Tag Archives: meeting professionals international

Deliver on Your ROI, Business Meetings

Arizona MPI honors excellence with awards

The Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International (AzMPI) recently recognized its members who went above and beyond to volunteer for the chapter. Winners include: Rising Star Award presented to Troy Peters with Video West; James A. Fausel Student of the Year Award presented to Shelby Wray, ASU; Committee of the Year Award presented to Sponsorship Committee; Host Property/Venue of the Year Award presented to TPC Scottsdale; Sponsorship of the Year Award given to kool Party Rentals; Member of the Year Award presented to Jacqi Marth, Destinations & Details; The Edward E. Scannell Award presented to Christina Tzavellas, CMP with CTZ and Associates; Supplier of the Year Award presented to Chip Headman, Williams & Associates; Planner of the Year Award presented to Susan Molinich, CMP, SMMC, American Express Meetings & Events; Presidents Achievement Awards were given to Jamie Cook, CMP, CMM, Strategic Meetings & Events and to Joanne Winter, AzMPI.

“We strive to promote excellence within the meeting industry through education, certification, advocacy and business-to-business networking opportunities for our members,” said 2013-2014 AzMPI President Jill Longfellow. “Anyone who plans or supports meetings in any capacity, whether an administrative assistant or a caterer, can benefit from what AzMPI offers.”

The 375-member Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International was established in 1979. Meeting Professionals International is the meeting and event industry’s largest association for the $102.3 billion meetings and events industry. AZMPI offers monthly events providing education, and networking opportunities. MPI membership is comprised of more than 24,000 members belonging to 80 chapters and clubs worldwide. To learn more about AZMPI visit www.AZMPI.org or call 602-277-1494.

Deliver on Your ROI, Business Meetings

AzMPI Announces 2013-14 Board

The Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International (AzMPI) recently installed their 2013-2014 slate of Officers for the chapter.

Officers include incoming President Jill Longfellow,  Enterprise Holdings Inc.; President-Elect Cristin Barr, The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain; Vice President of Finance Penny Allphin, Hassayampa Inn Prescott; Vice President of Communications Chip Headman, Williams & Associates; Vice President of Membership Julia-Isabel Davenport, Maximize Your Publicity; Vice President of Education Susie Molinich, American Express Meeting & Events, and Immediate Past President Donna Masiulewicz, Timeline Meetings & Events.  The Chapter Directors are: Director of Leadership Development Lynne Wellish, Triage Meetings & Events; Director of Fundraising & Special Events Tiffany Higgins, The Tiffany Event; Director of Strategic Alliances Dave Rosenbaum, Carefree Resort & Conference Center; Director of Monthly Programs Lee Smith, Hotel Valley Ho; Director of Recruitment Dave Borsheim, Hotel Palomar Phoenix; Director of Retention Jacqi Marth, Destination and Details; Director of Information Technology Danielle Adams, KCA; and Director of Public Relations and Marketing James Eggimann, The Ritz-Carlton, Phoenix

“We strive to promote excellence within the meeting industry through education, certification, advocacy and business-to-business networking opportunities for our members,” said incoming 2013-2014 AZMPI President Jill Longfellow.  “Anyone who plans or supports meetings in any capacity, whether an administrative assistant or a caterer, can benefit from what AZMPI offers.”

The 375-member Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International was established in 1979.  Meeting Professionals International is the meeting and event industry’s largest association for the $102.3 billion meetings and events industry.  AZMPI offers monthly events providing education, and networking opportunities.  MPI membership is comprised of more than 24,000 members belonging to 80 chapters and clubs worldwide.  To learn more about AzMPI visit www.AzMPI.org or call 602-277-1494.

Masiulewicz

Masiulewicz takes leadership role in MPI

Donna Masiulewicz, a native of Chicago, was named president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International for the 2012 – 2013 year.

