Archive for April, 2011

Pride, Passion & Purpose

April 22nd, 2011
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


 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!