Creating Events That Bring People Together - Keisha Byrd - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 129

Dan Ryan: Today's guest is a focused, forward thinking professional. She's someone who plays a pivotal role in creating events, connecting our awesome hospitality design industry. She knows the secrets to creating the best events possible. I can attest to that. And she is a brand leader and associate show director for boutique design at Emerald, ladies and gentlemen, Keisha Byrd.

Welcome Keish.

Keisha Byrd: Thank you, Dan. I'm really excited to be here.

Dan Ryan: so happy to have you here because I think one of the most. Wonderful things about what we all do for designing and providing furniture and opening these hotels all over the place in the best locations. Um, we are like an assembly of really fun people. And most of the time we're all in our little silos, uh, getting our work done, delivering furniture, designing hotels, cutting purchase orders, making everything happen on that postage stamp of a delivery window eight months in the future.

But there are a couple of times a year where we all get together in person and have like a really fun, I would say time, but it's really like a shared experience. And I don't even remember the first time I met you. I don't remember when it was because I feel

Keisha Byrd: You know, I was thinking about this. It's got to be BD& Y or Winter Forum. Definitely Winter Forum.

Dan Ryan: from a long, long time ago.

Keisha Byrd: Well, I've only been at Winter Forum for four years. I've been with the brand for ten, but it's got to be BD& Y. Gold Key. I bet it's

Dan Ryan: must have been. Yeah.

Keisha Byrd: Key. is like your big night when you go on stage. So

Dan Ryan: But you've always been like this, uh, fixture at all of the events where you're just making all of us who are having the shared experience feel cared for in those, in those events. And, uh, I just wanted to say thank you and have you on because I really look forward to all of them.

And I know it really, it takes a village and you have an incredible team and, and, um. Before we get into all of that and like what, what makes what you do really special, um, how does that all tie into hospitality as according to like what your definition of hospitality is?

Keisha Byrd: I think we're creating the experiences of hospitality, making everybody feel welcome, bringing everyone together, shared experiences, common interests, putting people out there to do things that maybe they wouldn't have necessarily done on their own time. So I think it is just about feeling welcome, a warm experience, feeling like you belong somewhere.

So I feel like, we're advocating all these beautiful spaces that are being created by the industry, but also these events play a role in like, bringing everyone together just to feel like we're all one. Like we're all in this together.

Dan Ryan: And then, and just so everyone knows, um, The two big, big events are the HD Expo in Vegas and then also BDNY in New York. And then you guys have all these, I don't know what you call them,

Keisha Byrd: Well, we call them, yeah, we call them the smaller, the magazine events, uh, there's 17 of them, so we have You know, always something going on, um, from the forum series on the Batik Design side, HD Summit, you know, which is, you know, a major player in the industry of bringing all the elite together.

And then match, our matchmaking, BDMatch, uh, the one to one meetings, city scenes, and all the city scenes. Yeah, we have... Constantly something going on all the time that, you know, it's, it's amazing because I say, Oh, I'm so stressed and I'm tired. And then I go to one of these events and then I'm, it's like the energy just, you know, takes over the room.

Like, you know, you just forget about everything when you see everyone. So it's really spot, the industry is really special. Like there, I don't think there is anything else out there like our industry. So very thankful to have been brought into this.

Dan Ryan: I really appreciate how you call those the magazine events, because obviously you also have magazines, trade magazines, um, that are something that deliver editorial and kind of put us in this place, but I also get the feel that it's very, um, more of a bespoke experience, right?

Because you have the 17 events you have. There's a skiing event, there's a wine event,

there's a leadership event, there's, I mean, what, of the 17, like, what are some of the highlights? There's the city scenes, like, but they're all about creating this community and getting all of us out of our silos to have these shared

Keisha Byrd: Correct. And they all have a purpose. So, City Scene is, you know, was created to bring people together in the major hospitality design cities. So, you know, ranges from obviously New York, Chicago, DC. We're doing Toronto next year. That's like, we haven't always done that. Miami, Atlanta, LA. I know I'm missing some.

Who am I missing?

Dan Ryan: I don't know, but it sounds

like, uh, it sounds like that, uh, Willie Nelson song, On the Road Again, or the Johnny Cash song where he, the Johnny Cash song where he


Keisha Byrd: I feel like that's like our, that is like our theme song right now, like, where, where in the world are we? You know, what, what day of the week is it? The team is always on the go. So, um, yeah, so that's the city scene. That's meant to have every. Design professional in that community is invited. It's not, you know, an invitation only.

The other events are invitation only. So, forums that I know you participate in, um, are meant to be, you know, the higher level professionals and most likely whoever likes to ski would be winter forum or would like to try to ski. We don't recommend that all the time, right? As we've seen some of our fellow friends not do so well.

Dan Ryan: Yeah. A trip to the orthopedic surgeon is

Keisha Byrd: That's right. Summer Forum, obviously wine tasting. So that does not take a certain person. I think that's everyone in the industry probably, uh, that would enjoy the wine tasting. And Fall Forum has been, uh, it's been transformed recently. It was, um, You know, it always was in Louisville and doing bourbon tasting.