Masiulewicz earned her BA from Northern Illinois University in Spanish Translation and International Marketing.  She began her career in the hospitality industry working in association meetings management and tenured in corporate meeting and event operations.  A move to Arizona in 2001 carried over her role in corporate meetings and introduced her to incentive travel programs.

As president at Timeline Meetings and Events, LLC, Masiulewicz manages programs and events in domestic and international destinations with delegations from 12-2500.
Over the years, Masiulewicz has earned several industry awards, including the Rising Star for MPI (both Chicago and Arizona chapters) and the MPI Special Commendation award in Arizona. Masiulewicz won the prestigious 2008-2009 AZMPI Planner of the Year.
She recently sat down with Arizona Business Magazine to talk about the state of the hospitality industry in Arizona.

Question: What motivated you to become a meeting and event producer?
Masiulewicz; I started working the association market as an internal meeting/registration coordinator for a national nursing council. I truly loved the job and all the facets of the meetings industry. Wanting to learn more, I moved to the corporate side of meetings and conferences, got involved in MPI and continued to grow, learn and focus on perfecting each event.

Q: What are your duties and focus as president at Timeline Meetings and Events, LLC?
M: I am an independent senior meeting planner who is proficient in operations management for conferences, events and incentive programs. I manage all facets of program logistics including on-line registration support team, housing, custom program itinerary, ancillary meetings/activities, food/beverage selection, implementation, budget management, client relations, on-site execution and production, accounting and financial reconciliation.

Q: How did you become involved in the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI?
M: I joined the Chicago chapter of MPI in 1997 and served on several committees; also receiving the Rising Star award in 2001. I transferred my membership to the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter when I moved in 2001. I was going to sit back and take it all in, but quickly jumped onto two committees. Over the next few years, I served on several committees including host and hospitality, membership, holiday party, special events/fundraising, and education forum. I joined the board of directors as director of special events/ fundraising in 2006-2007 and served as vice president of finance for a year before becoming president-elect in 2011-2012.

Q: How have some of the political and social issues — SB1070 and the lesbian couple being asked to leave a downtown Phoenix hotel restaurant — impacted the meeting and events industry in Arizona?
M: While we continue to be sensitive to the special interests of all our clients, we have a responsibility to remain focused on the task at hand which is the organization and execution of the best event we can produce. At times this may entail distancing that task from any group’s social or political views. While some may protest such an approach, the resultant neutrality assures both the organizers and the clients a well-run event without the distractions of any alternate agendas.

Q: What are your goals as president of the chapter?
M: My theme for the year is “Meeting Momentum.” We have the energy and resources laid in the foundation for the hospitality industry and it’s up to us as the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter to keep the movement and mobility in motion by doing four things:
* Offering top notch education to our membership.
* Encouraging members to live MPI and share the message throughout the industry and beyond.
* Paving the path for our future leaders.
* Having fun with networking events and helping others via our community outreach efforts.

87690275

Technology expands meeting and conference industry

We don’t catch up over coffee anymore, we catch up on Facebook.

Technology has changed the way we date, invite people to parties, and even watch TV. It’s only natural that technology will change the face of business meetings and conferences.

“As a chapter and in addition to our website, we utilize social media outlets — Facebook and LinkedIn — to promote our meetings and events and to share information industry-wide,” says Donna Masiulewicz. president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. “We also use these means to educate those outside the industry about the power of meetings.”

Mara Weber, global marketing and communications director for Honeywell Process Solutions in Phoenix, has taken the use of technology a step far beyond Facebook.

“We held a global sales and service kickoff meeting on a virtual platform, with live broadcasts of a general session in two time zones,” Weber says. “The objective was to align our global team on growth initiatives, portfolio offerings, key messages and how to sell the value to our customers.”

While Weber says virtual meetings — which experts expect to triple in the next five years — give companies the ability to create a global footprint and bring content to an audience when and where it’s convenient for them, there are logistical challenges that need to be overcome.

