Tips for Maximizing Meeting Content, Retention & Budget

January 25th, 2013 by admin No comments »
Meeting space is one of the critical components in setting the tone for your message. Talking heads with power point presentations will surely put your audience to sleep so be sure there are interactive snippets throughout the session that help to apply the learning techniques and keep the audience engaged. Keep in mind that the amount of meeting space needed is considered “real estate” and needs to have revenue associated with it to make it profitable for the venue. When evaluating space, take into account whether or not you are going to have the following inside the room:
·         Staging
·         Audio visual equipment
·         AV technician/Production crew
·         Food and beverage
·         Registration Table
Set up of the room sets the tone for your event. Whether you are conducting a training session or holding an association conference, each meeting room needs to be thoroughly evaluated.
·         Theatre style provides maximum seating for sessions under 90 minutes.
·         Hollow Square is best for interactive meetings that are more discussion based where everyone is on an equal level.
·         U Shape is best if AV and presentations are needed in small interactive group settings. You can always add theatre style seating around the perimeter for observers.
·         Classroom or Schoolroom is best for longer meetings or those requiring note taking with a single presenter.
·         Rounds, Crescent Rounds or Pods are most common for meal functions or to encourage smaller interactive round table sessions of 6 – 10 people.
·         Eyeball is chairs only in a circle to encourage creative involvement in small work groups.
·         Lounge or Comfy seating is great for socializing / networking but is not encouraging for participants to exercise their greatest creativity.

Creating a learning environment that moves participants in rotation to different meeting set ups will keep them stimulated and improve retention. The time in their seat is not equal to the time they are learning.

Proportionate space can usually be negotiated at no cost as long as the guest room rates are not too deeply discounted. There will likely be a food and beverage minimum spend to offset meeting room rental. Decide how and when you will utilize the food enticements to maximize the attendee perception of a great conference.
·         Plated meals are portion controlled and force individuals to focus on the dining experience. It is the most cost effective meal option.
·         Grazing stations allow people to mingle while tasting and oftentimes they don’t feel like they ate much but they tend to eat more. Choose from pasta stations, potato bars, carving stations, taco bars, and themed salad bars. Keep them to one hour of food service and you are likely to stay on budget.
·         Reception foods with passed hors d’oeuvres tend to be the most costly based on the labor of bite size portions and the server fees. Always order the smallest cheese tray or veggie tray as those items may be well intended but far less popular.
·         Pay close to the percentage of the service charge and any added fees for servers or equipment.
General session rooms for larger audiences typically require stage, lighting, sound and rear screen projection. Request that space on 24 hour hold based on the extensive set up. Seating arrangements can be changed from meeting to meal set ups with ample time built in. Consider doing crescent rounds (6 people per 60” round table all facing the front) should your time between sessions and meals be short with limited space. The other advantage to that meeting style it that you have small round table session discussions for team training exercises. On meeting breaks you can require attendees to change their seats to maximize networking among different groups. There are several fun ways to encourage intermingling and new perspectives.
Professional key note speakers and entertainers are great headlines to draw maximum attendance. Their technical knowledge is interesting, but not all technical experts can deliver a message in an actionable way. Be sure to review their talking points so the message is clear, on time, on target and leaves the ego out of the room. Decide in advance if you will allow professional speakers to do any back of the room sales or if their best seller is a gift to the audience. Oftentimes you can negotiate the rate to include the takeaway. For the greatest return on investment, move sessions from “expert-centric” to “participant-centric”. More participant involvement produces better retention, buy in and unique, creative ideas.
Technical training tracks are best done in the smaller group settings in breakout sessions. Another way to do the breakout sessions are in a “learning lounge” environment where your suppliers can do specialized training modules in theatre sessions around the perimeter interspersed in a trade show environment. This is a good way to provide added value to the vendor, keep people on the tradeshow floor, save on speaker expense, add vendor clients to the trade show only attendance and enhance revenue streams for the conference. The “learning lounge” sessions should be 30 minute snippets and can be repeated. Set each theater for no more than 10% of the group and have no more than 2 sessions going simultaneously.
Internet access in meeting space can be a large expense and be sure to check the minimum bandwidth before you consider live streaming. Videotaping sessions can be extremely valuable for training purposes or a revenue stream following the conference. Many trade show vendors will want internet access so be sure that option is included in their packet. Guests may be carrying their personal recording devices assuming internet access is available but there is typically a charge per IP address. Investigate and inform attendees in advance.
Equipment rental, shipping and handling and meeting space can be a large expense. Be sure your contract permits you to bring in outside contractors as this will assist in negotiating for things like security and audio visual. The built in sound system is usually proprietary and not included if you elect an outside vendor. Depending on the production level of your event, the in house system may not meet your needs.
These are just a few considerations that narrow options of your set up and zoom in on budgeting options. With an average per person cost of $1,800 – $2,500 for a 3 day meeting, it is important to have a meeting professional negotiating all supplier contracts. Having a meeting professional on-site to manage logistics, trouble shoot and answer questions keeps the organizer focused on the meeting purpose with attention on the goal. The devil is in the details so leave the devil to A2Z Meetings & Events 813-990-0950.