It was in Asheville, but, uh, this year we went out on a limb and did Nashville and I will say it was so fun. So the common interest was, uh, music. So we did a songwriter session. So it was kind of rolling the dice, taking it to a new location and it was awesome. I will say like it was, um, a new experience for everyone.

Some people never even been to Nashville. So, uh, next year we'll be in Charleston. So we're kind of. Taking it out there. I'm going to focus on food and historic the history and you know architecture of Charleston

Dan Ryan: Cool. Um, there's a theme of, uh, on some of those of drinking. And it's funny because I, uh, I've always, I mean, people just ask, like, how do you describe? And I said, you know, and this is, this kind of is a testament to the, to your, to the events is that like, I think that everyone at these events or everyone, most everyone in our industry is, I think their dream is to design a great bar with great lighting and just a really cool feel where all of their friends and clients and family could just come together and, And have a drink and to me, I think that that is like, uh, a theme that runs through everything that we all do.

Keisha Byrd: hmm at 100 percent is a

Dan Ryan: Yeah

and I, and I and I think from your, from the events that you're involved into, like all of these events, it's, uh, that's such a big part of it, right? Because we're just all getting together, exchanging ideas. Oftentimes there's, there's great speakers or amazing experiences.

Keisha Byrd: hmm

Dan Ryan: How long have you been in the event space?

Keisha Byrd: So I've done events probably has been like 17 years Uh, but I've been with Boutique Design for 10

Dan Ryan: Yeah.

What kind of events did you do before?

Keisha Byrd: I worked for, uh, the university, I went to the University of Cincinnati, so I literally took my final exam and I graduated early and I started with where I interned at with, uh, fundraising events.

They created a job for me. So I started that Friday, I took an exam and then I went straight to my full time big girl job. Um, so I was doing campaign events, which is very similar if you think about it to what I'm doing now because bringing people together, I mean, they're obviously raising money, but it is about, you know, we would travel to different cities and do, you know, lifestyle events, donor events.

So I mean, it all kind of folds in. So then I moved to DC. I was like, okay, I'm ready. I interned there in college, wanted to get away from Cincinnati, moved there and I got kind of in the meeting planner track. And then I was just, you know, it's not as glamorous, I guess you'd say, or exciting meeting. I was planning it for CPA.

And then I did it for science, then scientists, so, you know, it's very, uh, women scientists, uh, so, which they're, they're amazing, like, they're, like, one of the best industries I've ever worked in, um, but then I moved back home and I, uh, Cincinnati and I found my way to Boutique Design, which was based, the magazine was based in Cincinnati at the time, um, so then I found my way here and I was doing, um, mostly I started as the conference manager for BDNY, so, you know, and then it's kind of, I start my passion for the industry just started to, you know, each year connecting more and my job was not a normal conference manager.

It was very elevated with, you know, connecting with the industry and, you know, not what you just, you know, a conference once a year. It was more that I was kind of like, I felt comfortable. So I was like in it, right? Like I started knowing a couple of years ago, like this is, I, I belong in this industry.

Like I feel such a sense from the get go. Everyone's just been so welcoming to me. Like. I can be myself, like there's no fake front ever. So, you know, this is like where I, where I belong, where I want to be. So now, you know, it's taken me, I've, you know, there's been a lot of change over the past couple of years, but just been thankful to be elevated into the role I am now.

So kind of taking everything I learned along the road and, um, you know, taking the brand into the next era as I guess Taylor Swift would say, right?

Dan Ryan: Oh good, Eris. So wait, I have a question. Did you say that the University of Chicago created the job for you?

Keisha Byrd: Cincinnati.

Dan Ryan: I'm sorry,

Keisha Byrd: Yeah, the foundation. I worked for the foundation as an internship my senior year and then they created like a donor relations, I don't know what I was like an assistant or something. Yeah, there was a camp, they were doing a campaign, a donor campaign event.

Dan Ryan: the reason why I'm asking everyone is you know you're good when they create a job for you. So,

Keisha Byrd: Yeah, it was

Dan Ryan: and we're, as a stakeholder and like a participant in so many of these events, like, I can attest to that. It's so awesome to have you there. And because these, all of these events, and there's so many events outside of even the ones that you guys put on.

Keisha Byrd: mm hmm.

Dan Ryan: I don't know. Those all seem a bit more... Anonymous in a way because I mean, I know the people who put them on, but they don't, I don't know. I just love seeing your Welcoming beaming smile

Keisha Byrd: I do, I appreciate that. I do feel like boutique design, you know, it had, it grew really fast because I feel like we were really the, you know, as a team, you know, with Michelle Finn, we were leading it, she was leading us to kind of, you know, get out there and meet everyone, like be a part of them. Like, I think we had this group of, um, our team was very welcoming and engaged in the industry.