“To be honest, the time and energy required and cost is far more than people realize,” she says. “You need to start with a very specific plan of attack, keeping goals and results in mind and making sure you are creating the right content in the right format. Video format, platform format, firewalls, testing in varied browsers and software versions, ability to convert files and stay flexible at all times is just the start. You also need to think past the technical to the end-user experience and also branding to create a visual environment and help messages that guide attendees or they quickly get frustrated and jump off. It’s not like being lost at a trade show and being able to view a map and ask people for directions. The audience is largely on their own and you have to think about their experience every step of the way, how they behave, how you want them to behave, download, ask, engage.”

Weber believe the best use of virtual meetings are as a component of a live, face-to-face event, extending the value of the content through the web to attendees who cannot travel or have abbreviated schedules.

“We chose to do a fully virtual kickoff meeting because we have over 3,500 sales and service team members in more than 100 countries,” she says. “The cost and logistics of face to face meeting is not reasonable.”

Weber says Honeywell has piloted virtual meeting a couple of times with customers when they can focus on a specific, targeted topic. And even in the high-tech world that Honeywell does business in, change isn’t embraced easily.

“Our customer base does not seem to be accepting,” Weber says. “By nature, they are engineers and like live demonstrations, talking face to face with experts and networking.”

TECHNOLOGY IMPACTS THE MEETING INDUSTRY

Here are five way ways experts say the use virtual technology is changing the face of the convention, conference, meeting, event, and trades how industries: ways he says you can use virtual technology to enhance your meetings.

WEB CONFERENCING: Connects meeting attendees and speakers in different locations by using VoIP (voice over Internet protocol), which allows real-time streaming of audio and video. More hotels and business centers are also adding high-definition virtual conference rooms that can be used to host hybrid sessions.

ONLINE COLLABORATION TOOLS: Open source your meetings and events by allowing virtual participants to share documents, Web pages, whiteboards, slide decks, audio, and video … all in real-time. Some Web conferencing systems allow you to record your events, thereby creating a collective knowledge base. These tools can be used for small meetings or for larger groups of thousands.

SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS: Often called the “backchannel,” social media represent the virtual conversations taking place in the background before, during, and often long after your live meeting or event. Take the time to set up and promote social media activity through things like assigning a specific Twitter hashtag for your event, creating event-specific Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and setting up Foursquare check-in locations.

REMOTE PRESENTERS: Use a streaming video feed of a speaker who is in a different physical location. This can be done as a realistic 3-D hologram, or a live feed of your guest speaker. Remote presenter options can be a great way to attract high-profile speakers who may not have the time to travel to a physical event.

LIVE WEBCASTS: Broadcast your keynotes, general sessions and breakouts by streaming your live audio and visual presentations via the Internet in real-time.

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Meetings and conventions drive tourism industry

Steve Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau, knows his industry is big business.

“If Arizona’s tourism industry were a publicly traded entity,” he says, “it would be the third-largest company in the state—just behind Avnet and Freeport-McMoran, and just ahead of US Airways and PetSmart.”

Despite the economic downturn and the hit that the state’s tourism industry has taken because of human rights concerns, the numbers back up Moore’s statement. According to a study released this year by Dean Runyan Associates:
* Total direct travel spending in Arizona was $18.3 billion in 2011. Travel spending increased by 5.4 percent in current dollars compared with 2010.
* The tourism industry employs 157,700 people in Arizona. Combined with secondary employment that is generated through this direct travel spending, total job generation for Arizona is nearly 300,000. Tourism-related employment increased in 2011 by 1.7 percent – an addition of 2,700 jobs. This is the first increase in employment since 2006.
* The re-spending of travel-related revenues by businesses and employees supported 136,000 additional jobs outside of the travel industry, with earnings of $5.4 billion.
* The biggest economic boost came from conferences, conventions and business travel, which accounted for more than $6 billion in spending, or the equivalent economic impact of hosting a Super Bowl every month.

