Beverly Hills Chamber Hosts Virtual “Back to Business”

Every year, the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce hosts a myriad of high-profile events that enable members and the public to connect with the greater business community. This year was no exception. On Oct. 21, the Chamber hosted the second “Back to Business: Fall Virtual Collaborative,” in which the public was invited to learn from over 50 brand leaders and prominent businesspeople across the retail sector, finance, beauty, entertainment, media, travel, hospitality, entrepreneurship and more.

The daylong event focused on the challenges and opportunities businesses face in the midst of a global pandemic. The interactive virtual format included a variety of panels, webinars and breakout sessions with time for live Q&A’s.

The day kicked-off with the “State of the City of Beverly Hills” conversation between Mayor Lester Friedman and Southern California broadcast icon, Fritz Coleman, streamed live from the grounds of the historic Greystone Mansion. Barring any major changes related to COVID-19, Friedman told Coleman that the City Council has many projects in the works right now.

“We have the One Beverly Hills project, which is a combination of the old Wanda Robinson May project and the Beverly Hilton project, which is now one combined piece of property that is going to be developed,” said Friedman. “We’ll make it an absolutely beautiful area with gardens and buildings, both residential and hotels, that is coming our way. We also have a project in our golden triangle area by LVMH, which is a hotel and it is going to be called the Cheval Blanc. So, that is also a proposal that is coming forward to us. We’re really lucky that we’re having development that is going on, that is going to be out there, and we are moving forward with all of those projects.”

Ann Shatilla and Anish Melwani

After the Mayor’s address, Stan Kasten, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Dean Spanos, owner and Chairman of the Board of the Los Angeles Chargers spoke about the economy of professional sports and the effect of COVID-19 on their teams’ financial models.

Emmy Award-winning TV news producer and strategic communications PR consultant Ann Shatilla held her annual “State of Luxury with Ann Shatilla” business seminar. This year, Shatilla had an in-depth conversation–held and broadcast virtually–with Anish Melwani, the Chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Inc. North America.

With over 70 Maisons, LVMH is known worldwide as the leader of luxury, present in all five major sectors of the luxury market: fashion and leather goods, perfumes and cosmetics, wine and spirits, watches and jewelry and selective retailing. When asked to elaborate on how to access consumers during this time, as well as understanding needs and wants, Melwani said, “The brands that are the most well-known, the ones that have the strongest image and the strongest reputations for quality and heritage are performing the best right now.”

  He added, “Customers today don’t want to invest in a piece of fashion via ready-to-wear or leather goods that they don’t know will still be in fashion when they can finally go out and travel or go to parties again. They absolutely want the feeling of accomplishment, of pleasure, of happiness that they get when they purchase a luxury product. We’re seeing that they’re looking to invest in pieces that are timeless and that they know they will be happy that they purchased when this is all over.”

Following the State of Luxury, Amir Nematipour, the executive sous chef at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, gave viewers a peek inside the hotel’s culinary reopening.

Additional sessions explored the future of global air travel with Justin Erbacci, CEO of Los Angeles World Airports; urban mobility; the world of commercial real estate post COVID-19, featuring top experts in the field discussing what 2021 will look like for the market, and where investment opportunities may be. Other sessions included the economic importance of the 500+ billion dollar beauty industry with Sennen Pamich, president of Coty Professional Beauty and Retail Hair, North America and Mary Atherton, communications director at Coty Professional Beauty; the future of the entertainment industry and how the arts are surviving with the Recording Academy’s Qiana Conley, BAFTA’s Matthew Wiseman, and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts’ Rachel Fine.

The Fall Collaborative concluded with the Chamber’s 2020 Best of Beverly Hills Golden Palm Award Honorees, highlighting businesses in and around Beverly Hills that represent excellence.

The Chamber presented honorees with awards in two categories: Above and Beyond and Innovation, with an additional award given to small businesses in each category. The 2020 recipients of the Above and Beyond award went to Cedars-Sinai Health System and for small business, to Meraki Fitness. The Innovation award went to Spago Beverly Hills, and UMBERTO for small business in the same category. The Fred Hayman Visionary Award was presented to John Bendheim for his contributions and advisory positions that have made him instrumental in leading the business community.

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