Venue with a View

October 10th, 2012 by admin 1 comment »

The Sarasota skyline is gorgeous with the tall city scape to the east and the serene sunset sea view to the west. Huge motor and sailing yachts are tightly tucked in the harbour and above it all is a unique event venue with so much to offer.

Anne Camire has been the Director of Sales & Catering at Marina Jack for 10 years. Camire’s is proud to sell the best view in town and great restaurant quality food. Additionally, she provides that extra special attention to detail along with her dedicated team.

Weddings are in high demand and Saturday nights are difficult to acquire. Anne and team really would like to cater to more corporate events for awards, recognition and celebrations. The best months to book would be August & September and Monday evenings throughout the year. Meeting room rental may be waived during low demand periods.

The venue is perfect for 50 – 150 with a dance floor and is one stop shop inclusive of white linens. Flowers, themed décor, chair covers and specialty items such as wedding cake are provided by outside approved vendors.

Assistance with all styles of events for this and any other Tampa Bay venue can be orchestrated directly with the venue or through A2Z Meetings & Events. The owner of A2Z was recognized as the Meeting Professional of the Year by the Tampa Bay Area chapter of Meeting Professionals International. We can save you time, money and resources while you focus on purpose and profit.

2 Marina Plaza            Sarasota, Florida 34236           T: 941-365-4232

How Much Stress Are you Willing to Exchange For Bare Naked Air Fare?

August 19th, 2012 by admin No comments »

Customer Service is a reflection of how an employee partner is valued by their employers. I had the chance to fly 2 different airlines on back to back weekends this month and what a huge difference in attitude, cleanliness and overall pricing.

I will avoid Spirit Airlines in the future for so many reasons but the first notable reason is the overall attitude of their entire team. This is the only airline I know of that charges more for a carry on than a checked bag. Zero bags are permitted with your ticket price. The aircraft is filthy, the magazines in the seat backs are all dog eared and nasty. Not only is there nothing to eat without a charge but you pay for coffee and water. The staff is curt, stiff and straight faced … not a friendly voice or warm smile to be found.

On my return flight I encountered a family that was sending their 12 year old daughter on my flight and they accessed them an additional $100 for an unaccompanied minor. I told them I would be happy to assume responsibility for the child as I was traveling with my adult daughter and overheard the brutal exchange. The desk clerk glared at me and said “That is not the way it is done.” At the time they purchased the ticket they inquired about any additional fees and were told there weren’t any. The response at the ticket desk was “Because THEY didn’t do their job doesn’t mean WE won’t do ours.” The frustrated family requested a supervisor and got the same cold curt response. Either you pay the fee or she doesn’t fly. Can you imagine what was going on in the mind of that child?! I was incensed that it was handled so unprofessionally with no regard as to how it impacted the big picture of the business success. It felt like they were held hostage and such a great injustice was proudly exhibited by the team members. It was obvious that they were whipped if they showed any empathy and even though they may hate their job, they were happy to have one. If Spirit Airlines expects to survive, they need to treat their employees with dignity and their customers with respect and gratitude.