And I do feel, you know, with, That advice from her, it's, it's pushed me to get to know everyone and not just like, I have an event Monday through Thursday, then I go home. You know, like once the event closes at five, oh, I'm gonna go to dinner with, you know, my girlfriends I work with. Like, no, I'm gonna, if somebody wants to go to dinner with me in the industry, I'm going to dinner with them.

Right. So it's more collaborative than it was, you know, just being at the events like nine to five. Like we were, we were in the industry, like being involved with everyone. So I do feel. That helped with the success of, you know, Boutique Design and BDNY growing so fast to where

Dan Ryan: Well, I'm also really intrigued that you know, I love the journeys of people who Go down one path or another path, and then they find their way into our world, and it could actually even be a different world, but I think it's just so important to have all of those experiences until you find your tribe, so to speak.

So, when, if you knew you were going to get into events and you were passionate about them, um, because you are, but going from CPAs to scientists to hospitality design, like, what were some of the things What were If you were to contrast where you are now to where you came from, like, what are the, what, what were those sticky glue parts that kind of got their hooks in you and now, now you're never going to leave?

You're stuck with

Keisha Byrd: into hospitality. I I always felt like I don't know if awkward's the word But I just didn't fit in like I just I just never it was great. It was a job It was a great experiences, you know my job with um Um, the Association for Women in Science, like, I was going to New York, I was doing events that opened up, you know, and I said, like, I would really love to do events in New York one day.

I mean, it's funny now to look back, right? It's the reason I have a job, uh, but it's, uh, I just. I was myself, but now I'm really myself, right? Like there, you know, I feel like I can just do or be anything. I feel like a lot of people would say that about the industry. I can just be who I am every time we're all together.

And I'm just honestly so excited when I see everyone. Like it's really naturally, like. Just fit in, you know, I remember like when we all you know I met all you guys like just so welcoming and I think that does play a part in the atmosphere of the events Right, like we're in Vail or you know, we're in New York like, you know, we're at these always, you know, beautiful venues You know great hotels.

So I think it is it just kind of fit and it worked for me And that's why I've, you know, kind of, there's been a lots of transitions along the way for me, you know, people leaving from my team and people coming, you know, having to trans, transition into new roles, but I've just kind of tried to embrace it because I know deep down it's, you know, I want to be a part of the industry and making my stamp to keep these events alive, to make them better, like, what do you want as a, you know, manufacturer, like asking everyone.

So just so thankful for the sponsors and, you know, The exhibitors that, you know, we can't keep, we can't play another day. So there, as you mentioned, there are a lot of competitors and, you know, it's just making sure that everyone knows like how thankful we are and that, you know, we're really giving you, you know, customer service and, you know, the event that you want.

Dan Ryan: And a level of caring. And again, it's that, it goes back to that idea of... You know, how you defined hospitality in the beginning, and that's kind of where I'm curious because from universities to scientists to now hospitality design, they're all, all of these events, no matter what event industry you're in, there is a level of hospitality that transcendent, right?

Because you want to make the exhibitors feel comfortable, the attendees feel comfortable, um, and heard and built. It's like community building, um, networking, all of that. Yeah. So there is a theme of that throughout all of them, all the different verticals. But what do you think you, what, what do you think you learned the most or what, what changed you the most once you found your tribe within the hospitality world?

And what did it, what did it teach you? What did, what did everyone who's exhibiting and attending teach you that was different from past events?

Keisha Byrd: Well, it taught me to really listen. And, you know, it's not about me or it's not about, you know, our team. It's about like, what do you want? So it's taught me to really listen to, you know, be patient with everyone and you're not always going to please everyone. So you know, we have, you know, there is a level that we need to perform at all these events, but everything's not always going to go the best, right?

We know there's going to be something that happens along the road, but I think it's just, um, What I've learned from this industry is just to embrace it, right? And to keep being creative and keep thinking of new ideas and keep talking to everyone. Just, just, you can learn, I can learn every day. Ten manufacturers will call me and talk to me about, you know, new ideas or new people we should have at the event.

So, and I love that. I would, I embrace, you know, if it's, I don't think it's a, it's constructive criticism, right? Like it's not complaining, like it's just like them helping to make our events the best they can be. What people, the people there make our events. Getting the best people there is what we want.

The best people for the sponsors is the main motive. You could have, you know, the worst wine or the worst whatever, but as long as. Things you can't control, right, from venues. And it's gotten even worse after COVID. But if you have the right people in the room, then I think everyone's just happy to be together.

Dan Ryan: I totally agree. And I think, um, going back to that idea of complaining or feedback or, I, I think that any kind of feedback, positive or negative, maybe more often than negative, because if it's positive, you're doing something right. But when you get that negative feedback, um, Um, and I see this in you and you're, you're the whole team that you work with.

It's you, you're, you're listening. Like you said, you absorb it, but you also take that as an opportunity to, for continual improvement. And, and I think that that that's true in every business, every walk of life, but especially in hospitality, it's, we have to capture these things in here. We have two ears, one mouth.

