In the midst of the pandemic last year, Loris Menfi joined San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter and Riverwalk as general manager. At the time of her hire, Rivercenter had recently unveiled a renovation to its 70,000-plus square feet of meeting space. And now, Menfi is being called on to use her 25-plus years of hospitality experience to adapt the property to a new normal—one less oriented around meetings and more focused on social distancing and safety. We sat down with Menfi to find out how she successfully pivoted during the pandemic and what she sees as the future of face-to-face meetings.

TXM+E: How are you approaching the challenges we are facing today in the industry?

LM: We are continually adjusting to the ever-evolving “normal” as we navigate through this pandemic. Safety is paramount to our guests, my staff, and me, so we follow and take Marriott’s Commitment to Clean very seriously. We are continuing to use this crisis as an opportunity to be creative and think outside of the box when it comes to revenue, optimizing resources and delivering excellence in service. We are staying intentional, exercising compassion, staying positive and celebrating all wins. 

TXM+E: What do you see for meetings, conferences and events in 2021?

LM: I see the return to meetings and events in 2021 as a slow burn at the front end, but much improved toward the back half of the year. As the vaccine is distributed more widely, I think customers will continue to gain confidence. 

TXM+E: What advice would you give to individuals in your industry today?

LM: I think it’s important to realize that leadership and communication are more critical now than ever before, so continue to self-reflect on how you can show up as a better leader for your team and communicator during this trying time. Every major crisis creates unprecedented problems, but also creates unexpected opportunities. Look for these opportunities and use this as a time to be creative in your solutions. Lastly, remember that we will get through this, adapt and overcome. And we will come out on the other side better than before.

Nickole Kerner Bobley describes her childhood in The Woodlands as charmed. Summer days were spent exploring the community just north of Houston. One of her favorite activities was watching the installation of The Woodlands’ iconic public art. She and her friends would sit in awe, perched on their bikes, as the giant cranes carefully positioned the sculptures in place. It had a lasting impact on her. “I attribute my adult love of art to where I lived,” she notes.

 

What’s better than Dippin’ Dots ice cream on a hot summer day? How about a daiquiri topped with the delicious treat? You read that right: The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa is treating guests at the River Bluff Water Experience to an unusual, but delicious beverage while they enjoy the expansive 9-acre water park oasis.

INGREDIENTS 

–4 oz. light rum 

–1/2 cup fresh strawberries 

 

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better champion of Amarillo than Hope Stokes, director of brand management for the Amarillo Convention & Visitor Council. Born and raised in the Texas Panhandle city, she graduated from nearby West Texas A&M University and her first job in the tourism industry was as an intern at the council. Stokes shared with us her love of her hometown.

What is your favorite thing about marketing Amarillo?