This week I flew Southwest Airlines. What a refreshing difference! My long flight from Tampa – LAX was complete with TWO complimentary checked bags PLUS a carry on. Beverages of choice were included in the ticket price along with snacks of choice … and it wasn’t limited to one bag of 10 peanuts! Each time I had eye contact with a flight attendant I was greeted with a smile and “Can I get anything for you?” There was fun banter as opposed to the usual crackled drone on the microphone. The flights are loaded quickly with great efficiency and the flight crew participates in assisting the patrons and thanks you for choosing their airline … not with a scripted insincere monotone scolding of the aforementioned airline.

I had to comment to Steve, one of the flight attendants who was over the top delightful. It was so obvious he loved his job as he let the entire plane know that his co-attendant, Marianne had just won flight attendant of the month. His response to me was that he worked for the greatest company in the world and this was his 25th year with them. Is that the kind of response YOUR employees would give when YOU are not watching? Everyone I encountered was an absolute delight.

I can say with all sincerity that I will choose Southwest Airlines even with connecting flights as opposed to direct flights with the surly Spirit. Southwest has earned my business and deserves recognition for their outstanding customer service. Spirit needs a wake up call before they find themselves out of business.

We all have choices on who we support and I support companies who recognize that they are only successful when they treat their teams’ right.

Virtual Trade Shows

April 26th, 2012 by admin No comments »

There are LOTS of ways we can work together to make each of our businesses stronger and I am exploring several options besides networking events. You may be aware that I am working on virtual meetings and events for some of my clients and it is an effective way of getting rich content out to potential members, buyers or fans. I have also done virtual trade shows and the formats were very costly and very time specific. This one is FREE to you and is “open 24/7”.

Louis Godin of is providing a Virtual Trade Show format that will help draw business to everyone on the tradeshow floor. I am working with him to make our presence throughout Florida rich with amazing suppliers to the meeting and event industry. I am focused on personal relationships and helping the BEST of the BEST to get their marketing message on line with a group of professionals where we are endorsing one another. We are not looking for large companies with huge marketing budgets. We want to attract people who provide unique, personal service and hope that you will submit your application so we can all grow together! There is no cost so this is strictly a combined effort of small, unique services, suppliers and venues to look big and attract buyers to the destination.
As an example, Busch Gardens can be found in lots of places but the Clearwater Aquarium “Home of Winter from the Disney movie” is clearly small and unique. I will seek B&Bs, country clubs or special treasure spots for wedding venues as opposed to large, flagged hotels.


 On each of the Registration forms (virtual Booth Space and Presenter Space) it will ask “How did you hear about this free promotion” just put my name as the referral. There will be several “applicants” who will be denied because they are not endorsed or their web presence does not clearly define their expertise in the meetings or event market. Let me know if you need assistance in building your “booth”. The more content we get into the show, the more searchable we ALL become. Also, if there is a vendor that you believe would benefit from participating in this that I may not know personally, please forward their name and email to me so I can contact them directly.


 Pick the category that best describes your market Weddings, Meetings, Leisure travel and let’s draw some business to one another!


 These portals will simplify registration … find and click on the big red box at the top that says Exhibitor Booth Registration … REMEMBER, when asked “How did you hear about this free promotion” just put my name as the referral.


Meetings & Conventions … Exhibitors include: Full and Limited Service Hotels, Meeting Facilities, Caterers, Travel, Tourism, Audio Visual, Transportation, Event Decoration & Design, Entertainment, Meeting Planners, Meeting Planning, Florists & Flowers, Corporate Gifts and MUCH more.


