Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

10 Tips When Speaking of Speakers

June 12th, 2011

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

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
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!

Independent Meeting Planning … Risky Business or Sheer Joy?

March 15th, 2011

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

Organizing Meetings Academy

February 17th, 2011

Meetings Mean Business

Recently we held our third annual educational conference for meeting professionals in our destination. It is difficult to pull people away for a full day event but we were determined to prStudent directorsovide top-notch education that would be equivalent to the high cost of travelling to a major industry event. Organizing an event like this takes as much coordination as a three day conference and sometimes more in that timelines are tight. So what are some of the steps in putting the event together?
1.       Consult with your target audience. Don’t assume you know what will motivate them to come. By bringing a team of seasoned planners together we were able to get their ideas on what type of education an advanced planner would find valuable. The other benefit is that once people share their voice, you have buy in. A third benefit is that the energy of the event changes when seasoned planners are in the room. This was a great blend of strong talent from all corners of our industry.
2.       Build a team of committed volunteers. This was the toughest part I encountered. Volunteerism seems to have lost the sizzle. So many teams are working with fewer staff and larger workloads. Business is short term and a few members had to step down to manage revenue generating activity. It is a sign of the times that our association and many others are going to need to address in an effort to provide the same level of benefits and programming that were offered when volunteers were able to give more time and talent and had greater support from their employers. The team that was consistent needs to be recognized for the added effort that was required because there were not enough of us. Marketing suffered because the talent and financial resources were lacking.
3.       Identify the topics that need a zoom lens. What will get YOU out of your office for a full day? There were lots of ideas about topics of interest and the key thread was to make it advanced learning. We typically cater to a beginner or intermediate audience in an effort to widen the net. With this conference we determined that the “big fish” was the advanced learner. In looking at our chapter demographics, we have a lot of baby boomers so some of the technology shifts may appear to be less advanced but appeal to the generational gaps that are evident in today’s meeting world.
4.       Build the schedule. We knew we needed the workshops to have more than 1 hour since there was a lot of material to cover in each topic. We kept most of the workshops on the same floor as the general sessions and meals but 15 minutes really was not enough time for breaks as this group LOVES to network and time needed to be built in for more interaction with the office. I believe the 15 minutes pre and post lunch was fine but we needed 30 minutes between the opening session and 1st set of workshops and again between workshop 2 & workshop 3. The closing session could have been blocked for 15 minutes allowing for closing remarks and the final raffle. Keeping the traffic buster in a public spot at the venue was a great call and I was thrilled so many folks found their way there.
5.       Identify the anchor key note topics and speakers. Asking our board for suggestions on the most inspiring key note speakers who really have a grasp on our industry is what got us to contact Laura Schwartz. WOW! What a gift this gal is to the meeting and event industry. Always upbeat and so engaging yet she is real people … we became instant friends and she has such a powerful, well prepared message to share. From the time she finished speaking until the event was concluded 3 hours later there was a line to meet her and purchase her book. Bruce MacMillan, CEO and President of MPI was our opening speaker and we were so fortunate that he had the interest to see what we are doing and he donated his time to share the value of belonging to our parent organization. Of course, we took the opportunity to thank our gifted members for all their time and talent and the connections we have tracked of $1.4 mm since July 2010. Membership in the Tampa Bay chapter has a proven return on investment.
6.       Identify the experts to train the workshops. Chapter Leaders have access to many proven experts who speak at other chapter events listed by topic. We started with this option and also looked at who is tops in their field in our local marketplace. Speaker travel and speaker fees add to the expense column and don’t insure greater attendance. Balancing the budget was an exercise that became extremely difficult when some sponsorship opportunities did not materialize. Still, we made a substantial investment in quality speakers and we had the perfect venue for advanced learning.
7.       Creatively financing a $30,000 + meeting experience. Our number 1 goal is to invest in our membership and provide a learning and networking atmosphere where quality planners and suppliers can build relationships. A typical monthly educational meeting is built on strategic alliances that actually help to fund meetings and events like this one. We applied for an educational grant through the MPI Foundation which helped to further offset costs. We work on every possible avenue to provide the highest quality through our generous supplier donations. When challenged by lack of sponsorship, we work on creatively impacting the goals in the most affordable manner. Thank you Sam’s Club for the one day membership! I hope everyone enjoyed the healthy options!
Early results indicate a high satisfaction rating and a desire to make Meetings Academy and annual event with a full day of educational content. I would say that it was a success and my only disappointment is that the attendance numbers should have been much greater. A very special thank you goes out to the chairs
  • Margaret Williams (strategic alliances),
  • Christy Cromwell (education chair),
  • Roberta Blum and Carol Eaves (co-chairs managing logistics),
and their teams, the senior advisory group and the calling tree team.  I also want to thank members of the board who cheered us on and dove in when their time and talent was available. MPI Tampa Bay Chapter rock on!

