Event Planner Spotlight – Michelle Castady, DMCPApril 18th, 2016 | hereschicago
Here’s our interview with Michelle Castady, DMCP of 360 Destination Group Chicago and this month’s Meeting Planner Spotlight!
How did you get into event planning?
After relocating to Naples, FL in 2001, I took on an executive assistant role for a small non-profit organization, assisting the team in organizing small networking events, award ceremony galas, and continuing educational classes. I discovered I really enjoyed managing logistics, and loved the creative opportunities as well. From that position, I came over to the DMC world in 2004 as an Operations Manager, with zero knowledge of what a DMC was at the time. All I knew was the job description sounded like something I could excel in, so I jumped in with both feet and have continued to push myself through various Sales and Ops roles. Moving back to the Midwest in 2011, I made the decision to stay within the DMC space, and honestly love every aspect of this crazy life!
What kinds of things really make you laugh?
Stupid, silly, sarcastic things. In this line of work, somedays, you have to laugh or you’ll cry. Keeping a solid sense of humor about life and some perspective on our role is very important to me… at the end of the day, while this work is important and impactful, we’re not curing cancer.
What is your favorite movie of all time? Why so?
I have two – The Big Lebowski and Office Space. Classics.
What’s your biggest goal in life right now?
To continue to move 360 Destination Group’s Chicago office forward by creating a collaborative environment that excites our customers, grows passionate and progressive professionals, and challenges our competitors to elevate the Chicago DMC partnership experience.
What is your favorite way to spend a Saturday?
Preferably outdoors, exploring the city, checking out a new craft brewery, restaurant, or other local attraction.
Do you have any pet peeves?
Inefficiency. If it can be done better and more quickly or effectively, do it! Poor spelling and/or grammar is also a personal pet peeve.
What were you like as a kid?
Headstrong, ambitious, a stereotypical first born. If this event planning thing didn’t work out, I always dreamed of being a lawyer.
Have you received any praise or accolades recently?
Our office was recently awarded the “Best DMC” honor by HSMAI for the 2015 calendar year, and we’re a finalist in the same category for the upcoming Illinois Meetings + Events Magazine “Best of Illinois” awards. We were also super proud to have been nominated as a finalist in the recent 2016 N.I.C.E. Awards categories for “Best Logistical Achievement” and “Best NACE/ISES Team Event”.
What type of events you plan?
Primarily corporate events. We work with planners across many markets and industries and really excel at immersing ourselves in their strategic vision for their programs, with a focus on creating experiences – not taking orders.
What type of music do you love?
There’s really not much I don’t love. One of my favorite aspects of living in the city is the constant access to amazing live music.
What don’t people know about you?
I once accidentally caused a bomb scare on a CTA bus. Whoops.
What do you love about planning events in Chicago?
The absolutely incredible network of smart and dedicated hospitality professionals. As a DMC, we don’t actually own anything, and we’re only as good as our ideas and relationships. I’m constantly inspired by the can-do attitude of all our partners.
What is your favorite restaurant or bar (Personally)?
I’m generally a big fan of anything the Boka Restaurant Group puts out there. From classics like Girl & The Goat and Boka, to new concepts like Momotaro, and we’re loving their reinvention of the Chicago Steakhouse with Swift & Sons. I’ve always had really great experiences at all of their venues.
What does it take to be a successful event planner?
Common sense, creative thinking, the ability to laugh, and a razor-sharp attention to detail.
What is your favorite color?
360 green 🙂
What do you recommend for others who want to get into the event planning profession?
Say hello and get involved! I moved to Chicago almost 5 years ago, knowing no one in the industry here. By putting myself out there and working through what can sometimes be uncomfortable situations, I landed my first DMC job here in the city at an MPI networking event. I’ve found the Chicago hospitality community to be incredibly welcoming and it’s truly a group that has a kind heart and vested interest in helping others succeed.
Do you have any Association affiliations?
I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the International Special Events Society, a role I’ve enjoyed for the past three years, it’s absolutely contributed strongly to both my personal and professional grown. I’m also a proud member of the Membership Retention Committee with MPI, also known as the “buddy committee”, where we personalize the welcome experience for new members so they can get the most out of their membership investment.
Are you a Cubs or Sox fan?
Sox fan, all the way. Good guys wear black!
What’s your go-to meal when you’re home alone?
Wine. That counts, right?
What’s your favorite thing about your hometown?
Growing up in St. Joseph, Michigan was a little sleepy at times for my liking, but now that I’m older I can definitely appreciate the laid-back nature of the quaint downtown area, and I love visiting my Dad and family there. The beaches are pretty great too!
What are your thoughts about Hereschicago.com?
Jim Grillo is a dear friend and someone I hold in a very high regard. Hereschicago.com is a great resource for the planning community.