Weddings & Special Events … Exhibitors include: Full and Limited Service Hotels, Catering Facilities, Event Facilities, Caterers, Honeymoon Destinations, Bakery & Cakes, Event Decoration & Design, Entertainment, Wedding Planners, Florists & Flowers, Formal Wear & Gowns and much more.
Travel & Tourism Industry Exhibitors include: Hotels, Resorts, Attractions, Transportation, Flights, Agents Resources, Cruises, Publications and MUCH more.
Virtual Exhibitor booth, show event space and sponsorship is FREE and subject to approval and placement by host/organizer.
Browse exhibitors and attend show events on your schedule in the comfort of your home or office 24/7. Each virtual trade show showcases exhibitor booths which includes Introduction and links to FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Web Sites, Blogs, PR, Testimonials, *Videos, *Presentations, *Seminars (*ie. Show Events) and offers contact by EMail, Live Chat, Phone, Directions and more. GET TO KNOW EACH LOCAL EXHIBITOR VIRTUALLY.
Training sessions on building a more robust web presence on the trade show floor take place every Wednesday at 11 am. There is also a group on Linked In and a “Show Lounge” where discussion groups can talk about virtual platform options and costs. There are also opportunities to host the training sessions for attendees. More bells and whistles will be added so jump on board the Change Train!
A great article from MPI just popped into my screen … so appropriate! WORK TOGETHER OR FAIL ALONE Keynote Jonah Lehrer: The days of individual problem solvers are over. It’s a new time: collaboration and connections are tantamount to your survival.

Tips on Looking for Work

August 24th, 2011 by admin No comments »

A lot of folks are looking for work. They go on interviews for positions they will take for the money and hate getting up to. They settle while their regret eats at them and their spirit erodes. There is less of them to give to their families because they struggle for self esteem. Dreaming and a spirit of gratitude appear impossible.
For those of you in jobs that inspire and ignite you find life exciting and your magnetism floats as you rise to the top of your career. You look forward to each day as adventure unfolds and your dreams are bigger than the fabulous life you lead. People smile around you and there is an instant aura the brightens a room when you arrive.
So how do those in the first paragraph find their path to the second? This is a tough economy and the Pollyanna approach is drinking the kool-aid toward insanity. Forget about finding my purpose! I just want a JOB! And back they go to the scenario first described.
• OK so let’s go back to Pollyanna – a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything. What can we take from a spirit of irrepressible optimism? Try some of these steps and let me know how you feel. You will need pen and paper … preferably a notebook to journal your progress.
• Write down the things you enjoy in your current job. You can turn the paper over and write the things you don’t enjoy since your brain may gravitate to that side and it is good to be clear on the things that are eating you so you don’t go back there. Keep your pros on cons list so this life experience is never lost. You are on a journey now and each brick is important to recognize as part of our life and how we choose our path to greatness. You aren’t going to quit your current job until you create a solid path toward a healthy future so find those things you enjoy and your focus on those things will make them multiply.
• Write the characteristics of your dream job. What will you do in exchange for money? Obviously if your dream job is drinking beer in front of the TV you won’t earn enough to eat and I am not sure there is an abundance of those jobs out there. Describe your passions and talents and don’t worry so much about fitting a mold. Things like helping people, working with my hands, budgets, spreadsheets, numbers, creative writing, designing, working outdoors, being part of a team. Some of these resonate and some of these make you cringe.
• Write descriptive adjectives about yourself. You can choose from this list of a few samples or come up with those that really describe the unique character that is stored deep within. Analytical, witty, compassionate, loyal, independent thinker, adventurous, flexible, dependable, conceptual, optimistic, imaginative, prepared, logical, spontaneous, sincere, concerned, inventive, impactful, personal, organized, curious, competitive, enthusiastic, thorough. We are all colors!
• Take an interests exam. Invest that much in yourself to identify your passion and the careers associated with those. I took the Strong Campbell Interest exam when I first decided to work on a career path as opposed to finding a job. It led me to the medical field because I enjoy helping others. Hospitals and hospitality are kin. They are both healing centers but one makes you laugh and the other makes you think. My life long journey has been hospitality and I have enjoyed a career mere mortals could not dream about.
• Learn the skills you need to fulfill your dream. Sometimes that means classes, workshops, tech school. Sometimes it is finding a mentor or 3 and adding value to their lives while they inject wisdom and spirit into yours. Sometimes it is being open to learn your craft on the lowest level and allow life to unfold while you have a clear but flexible path outlined. You may find a volunteer role that allows you to practice and gain related experience. I engaged all of these suggestions throughout all sectors of my career.
• KEEP DREAMING. Create a vision board. Set goals. Associate with positive people. Keep your affirmations in front of you reminding yourself how good you are and enjoy the journey. Turn off the TV and try very hard to eliminate the negative forces in your life. Worry and fear will tear you down. Take a proactive approach to those things that cause concern and get excited about working through the details.
In closing I share a couple of famous quotes and my own sparkle of truth. “Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.” Ralph Waldo Emerson “We tell the real truth of our life by the stories we repeatedly tell. Dare to dream of your great success. Become intimate with those things which deeply motivate you and regularly work toward the realization of that mission.” Mary Anne Radmacher
To thine own self be true. We are only going around once so let’s grab all the gusto we can get. Be memorable and leave a legacy.

