Tag Archives: meeting planner

woman sitting on a red chair on stage - AZ Business Magazine Sep/Oct 2010

Q&A With Laura Scheller, President Of Arizona Sunbelt Chapter MPI

Laura Scheller, CMP
President of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI
President and CEO, Solomonte Hospitality

How has MPI responded to the economic downturn?
It has been a difficult year for the hospitality industry. Not only have we had to overcome the poor economy and negative media, but here in Arizona we also added controversial politics. The MPI Foundation is focusing on research that provides hard facts about the return on meetings. For instance, for every dollar spent in business travel, companies realize $12.50 in incremental revenue.

MPI as an organization is working to educate local and national business, politicians and media about the positive impact strategic meeting management makes on the economy, not just statewide, but nationally. Obviously the whole issue of SB 1070 is extremely frustrating. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, boycotting meetings is not the answer. This is affecting 300,000 employees whose families’ lives are dependent on our industry jobs — many of whom are immigrants whose only goal is to work hard and provide excellent service. … Certainly, we as a chapter are encouraged to hear that the governor is looking into creating an ad campaign in support of travel to the state.

What are your members experiencing?

Our membership is down. The hotels and resorts are cutting staff in response to lower operating budgets. Meeting planners are being laid off as companies minimize the number, size and scope of their meetings and events. On the positive side, the relationships created by our fellow MPI members are more critical than ever in securing business and jobs. The chapter’s Career Connections is an active job bank completely free to our members.

Is MPI working with other organizations?
One of our goals as a chapter this year is to bring an elevated level to our membership. We hope to work more closely with the Fiesta Bowl Committee and the Arizona Tourism Alliance to create more opportunities for our local members. We have some outstanding talent and expertise, yet often, when large events such as the Super Bowl come to town, outside companies are brought in rather than utilizing local products and services.

How is MPI helping its members?

One of the programs we are very proud of is the Global Community Challenge. … The challenge, developed from the expressed needs of chapter members, encourages members to use their MPI connections to supplement their current business. Through the program, over 286 business-to-business meetings took place, 87 lead referrals were produced and more than $1.3 million in sales was credited to the business relationships developed.

What trends are you seeing?
While some properties are starting to increase rates, others are still focusing on occupancy. Programs are being streamlined. Meeting planners are more accountable to the C-suite for budgets and measured results. Also, while room rates remain somewhat level, food and beverage pricing continues to rise. Of particular note are the gratuity fees that are as high as 25 percent at some resorts. That can make a significant impact on a budget.

Any predictions?
What I see is that there has been a pent-up demand for meetings, and thus things are starting to happen again in the industry. However, I also believe the economy will remain stagnant for the next couple of years. I recommend keeping an organization’s booking window as short as possible.

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

David Rosenbaum - AZ Business Magazine Sep/Oct 2010

With 35 Years In The Resort Industry, David G. Rosenbaum And MPI Are Perfect Fit

David G. Rosenbaum, CHME
Director of Sales and Marketing
Fiesta Resort Conference Center
www.fiestainnresortcc.com

When David Rosenbaum first joined the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI 10 years ago, he was looking to take advantage of the group’s business and networking opportunities, and gain exposure to various meeting planners around the state.

As he became more involved in MPI, his career also jumped, and today, Rosenbaum is director of sales and marketing at the Fiesta Resort Conference Center in Tempe.

Rosenbaum grew up in the resort industry. He started 35 years ago in operations, working behind the front desk and parking cars. He was then given the opportunity to work a different angle of the business.

“I came out of operations and I thought I’d be in sales for two or three years, and then I’d get back into operations,” says Rosenbaum, who adds he has been in sales for 25 years.

Although he is not currently on any local MPI committees, Rosenbaum has participated in the student relations and programs committee, and has helped with planning various galas and events the chapter hosts. He remains involved with MPI by supporting the many people on his sales team who also are members of the chapter. Rosenbaum makes sure his employees get the time they need to become active members of MPI.

He says MPI is facing several challenges because of the down economy, namely a drop in membership. That, he says, is preventing the local chapter from meeting its full potential.

“The people that are supporting the membership are stretched thin, and are not as productive as they otherwise could be,” Rosenbaum says.

He says the solution to keep membership increasing is to provide more value to AzMPI.

“The more members we have, the more support, the more talent, the more creative ideas and the more successful our chapter will be,” Rosenbaum says.

Although many people join MPI for the business opportunities and networking, Rosenbaum says the most important thing he gets back from the organization is education. He enjoys just sitting down with other members and learning from them.

In the next year, Rosenbaum wants to see the local MPI add more educational programs, such as the ones he attended on surviving in this economy and keeping up to date with technology.

“Basically any education that makes us better prepared as professionals, that is where the value and the ROI is,” Rosenbaum says.

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Mindy Gunn - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Event Planning Chose Mindy Gunn

Mindy Gunn, AVP, CMP
Technology and Operations Group Event Manager
Wells Fargo Bank
www.wellsfargo.com

Mindy Gunn didn’t choose event planning — it chose her.

Gunn planned on attending law school, but she switched career paths when she was offered a job as a meeting planner with Wells Fargo Bank.

“My start in the meetings and events industry came when I co-founded a nonprofit organization in college that produced and promoted free concerts and theatrical productions in the community,” Gunn says, adding that she also produced events while working at Wells Fargo as she attended Brigham Young University.

Gunn has been with Wells Fargo for 15 years, starting as a teller.

In her role as an event manager, Gunn joined the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International seven years ago. She initially joined as a way to gain her certified meeting professional (CMP) designation, which she did in 2006.

“MPI provides a link to other meeting professionals, as well as valuable resources to help me manage my ever-changing role in my organization,” she says.

“I am able to network with others in my profession, and keep apprised of what is happening in the industry in a way that works for me, whether it be a networking event, or, more often, the Web resources.”

Gunn says the current economic situation hasn’t changed her association with MPI; it is still a resource.

“MPI has provided important information and resources on how I can be more strategic in the support of my company from a meetings perspective,” she says.

Gunn adds that MPI also can help industry newcomers in this economy.

“I think there are fewer newcomers to the organization,” Gunn says. “With the current job market, it is becoming tougher to enter the industry, and as a result, fewer new members. These newcomers are vital to continue innovating and keeping the approaches ‘fresh.’”

Gunn says she wants to personally mentor newcomers in order to help them understand the opportunities MPI has to offer both personally and professionally. Gunn admits she didn’t take advantage of an MPI mentor when she was offered one, but she says she now knows that mentors are important.

“I would also like to see these new members aligned with mentors from their area of focus, so they can truly learn more about how to take the most advantage of the opportunities before them,” Gunn says.

Not only are newcomers an important part of MPI’s future, but so, too, is bringing together existing members, Gunn says. She says that a forum for members from all branches of the industry, from independent and corporate planners to suppliers, is something that would benefit all members.

“The more we understand each other’s roles, the better we can work together,” she says.

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010