Joelle Morgan: Welcome to the show, Ashley. It’s great to have you here.
Ashley Erikson: Thank You. I’m so happy to be here.
Joelle Morgan: We’re happy to have you. Now, you and I have worked together for four years now and it’s been fantastic. It’s been definitely a roller coaster, but I certainly class you, not only as someone that I get to work with, but a friend.
Ashley Erikson: Oh, same here. Same here. You and, and everybody at, at Unbridled. It’s definitely a family. I feel like you all work for Chipotle as much as I feel like I work for Unbridled half the time.
Joelle Morgan: Yeah, absolutely. And I think the essence of partnership is something that we value so much and very much comes when someone like you is at the table and, leading from the event side of things as well.
So let’s just get into it for our listeners, tell us a little bit about Chipotle. I know most people know Chipotle. We’ve eaten at Chipotle. We’ve enjoyed the chips and the burritos, but give us an inside scoop on Chipotle’s vision, its values, how it started in a bit of a nutshell.
Ashley Erikson: Sure. So Chipotle opened in Denver, Colorado, where we are right now in July of 1993. We’re coming up on an anniversary and next year will be a big anniversary for us. Our first restaurant opened at The University of Denver, so on Evans for those of you local. And we have since grown to nearly 3,600 restaurants, which is absolutely wild. We are in the U.S. and Canada now, as well as, in the UK and London, France and Germany.
Joelle Morgan: That’s incredible.
Ashley Erikson: Yeah. Some exciting international growth. Our mission at Chipotle is to cultivate a better world. So we do that, through all of our, give back components and, caring for the ingredients that we’re serving, caring for the animals that we serve and really focusing on bringing quality food to anyone that wants it.
It’s just grown exponentially. We were started by a man named Steve Elles and he had a culinary background. So I think classic culinary techniques really came into play with Chipotle and have never gone away. And through expansion changes in the company, and lots of organizational adjustments, we are now in in California is where our new headquarters are. We really focused on growing brand love and being really visible in the world and in the food culture. And I think we’re doing that.
Joelle Morgan: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. I think the huge rate of growth that we’ve seen at Chipotle is just a testament to what you’ve just said, your commission, your passion for Cultivating A Better World and doing it with great practices, and great people, plus great tasting food. I love Chipotle. My kids are constantly asking me for a burrito bowl. And so I think it’s a testament to what you as a company are doing, where there is such incredible reach in so many different demographics and age groups.
But let’s talk about you — tell us a little bit more about what your role is at Chipotle, how you came to be there, and what you’re looking to grow.
Ashley Erikson: Sure.
Well, I have quite a long history with Chipotle. I started my job with Chipotle initially as an intern. I was a junior in college and reached out. I wrote a letter to the corporate office to no one in particular asking for a marketing internship, and I got it. So, I moved to Denver for four months.
I was living in Missouri, and started interning with the marketing department. I ended up doing that for three or four summers, through my college experience and my Masters degrees as well. Then I left the organization, for a role with a small investment firm in Boulder. Then in 2013, I came back to the brand, and I was hired to be an in-store and field marketing consultant, if I have that correct. Essentially I was trafficking marketing materials that were going into the restaurants and simultaneously identifying some sort of gaps in the department. There was a time when I owned, promotions and partnerships for the brand. There was a time where I owned celebrity outreach. There was a time I owned the gift card business. I also launched our Chipotle goods line, which is our sustainable apparel line that we launched in 2020, and also took on events.
Now I oversee events for the brand, on the ops side, but that was a recent sort of shift and I’m super excited to grow the events part of the business.
Joelle Morgan: That’s great.
Yeah. Did you always see yourself in events or is this something that’s kind of been an evolution for you?
Ashley Erikson: I think it’s always been innately sort of in me to, to do events. I love creating experiences for people, but I didn’t know that in college at all. So ,I think as soon as there was an opportunity in the event space with the brand, I jumped on it and, was super passionate about it from the beginning.
Joelle Morgan: That’s amazing. So, when you’re looking at your experiences and your event lineup, tell us a little bit about what Chipotle’s event lineup looks like. I know working with you that we, kind of structure your events over a two-year period, but tell us a little bit more about what that actually looks like.