10 Tips When Speaking of Speakers

June 12th, 2011 by admin No comments »

You are in charge of orchestrating a meeting and need to hire speakers. Ask the following questions to keep on task:Laura Schwartz

  1. What are the burning issues? Zoom in on the topics that need to be covered and the primary learning objectives.
  2. What style of speaker do you need? Is the purpose to inspire, educate, entertain or technical. You may chose an industry expert, a professional speaker or professional entertainer.  My favorite is an “edu-tainer” who is theatrical, motivational, speaks on the latest trends and leaves you with an action step checklist.
  3. How much time does the speaker have to cover their topic? Speakers need to customize their presentation to fit into the allotted timeframe and leave time for Q&A.
  4. Where do you find speakers? They are everywhere! You may connect with them on Linked In, at a conference, in a networking group, your industry associations, speakers bureaus (local, regional, state, national and international Speakers Association), convention and visitors bureau, chamber of commerce or ask industry professionals for referrals.
  5. Once you find a speaker that sounds good, what is next? Check out their website. Ask for a demo. Get a list of references and be sure to contact them personally for greater insight. I once read speaker reviews and brought in a “rock star speaker” who turned out to be from the stone age.
  6. Does the speaker have a contract? No matter what, get it ALL in writing. If your speaker has their own contract, review it carefully. If you need to write the speaking terms of agreement be sure you include everything you have agreed in terms that are complete with no instruction left out. Will they be permitted to self promote? If so, will a book signing table be needed for back of the room sales?
  7. Who is paying for what? Be sure to outline what the speaking fee is and if that includes ground transportation to and from the hotel, airport and/or home. Are meals and accommodations included? Are you making their arrangements or will they make them and be reimbursed? Be sure to do the check requests to insure prompt payments at the appropriate intervals.
  8. Will they have hand outs? It is important to have a memorable take away of some sort. If there is going to be something available, announce that in the beginning of the presentation so attendees are not scribbling every word and missing keys points. Who is printing and paying for these or will they be available on line? If materials are being shipped, where will they be sent and by what date? Nothing could be worse than having boxes shipped to the wrong place or arrive after the presentation.
  9. What are the speaker’s audio visual requirements? Much will depend on the size of your audience but few meetings take place that do not require a computer, LCD projector, screen, microphone, sound system, lectern and stage. We’ve all sat through the “death by power point” presentations and the emotional “here is how I did it” inspirations so be sure your speaker is engaging and requires audience participation throughout their performance.
  10. What should you ask for to promote their message? Get a CURRENT photo (I am thinking of the “rock star”), bio, engaging topic title, topic description and learning objectives. These items can be shared in your pre-marketing material and/or program headlines.