Partnering with a Venue to Maximize Meeting Goals

January 26th, 2011

Negotiate Winning Deals

Recently I read an article that discussed negotiating with hotels and there was a very strong bias to the meeting planner. I was so angry that a favorite magazine would print something that did not presLDivaent both sides and I am a meeting planner! The fact is that businesses may agree to terms that don’t protect them but they set up assurances that are outside of the agreement. For instance, if you want a block of 100 rooms for 3 nights and your history shows the most you have ever used is 80, the hotel may bind themselves to hold 100 rooms and honor that commitment if it materializes however, they “blind cut” your block and hold 80 rooms out of inventory so they have a more realistic accounts receivable forecast. Many hotels will hold a net block but honor the full contracted block if needed. This practice will be impacted further if there is an agreement that there will not be any attrition. So often we only think of attrition as a shortage of rooms utilized by the group and we don’t often hear of the hotel not being able to honor the full block.
 Yes, I believe we all want to achieve the best deal but the real goal is to come away with a deal where both sides win and there is an equal investment in the outcome of the meeting. Hotels need to make a fair profit so they can properly staff your meeting and keep the property maintained. Relationships matter so working with someone you trust is rule #1. How long has this person been with the hotel and when do they turn the details to the convention service manager? Ask for client references not just on the hotel but the person you are negotiating with. Be prepared to write a personal recommendation when they deliver stellar results.
It really starts with providing a clear and succinct request for proposal and knowing the value of your meeting. Start with the “must haves” and provide points of flexibility. Hotel sales people often look at the number of rooms you need and the requested meeting space and they don’t drill down much further than that. This may be all the information you need initially and you will see the timeliness and style of creativity from each sales manager.
Providing history on the meeting will help the sales manager verify the details. Be aware that your history is also a blueprint of your anticipated rate structure. Many times a request for proposal inflates the number of guest rooms needed which offsets the ratio of proportionate meeting space. The need for a lot of meeting space may be a deterrent for a hotel because the hotel needs meeting rooms to sell remaining rooms to other groups.
Right sizing your venue so you are the largest group in house helps you to maximize attention from the entire staff. This also provides flexibility in the meeting space you need. Give back space that is not needed so the hotel has an opportunity to earn additional revenue with their real estate. Every square inch of the property has a potential revenue value and when a room “goes black” there is no potential of making up for the lost income at a later date.
  1. The pattern of your meeting. City hotels have the highest demand Sunday – Thursday nights so you may get better rates on the weekends. Resorts have the highest demand on weekends because the vacationer will usually require a Saturday night stay. Your history will provide a good gauge of pre and post meeting night stays which will be communicated but I recommend only blocking those rooms that you know will be required with the clause that the group room rate will be provided on a space available basis.
  2. Time of year. Every property has a busy season, shoulder season and value season so expect to pay more when demand is high. That same property may have a more affordable time of the year and you will get all the same amenities without the crowds.
  3. Guest room type. We all know the rooms next to the elevator or a view of the dumpster are less desirable and they should be priced accordingly. In a “Run of Hotel” block, there is a mix of each room type so be aware that you may have a better rate and sacrifice the comfort of your attendees. Ask to see the worst room when you do a site inspection because the hotelier is only showing their best available.
  4. What is included? I don’t know about you but I hate when I stop for gas and the advertised rate is for cash only. I feel ripped off as soon as I swipe my card. The same is true at a hotel. Find out what all of the add-on fees are to the room. We all need internet access and many may need parking. The meeting room set ups may have additional charges as well so ask about standard sets and any upgrades you may require.
Look at the total cost of a meeting and not just the room rate. When you find the right property, build a relationship with the key players and their boss. They have the power to make you look great. Let them know that they have earned your business and in exchange for providing the agreed outcomes you will be happy to provide three things.
  • Repeat business
  • References
  • Referrals
 The relationships that you build in this business become an extension of your team. I have been in the hospitality industry for almost 30 years and I have friends in all corners of the planet as a result. It is so rewarding to be able to get so much done with the help of industry professionals who chose to make a difference. Being transparent about your needs will provide a foundation for a successful meeting and a rewarding career. Contracting with an independent meeting planner such as A2Z Meetings & Events is a sure way to leverage great relationships and save time, money and aggravation so you can focus on what is important … the MEETING!

