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That’s My Tory Story … And I’m Stickin’ To It!

OK, y’all, I’m just gonna throw it out there. I was dressed really cute and felt supremely confident in my crisp white slacks, smart Navy blue tank, and Tory Burch wedges that matched the tank to a tee.

For reasons so 2020, this was a big day for me. But I made a major rookie mistake … 


I’ll come back to the rookie mistake in just a minute.

My make-up was just right, hair done the way I like it, and a little spritz of Decadence by Marc Jacobs rounded out the ensemble. It was incredible to be back in the proverbial saddle. It may sound silly to be so excited about a routine task but … I was actually doing a real-life, one-on-one, face-to-face [actually mask-to-mask] site inspection a couple of weeks ago.

And it felt so good!

For the first time in too long, a client asked me to look into resort properties within comfortable driving distance of Atlanta – Ritz-Carlton Lake Oconee, Château Élan in Braselton, Grove Park Inn in Asheville, etc. The event is an international leadership program for 200 attendees in October, three days/four nights, mostly business with one afternoon of legitimate team-building tossed in.

This particular day, I was visiting Château Élan where they’ve gone to great lengths to upgrade safety protocols for these crazy times. The door handles at the Grand Entrance had been replaced with slick new, long handles that you pull from the bottom and hand sanitizer is automatically dispensed. Upon entry, a hotel staff member checks your temperature with a tablet, there are directional arrows on the floors throughout, and pathways are clearly marked. Everyone was masked and I’m sure we were all smiling behind the cloth because old-fashioned event business was being conducted.

It felt amazing to be doing something work-related that was onsite, real and engaging versus a stale interaction conducted in the germophobic Zoomisphere.

We were all careful to maintain our distance, and only remove masks when eating. But we walked together and talked together and it felt like the good ol’ days. I could sense a genuine lifting of spirits, the kind of work-related excitement and happiness I hadn’t felt since March. 

I actually saw early signs of a meeting happening!

It was also apparent to me the pent-up demand to escape quarantine was matched only by the pent-up demand to engage with others. In the absence of business programs, wedding business had helped the property keep its head above water so, with a biz program in the offing, I’m not sure who was happier – them to see me, or me to see them.

I’m no industry oracle so I can only guess where we’ll be in 2021. My fingers are crossed for a return to normal [however we define that, going forward]. But after having gotten back on-property, to me, the sun seems brighter, the birds are chirping more sweetly, and I’ve come to appreciate baby steps are better than no steps at all. We’ve all learned a lot in these trying times and I suspect meetings of the future will be a hybrid of F2F and virtual, leveraging the technology we’ve all learned to master this year.

But for the first glorious day in six long months, I was truly back in business … and it felt so good.

Now, about that rookie mistake …

Alas, my Tory Burches clearly didn’t appreciate the fact my feet had become more at-home in flip-flops over the course of spring and summer. [Hey, I live on a lake and “flips” are always fashion-forward!]

Blisters. Big, bad blisters.

I guess in the excitement of doing my first in-person site inspection in six months, I’d overlooked the fact I needed to ease back into dressy shoes like an athlete eases into pre-season workouts.

After almost 20 years in the corporate meetings and events industry [and knowing I’d be on my feet walking a large property for several hours] I should’ve known better. Wearing this particular pair of shoes that day was akin to Baryshnikov tripping on the threshold. So, I take responsibility for falling for a set-up by a pair of shoes. 😉

No doubt about it, those cute, professional wedges were downright evil that day. Leave a dog home alone longer than usual and they’ll find a way to express their displeasure. Leave a pair of shoes sitting in the closet too long and they’ll find a way to make your life miserable from the ankles down.

But it was worth it!


Julie Thompson-Whelan