Be sure to send out surveys requiring feedback from attendees following the program. Communicate the results to the speaker and the venue since this is a helpful tool to keep all partners on the path of improvement and praise. Scorecards help shine the light on what we are doing well and what we can work on to sharpen our skills. Keep track of each speaker’s scorecard and write referrals for the highest achievers. Bring them back to let your audience know you their voice matters.

It has been my pleasure to work with so many wonderful speakers, authors and entertainers. There are many gifted experts that may be in your backyard and not require long hauls, overnight stays and additional fees. Talent does not have geographic boundaries. Consider degrees of the goal you can accomplish within your budget and negotiate a fair deal where all parties win. A2Z Meetings & Events is always happy to help!

14 Important Traits Clients Look For in Meeting Planners

May 24th, 2011 by admin No comments »

In all relationships TCBR003593RUST is the most important element to having and maintaining open communication.  So many companies out there can be vendors, suppliers and meeting professionals, but to become a trusted advisor to your clients is an invaluable and immeasurable level of achievement. Once attained, this will be one of the most important attribute to carry. Beyond knowing, liking and trusting there are other traits that are critical in an independent meeting planner relationship. See if any of these are on your list and if there are any I have missed:

  • Planners are most valuable when they help clients identify specific meeting goals and then recommend strategies and tactics to achieve them. Clients appreciate meeting planners that have the ability to think and act strategically.
  • Meeting planners must handle the pressure with a smile and manage contingency plans seamlessly.
  • Great meeting planners must have the ability to create and manage the budget. This relates to both revenue and expense lines.
  • Organization is a critical trait for meeting planners. As the liaison between the venue and the client it makes all the difference in the success when the planner can make swift decisions and keep it all together.
  • Cost driven creativity is invaluable and can more than pay for the relationship! Knowing where to go to for the best values in all components of your meeting and utilizing their long-term relationships saves time, money and stress while adding a lot of extra sizzle. 
  • Excellent meeting planners understand the client’s vision and deliver with an extra “wow” factor.
  •  Look for an upbeat person who does not “lose it” under pressure. When it is show time you need to be watching all angles.
  • Find a planner who is able to make decisions on the fly and is a good negotiator.
  • Check to be sure your planner is easily reached by phone and email.
  • An excellent meeting planner is able to execute flawlessly details of a plan with very broad direction. Good judgment on when to bother the client with changes to the event, and when to just execute.
  •  Planners must be on time, on target and on budget ready to execute Plan A, B and if necessary Plan C.  
  • Integrity and the ability to present clients with various options highlighting cost-effective solutions without compromising quality/results.
  • Transparency in pricing the contracted services is vital. Planners may be paid commission, some do mark ups, some work on flat fees, some charge by the hour, week or project and any combination of these.
It is not critical that this trusted adviser be an employee of your organization. They tend to thrive on the excitement of variety so you don’t pay them when you don’t need them. Typically cost is offset through savings of time, stress and just knowing when and what is negotiable. They are seasoned in the questions to ask that are not spelled out, which can save grief if surprises get in the way. Can you think of other traits you would need in this relationship?

