The Return of Live Events: Lessons Learned from Consumer and Sporting Events

Recorded On: 07/15/2021

With the past year’s effects of COVID-19 and the shutdown of exhibitions and events., the reemergence of face-to-face events is a glorious sight to be seen, whether big or small.

Join us for this timely conversation on Louisville and Indianapolis who recently hosted and pulled off two of the largest sporting events in the world. Hear from Doug Bennett, Executive Vice President for  Louisville Tourism and Susie Townsend, SVP of Visitor Experience for Visit Indy, as they share their stories of hosting the Kentucky Derby and the Indy 500, giving their perspectives and a “lens” into how destinations and our industry are back on the road to recovery!

After participating in this session, you will be able to:
• Learn how destinations, venues and local officials collaborated to ensure a safe return to these live sporting events;
• Hear key measures implemented to ensure appropriate health and safety precautions;
• Gain lessons learned from the perspective of the host destinations. 

IAEE webinars are complementary for IAEE members and $49 for non-members.

Doug Bennett, CTA, CASE

Executive Vice President

Louisville Tourism

Doug is a 30+ year hospitality sales executive who joined the Louisville CVB October 2015 as Senior Vice President of Convention Development where he oversaw a department of 16 sales team members responsible for booking over 700,000 annual room nights. After 6 years on the Convention Development team, Doug recently began his transition to Executive Vice President of Louisville Tourism starting in July. He previously spent eight years with Hyatt Hotels in three different cities, 17 years with the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Bureau serving as Vice President of Sales before his departure and six and a half years based in Chicago with Global Experience Specialists (GES) as the Director of Sales, Central Division. He graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science, Hospitality and Tourism Management. Doug is a Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Foundation Board member, serves on several PCMA committees as well as the board of directors for the Kentucky Make-A-Wish Foundation. He is a past board member of Association Forum and currently serves on several committees promoting the power of associations.


Marsha Flanagan, M.Ed. (Moderator)

Vice President of Learning Experiences


Marsha Flanagan, M.Ed. is currently the Vice President of Learning Experiences at the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, where she is responsible for all educational initiatives including all certification programs including the Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM), Certified in Exhibition Management – Advanced Professional (CEM-AP), and CEM Fellow (CEM-Fellow).  She is also responsible for all membership and chapter relations activities and works with various committees, executive leadership and boards to identify member needs, and design and execute member experiences. 

Prior to joining IAEE, Flanagan was the Director of Content Strategy and Development at the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), where she was responsible for steering strategy and the development and delivery of all PPAI professional development and editorial offerings.

Flanagan spent 6 years in the medical industry serving in various roles overseeing operations, purchasing, revenue cycle management, marketing and business development. 

Flanagan began her career with Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and spent 12 years in various roles including Executive Vice President of Professional Development where she oversaw operations, including all strategic partnerships, the design and delivery of all professional development offerings and meetings management.

She was named one of the 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry by Successful Meetings in 2017 and named to BizBash’s Inaugural Top 500 in the Events Industry in 2018 and 2019. In 2021, she obtained her GBAC Trained Technician Certificate of Completion from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of ISSA.

Flanagan received her bachelor's degree from Texas Christian University and her Master in Education from the University of Arkansas specializing in Meeting, Tourism and Recreation Management.

Susie Townsend

Senior Vice President of Visitor Experience

Visit Indy

Susie has been part of the hospitality and meeting professional industry for over 31 years. She is a graduate of the Indiana University School of Business with a degree in Marketing. Susie started her career working for Hyatt Hotels and for the past 30 years has been with Visit Indy having roles in both sales and services. In her current role Susie oversees convention services, convention housing, and visitor experience. Susie was a loaned executive for the Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee for Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. She has served as the chair or on the board for local organizing committees for the United States Conference of Mayors, the NCAA Men’s Final Four, the NCAA Women’s Final Four, and currently is serving on the Meeting Professionals International Global Board of Trustees. In addition, Susie is a lecturer for the TCEM (Tourism, Convention, and Event Management) Department at IUPUI. Susie is married to Bill and is the proud mom of two children, Matt and Rebecca.



IAEE Webinar - 07.15.21
Recorded 07/15/2021
Recorded 07/15/2021 A Return to Live Events: Lessons Learned from Consumer and Sporting Events