Ashley Erikson: Sure. Well, I mean, it’s a little influx now with the pivot in my role, but essentially yes, you’re right. We, take about a two-year look, because we do our largest event, which is called AMC, our All Managers Conference. We do that in even years and then FLC is our Field Leadership Conference — we do that on odd years. Those are really the two enormous programs that we put on. As a business, we have, of course, a lot of ancillary meetings, a lot of quarterly meetings with different groups and things like that. But the primary events are AMC and FLC. We’re also evaluating an incentive opportunity for the brand, which I’m hoping we’ll move forward with to incentivize our operators and our, highest performers in the organization, which is so important, especially in a hospitality-based role. How can we give them back a really hospitable experience at an event? Then growing also to figure out, are there opportunities for partnership, summits and things like that?
So down the line, I think we’ll continue to expand.
Joelle Morgan: That’s great. So, your event portfolio is continuing to grow. AMC has 4,500 to 5,000 attendees—is that correct?
Ashley Erikson: Yeah, we were a little under that in 2022, which it was our first event back after COVID because in 2020, unfortunately, we had to cancel our event. After 2021, when we were back, we had about 3,500 attendees, in Vegas in March of this year, which was amazing.
We are continuing to grow. We’re opening ~ 200 restaurants at Chipotle per year. So that, of course, indicates significant growth in the event space as well.
Joelle Morgan: Yeah, that’s exciting. So, when we’re looking at big events like FLC, which is about 700 people, and AMC, which has about 5,0000 people, what are the KPIs and objectives when Chipotle comes to the table and looks at your event portfolio, particularly with these two larger events? What return are they looking for? What are the KPIs? What are the objectives? What are the goals of your executive leadership team and your leadership team at large that they’re trying to achieve when they’re investing in events like AMC & FLC?
Ashley Erikson: Some of the KPIs, I think for events, obviously, is culture building. There’s nothing like an in-person event to build culture for the brand, if done well. Also, recognizing top performers, which is major for increased employee retention. As well as, the culture piece is major for retention.
I think also just overall brand sentiment. It’s a good pulse check, right? To get everybody together and to get an understanding of how the people in our organization are feeling about our organization and our leaders, you know, luckily for us, it’s always overwhelmingly positive. We love that culture check. Also, like I said, there is nothing quite like the, the cultural experience of bringing everyone together.
I think we all definitely come together and feel exponentially more pumped up about our roles and about getting back into the organization and doing our jobs no matter what that job is after we’ve been together, and sort of drank the Chipotle Kool-Aid, if you will.
Joelle Morgan: I think that’s great. So when we’re looking at events and we ask the question: why have this event—what I’m hearing you say is that it’s connection with your people. It’s having them feel connected to you. It’s having Chipotle feel connected to your people and then creating a shared experience that then builds culture, but then growth, I would imagine as well.
Are we talking revenue growth? Personnel growth? Career trajectory growth? What kind of growth are we looking at?
Ashley Erikson: Oh my gosh, I mean, I think all of the above for sure. Obviously retaining our top talent is major for our sales growth. We obviously have a lot of growth to do opening 200 restaurants each year.
That means 200 more GMs, which means 15 more field leaders, which means five more team directors, which potentially means another regional vice president, you know, and there’s no end to that growth. For me, the events sort of encapsulate all of that as a return on investment.
Joelle Morgan: You mentioned recognizing top talent and I have an inside track knowledge here, but you also hold awards, at both of these events. You have the Adobo Awards for AMC and you have the Pepper Awards for FLC. Tell us how you go about planning those two events within the larger event.
Ashley Erikson: We started doing Adobo the first year that I started helping with the event. We were trying to fill in what we should do for a second night of the event. Of course, the first night we do a welcome reception. but what do we do for that second night? And I said, well, why don’t we do a like fancy night, like give everyone opportunity to get sort of jazzed up and, we could do an awards component and have a fancy MC. Everybody really latched onto it. In 2014 we launched the Adobo Awards and it was just such an experience, I think, for everyone in the room, and really gave us an understanding of how much recognition meant to not only the person winning, but to the region, and to their leaders, to that leader’s leaders and it was just a domino effect. So as far as planning it as a component, I mean, we sort of break that off into its own event altogether.