Pride, Passion & Purpose

April 22nd, 2011 by admin No comments »
My year as VP of Education for Meeting Professionals International Tampa Bay chapter is coming to a close. It has been a labor of love with a lot of hard work. Each of us were asked to write about why get involved in MPI and what makes it so special to us.
 I think we all agree that we have made friends and strategic alliances that would not have been possible through any other means. It is fun, interactive and a place where relationships are built. I was NOT an MPI fan when I was a VP of Sales at TradeWinds … all my staff wanted to go and I thought it was a waste of time and money … of course, the queen of monthly reports is looking at source of business and no one ever shouted about MPI as the lead source. I thought it was just a social club. Once I got involved, I saw the strength of those relationships and encourage EVERY sales manager to document the lead source as MPI!
My first meeting was the very first Meetings Academy. Later that year I was attracted to the Meetings Marketplace. I joined immediately after and started getting involved. Jocie Rivera had been my contact at the StarLite Cruises. They had graciously hosted my team for a lunch cruise and Jocie had done a presentation to my staff. I didn’t know her well but she started connecting me with volunteer opportunities right away. Before I knew it I was entrenched in contacting speakers and working on logistics for the educational programs. Jocie also told her boss Carol Eaves about me and next thing I knew, I was logistics chair for the joint Meetings Academy Meetings Marketplace. What a blast!!! Lots of work but so rewarding and as it turns out all the relationships I had in my past were involved in some way so it gave me purpose to connect to them. I have met countless new people as well and established great relationships.
I just found an email to my family last year titled:   Pride … (I was wearing an apron for our cooking demoMOM_LindaE)
 Member of the Month
Linda Elland
In January 2009 Linda opened A2Z Meetings & Events to assist captive planners in site selection and contract negotiations. The A2Z concept provides the helping hand in all aspects of meeting and event planning whether managing a single event or a full multi-day conference.  In Addition to running her own operation, she has demonstrated great attention to detail, flexibility, dedication to success, and commitment to MPI.  Linda has been a tremendous asset to the TBAMPI Education Committee and to the national MPI organization.   Linda has served actively on the Special Events Committee (including the Meetings Marketplace) and has consistently participated in Monthly Meetings and “MPI After 5” events.  She has single-handedly steered the South Market Focus group from a tiny meeting to a highly thought out, multi-dimensional and cross industry opportunity for TBAMPI members and guests.      
Congratulations to Linda Elland, Tampa Bay Area MPI Chapter’s Member of the Month for May, 2010! 
The true test of “Why MPI” was challenged in August when I client I had courted for 5 months finally called 3 weeks prior to the meeting and was in need of someone to “pull all the pieces together”. I had to hire an exhibit company, printer, security, models, AV, temp help and execute the program. The client had a real problem letting go and everything was last minute to the point of being Mission Impossible. My friends at MPI came riding in on the white horse to help pull this together and made me look great in front of the client. One of the first things I ask when working with a supplier is “Are you a member of MPI?” If they say no, I let them know that MPI members get preferred status and then I give them information on how to join.SHRS top hat
 A recent reward of being on the board was in contacting past members and a gal I had worked with 20+ years ago was on that list. We had lost contact and here she is in my backyard! Because of MPI we have reconnected and shared great memories. She has not seen this photo … well, not in 20+ years anyway!
 Of course being on the board of MPI has truly been a major blessing. Seeing the inner workings of the organization and how focused and member driven the action steps are. It is wonderful to be associated with professionals who possess such passionate leadership styles. Having a chance to work with International has also been a gift. Booking and meeting incredible speakers and learning more about the personalities and drivers that make them so successful is another great reward. Organizing meaningful, memorable educational programs has given me purpose as this wonderful industry has been more than a career … it has been a lifestyle that carries many privileges and responsibilities and I have been blessed to share both through Tampa Bay MPI. I would enjoy helping you put the pieces of your next meeting together with the same Pride, Passion & Purpose!

Tips on Planning Your Next amA2Zing Meeting or Event

April 8th, 2011 by admin No comments »


 Who are they? Meeting Management Experts are organizations or independent experts that specialize in managing all or a portion of your meeting and or event management activities.

Who hires them? 


Sales & marketing executives; training executives; and busy meeting planning departments.


Executive directors; Chairman; Board of Directors 


Meeting planning departments

Social Event

  Special interest group organizers such as clubs; reunions & sports team travel


meeting & event planning companies

Why should I hire them? To plan and/ or execute the annual convention and /or tradeshows, sales or marketing meetings, training meeting, product launches, incentive programs, awards banquets, executive teambuilding and planning meetings, special events. They may do the planning and execution from A – Z or you may use their relationship power to negotiate the best rates on product and services. They may also act as part of your registration team so you are able to attend to the content of the meeting and delegate the details to a seasoned meeting expert.

