ConventionSouth

JUL 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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J U L Y 2 0 1 7 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 11 What types of changes have you seen in this industry during your years as a planner and how have they affected you? With the internet, I save paper by not getting my industry news in the mail; I do not save articles in hard copy, so I save them electronically. My pet peeve is that not all websites pass muster with my malware filter, so I may be interested in an article, but my software does not allow me to read it. Also, apps for individual meetings which have the budget are fine, but they need to be tailored to the group's dynamics. I don't like standard forms for online searches because I have my own RFPs. What are the best things about your job? Being my own boss; I set my own schedule. As we speak, I need to get ready for my Wednesday Silver Sneakers Yoga and Exercise class. I love checking out new venues and working with my participants, whom I consider to be my kids. I also like to work by myself at my own pace. Are there any special experiences that stand out? In 2002, as my Georgist conference was getting underway in London, Ontario, my mother passed away. Since I had no one to back me up, I could not go to her memorial service. My conference participants gave lots of space and hugs. Recently, the woman who made sure I had the "space" lost both her mom and her uncle in the same week, so I stepped up to the plate to give back to her and tell others to give her "space." What are the biggest day-to-day challenges you face? Budgeting; finding the right cost- effective venues for clients who are literally church mice or retired academics who can not afford expensive venues and are very, very budget-conscious about what they pay. What my clients and I think is affordable is considered by many to be unreasonable. I'm not qualified to go on FAM trips since my clients' total room nights do not qualify me, so I miss out on venues that could be a good fit. What are some of the most interesting (good or bad) experiences you have had as a planner? Bad: whirlly gig (flying centipedes) bugs in a college dorm room in 1991—I did not book another college for 16 years after that. If I see bugs of any kind, I will not book a venue. Good: Being a part of MeCo and having my MeCousins (my fellow moderators) with whom I interact every day; Being part of ConventionSouth's advisory board since 1994. Getting a birthday cake during my 2016 Georgist Conference in Orlando. I do not like to work on my birthday nor do I like to take tests; it is the one concession I make to being a workaholic. (I work from 7:15 in the morning until about 8:30 in the evening, but I do not sit at my computer constantly.) The client wanted the week of my birthday, so I was stuck, and the venue knew it, so there was a chocolate cake in my suite at the end of the day. I love the customer care the Wyndham gave me! What advice would you offer to other planners? (Especially those just starting out.) READ, READ, READ; interact with your peers on listserves. which is the most time-effective way of keeping up with new developments. Be a plugger! Our issue topics this month are Small Market Meetings and Medical Meetings… do you have any experiences in these areas that you might share? Small market meetings are ideal for my clients; we get lost in large markets. Small markets are affordable both room-wise and for food & beverage. n Q: Q: '' "I am OJT (on the job) trained. I am self-taught. I have never worked as an employee of an association and have been my own boss for my entire meeting planning career. I am not one for certification, but I like to attend industry events with educational components for experienced planners." Q: Sue Walton and business partner/spouse Scott Walton take site selection seriously. They recently drove from Chicago to St. Louis to Atlanta to Orlando's Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort near Disney Springs, then drove home via Knoxville and Louisville, which have potential future venues for one of their clients. Q: Q: Q: Q:

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