It takes a lot of work from a lot of folks in the organization. We do a lot of work with ops, obviously, to ensure that we’re thinking about everything correctly. Obviously, they know more than anyone what’s happening at the operating level, so we keep very in touch with them. Finance, of course, has to pull a lot of data for us. Our HR department has to pull a lot of data for us, and ultimately that list has grown to, I think we did something like 18 awards at our most recent event, which is pretty wild. So, we do an array of events from employee retention to highest sales and the best regional operators.
One award, we call it the “Living of Values” award, we do per region, which is great because the RVP gets to give that to the top performing GM, and that’s always really impactful.
We do it like a true award show. We have an MC most recently we had Keenan Thompson, who did a wonderful job, and a full plated dinner with entertainment throughout. Everyone gives an acceptance speech, and we play the music to get people off the stage when they go too long, although that’s never really a problem. It’s an amazing night.
Joelle Morgan: With this incredible awards dinner, and your top talents being recognized in a wide variety of different value systems, what are the responses that you hear after the event from the attendees and the award winners?
Ashley Erikson: Well, we really go all out from an entertainment and ambiance perspective, certainly, and so I think that people always feel very seen by their executive team. A lot of people thank us for thanking them, which is so wild, but that’s the high quality of people that we’re working with, which is amazing.
People are so excited about the entertainment. Generally, you get a few major fans of whomever our comedian or our MC is, which is always fun. But I think for the winners too, it gives them, not only an opportunity to be in front of their executive team and their entire organization, but also really take home awards on behalf of their crews, which don’t get to attend the event.
So for them, it’s also really a badge of honor for their whole teams to take back. So, we generally hear a lot of appreciation.
Joelle Morgan: So the after effects really extend past the night itself to people that weren’t even there, which is incredible.
Ashley Erikson:. Yes. Hopefully they’re taking their awards and, and showing their teams, and we also do a lot of things throughout the event. Like the notebook that we give everyone in their swag bags, we put a lot of content and ideas from the learning labs into those booklets. So that it’s really easy for the GM to take that back to the restaurants that they lead and go through it with their teams.
So, although we, unfortunately couldn’t have all 500,000 people there, we can have the messages, at least at least taken home and reverberate throughout the restaurant.
Joelle Morgan: Yeah that’s so important.
When we come to build AMC in particular, we’ve got just over 4,000 people coming, and we start framing up the entire design for the event. We are often looking at 2-3 days, depending on where it’s falling and we start with a welcome reception. Then we have our big General Session Opening, and there are other components that we have involved in this as well.
So, I know how strategic you are in terms of the attendee experience, what they’re going through at every single moment, at every single part of the event. The event doesn’t just start when an attendee arrives to that location, right? It’s really a touch point from the Save the Date.
I know you and I have talked about this so many times—how we design that attendee experience, but in your words, what does the attendee experience feel like? I know we have a wide spectrum of different roles at AMC, from General Managers to Field Leaders and Area Directors, but I’m curious to hear you tell that story.
Ashley Erikson: There’s a lot of things to take into consideration, right? We have Apprentices, which are folks that are about to be promoted to GM, who might not even be responsible for a restaurant yet, and then we have GMs, and to your point, Field Leaders, Team Directors and RVPs, as well as 300 to 450, corporate employees, restaurant support center employees, as well as our executive leadership team and occasionally our board members. So to me, it’s creating a lot of different experiences for a lot of different folks.
For instance, a lot of our GMs have never been on a plane before, so their needs are going to be a lot different than our Executive Leadership Team or our board members’ needs, or our corporate folks, even who are potentially a little more well-traveled as a result of their roles. So it’s exciting to sort of come up with different experiences for all of these different types, while being really mindful of how we’re communicating things.
I think too, you know, being sure that you’re creating content that’s relevant for all of those types of people.