So And I appreciate that because I've seen these events start and grow and improve. And I don't know, I really like, they're my favorite events throughout the year that I, that I go to.

Keisha Byrd: Oh, that's great to hear. Thank you.

Dan Ryan: Um,

Keisha Byrd: That's what we want to hear from people, so.

Dan Ryan: well, yeah. And I, and I, I think that that's echoed by, by so many others. Um, when you think about, so one of the things that I'm also amazed at is as an exhibitor at many of these things, um, You know, you get there early, you're setting up, you, you're talking to people all day, every day, you're going out to dinner, and then at the end of it, I'm just spent.

I'm exhausted.

Keisha Byrd: You don't want to talk to anybody,

right? Don't schedule anything, right?

Dan Ryan: but for all of you, the amount of work and coordination that you're leading up to it, and then there, and then the closeout, like, our, my window, and for not just me, but for a lot of people, it's, it's. It's there and it's exhausting and I need to recharge before

and after. Your window is much longer right? Or much wider because of the, the, the setup,

the actual event and then the after, like how do you keep your energy and your, your smile going throughout the whole time and, 'cause it's just, it's just amazing.

Keisha Byrd: I think, honestly, it's the end. Like, that positive, those emails, like, that you get, the text messages, you know, people calling you, like, that was great, like, that was amazing, or, you know. It really does play a role in like keeping us all going because I mean we're literally at like at an event We're on to the next five, you know, like we're not even Present like we're present but we're talking about that's what everyone doesn't think about like we're talking about the next Two things coming up or what it doesn't stop.

So like we're at BDNY this year. We're talking about BDNY next year Like what are we you know and assessing like what should we do differently? Like what worked what didn't like, you know listening to the feedback but I just think the best is at the end of it like not that it's over but that it's The, the feedback and the appreciation and like someone calling you like, wow, I got this order.

Like, that's the best. That's the best call right there. Like I

Dan Ryan: Oh, so, 'cause there's an

Keisha Byrd: order, right? So it's like I got this amazing order. Someone just, um, you know, told Paul Bukowski, our publisher, like this amazing order at, uh, Fall Forum. Like that's what it's about, right? Knowing that like what we're doing is actually connecting everyone to do business.

Like that's what we're here for.

Dan Ryan: Yeah. And also have a good time.

Keisha Byrd: And to have a good time. We do definitely have a good time. We've had lots of good time, so.

Dan Ryan: So I'm curious about like, if, okay, so that positive, like you, that positive feedback you get from people, um, fills up your energy bucket, so to

speak. What's for the, so BDNY, like one of the big shows is coming up pretty soon here in November, what's, if someone was on the fence about whether they attend or exhibit.

And because they'd never been, they'd never exhibited or attended. So there's two examples going into that positive feedback that kind of really fills your bucket. What's a great example of a positive feedback from a first time attendee and a first time exhibitor, like for those to kind of help those people who are on the fence who are thinking about attending or exhibiting,

Keisha Byrd: Mm hmm. I think the best thing is like, um, wow, how do I get a better space next year? Can I like up my square footage? And like, that's like the best phone call for us. But, uh, cause I don't think you understand, like you have like a seniority, right? So new companies. You know, they're probably, like, not going to get the most ideal space coming in the gate.

But the more and more you're loyal, like, you just, you know, you can move into those middle aisles and, you know, the prime locations. Um, but the best feedback is, wow, like, that was amazing. Like, why haven't I known about this, you know, 10 years ago? Like, why haven't I been here? So, like, internationally, like now.

You know, everything's back, right? So like, who can we tap into that doesn't even know about BDNY? Like, that's from my angle too, like what leaders in the industry can we bring, can we host to BDNY, right? To get them, you know, so we start having a new, you know, obviously all of, you know, you can tap into all of New York, right?

It's, you know, the hub of hospitality and design, so, you know, it's just the best location to host this, but, um, it's trying to find new faces to, to bring them into the brand.

Dan Ryan: And what about someone, okay, so it's a first time, but what about before they're a first time exhibitor? They're like, thinking about it, they're on the fence, and then they do it, and then they ask for a bit, like, a bigger booth, and then they're, they're moving around, and like, What's the feedback from the time that they're not attending to the time that they do?

Like, what, aside from the bigger booth, aside from it being awesome, is it just, like, What keeps them coming back?

Keisha Byrd: I mean, B D M Y is an easy sell, I feel like. So it's, the other events might be, you know, might be harder, but, um, I just feel like B D M Y is just trending and has just a good reputation. I feel like every, everyone's like, you gotta be there. Right. It's that fomo of you gotta be, be a part of it. So, but I feel like it's us meeting these people face-to-face or in person.

Like telling them about BDNY and then cultivating the relationship to getting them there and then making sure to keep it You know from our sales team after right it is all I mean, I think you would agree This industry is very face to face like, you know And you'll do something for someone because you have that relationship with them Like you'll go to an event or you'll sponsor an event or you'll be at something because you feel like you need to be there so I feel like we have to continuously touch people personally and make them feel welcome and To be specific, you know, at all our events, but BDNY specifically, like, it's grown so fast, right?