“Conventions and meetings are essential to Phoenix’s economy,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says. “Their attendees stay in our hotels, go shopping at our local businesses and eat in our restaurants, which generates revenue and creates jobs.”

In many ways, experts says, conventions and meetings are a key indicator of the state’s ongoing economic recovery.

“Our industry is in a unique position in that our economic recovery has a direct effect on the recovery of the country as a whole,” says Donna Masiulewicz, president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. “For most organizations, the first step in such a rebuilding phase is to regroup, reorganize and set out plans for the future. What better place to accomplish these things than at a company-wide event or convention? That means, in essence, that when we are hired to set up these events we are not only helping our own industry get back on financial track but we are serving as a conduit for other organizations to do so as well.”

The gross domestic product of Arizona’s travel industry was $7.3 billion in 2011, according to the Runyan study, making it the state’s top export-oriented industry, ranking above microelectronics, aerospace, and mining.

A big chunk of that revenue comes from meetings and conventions, which account for about two-thirds of the total revenue at Phoenix hotels and resorts, according to Douglas MacKenzie, director of communications for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“That’s higher than the national average,” MacKenzie says, “because our destination holds great appeal as a meeting destination.”

MacKenzie is quick to point out that when a big event like Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game or the Super Bowl comes to Arizona, the public hears about the economic impact it has on the community because those events get a lot of media attention. But people often don’t realize that big conventions similarly bring thousands—and in some cases tens of thousands —of visitors to Phoenix on a regular basis.

“When a large convention comes to the Phoenix Convention Center, it’s like entire small town moving into downtown for a week,” says Douglas MacKenzie, director of communications for the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau. “And each one of these temporary ‘residents’ directly puts dollars into the economy and generates tax revenue. By a very conservative industry estimate, each convention attendee who comes here spends more than $1,500.”

Meetings not only play a critical role in Scottsdale’s $3 billion tourism industry, according to Kelli Blubaum, vice president of Convention Sales & Services at the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, they are economic catalysts that extend beyond the singular event.

“Meetings and events not only help fill thousands of resort and hotel room nights each year, but also provide an opportunity to introduce new visitors and business decision makers to the area,’ she says. “These events often lead to repeat visitors and even economic development opportunities for the city.”

Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane says that meetings and conventions sometimes open the attracting new industry to Arizona.

“Sometimes, people who get a taste for Scottsdale end up buying a home here, or even moving a business here,” Lane says. “In fact, (convention-goers) may represent larger groups and businesses who may ultimately do more business in Scottsdale based on an initial stay here.”

MacKenzie says Arizona’s robust meeting and convention industry brings people into the state who might not otherwise be exposed to the benefits of doing business in Arizona.

“Many conventions and corporate meetings deliver to our doorstep the very manufacturing and knowledge industries economic developers want to attract to the city,” MacKenzie says.

And while meetings and conventions represent about one-third of the tourism revenue in Tucson, city officials have used their success as an attraction in the meetings industry to attract more revenue in the future.

“Many of Tucson’s larger resorts and hotels rely exclusively on group business to maintain occupancy and revenue throughout the year,” says Graeme Hughes, director of convention sales for the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are also very successful in converting meetings attendees into leisure visitors.”

Since 2008 and 2009 — the low point for Arizona tourism in the wake of the economic downturn — tourism-related tax revenue has risen across the state and as much as 60 percent in some regions of Arizona.

“The hospitality industry is a primary driver of the Arizona economy,” says Andy Ernst, regional vice president of Robert Half International, a professional staffing and consulting service. “We anticipate that Arizona will continue to experience healthy growth in the coming years as hotel occupancy continues to rise, and business comes back to the state.”

With a bright financial outlook for the meeting and convention industry nationally, experts expect Arizona to ride the momentum.
“At this point, Arizona is positioned to follow the national trend,” Hughes says. “As the economy improves, travel increases. Organizations will soon be willing to reinvest in the positive outcomes that meetings and conventions provide.”

