As part of our on-going “5 Minutes With” series, every month we’ll introduce you to a new member of our Disney Meetings team at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disneyland Resort in California or Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii. Whether they work in our Disney Convention Resorts, Theme Park Operations, Catering and Convention Services, Sales, Entertainment or dozens of other event-support areas, these Cast Members and their teams are responsible for creating magical experiences and unforgettable events for meeting and event industry professionals, and their important attendees and guests, every single day.

Let’s meet Joe Medwetz, Sales Director for Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii:

Hi Joe, tell us about your role.

My role is to lead the Sales and Services team here at Aulani, including Catering and Convention Services, Sales, and our Weddings team. I’m also very involved with the operational side of the property. I’ve been in Hawai‘i for about 11 years now and have worked in the hospitality industry my entire professional career. In fact, before I began working at hotels, I worked as a professional chef for about 10 years. I’ve always had a passion for food, but even when I was a chef, I really enjoyed interacting with Guests and clients. I loved seeing people’s reactions to the food we presented and seeing the expressions on their faces.

We’re jealous that you live and work in paradise! Can you tell us about a typical day at work?

I love getting to work early and getting my day started. Usually I’ll get to the office around 6 a.m. It’s also helpful to get in early because of the time difference between Hawai‘i and the U.S. mainland. It’s nice when the office is quiet and empty because I’m able to catch up on emails and answer questions from clients and colleagues. I’m able to get a lot of stuff accomplished.

The first half of the day is always extremely busy. By 1 p.m. here in Hawai‘i, my colleagues on the U.S. mainland are winding down their work day, so my focus shifts to our internal team meetings here at the resort. Our Sales and Services team always ensures that we’re communicating regularly with our other onsite partners. It’s so important, especially at Disney, to be effective communicators!

How do you and your team work with meeting and event planners?

Typically, groups that are visiting Aulani for a meeting or convention are coming as part of an incentive trip. The Hawaiian word for family is “‘ohana.” So, when a group comes to stay with us at Aulani, we call them ‘ohana to welcome them home and make them feel like part of the Aulani family.

Here at Aulani, we embrace the authentic Hawaiian culture in everything we do. In fact, we even have our own Hawaiian cultural advisor on staff, and the property boasts one of the largest collections of contemporary Native Hawaiian artwork in the world. When it comes to meeting and incentive groups, we really focus on incorporating the authentic Hawaiian experience into their program. And, since Disney is an entertainment company, we make sure we’re telling an unforgettable story throughout the entire experience. It’s this attention to detail that sets us apart, and it’s something you just can’t find anywhere else.

How do you think food & beverage impacts the overall meeting or event experience?

Food & beverage is extremely vital to any event. As a former professional chef, I have a passion for food and really try to make sure that our food and beverage service is of the highest quality. At the end of the day, it’s so important. People love food! For example, when we host an incentive group, we usually have an opening and closing reception, and the occasional luau or awards dinner. The opening reception should always be a major “wow” first impression for the attendees – as that’s what will stand out the most. The food has to be a focal point, and we want to give them something memorable, so it must be both exceptional and extraordinary—and our culinary team does a great job at executing that.

Here at Aulani, a unique “Disney Difference” that we can offer for groups is a full-scale, catered beach event, which is something that really stands out for the attendees. We have a beautiful location right on our lagoon where we host full-scale, private beach events complete with catering and alcoholic beverages. We are very fortunate to be able offer this level of experience for groups right here on our property. It’s an extremely important benefit for incentive events and a huge plus for event planners.

What is your favorite part of your role?

I love being part of such an amazing team. But, the part that I enjoy the most is the interactions with our meeting and event planner clients. I really enjoy working with them and getting involved in site inspections. It’s great to see the reactions of the planners when they experience different aspects of the resort, especially when they can see their attendees liking it as much as they do.

What is your secret to staying productive?

Getting in to the office early definitely helps me stay productive. For example, recently I came in at 8 a.m. instead of my usual 6 a.m., and I felt like my whole day was thrown off! I ended up staying a few hours later just to finish up work. I definitely think it’s important to find out what makes you productive and practice that daily.

Wow! Such great advice on staying productive at work…even when your job is located in paradise. Thanks Joe

Photo courtesy of Joe Medwetz