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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Page 33 of 75

⎜ 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 34 The AWARDS Issue! to help plan!" she said. "They like to do active things like inshore fishing or Land Rover experi- ences and then have everyone go change into nice clothes for a rooftop reception or a dinner in the wine cellar." Challenges: "I'm the middle man between clients who often have a champagne taste with a beer budget, and hoteliers under a lot of pressure from their bosses to make the most money in this seller's market. Because I represent the client and sell for the hotels I have to do my very best to find a happy ground for everyone. Solutions: "I try to expose my clients to hotels that really want their business; such as hotels in a cool new suburb outside the big expensive city they asked for, or that quirky little town they've never heard of, or the hotel that was built after the huge city-wide was booked. And once we've found a hotel, I work with the sales manager to help them create a proposal that will really help my client's bottom line and get them exactly the event they want, while allowing the hotel to make the revenue that they need." Rewards: "I love starting with an RFP, seeing the planner's dream, and then helping them bring it to reality. My current role focuses on site selec- tion and it's so cool to hear the vision for an event and imagine it in all different venues to find the right one that will fit the group perfectly." Advice: "Take all opportunities to build rela- tionships. I'm always out there meeting with ho- tels and CVBs because I value my relationships with them just as much as with my clients. I'm always looking for new venues to learn about be- cause I really view myself as an extension of their sales team and love to be able to market myself to my clients as an expert on venues in the areas they are searching. I find a lot of value in being able to tell a client, 'I've been there' or 'I know the sales manager, you're going to love them!'" AUDREY VAN BELLEGHEM Senior Vice President of Operations and the Grace Hopper Celebration Palo Alto, CA 15 years Providing Opportunities For Leadership & Professional Growth The Grace Hopper Celebration is the world's largest gathering of women technologists. The event has been growing at an exponential rate, and this past October we hosted 18,000 attendees from over 80 countries in Orlando, Florida. The program offers women in computing exposure to job opportunities, professional leadership and development workshops, networking and men- toring sessions, and presentations covering the latest information in computing and technology fields. The conference is hosted by, a non-profit organization dedicated to increas- ing the representation of women in technical roles at all levels. Challenges: "We are fortunate to have a large number of volunteers assisting us with our efforts. These skilled and talented individu- als are passionate about our mission, however, they also have demanding careers that require their time and attention. Our challenge is se- lecting and managing a diverse and dedicated volunteer workforce." Solutions: " has a defined volun- teer career path that provides leadership oppor- tunities to those who wish to increase the scope of their role with us over time. Volunteers begin by reviewing scholarship applications and providing recommendations, then they can advance to track committee member. After a couple of years as a committee member, vol- unteers can become track co-chairs and finally Grace Hopper Celebration conference co- chairs of the entire program. In short, we cul- tivate, train and grow our volunteers, who are critical members of our extended workforce." Rewards: "I love the fact that the events we plan are designed to help others persist N E W L Y R E I M A G I N E D G U E S T R O O M S A N D B A L L R O O M O V E R 2 0 , 0 0 0 S Q U A R E F E E T O F E V E N T S P A C E g I T ' S W O R T H meeting here CONTACT US TO LEARN MORE RSNOSALES@SONESTA.COM | 504.553.2205 3 0 0 B O U R B O N ST R E E T | S O N E STA . C O M / R OYA L N E W O R L E A N S

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