Memorable Moments

January 2nd, 2011

Create a Memory Box

Each year it gets more difficult to produce a meaningful gift for those who have everything. The ads that speak of the price of various items that represent a sign of caring and then the one that is marked “priceless” is the quest each year  … and this year we accomplished the goal.
   2010 was a year of many great losses with family, friends and loved ones. Encouraging words and silly memories have kept our spirits alive and contagious. We actually discovered our humble beginnings created the foundation for drive, determination and success. Each person sharing their own special memory ignited ideas of new ones that had been lost. The gift was a gift from the hearts of many and everyone shared in the gift meant for two.
Write down YOUR memories and share them with those you truly love. Create a tradition to add to the mememory boxmory box each year and create a priceless gift of your own. Build a bucket list of memories to attain in 2011. We found this box and printed our memories on business card stock. It made each memory consistant in size, on a good card stock and easy to punch out rather than lots of cutting and flimsy strips of paper. After the gift was prepared with photos to accompany many of the memories, every contributor got a copy of the finished memories from all involved. Some members did not contribute at that time but have time to contribute as they desire … the gift keeps on giving.
I tried the concept out on a few friends from Southwest Florida. The email string became deep and wide and before you knew it, there were hundreds of good times that we had lost touch with that were revived like buried treasures. Keeping relationships alive can be work but work that pays in rich benefits. This is a meaningful gift for friends, family, colleagues and clients. Help expand on this idea so we all continue to enrich one another!
Memorable Meetings & Exceptional Events is a passion at A2Z Meetings & Events. Creative ideas and proven concepts will keep your attendees talking about your meetings and events. Let them know they are special. Tell them why you are taking them away from their friends and family and what they will gain as a result of their investment.
Contact us at to save time, money and stress in the new year.

Dirty Laundry

June 4th, 2010
fam1Got the latest dirt on the floods, the oil spill, hurricanes, the tornadoes, the fires, murders, strikes, earthquakes? Does news need to be sexy, shocking or shameful to attract your interest? Will you read a positive message that lacks a little sizzle? It is no secret that our economy is struggling, there have been some horrific natural disasters and now more than ever we need positive, uplifting, inspirational, spirited information that strengthens our bonds to one another.
I attended a meeting this week on the preparation that Florida businesses are dealing with the potential threat from the BP oil spill. First, the beaches are magnificent and we have not seen any impact in the state. Neighboring states have not been so fortunate but the areas of impact are in the wetlands, which is even more difficult to clean up.  Each area is trying hard to keep the news productive without sensationalizing the story. I am proud to be a member of the meeting and tourism industry in the state of Florida. In order to keep the Florida meeting and tourism industry up to speed on key developments and important information related to the Gulf oil spill, VISIT FLORIDA has created the following format for a weekly update. For more up-to-the-minute details, go to – VISIT Florida’s official corporate blog.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to change your meeting site based on a natural disaster regardless of the destination, I would be happy to work with you to be sure all parties are managed in a way that limits liability and damage and the losing party has the ability to recover at a future date. When we treat each other with care, we all win. Contact me at          
I can remember when I first decided to leave the great white north and live in paradise that I searched several islands before settling on the SW coast of Florida. Each area I visited paled in comparison to the dream of living on a Caribbean island. When I discovered Sanibel Island I knew I had found my home. I enjoyed the serenity of that wildlife sanctuary for 22 years while working for 2 of the most famous Florida resorts on the gulf coast. I remember when Hurricane Andrew came through and drove business from the east coast and I really believed it could never happen to Sanibel. Eight weeks after selling my home on that island, Hurricane Charley came in quickly and stopped time in the busy lives of everyone in that area. Tourism suffered for 2 years with devastating storm one behind the other. Four quiet years later, everything has been refurbished or rebuilt and new construction has replaced some of quaint memories of days gone by. New companies have come in to do things their way and some of the changes are great and many will mourn what they once were.
The point is that change comes whether it is planned or forced by nature and sometimes good things come from the greatest despair. Take a look at Punta Gorda, FL six years later. The old barn like convention hall has been replaced with one of the most magnificent state of the art structures with incredible light, sound and production capabilities in the state. Two beautiful, new beautiful hotels grace the waterfront and the town is bubbling with energy, live music, shopping and activity. Support our industry friends when times are dark and know that you and your meeting attendees will feel good when they can return with good news rather than the sensationalism that sells. You will find the hospitality warm and sunny as usual!  

Lots of FUN DIVA activities in the works!

February 8th, 2010

 Thursday, February 25, 2010 

Dress For Success Fundraiser and Fashion Event at SAKS FIFTH AVENUE

Please invite every professional woman you know.

It is such a worthy cause and we will have so many fun prizes and treats for everyone.
Make your reservation TODAY as space is limited!


Saturday, Feb 27 Spa Diva Day

It’s anti-age girly-girl fun with the am A2Zing aesthetician, Marie Rose.

I have one last appointment open at 3:20 PM if YOU want to join in.


 Wednesday, March 3 Wine Diva


Bottling, Tasting & Brewing Event 6 – 8 PM
Winemaking Pantry
10510 Portal Crossing Suite 104
Bradenton, FL 34211

Be sure to reserve your space in advance as all events have limited capacity.

Linda Elland, Your Missing Piece
A2Z Meetings & Events
Phone: 813-990-0950