It's in its 14th year. It's, you know, major trade fair in the industry. Um, so, I feel like it is an easier sell than, you know, some of the other events might be, but, um, I just think it's trending right now. I don't know if you would agree with that, but.

Dan Ryan: No, I do. And I would also say for all the people who are thinking about coming into the industry, whether as a vendor, or as a designer, or an architect, into the hospitality design industry, it's just, it's an amazing way to meet people. And it's super focused. Because if you think about, if you created like a pie chart of just furnishings,

Keisha Byrd: Mm hmm.

Dan Ryan: So even if it's home furnishings, it's like this huge pie chart. Hospitality design is like a small part of it. What is it? 5 10 percent of the overall furnishings. So this niche is like, is really, really powerful. And I know what's interesting too, they were always for Vegas and for New York, always the biggest trade shows that I've ever been


Cause it's like, it's my world, but we were both in Milan at the same time

Keisha Byrd: We

Dan Ryan: And sadly we didn't see each

Keisha Byrd: I know.

Dan Ryan: Damn it. But. I'm embarrassed to say that was my first time going to Salone because I feel like there's always other art industry events at the same time.

I was blown

Keisha Byrd: It's amazing, right? I mean, there's like nothing like it. They're just, that's what everyone's like. Oh, is it like BDNY? No. HGX vote? No, it's not. It's, it's just a whole other world, right?

Dan Ryan: It's hard to get your mind right. It's like 20 times bigger and you get lost and actually that's a great, so I went there. I knew some people, a lot of people who were exhibiting, but I just went in there's like 250, 000 people there. There's

24 exhibition halls. I just got lost and I had like a whole full

Keisha Byrd: You have to have a plan. That's, that was what everyone said and they were correct. You have to have a game plan, but so much inspiration, right? Like, I feel like every designer should. Be attending Saloni at some point.

Like, should be there. Mm

Dan Ryan: I, I totally agree. But I think what, what's missing, like, as you find your place, whether it's, you know, you get into kitchen design or you get into flooring design or you get into hospitality design, I feel like the, that Salone was like this big catch all. It was like,

Keisha Byrd: hmm.

Dan Ryan: it was such a huge universe.

And that's why I love, The specificity and focus and specialization within the shows that you're doing for what we do in hospitality

Keisha Byrd: hmm. Yeah, definitely. Are you going to Saloni again?

Dan Ryan: I hope to, um, but I have to check my calendar. I don't know, I don't really know what's going on out there.

Keisha Byrd: Mm

Dan Ryan: I feel like I was going to go two years ago and then COVID pushed it to June and then I finally went last year, but it was really fun. It's our plan to go, but I need to

Keisha Byrd: Mm hmm.

Dan Ryan: work, family and other commitments before I do that.

Keisha Byrd: Yeah.

Dan Ryan: Um, at University of Cincinnati, because I didn't realize that you worked for the university. There's actually a really big architecture and design.

Keisha Byrd: DAP, yes.

Dan Ryan: What's it called? DAP?

Keisha Byrd: Yeah, DAP, Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. Yes.

Dan Ryan: Okay, so, and that is a huge feeder into our industry. Like a lot of leaders within

our, our

Keisha Byrd: Larry Troxler went there. Um, who else? Why am I blanking?

Dan Ryan: There's so many. I talked to so many people and they went to University of Cincinnati, the Bearcats. Um, was, did you, did you learn event planning as a job there? Or is, is that part of, is, is there a course of study there?

Like how did you, how did you even get that first opportunity?

Keisha Byrd: I mean, I think events are in my blood, as my mom would say. Like, I grew up with, I grew up with having events. It was not just a party, it was always an event at our house. Like, there weren't just four people for dinner, there were fifty. You know, it's just, I grew up with theme parties and handmade costumes.

You know, everything was very theatrical in my upbringing. So, when I started I wanted to do fashion merchandising. So I that was what I always wanted to be either a fashion designer or fashion merchandising So I looked I did like the tour de south as my parents called it and I looked at all these southern schools I went to To Savannah we went down there to look at the art college at all these big things I ended up coming back and going to Cincinnati and then I couldn't get into DAP because I I had It was a very small school called Lynn University, it's in Boca Raton, and I would have probably moved home immediately.

It was very small, I probably wouldn't have thrived, you know, in this smaller environment. So I ended up backing out last minute and not going, and then I ended up just going to Cincinnati because, you know, I needed to go to school, right? So I, then I couldn't get into DAP. So I started in business, and then I changed over to public relations, and that's kind of where, um, You know, event planning is in PR.

So, um, just kind of found me through internships. And I went to DC my, let's see, my sophomore year. I think it was my sophomore year. Yeah. I went to the summer in DC, uh, and it was events and I just loved it. I was, you know, I was thriving. It was, it was what I wanted to be. And so then kind of took off from there and everything else after that then was event driven, like looking for internships or jobs, like.