The groups that met at the Phoenix Convention Center in 2011 accounted for more than 240,000 attendees and $350 million in estimated direct spending, according the MacKenzie. That surpassed the previous year’s direct-spend total by nearly $10 million, and it reflects the drawing power of the renovated and expanded convention center and additions to downtown, including CityScape.

“However, that’s a performance that likely will not be repeated soon,” MacKenzie says. “The number of convention attendees we’ve booked for 2012 is down 20 percent compared with 2011.”

MacKenzie attributes the decline to the recession, a 30 percent cut to the CVB’s budget, the removal of half of our Prop 302 marketing funds, and client backlash from Arizona’s role in the immigration debate, and the “A.I.G. effect,” the tendency of corporations to cut down on lavish expenditures and luxuries in areas like travel and meetings to avoid appearing wasteful in times of economic downturn. The A.I.G. effect became a reality because of the negative publicity generated by some practices of the insurance giant A.I.G.

“Keep in mind: This year’s and next year’s conventions were booked from 2008 to 2010, during the depths of the recession and during the first year of the immigration debate,” MacKenzie says. “The typical booking window for citywide conventions is two to five years out—i.e., a group usually selects the site of its 2012 convention by 2010.”

Despite some challenges, experts agree that the long-term appeal of Arizona should allow the state’s convention and meeting industry to fluorish.

“We’re seeing an increase in business from third-party planners, and the corporate segment is strengthening as well,” Blubaum points out. “Plus, healthcare continues to be a strong segment. Canada also is a growing market for Scottsdale, which is why we are increasing our efforts to drive additional meetings business from key Canadian cities.”

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Businesses in Meeting Industry Exceed Goals

Business is booming in the meetings industry!  The Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International (AZMPI) announced it exceed its goal of $5 million of business within its membership.

The My MPI ROI, an internationally recognized award-winning system, created for AZMPI is where members record the business they do with each other.  For the 2011-2012 year, 31 of the 392 members recorded $5,452,612.13 of sales with each other in Arizona.

“AZMPI has gained momentum creating excellence within the meeting industry through education, certification, advocacy and business-to-business networking opportunities for our members,” said AZMPI President Donna Masiulewicz, CMP.  “We look forward to continuing the momentum of education and professional development of our members.  Anyone who plans or supports meetings in any capacity, whether an administrative assistant or a caterer, can benefit from what AZMPI offers.”

The 392-member Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International was established in 1979.  Meeting Professionals International is the meeting and event industry’s largest association for the $102.3 billion meetings and events industry.  AZMPI offers monthly events providing education, and networking opportunities.  MPI membership is comprised of more than 21,000 members belonging to 71 chapters and clubs worldwide.  To learn more about AZMPI visit www.AZMPI.org or call 602-277-1494.

Rochell Planty - president of AzMPI - AZ Business Magazine September/October 2011

Q&A With Rochell Planty, AzMPI President

Rochell Planty, AzMPI President, discusses her role in the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International, its goals and more.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your professional background.

I have more than 18 years of experience in the industry. My scope of expertise includes public relations, meeting planning and special event coordination, and trade show management. I have served as the director of public relations for the Arizona National Livestock Show which also encompassed event planning and after some years of expanding my experience we launched Rockin R Meetings & Events, LLC, in 2004.

Q: What motivated you at the start of your career? What motivates you now?

I have always been involved in coordinating events since youth. Today, the passion to be a part of the hospitality industry coordinating events is still alive. What continues to motivate me today are the wonderful clients I work with and drive to create an amazing event.

Q: How did you first get involved with the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter?

I became a member of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI in August of 2001. I jumped right in feet first and joined the Holiday Party Committee. After that, I had the pleasure of chairing the education forum for five years and was on several other committees.

Q: What are your present goals for the Chapter?