Joelle Morgan: That’s great. Now you and the team spend a lot of time curating individual surprise and delightful moments for attendees, and I think that that adds a lot of depth. Not only are they hearing great content in the general session, but then there are these other touch points that, I know you as an event planner and someone that’s directing this experience, really look for.
And I’ve heard you often say, I look for that “eyes wide open” moment. What do you look for?
Ashley Erikson: I think people in the events industry, and people who travel regularly, and attend events regularly were a bit jaded. Inevitably, we have been in a nice hotel room, so that’s sort of lost on us at this point, or you know, flown first class.
So that’s lost on us at this point. But it’s so important to remember that it’s not lost on 85% of the people there, right? For me, I always know that something’s really going to hit for everyone if it takes my breath away. One great example is when we were doing sites for the Welcome Reception for AMC 2022, we drove up to Allegiant Stadium and the car took a route, that I’m sure was intentional, and you could see our logo on the jumbotron, inside the stadium to the point that it looked like Allegiant Stadium had been rebranded. And I thought, Whoa. I mean, if that had that affect on me, it’s going to have that affect, at least on every everyone else that’s coming into this event and how can we not we not give them that?
So that’s always an indicator for me, if it gives me a little bit of a pause, um, I, I’m lucky that I have a, a real appreciation for generally any time things are done well, and there’s a, you know, Time taken in, in a consideration of, of us being there. I don’t wanna say that a logoed cookie doesn’t really do it for me anymore, but the Allegiant stadium roll up was, was the first time in a while that I, that I had been like, wow, we’re, going to have to do it here.
Joelle Morgan: Yes, it was absolutely spectacular.
Ashley Erikson: And then it, of course led to also how we planned our transportation.
Joelle Morgan: So how did you plan transportation?
Ashley Erikson: I wanted every single person to have that experience that I had. So, I wanted us to route everything, the way that we came so that they could see. I was even bummed that we had to have some of our executives and board members come in the back entrance because they didn’t get the moment. We also brought some elements outside to make the whole walk-in experience really exciting.
So yeah, I would say to planners, always keep your eyes peeled when you’re siting. I know it gets laborious sometimes because you could get a great idea too for how to do your program, ultimately.
Joelle Morgan: Yeah, absolutely. So when an event like this wraps, you always send surveys out to your attendees.
What are the types of questions that you are sending out to them? What are the key metrics that you’re hoping to glean from that type of survey data?
Ashley Erikson: I mean, we ask everything, potentially too much. I think sometimes getting into, ‘did you like the lunch?’ that isn’t exactly going to—I mean, it helps me—but is it really helping the organization?
I would recommend to always sort of think about what are your KPIs? How are you justifying this ROI to your leadership? And then how do you glean whether or not the event did that for you through the survey? So, ask really honest questions. Were you motivated by this? Do you feel like because of this Learning Lab, you have the tools to take back to your restaurant to be able to have more top performers, to plug more folks into restaurants down the line? Do you feel inspired? All of those more cultural questions. “Was your room clean or dirty?” of course, we need to know that for working with hotels in the future state, but that’s not driving your event strategy moving forward and how you’re communicating your content and whatnot.
Joelle Morgan: Yeah, of course. Speaking of event strategy—that’s innately linked to ELT direction and input, I’m assuming. How do they respond to your ideas, your suggestions? Are they incredibly involved in the event strategy as a general whole, or do they set certain standards or fixed stars that you’re kind of free to head towards, and then bring them into the journey as you go along?
Ashley Erikson: Well, I’m so lucky in the fact that my Executive Leadership Team really trusts me at this point, having done this now for quite some time with building a strategy. I like to have touchpoints along the way with leadership, just to be sure that I haven’t gone down a rabbit hole. But I would say that I have a decent amount of reigns.
And then as it relates to building the content, we really take those key initiatives that are indicated from leadership as the most important things that we need to, teach our operators or communicate to our attendees, and then build from there. So I would say that they give us a topographical map, and then we build it out into an actionable plan.