And now it's like I kind of get the best of both worlds because I'm kind of like, you know, big picture thinking about like, you know, branding, kind of back in that PR world I guess you'd say because, you know, I'm selling, I'm, you know, helping to build a brand, advocating a brand while doing events. So that's kind of like why I feel like I found my place because it's where I was, the direction I was going.

events. I just kind of was hitting a dead end. I didn't want to do. So, you know, I didn't want to be in all the details anymore. I wanted to be like over, you know, thinking strategically about what we're doing with the events. But I wanted to be more of like a brand person. So that's kind of where this new role, you know, took, took action with me.


Dan Ryan: Awesome. And then, you know, using the BDNY event as an example, it's not just that one trade show, if you will. It's that, it's Platinum Circle, it's

Gold Key, it's Boutique 18, like, what are

all of, like, is there more, what am I missing there?

Just to like, paint a picture of people who are on the fence and might

Keisha Byrd: Right, so it kicks off with HD's Platinum Circle, which is like the who's who of the industry. We'll induct the new members into the Platinum Circle on Friday. And then,

Dan Ryan: And who are, who are the new members coming

in? It's like, Sheila Lohmuller,

Keisha Byrd: Brzezinski, um, Daisy, Ted Carroll, Libby, Sims Patrick.

Dan Ryan: she's great.

Keisha Byrd: Yeah, and Sheila's getting, um...

Her awards, so I'm very special and excited for her. She's

Dan Ryan: she's amazing.

Keisha Byrd: very excited So that's Friday and that yeah, it is an action packed weekend. We're doing a design tour of the Moxie Lower East Side on Saturday afternoon

Dan Ryan: Oh,

Keisha Byrd: with the Marriott team and Lightstone and then kick off party for BDNY that evening at the Ziegfeld Ballroom and Then it's BDNY on Sunday BDNY Monday, and then, uh, Gold Key Awards Monday evening, where Dan Ryan will take the stage

Dan Ryan: yes, I will

Keisha Byrd: to announce your category.

Uh, so, yeah, and then the, um, Lark Hotels just got, um, acknowledged as the Designer of the Year this year. We just put that out there, um,

Dan Ryan: So that's known.

You didn't let the cat out. You didn't let the cat out of the bag.

Keisha Byrd: I did not let the cat out of the bag, that's as of yesterday. Um,

Dan Ryan: I just stayed at one of their hotels up in Stowe

Keisha Byrd: Yeah.

Dan Ryan: MLK weekend. Yeah, that was, uh, that's cool.

Keisha Byrd: Yeah. They had a lot of great projects this year, so. So yeah, it's action packed. All the Women Leaders Breakfast is, uh, with NEWH on Monday. The Boutique 18, as you said, Boutique 18 is, um, being honored at Gold Key, so yeah, it's a lot of acknowledgement, a lot of celebrations, so, um, you know, it'll be a great weekend for everyone.

Dan Ryan: Yeah, and it's just so action packed and just energizing, but also exhausting at the same

Keisha Byrd: I know, right?


Dan Ryan: I'm really looking forward to it. Like, I don't know, every year, it's kind of like the Super Bowl of what we do, right?

Keisha Byrd: Yeah. Yes. I feel like HG Expo and BDNY are like the two Super Bowls, right? At each time of the year. You've got your Spring Super Bowl and your Fall Super Bowl, so...

Dan Ryan: Um, as you guys, like, I've heard you say it a couple times, but thinking strategically about events, and, like, what does that mean to you, and where are you, like, Where are you seeing the vision of all of these events that you're doing on the 17 plus, um, from a strategic point of view moving forward? Like, where are we all going?

Keisha Byrd: Yeah, I knew you were going to ask this question. It's hard because strategically, um, they're all working. Like, they're doing so well and people. For the past couple of years, I've been very happy at all of them. We're just tweaking stuff along the way and creating, you know, if people want, you know, I think, uh, the biggest thing that we're doing with these is people really love design tours, hotel tours.

So we're kind of, I've added those to a lot of the boutique design events. People love being, we're doing, um, two of them during HD Next Gen in, uh, two weeks. People just really love to be at the projects, right? They love... Hearing the designer's point of view or the ownership group and taking a tour. So I think we're kind of looking at that for BDNY.

Like, how can we do some more, um, open houses or something throughout the weekend to showcase new designs? So that would be in 24. But yeah, as far as like the future, I mean, first off, is there time for more events with this schedule? But you know, So, BDNY has been, or the brand overall has been floating around, like, should we go international?

Is that the next layer? Um, you know, obviously HG's had city scenes in Paris and London, so should we, you know, where do we take that market, right? Is there, is there something over there that we should be, you know, dabbling in? Um, it's kind of what we've been talking strategically about. And like I said, it's hard to add more events because we're kind of, we're covering a lot of the bases.

