FEB 2018

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 ⎜ F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 8 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 10 Having served in the U.S. Navy, Terry Schmidt liked to connect with his former shipmates. However, his civilian job, selling information technology to the U.S. Marine Corps, kept him too busy to attend gather- ings of the Naval Reserve Recruiter Associ- ation (NRRA), until he retired in 2012. He had attended the NRRA reunions for three years when the previous reunion coordinator sought to pass the baton along to someone younger, whom he could trust to make sure the organization survived. Schmidt was greatly suited to the task. "Once I retired, I was looking for some type of volunteer position which was related to my Navy background and especially one that I could connect to my previous shipmates, so this was a perfect fit for me," he said. An added bonus was that his wife, who served in the same command and had many of the same friends in the organization, decided to help him with the endeavor. "We both had backgrounds in planning meetings at our commands with the Navy and the knowledge we gained there has proven invaluable," Schmidt added. Within a few years, Schmidt was also called upon by the ship he had served on during the Vietnam War, the USS Henry B. Wilson DDG 7 (shipmates 70-75), to start planning reunions. One of his key initiatives was to set up closed Facebook pages to es- tablish the lines of communication and get the word out about reunions. Later, using the template for the first two organizations, he set up the Tri-State Chief Petty Officers As- sociation to get their reunions underway. What are your current roles and responsibilities as a planner? We (my wife and I) are responsible for scouting locations for future reunions and dealing with all aspects of the three reunions in interaction with the hospitality industry. This includes site visits, attraction scouting and banquet arrangements with guest speakers. What types of professional training have you had that have been help- ful to you in planning reunions? In addition to the hands-on training that I gained planning meetings as Human Re- source Manager at Naval Reserve Recruit- ing Command during my naval career, I picked up an MBA with emphasis on Human Resource Development. Additionally, my wife and I attend four to five seminars and trainings per year with the Military Reunion Network (MRN) and Your Military Reunion Connection (YMRC). In addition to getting updated training on new industry trends, we interact with other military reunion planners from around the country. The re- sultant brainstorming and best practices ses- sions have been invaluable in developing our reunions into highly efficient and rewarding get-togethers. Also, my experience in the in- formation technology industry exposed me to the power of e-commerce and social media and their application to effective organiza- tions. What types of changes have you seen in this industry during your years as a planner and how have they affected you? The biggest change we have seen in plan- ning reunions is the more effective use of social media, without abandoning the traditional email and old-fashioned snail mail. It's an uphill battle to get some people onboard with the closed Facebook page, but after they try it, the vast majority become believers. Additionally, the absorption of smaller hotel chains by larger more well- known companies has led to some hiccups in military reunions. This makes commu- nication with the hotel staff an imperative, and I mean weekly. What are the best things about your job? What parts of planning events do you most enjoy? The best part of my job when wrapping up a successful military reunion is the look on peo- ple's faces when they reunite with someone they served with long ago. My Vietnam vets hadn't seen each other in 45 years when we started having reunions and these were men that served in combat together when your life depended on the guy on your right and the guy on your left. That type of bond may sound strange to people who have not been there, but if you ask any combat veteran about his unit he can probably rattle off those names and stories like it was yesterday. Site visits at the hotels are probably the most enjoyable part of the job as you get to see different planner profile: Terry Schmidt Reunion Planner for Naval Reserve Recruiter Association, USS Henry B Wilson DDG 7 Shipmates (70-73) and Tri-State Chief Petty Officers Association Q: Q: Q: Q: Schmidt on the bridge wing of the USS Edson at the NRRA reunion.

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