Joelle Morgan: So when you are looking at building content, when you are meeting with your Executive Leadership Team, what are you hearing from them that they’re wanting to push forward? Is it technology advances? Is it the next marketing plan that Chris Brandt is releasing? Is it what’s coming next? Are there operational structures that you’re looking to train into?
Is it a full kind of spectrum of everything, but give us a little bit of a taste of those kind of key elements that we’re looking for?
Ashley Erikson: Sure. Yeah, I mean, for us, it’s a little bit of everything, which I think is great because we don’t get too deep into anything as it relates to sitting through a 3-hour presentation. That’s not for us.
So I’d rather, and I think our executive team would rather, touch on everything and give you a roadmap of what’s coming for the organization in all of those areas. What’s marketing up to? What can we expect from technology? What’s going to make our jobs easier? That’s one thing that’s really always a win for our operators is if their job is going to be better when they come back from this event as a result of something that’s been announced.
Dishwashers, one year, got a standing ovation, you know, so who would’ve thought? So things like that, I think you need to think about your audience.
Ultimately, we like to give a flashback to the past and then a good idea of what’s coming in the future. One thing that was really indicative on our last survey, was a lot of folks commented, “This is great. I’m so glad that we’re seeing what we’re doing and what we’ve done. Can we get even more about what’s coming?”
So, I think that will inform us as we move forward. Maybe instead of a 30, 30, 30 on past, present, and future, let’s pivot that and talk 10% past, 20% future, or 20% present and 70% future. Let’s give these folks as much as we can to remind them that they’re leaders in our organization and they have a seat at the table, and they’re the first to know.
Joelle Morgan: I just want to circle back on one of the things that’s coming up here is I notice how in lockstep you, as an event professional, are with your Executive Leadership Team. Do you think that that’s a real key to your success at Chipotle?
Ashley Erikson: I think majorly. I am so lucky that events are taken seriously by our by our Executive Leadership Team, and we’re able to get in front of them from an events perspective, but it’s also been really helpful to me in understanding the organization at all levels. I think I’m lucky in that my role is to articulate all of these messages from all of these departments back down to our operators.
And I feel like I have a bird’s eye view of what’s happening in the organization. Maybe even more so than folks that are permanently sat in their department, and might not have as much insight into what’s coming in technology, because they sit in marketing, or as much idea of what’s going on in ops, because they’re in finance.
And so I feel very blessed to have the opportunity as an event person to be able to have that bird’s eye view.
Joelle Morgan: And having a voice at the table. And I remember one of the things that you and I chatted about, even as we were planning for this podcast is that you had this statement where you said, “My recommendation is if you see an opportunity, you raise your hand.”
Do you remember saying that?
Ashley Erikson: Yeah. Well, I think that that’s been important to me in my career and I think that’s why I held so many different roles since I’ve been at the organization. My recommendation to anyone is if there’s an opportunity, jump on it, because you could learn something that will be invaluable to you in the space that you’re hoping to be in, whether that’s events, or something else down the line. It’s definitely been helpful for me to always raise my hand and to also never be above doing any job. I will still haul a 6-foot table if that’s what’s needed, like…
Joelle Morgan: and I’ve seen you do it.
Ashley Erikson: Yeah. Never be above any job.
Joelle Morgan: I think you’re right. I think the key to that is building credibility that then gives you that voice and the platform to speak with direction and have others hear you is so important.
We’ve talked about some cool stuff and some fun things and ways that we approach things.
Let’s pivot for a hot second. And I know “pivot” is like the perfect 2020 word. What are some of the challenges that you’re experiencing right now in our industry? I know we’re coming out of the last two years where it was a bit of a hot mess, but I know that there are still some headwinds that we’re facing.
What are the challenges that you’re seeing? Both organizationally, and then in the wider event industry.
Ashley Erikson: For us, it’s getting back ahead of that eight ball, I would say. I operate better well in advance, and I feel like we’re coming in a little slow still on planning events because we had to go on hold there for a minute.
Then we were working virtually for a moment; then we got through AMC; and now we’re already planning FLC, but as we are expanding our event portfolio, I feel a bit behind the eight ball. People think it’s nuts that we’re already thinking 2026, but I feel a little behind schedule.