So... Um, it's kind of just focusing on what we're doing and making it the best we can and I know everyone, um, really wants to focus on ownership groups and brands, you know, getting them to our events. So that's like a hot topic, um, connecting everyone with them. So

Dan Ryan: On the open houses, I think that's really awesome. When are you doing a tour of the, um, Moxie Lower East Side?

Keisha Byrd: The Moxie is Saturday,

Dan Ryan: Saturday.

Keisha Byrd: but yeah, uh, two o'clock.

Dan Ryan: Two? And then how do people sign up for that?

Keisha Byrd: On the registration for BDNY. So there's only

Dan Ryan: and is there a limit?

Keisha Byrd: Yeah, because, you know, it's hard to do tours with, you know, the elevators and small groups. But this is really trending. People love this. So on our board call recently, it came up about doing some type of open house concept.

So I think it would be really cool to add for next year for BDNY. Like, kind of like come and go and meet the designers and look at them. Not, not as like, you know, from this time to this time we're all gonna get an elevator. You know, more... Organic, like, and meeting people, because I can honestly tell you, think about people that I met along the way, like on these little tours, right, like, I always think, do you ever think back, like, I met this person there, like, I really do kind of think about, like, and that's experiences, right, so we need to just keep doing more of them, because that's how I remember people, like, and things we've done together, like, you know, throughout the years.

Dan Ryan: Yeah, one of my favorite things, um, At an event, it's, um, Independent Lodging Congress. They'll do this thing. They'll have like a conference and then you'll go, you'll usually walk to like some site in

wherever the city is. But the coolest part is that walking part. It's not like, it's not, well, they're all, it's all really good, but like, but just going that journey between the two and like meeting that person that you didn't know about.

I think these open houses could really. Really add to that because you could go from wherever you're going to somewhere around the corner for a coffee

or, or I don't know, some park nearby or some other site. Um, and I, like, I think those walking, walking and talking is a great way to engage with people.

Keisha Byrd: Yeah, no, I do like it. It's just creating more of these types of experiences. It's not really just like changing our events or creating more events. It's like what can we do to connect everyone, you know, more than we already are.

Dan Ryan: Okay. And now, so on the connection part, if you were a student, like

at it, let's use BDNY for example, like at Pratt or FIT or. Whatever, what, like, what are some good advice stories or success experiences you've seen about students going to these shows

and, and what advice would you have for them as

Keisha Byrd: I just think get out there, right? Like we, I, I embrace and want the students there. They're the future. So we want, you know, we want them there. We want them learning. I would love, you know, we've been talking, we would love to like have students have been reaching out, like actually like we would love to have students, you know, welcoming people at the events and stuff.

It's a great tool, you know, to have, you know, the students from Cornell or NYU, like it's just getting them out there. But I would definitely say like go, you know, try to be at these Just trade fairs and, you know, put yourself, you never know when you're going to be next to Helen Jorgensen or, you know, like, just be out there, so, you never know where it's going to lead you, so,

Dan Ryan: Yeah. And I've been going to, I've been noticing, I, I NAWH event in, uh, Minneapolis and there were so many students there. And I loved talking to them because they're just. They're just like starting their journey and they're just all super curious.

Keisha Byrd: know, they're so jazzed up

too, they're not like, oh, it's another event, like, they're just so happy to be at

Dan Ryan: Yeah. And, and for all the exhibitors and other attendees, like when you see them, talk to them because it's amazing how just a little conversation or a little bit of an experience or a question you might ask them, uh, can really impact them at a very early age.

And, uh, that's one of my favorite things about all

Keisha Byrd: Mm hmm. I mean, too, with like the Boutique 18, I look at some of the people like, you know, seven years ago and then they were working, you know, I don't know if they're working for someone and now they have their own firm. Like, it's just so nice to see, you know, kind of, we get to like help people launch their careers and, you know, then where do they land, right?

Where are they now? What are they doing? Like what projects are they working on? So it's just, it's just great to see like full circle and watch everyone, you know, their journey.

Dan Ryan: Yeah, I totally agree. Um, so BDNY is coming. You're going to be charging up your batteries and getting ready to go and beam all of your goodness. Um, what's exciting you most past BDNY?

Keisha Byrd: Past VDNY.

Dan Ryan: Or can you not see that far ahead right now?

Keisha Byrd: I mean, I can because we're planning everything. Yeah, the train does not stop, right? Uh, Winter Forum. I love Winter Forum. You love it. It's so fun. Like, right? The, you know, the, us all being together and, you know. I look forward to every event, like, because they all have their own personality, so, you know, like I said, I could, you know, say, oh, gosh, here we go again, but once I, once I'm there, I'm like, you know, it's game time, like, and everyone's so excited and energized to be at the events, so, you know, I'm just excited for the next year and see where, where the road takes the brands.

Dan Ryan: Awesome. And speaking of game time... What's going on with Joe Burrow these days in Cincinnati?

Keisha Byrd: Oh, Joe Burrow. I don't know, I've been kind of mad at him lately.

