JUN 2012

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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Home PLANNER PROFILE meet the planner… meet Dara Jan Morehead Director of Administration & Membership Services, Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance What types of meetings and events do you plan? Iʼm responsible for the associationʼs two an- nual conventions. Our Annual Meeting is our largest member- ship meeting, attracting about 350 folks in July. Itʼs always in-state and we encourage family attendance. Our Winter Meeting is our meeting geared primarily for senior management and is held somewhere warm in Jan- uary with an average attendance of 150. What is one of your biggest challenges and how do you work to overcome this challenge? Our meeting planner of 63 years (thatʼs right, she came to work here at 18 and retired at 81) retired at the onset of the economic downtown. We de- cided not to replace her and I became a meeting planner. Although I had been with the association for almost 20 years, I had always relied on her to flawlessly execute these two events. Hers were enormous shoes to fill! Who is your professional role model and why? I have two. My predecessor, Margie McGee is one. The quintessential Southerner, Margie al- ways was gracious, kind, tactful even under the most challenging of circumstances, and her atten- tion to detail was amazing. She taught me more about living an honorable life than meeting plan- ning, and that was her most valued legacy to me. My second is Rick Eisenman of Eisenman and Associates. Rick had always assisted us in site selection and contract negotiation. When Margie retired, Rick knew I needed help and has been an invaluable resource, and friend, in times of igno- rance or panic. What is one of the most unique ways that you boost the attendee experience? We have typically relied on industry speakers (also known as "free"). Some are great, some a little on the dry side (we are engineers and contractors after all). Over the past few years we have begun to bring in professional speakers and entertainers, which has really enhanced our programming. Providing a family-friendly atmosphere for our Annual Meet- ing in the summer continues to boost attendance, particu- larly with our younger members. We provide child care during our evening functions, which is really popular and greatly appreciated. ■ 3tips make attendees feel extra special. Focus the drinkʼs name around the theme of the event. 3. Select meeting sites that are going after groups and want your business. Use the advertising reference guide at the back of this issue or visit and search the state-by-state planning database. for smooth planning Planning Directory Planner Resources Meeting Site Showcase By Marlane Bundock 1. Ask the CVB and/or venue rep to help you generate a buzz about your meeting by posting pre-event greetings and messages on their social media pages, especially using Twitter and including posts with a custom event hashtag such as #CSFallShow. 2. Ask the venue bartender or catering department to create a speciality drink (with or without alcohol) just for your group at a discount rate to Want to share your insight & best practices on planning events? E-mail and let us meet you. 10 ConventionSouth JUNE 2012 www.con v

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