues for mobile learning. Pick your preferred workshop from our options below.
(Note that capacities are limited so we reserve the right to move you to a different program if our capacity is reached.)

  • Behind the Scenes with a National Exhibit: Learn what goes into the planning and execution of a national exhibit behind the scenes at Kansas City’s Union Station.  Attendees will get a chance to experience firsthand and up close Auschwitz: Not long ago. Not far away exhibit.  This groundbreaking exhibit with its record-breaking run-in Kansas City is truly a site to behold and attendees will be treated to a pre-tour talk with a special guest who will share the story and take-aways from the process to get this coveted national exhibit to KC.
  • The State of Sports Events:  Attendees will head to the Negro League Baseball Museum to talk with local sports experts as they give their special perspective on what it takes to bring world class events to Kansas City and the work that goes into “cross promoting” these events.  They will share what they look for when working with their service professionals to make these events a success across the country.
  • The Platinum KC Experience: Platinum XP is a single-source, full-service event planning agency.  It starts with an idea and then see it come to life.  Experience the creative process in all its forms through the creative eyes of Platinum XP!  Learn hot industry trends and virtual media ideas for conventions.
  • A Creative Exchange: When faced with servicing a convention group that is seeking an opportunity for a unique regional experience for their attendees…look no farther than your own back yard.  Curating dynamic community partnerships is not only a current trend but also a cost-effective way for planners to introduce a host city to their attendees.  In this session we will show you how to share the very best of your city when you care to put your creative style front and center…hint, hint!

Bonus Content! Mobile Workshops – Education on the Go

Select date to see events.

Leaders Program

Associate Director, Director, VP attendees – Join our Leaders program

Don’t miss this opportunity to collaborate and learn with your fellow peer leaders  

  • Friday afternoon, January 21, 2:00-5:00pm. Featuring roundtable discussions and a workshop led by our Keynote Johnny Quinn, titled Developing a Champion Mindset – Strengthen your resilience and engagement to thrive today and into the future.
  • Saturday morning: Join roundtables dedicated to topics that are impacting leaders in Event Service positions.

Note: The Friday session is an optional program with a fee of $69.

Optional Ways to Explore KC - Tour Sign-ups

ESPA is offering 3 great options to experience Kansas City on Friday. Be sure to plan your travel so you can join us for one of these great ways to experience the city.

Friday, January 21, 3:00-5:00pm, $25

The Kansas City Gangster Tour is an interactive experience that tells the story of the Boss Tom Pendergast Era of Kansas City. Tour guide Johnny Holiday, with the help of some friends on Gangster TV, conducts the Tour. Guests will see the locations of speakeasies, sites of infamous murders, pictures and video from the period, and learn the meaning of “Wide Open Town”. During this period in its history, Kansas City had it all and you will hear the full story. The Kansas City Gangster Tour is celebrating 20 years as the longest running historic tour of Kansas City. Sounds like an “offer you can’t refuse.”

Sign Up When you Register!

Friday, January 21, 2:00-5:00pm, $15

The tour includes two world class nationally recognized museums under one roof in the Historic Jazz District! The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum (NLBM) is the world’s only museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating the rich history of African American baseball and its impact on the social advancement of America. The American Jazz Museum showcases the sights and sounds of jazz through interactive exhibits and films, the Changing Gallery exhibit space, Horace M. Peterson III Visitors Center, The Blue Room, and Gem Theater.

Sign Up When you Register!

Featuring Bridging the Gap – Friday, January 21, 2:00-5:00pm, No Fee

With over 800,000 square feet, this eight-square block convention center complex is open and ready to host a myriad of meeting needs under one roof. Join us for an up close and personal look at this venue and be prepared to get your “steps in” for this one. We will a presentation by Bridging The Gap (BTG) who works to make the Kansas City region sustainable by “connecting environment, economy and community,” and is the premier organization in the area providing environmental education and volunteer action through more than 1,800 volunteers annually. Participants will take a ride on the Streetcar to get to the venue, giving you a fun experience along the way.

Sign Up When you Register!

Registration & Earning Credits

Registration Open Now!

Please note to receive Continuing Education (CE) Credits for attending sessions, you must pre-select all sessions during the registration process. Only sessions listed on the agenda with a CMP Credit noted will be eligible for CMP Credit. You may add/delete sessions prior to the conference. You will only have CE Credits tracked for those sessions you selected. Following the conference, your sessions will be listed in the My ESPA Portal under the “My ESPA” drop down on the “My Continuing Education” page.