What kind of services do they provide? You may opt for full-service (everything from A – Z) or just a piece that fills a gap such as site selection, registration, on-site staffing. The following is a partial list of services you may require.

Menu of Services


  •   Budget Development
  •   Site Selection
  •   Contract Negotiation & Review
  •   Online Registration, Housing, Travel
  •   Special Events, Unique Venues, Tours
  •   Program and Theme Development
  •   Sponsor Management


  •   Work Management and Reporting
  •   Speaker Management (Speaker contracts, Learning objectives, Bio, photo, logo)
  •   Speaker Support (Scripts, A/V, Communications, travel arrangements, compensation)
  •   Conference Materials (Development and Production of program, signage and badges)
  •   Website Development and Email Blasts
  •   Database Management
  •   Media, Social Media and Public Relations
  •   Trade show Exhibit Design and Production


  •   Registration
  •   Program Flow
  •   Floor and Stage Management
  •   Food and Beverage
  •   Vendor Management
  •   Billing
  •   Surveys and Follow-up

Benefits of using their services

  •   They have developed relationships within the industry that will often get the client value-added services.
  •   They have the expertise to fill the void and ultimately save the client time and money and their compensation is project based.
  •   They are knowledgeable about facilities, travel, service providers.
  •   They provide experienced staff needed to complete the project.
  •   Your team can continue to focus on the tasks for which they are paid and have expertise.

 What will it cost? There is no industry standard in the way meeting management experts are compensated so discuss your expectations on the scope of services your require before entering an agreement. The proposal for services can be done:

  • Commission only
  • Flat project fee
  •  By the hour or by the day
  •  Combination of any of the above

 What should you look for?

  •  Companies that meet your specialized needs
  •   Companies with depth in experience
  •  Do they have industry certifications
  • Ask for client references
  • Have they managed events of similar scope & size to yours?

  Do they belong to any of the major associations and how active is their contribution?

  • Meeting Professionals International
  • American Society of Association Executives
  • Professional Conference Management Association
  • International Special Events Society

 What value will they bring to your meeting or event?

  • Sharper negotiations skills with time savings as all you need to do is review results rather than gather the information and respond to proposals
  • Cost savings
  • Time savings
  • Broader options list of suppliers to choose from
  • Organization
  • Relationships that are committed to quality service at a fair pricescan0025
  • Creative ideas and updated industry information

The best news of all is that you stay in control. A Meeting Management Expert takes all direction from you and operates as an extension of your team. They are not compensated for any time or services that are not productive. The cost of a good Meeting Management Expert is usually made up in the savings they are able to acquire through their negotiations. You are able to stay FOCUSED ON YOUR CORE BUSINESS while the Meeting Management Expert attends to the details behind the scenes so that when you arrive, it is LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!

Independent Meeting Planning … Risky Business or Sheer Joy?

March 15th, 2011 by admin No comments »

The Entrepreneur in You …

You helped plan a graduation party and it was so much fun that you are thinking about getting into the meeting and events business. A hands-on, story based forum uncovering tips and traps of owning your own event industry business. The meeting set up is untraditional, the stories are real … the interactive nature makes this workshop personal and provides a tangible springboard for launching your meeting or event business … or you may discover gaps that need to be sharpened prior to taking the plunge.
Four industry experts from various beginnings and industry experiences will share their “How To” tales to streamline your foundation and provide secret formulas or thought processes that will save you time, money and grief. Discover all the opportunities that are available in the meeting and event industry. You will walk away with tools to make the decision that could be the beginning of a richer life.
 Friday, April 8, 2011
8:30 A.M. – 4:30 P.M.USF_75
USF Marshall Student Center
4202 E. Fowler Avenue, Tampa, FL 33620
 For more information contact:  813-974-5526