Of course, size of event is indicative of that. But, I would also say that being sure that your advocating for events in a safe way. Luckily my Legal and my Safety Security and Risk Team really appreciated that I was coming at this from a safety standpoint. Of course, I want the event to happen, but I want to be sure we do it safely, because the last thing I want is for everyone to leave this event with a bad taste in their mouth from things going wrong, or quarantines, or who knows what?
So how do we get ahead of any of those health or safety questions that may come up? I think that’s super important. For us as a brand, my primary challenge is again, timing and being sure that we’re giving people enough runway for knowing when the events are coming, and what to expect.
Also, just pulling our operators out of our restaurants, and to have all of our operators out for three days is a real challenge. So again, continuing to get executive buy in that the growth and the learning and the culture building is worth its weight. To have those folks out of the restaurants for three days is great.
But, that is one of our primary challenges. Other things that are being discussed in the industry at industry events and things that I’m going to is getting executive buy-in. I think some executive teams are still trepidacious about signing contracts a year out, and not knowing what that could look like, and who knows what. Also, ensuring that budget is earmarked for events. Again, it all comes back to you have to be sure that you’re showing the return of the event so that it does get earmarked and that it doesn’t get taken away. With inflation, and all of these crazy supply chain issues, and all of this going on, really being sure that you’re strong and hold tight to your budget.
Joelle Morgan: Yeah, absolutely. I think all of these things, when we start looking at them, they’re not in their separate lanes. They’re also enmeshed and connected to one another. When we look at budgets, we are also looking at return on investment and return on investment is deeply connected to our why. Why are we holding this event, and what does this look like in the future? What are we investing in our budget today or in our planning today? And even when we’re holding those hotels for 2026, we’re still holding true to that top line “why”. Why are we having this event? And it really is to continue to drive growth, drive connection, drive revenue, and continuing to build, as Chipotle says, “A Better World.”
Do you have any advice for young event professionals that are starting their career, and looking at these big four to 5,000-person events and really wondering, well, how do I start a career in this industry? And what does this look like 10 years from now? Where would you suggest they start?
And what advice would you have for them to grow their career and become successful?
Ashley Erikson: Oh, if I had a crystal ball I would tell you what 10 years looks like in the industry. But, I would say, similar to what we were saying earlier, don’t ever be afraid to raise your hand for a role. I think one thing that’s been really great for the trajectory of my role is I’ve done so many different jobs that I don’t have any fear of that. I used to own partnerships, so great. How do I parlay that into something useful for events? Well, I have all these contacts. Let me reach out to them and see if they’d like to donate product for swag bags. When I was the project manager for a lot of the promotions that were happening in marketing earlier in my career, I can then take that project management skill set and advance the event. So you’re always learning something that will be helpful to you in future positions, if you’re open to it. How you take advantage of that, I think, is up to you. But I would say never be afraid to take on any job.
I also think it’s so important that we as event professionals we really take care of ourselves. A lot of people don’t know a event professional is in the top five most stressful jobs in the United States. We are on the road, and we are traveling like crazy, and we don’t have routine.
And so wherever you can get a lot of those healthy practices, it’s important because you can’t be out in random cities until all hours of the night and not taking care of yourself, or you hit that wall really fast.
Joelle Morgan: I think you’re absolutely spot on and learning to care for ourselves when we’re so busy.
And like you said, 2:00 AM in the morning—that’s not uncommon for us in our industry. We’re still setting up tables and chairs and linens at 2:00 AM in the morning. And then to turn around and be back to a queue call, for example, at 4:00 AM the next day can be a tight turn. Even just acknowledging the fact that we’re all human and we do have to take care of ourselves, I think is so freeing to hear someone like you say that. So, thank you.
Ashley Erikson: It’s only taken me this many years to figure it out.
Joelle Morgan: Me too. When I start listening to advice, I’ll let you know. Do you have a favorite event?