Read more about our Health + Safety protocols and requirements.

Registration Rates

The following are the ESPA Conference Individual registration fees: (Note: Members whose companies are Organizational members of ESPA, and who are registering 3+ people see below for group registration fees.)

Participation in the optional Leadership Track: $69 fee

Advance Discount (Register by December 10) General
Active ESPA Member $685 $795
Non-Member $745 $845
One-Day Member (Either Saturday OR Sunday) (You may only register at this rate for one day) $250 $275
One-Day Non-Member (Either Saturday OR Sunday) (You may only register at this rate for one day)
Special ESPA Introductory Rate!
$250 $275
Student Rate (must provide proof of student status upon request) $150 $150

ESPA Organization Member Registration fees:

Organization and Corporate Member group registrations fees are listed below. In order to register at the group registration fees, your company must be an Organization or Corporate Member of ESPA. Please complete the following form to start your group registration.

# of People attending from your company Advance Discount (Register by December 10) General Total Rate
3 people $2,025 $2,355
4 people $2,660 $3,100
5 people $3,275 $3,825

Conference registration cancellations received in writing by December 17 are eligible for a 50% refund on the ESPA Registration fee only. There are no refunds for cancellations received after this date; this includes cancellations that occur due to weather or other day-of air travel delays or cancellations as it is understood that ESPA has already included you in counts for F&B and other arrangements and therefore is responsible for all costs related to attendance.  Substitutions are accepted.

Please review our ESPA Consents & Code of Conduct.

Our Host Hotel

The host hotel for the ESPA Annual Conference will be the Westin Kansas City at Crown Center. Perfectly placed amid celebrated downtown attractions, The Westin is a haven of wellness and renewal. Embrace effortless relaxation in spacious hotel accommodations with Heavenly® Beds, floor-to-ceiling windows, large work desks and signature amenities. Enjoy easy access to popular downtown attractions, including Union Station which is directly across the street from the hotel, Crown Center and the Power & Light District. The Ride KC Streetcar also has a convenient stop across from the hotel – you can take the Streetcar to a variety of locations in the hub of downtown KC.

Book your group rate for ESPA’s Annual Conference
Rate: $159
Reservation Deadline: December 30

Our Host CVB


Welcome to the heart of the New Midwest. Where there’s a new energy fueled by creativity and a renewed spirit in every neighborhood. It all starts here.

Additional Kansas City Resources

Travelers with disabilities – learn about accessibility and resources

Safe Meetings – Back to Business in Kansas City.  Read more about how our host city has responded to COVID including its KC Clean Commitment and the local suppliers, venues and restaurants that have pledged their commitment.

Restaurant week will be taking place during our Conference. Browse restaurants and make your reservations early!

Health & Safety

The safety of our ESPA community is our #1 priority.

We’re putting our safety plan into place and consulting with our venue as well as our Event Service Professional members who have staged many safe events in recent months. Read below for information on safety practices being followed at our destination as well requirements for attending the Conference. Additional information will be shared as we get closer to meeting time.

  • ESPA will require that all attendees show proof of one of the following:
    – COVID Vaccination
    – Negative COVID test, performed within 72 hours of the Conference

We will notify you about instructions for submitting this information in advance of the event.

  • Our host hotel, the Westin Kansas City at Crown Plaza, is in compliance with Marriott’s Commitment to Clean protocols. Read through the document to learn about what cleaning and safety practices are in place in each area of the hotel.
  • Encore, our AV partner, will be following their MeetSafe Guidelines for cleaning high-touch items.
  • Safe Meetings – Back to Business in Kansas City.  Read more about how our host city has responded to COVID including its KC Clean Commitment and the local suppliers, venues and restaurants that have pledged their commitment.
  • As the COVID situation is regularly evolving, we will be monitoring local health department recommendations.  Additional safety measures will be determined and will be posted to the Conference site prior to the event.   As part of our registration process, all registrants will be asked to agree to support and abide by established safety protocols that will be in the best interest of conference attendees. We will also ask that attendees who are experiencing any symptoms of COVID in the 14 days prior to arrival, to please refrain from travelling to the event.

Let’s meet safely!

Partner corner

For sponsorship and partner opportunities, click here.