April 4th, 2018

Meet GDP's 2017 Global Planner of the Year: Linda Pasquale

...a Director of Meetings and Travel whose favorite part of her job is taking a simple event concept and creating an experience that exceeds expectations

Pictured: Shelley Meixell, Linda Pasquale, Catherine Chaulet

Linda Pasquale is the Director of Meetings and Travel at Allegis Group and has been with the company for over twenty-one years. At Global DMC Partners 2017 Connection, she was the recipient of Global DMC Partners' 2017 Global Planner of the Year award due to her longstanding dedication to Global DMC Partners and her passion for the global meetings and incentive industry. Linda also serves as a Board Member on Global DMC Partners’ 2018 Customer Advisory Board. We had a chance to gather some great insight from Linda as she shared her thoughts on current trends and where she gets her inspiration from, what she thinks the meetings industry will look like in the future, what the most challenging part of her job is – and more!

GDP: Why, when, or how did you decide to join the meetings industry?

LP: I started at a very young age- in high school, I was class president and loved running all of the social events. After studying Marketing in college, I was drawn back into the hospitality industry when I worked at Hyatt and Sheraton hotels for over ten years. I got really lucky when Aerotek (one of Allegis Group’s staffing & recruiting companies) selected the Hyatt Baltimore to host their annual meeting, where I had the fortunate pleasure of being their Convention Services Manager. We built such a great relationship in the planning process that all I could think about was joining their team. The company’s culture and positive energy was contagious, and they made me feel like I was a part of something special, so I wanted in!  Twenty-one years later, I am still inspired and humbled by my fortune of finding this great organization.

GDP: Where do you see our industry 10 years from now?

LP: I think attendees will be given the option to attend meetings in-person or join in remotely from their home offices around the world.  With this said, it will become more challenging than ever for planners to find ways to keep attendees engaged in the meetings, so we will need to promote the “experience” of the meetings.

Also, say good-bye to face-to-face interactions with the hotel staff – check-in and check-out will be all automated with no one to assist you in person, no valets will be needed since cars will park themselves, the CSM will be limited on the floor, and I would not be surprised if a robot is setting my meeting rooms!

GDP: What is your favorite part of your job and why?

LP: Creating an experience that people go home and talk about with others…something memorable. It could be the way in which the food was served (i.e. by your executives, or from a chandelier), or the activities surrounding a planned event (i.e. having your attendees write their favorite quote on their body and being photographed), or something as simple as taking an idea – like something you’ve seen on America’s Got Talent – and creating an experience beyond my customers’ expectations (within their budgets of course)! I always strive to exceed expectations. The wow factor is not easy, but when you reach it, it is exhilarating, and you want to feel this way every time you host a meeting or event.

GDP: What is the most challenging part of your job? Do you have a process or procedure to help overcome this challenge?

LP:  The most challenging part is getting our partners to clearly understand our expectations and the vision we have for our programs. They are so busy either selling (to meet their quotas) or coordinating details for too many accounts that they don’t have the ability to devote quality time to each customer. We work so hard to make our attendees feel special and valued, and sometimes we feel our vendors do not reciprocate, so it is more work on the planners.  My team and I try very hard to communicate – in writing, and in-person – our expectations and the experience we are hoping to create to ensure we are all successful.  Partnership is what makes it successful!

GDP: What is your favorite trend in the industry right now?

LP: Everyone is challenging each other to create fun and memorable experiences. It is forcing all of us to look beyond our own walls for ideas. I get my inspiration from Marriott’s Meetings Imagined tool, America’s Got Talent, interior decorators, and web designers – all creative resources that help keep things fresh and innovative.

GDP: What do you see as your biggest success so far?

LP: Allegis Group has allowed me so many incredible opportunities for success, such as, hiring amazing partners to work side-by-side with each day; technology tools that allow us to provide efficient, user friendly products to our end users; and, the autonomy to make strategic and impactful decisions to better the organization in areas beyond the Meetings and Travel Department.  Allegis is a unique place, and I only hope that everyone has an opportunity in life to find such a great place to work!

GDP: What is the most interesting place you’ve planned a meeting or event, and why? 

LP: Dubai. It surprised me how accommodating everyone was to the needs of our incentive program.  The local DMC that we worked with (Pure Arabia, A Global DMC Partner) was so mindful of putting us at ease with the culture, safety, unique venues and must-see events.

GDP: What do you never travel without?

LP: Wet wipes, black pants, MasterCard (surprisingly, American Express is not accepted everywhere), a bracelet from my godson, and a “travel coin” from my boyfriend to protect me.

GDP: What do you enjoy most about working with Global DMC Partners, and why? 

LP: I appreciate my sales rep, Shelley Meixell’s, attentiveness to our requests.  She asks probing questions up front and expedites requests in a timely manner. If we confirm a program with GDP, she stays engaged during the planning process and is in contact with us pre- and post- event…a consummate professional! I always feel confident because I know that GDP has assured and trained their DMC Partners to meet the service standards that I require. I am fortunate that while working with Global DMC Partners, they have never mis-guided me.