Ashley Erikson: Well, it seems selfish to say, but AMC 22 was probably my favorite that I’ve ever put on. It was our largest; it was the first back from COVID; it was overwhelmingly positive. I think we did such an amazing job too, of sort of transforming some of our ideas from 2020 and making them work in 2022, again, being mindful of budget and it ended up being just flawless.
I really don’t have much to say that needed to be adjusted. Of course there’s always ways to make things a little bit better, but there was no glare.Nnothing glaring and that’s always really exciting when you leave an event and you’re like, “Wow. We…we killed that.”
Joelle Morgan: Absolutely. It was amazing. So AMC, your favorite event, AMC 22, it wrapped only a couple of months ago. It might seem like forever, but it was only a few months ago. What have been some of the key phrases that have really resonated to you that have kind of stuck with you in your feedback surveys, and in the conversations that you’ve had since?
Ashley Erikson: Well, again, I think similar to what people said leaving the Adobo Awards was thank you to the executive team for acknowledging the work that we’ve put in. I mean, our operators are heroes, because they didn’t skip a beat. And they’re the only reason that the rest of us have jobs to go to in our living rooms.
So, I think that there was a resounding sort of appreciation for that acknowledgement, which was wonderful. Some of the most impactful things, as far as I was concerned…we had a couple of folks say, “I didn’t know if career advancement was possible for me, but after attending this event, I feel confident that I have what it takes; that this organization is set up to make me succeed.” Those are what it’s all about. If someone feels excited about their job, and excited about their opportunities for growth and acknowledged by their leadership team, what else is there?
Joelle Morgan: Yeah, absolutely. A motivated person could change the world.
Ashley Erikson: Oh my gosh. Incredible. Yeah. And I love too that we’re able to tell a lot of human stories. We have so many amazing human beings in our organization, and they have beautiful stories to tell. This year, we really did our best to connect those human stories back to our values around hospitality and food, with integrity. Being able to weave those stories of our operators into those value sets, really helped a lot of the people in the audience connect to our mission in a simpler way.
Cultivating A Better World it is a beautiful mission, but it’s also a huge mission. So, how do I know, as an operator, that I’m contributing to that ‘better world’ and sort of breaking that down. Having people understand that if you love helping a single mom, who’s coming in with three kids to try and feed them lunch, and you identified that they could use some help, and do that, you’re creating a hospitable environment and sending that person out of the restaurant in a better position than they came in.
Or if you are passionate about surveying quality food from local farmers, which is incredible, you can do that here and you can talk about that and be passionate, and be really proud of the food that you’re serving to your community.
They’re all contributing to Cultivating A Better World, it’s just reminding them of that. So, having a lot of people leave AMC with that sentiment meant a lot to me, personally, and I know will ultimately really contribute in a positive way to our organization.
Joelle Morgan: So Ash, we do all this amazing work.
We get to see those stories. We get to have incredible moments. We get to see Allegiant Stadium with Chipotle logos on them. We have One Republic and Keenan Thompson, and we have all these big gasp moments, but really when it all comes down to it, when it’s all said and done to you, what’s it really about?
Ashley Erikson: It’s all about the people. It’s all about every one of our operators who is working to. give the rest of us a role. You know, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t be able to do my job if we didn’t have high-quality people to put events on for, and we have some of the best in the business. So yeah, for me, it’s all about the people.
Joelle Morgan: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you so much for your time today, Ashley.
Ashley Erikson: Thank you for having me.
Joelle Morgan: It’s been so fun. I’ll do a podcast with you anytime. We might have to do a second at some stage. We’ve loved having you on the show. Thank you so much for being with us today.
Ashley Erikson: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you.
In this episode, our VP of strategy and host of the Meetings and Events Podcast, Joelle Morgan has a lively discussion with Event Experience Lead at Chipotle, Ashley Erickson. They explore the question why even hold an event at all? With talk of a possible recession on the horizon, what makes events essential to keep in the budget as it relates to ROI? They cover topics such as, what are the objectives and key goals that companies need to hit in order to value an event in their event portfolio? How do companies gain audience feedback? And how to create an attendee experience. We hope you enjoy this episode, and learn from Ashley as much as we did.