Dan Ryan: Ha ha

Keisha Byrd: I think he's been a really, I really think he has been hurt and not really been acting like he's, you know, showcasing it. So last week was a good week. He still loved that, you know, everyone loves Joe Burrow in Cincinnati. He is the king of Cincinnati right now, so I will tell you there are more t shirts.

Cookies, you know, kids dressing up at school like him. So that's really fun because it's been a long road, um, for football here, as

Dan Ryan: Oh yeah, I know.

Keisha Byrd: The Super Bowl was very, it was just, you know, cool to see the city. Everybody was involved. So

Dan Ryan: Yeah, those, those are like the, like crazy events. You think about that when a Super Bowl comes to town and all the other events and corporations and everything that kind of spring up. Like that is just overwhelming.

Keisha Byrd: Right. Can you imagine us playing a Super Bowl?

Dan Ryan: Yeah, I think you could do it. I think all of you could do it. We could do some of those, a tour of the luxury boxes at the stadium. That's like a new, well not new, but that

stuff has

really gotten the volume

Keisha Byrd: there's a lot of designers that are in that space, that are at the events, so yeah, it's definitely, um, there's a lot going on.

Dan Ryan: Awesome. Um, alright, so, I want to ask this question also. So, if you go back to that time when you were so incredible, That they created a job for you at the University of Cincinnati. If the Keisha I'm talking to right now were to magically appear in that, in front of that Keisha, what advice would you have for yourself?

Keisha Byrd: Oh, good question. Um, set goals, be patient. Uh, don't let people get in, you know, get in the way of letting, not letting you achieve those goals. Like, it's not going to happen overnight, right? Just keep... Keep being you, keep being true to yourself, being a good person, being a leader, and you will get there. So, you know, I've kind of seen it happen recently for me, so just thankful, you know, to be, to be where I am right now.

Dan Ryan: And to take those feedback, those bits of feedback as learning opportunities. I think that's my reinforced part of my conversation with you today as well.

Keisha Byrd: Definitely.

Dan Ryan: Yeah, because we're all We all have the ability to continually improve and like you said, um, I've gotten so much out of all the shows that you, that all of y'all are involved in putting on. And, um, I think each one that I go to, it helps refine and see more nuance in this little niche, amazing world that we're in. And it helps me get better, uh, as far as understanding the marketplace because it's always changing. Um, so I just want to say, thank you for being a part of it and making it so awesome.

Keisha Byrd: Well, thank you, and thank everyone, like, that, you know, is supporting us. It's, uh, like I said, it's not about us, it's not about me, it's about You know, you as a vendor, you as a design, you know, getting together and sponsoring us. It's about you, it's about you, Dan Ryan But no, I, we're super, it's overwhelming.

The amount of love that, um, we do receive is, is very definitely no noticed that, you know, that. We appreciate it.

Dan Ryan: Well, I appreciate you. If people wanted to learn more about BDNY, HD Expo, the city scenes, all the other... 17? 17?

Keisha Byrd: 17.

Dan Ryan: 17 other amazing events you got going on. Uh, how can they learn more?

Keisha Byrd: So, uh, HospitalityDesign. com, or BDMY. com, so that's, wait is it, oh it's a month away from the Monday of BDMY,

it's right now, so a month away, um, so yeah, those two website pages.

Dan Ryan: Awesome. And, um, and then how about you? If people wanted to connect with you,

Keisha Byrd: LinkedIn, probably be the best, yeah.

Dan Ryan: We'll get it. We'll get it all up there. Um, Keish, Keisha, the great Keish, Keish Lorraine.

Keisha Byrd: You have always called me quiche, that is something I will always remember about you,

Dan Ryan: So just so everyone knows, it's Keisha. But whenever I write an email to her or send her a text message, it's K E E S H.

Keisha Byrd: Mm hmm. Yep.

Dan Ryan: that's my, that's my jam.

Keisha Byrd: That is true. That is something very notable about our relationship.

Dan Ryan: Yes. So I don't know if everyone can call her Keish, but

Keisha Byrd: Everyone can call me that. That is totally fine.

Dan Ryan: Wonderful. I just want to say thank you. I know how busy you are getting ready for everything. Um, thank you for your time. I appreciate you. I appreciate everyone you work with and the events. Um, they really helped me grow and I know that that will get multiplied by the hundreds or thousands of other people in our industry.

So, thank you.

Keisha Byrd: No, thank you, Dan. I appreciate it. And, you know, thanks, thankful for my team, thankful for the industry. So, um, I appreciate getting together with you today.

Dan Ryan: Yeah, it's my, my pleasure. And I want to also say thank you to all of our listeners, because without you guys, we wouldn't be here with the great quiche and, uh, I appreciate all of you. And if this opened up your eyes to other events and how events can cooperate and augment and improve hospitality, please pass it along because we've all, um, been passed along and we keep growing with, uh, because of word of mouth.

So thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Creating Events That Bring People Together - Keisha Byrd - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 129
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