ConventionSouth

DEC 2017

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 7 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 36 The AWARDS Issue! Solutions: "I try to create ways for attendees to engage with one another within the existing conference framework while not adding extra expenses. I might add a sticker to the badges that says 'Ask me about' and have attendees fill in something they are passionate about. When they are mingling during meals or breaks, it makes an easy ice breaker for someone to see and ask them to tell them more about the topic on their badge. Another easy way to get people talking is to place signs on the lunch tables with designated hot top- ics so people can sit at tables with others who are interested in the same subject. I find that so much learning happens organically as attendees talk and share experiences, so my job is to help them start the conversation." Rewards: "I LOVE to organize. I revel in the conference planning process from setting up reg- istration to making sure that the meeting rooms are set exactly as planned. I really love when all the months of work come together and everything fits into place exactly as planned so that when at- tendees arrive on site everything looks effortless." BETHANY JONES Meeting Planning Consultant M&T Event Services, LLC Chapin, S.C. 15 years In The Business A Sparkling Anniversary Banquet When planning the 75th anniversary celebration for one of her association clients, Bethany Jones helped them create a special "Diamond Anniversary" experience. "The annual meeting came with a lot of extra excitement," she said. "The highlight was managing a diamond pendant giveaway for one lucky attendee at the final banquet dinner, which caused a lot of buzz and anticipation during the meeting. Challenges: "The increased need for inter- net access in day-to-day life, with the prohibi- tive cost of providing Wi-Fi access in meeting venues. Attendees expect the ability to con- tinue to work while at events (checking email, accessing websites) and this new line item can take a large chunk out of tight budgets." Solutions: "Sponsorship for Wi-Fi internet access on site at meetings has become very popular, this is a service that almost every attendee is using and sponsors see the tremen- dous value of getting their name/logo in front of the attendee with every log in." Rewards: Jones said she enjoys the chal- lenge of being a planner. "You never know what is going to happen, there are always cur- veballs thrown to keep you on your toes when planning or on site at events. Troubleshooting the unexpected always keeps it interesting." JAN LEVINE, CTC Owner/President, JSL Meeting & Event Group Inc. Cary, NC 30+ Years In The Business A Team Approach To Making the Cake As owner of a meetings and events company, Jan Levine orga- nizes a range of activities including multiple day meet- ings, single events, team building and a multitude of different activities across the meeting and events in- dustry. "Our hotel partners and our clients will reach out to us for team building activi- ties and, based on the time, size of group and location, we customize these activities. We were challenged this year with a team-build- ing event that needed to be held during the dinner time frame, incorporate food, keep the attention of a competitive sales kickoff meeting and, of course, all within a specific budget. We took the group off-property to a local restaurant and did a buy-out for 200 people. In one area, we set up the team tables so when it was time for dinner the group would be divided into teams by color (with no time for pre-planning or strategizing!). 'Build a Cake' was born. The teams were given the supplies in the form of two large sheet cakes, a variety of colors of icing and cake decorating items along with the deco- rating utensils. There were 12 teams of 10 challenged with decorating a cake relative to their business – insurance. The event was fun and engaging. It was quite entertaining to watch how everyone got into the action. In the end, the chef and a couple members of his kitchen team judged the cakes based on several categories – it all came together from a timing, creative, budgetary and unique experience!" Levine also described an upcoming unique experience her firm is planning for a group of 500 people for their holiday celebration. "We cannot incorporate any holiday-specific décor or entertainment, just be festive and a unique experience, so we have developed a unique masquerade type of event with aerial acts in the ballroom for entertainment, using a gold, black and red color theme. We design all of our centerpieces and tablescapes and coordinate these to compliment the food and overall theme of the event." Challenges: "According to an annual study conducted by careercast.com, event and meeting planners have one of the 10 most stressful jobs in today's work indus- try! We have known this for a long time but now it is getting national recognition. This being said, I feel that our biggest challenges are two fold: (1) Expectations for a WOW event or meeting without a WOW budget; and (2) timing/resources. Every client, Readers' Choice Award Winners • Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitors Bureau • Chesapeake Bay Beach Club • Garrett County Chamber of Commerce • Montgomery County CVB • Ocean City, Maryland CVB • Royal Sonesta Harbour Court • Tourism Council of Frederick County Inc. • Visit Baltimore • Westin Annapolis New & Renovated Award Winners • Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, See Ad On Page 23 • Grand Hotel & Spa • The Lodge at Wisp Maryland

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