Elevating the value of meetings; Increase the awareness of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI throughout the hospitality industry, local media, business community and Arizona Government; Engaging our members through the education, certification and business opportunities AzMPI offers; Increase our membership in the Chapter and their level of satisfaction; and Continue to increase the awareness and participation in the Global Community Challenge which has already exceeded over $1.3 million dollars in referral business between AzMPI members.

For more information about Rochell Planty and the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI, visit www.azmpi.org.

 

Arizona Business Magazine September/October 2011

 

Meeting Professionals International - AZ Business Magazine September/October 2011

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Profiles

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is a global organization helping businesses and people by providing human connections to knowledge and ideas, relationships, and marketplaces.

Here are the profiles of four people who have helped and been helped by Meeting Professionals International:

Jim FauselMeeting Professionals International, Jim Fausel - AZ Business Magazine September/October 2011
President and CEO, meetGCA

Technology is constantly advancing, but no amount of it replaces human interaction, according to Jim Fausel.

Fausel is president and CEO of meetGCA, a travel management firm that focuses on worldwide meeting and event management.

“Teleconferences are great and they work, but they are complements to what we do,” Fausel says. “The only way to get business is to get in front of people, we can’t just recruit people digitally.”

Technology, however, is not the biggest threat to the industry. According to Fausel, competition is the real concern.

There are so many meeting sources that people have to pick and choose the most effective ones. In turn, too many options are not a good thing, he says.
Fausel says education can help people work around the issue because there are always new ways to do business and attract customers.

“We need to educate our future leaders,” Fausel says. “Students are especially susceptible to new technologies and new ways to find business because they’re less afraid and take more risks. They’re the go-getters.”

Fausel has been working with Meeting Professionals International since 1983 and credits it for laying down the groundwork and establishing the relationships that have helped business grow throughout the years.

“People become part of an organization to use its resources,” he says. “If you have a car parked in a garage but don’t use it, what’s the point?”

Some people scratch their heads wondering what to do, but MPI helps us cut through that question.

“It’s the first step to moving a program,” he says.

Fausel says he contributes new energy and new direction to MPI and encourages the growth of international meetings and events because the international marketplace is the focus, he adds.

Lisa EvansMeeting Professionals International, Lisa Evans - AZ Business Magazine September/October 2011
Planner, Childhelp

You can’t blame Lisa Evans for being a little old fashioned.

Evans has an unwavering confidence in the art of face-to-face communication and the benefits it yields for businesses. She recognizes the technological advancements such as Skype and telecommunication that are innovating interaction, but she still advocates the impact of personal communication.

“There is also a level of inspiration that comes when people are engaging in personal, face to face communication,” says Evans, a planner at Childhelp who serves Meeting Professionals International (MPI) as vice president of Education, Arizona Sunbelt Chapter.

As such, Evans’ focus is on education and business connections, ensuring members quality and relevant education to meet their professional goals. The ideas of one delivered with passion or skepticism sparks others’ minds to go in a different direction, or develop a new idea or understand in a new way,” Evans says.

Though she believes strongly in the positive influence of the meeting industry, she admits that “damage control” poses a threat to its success. “I believe the meetings and event industry missed the mark long ago by not educating the business community on the positive impact that meeting face to face and offering incentive programs can have…” Evans says.

As VP of Education, it only makes sense that Evans cites education as the key to success in the industry. She supports the promotion of meetings through educating businesses on the best practices to meet their meeting or event needs.

Perhaps Evans’ faith in personal interaction in group settings can be credited to the positive impact MPI has had on her business specifically. Childhelp, a non-profit organization for the prevention of child abuse, relies on community involvement, which Evans secures through out-reach meetings and events.

“MPI helps me to stay up to date on best practices, latest technology, and emerging ideas and trends,” she says. “Our economic environment is largely impacted by social factors, and so it is important for social service groups and businesses to work together and find innovative ways to benefit one another.”

Mark SkalnyMeeting Professionals International, Mark Skalny - AZ Business Magazine September/October 2011
Photographer

Corporate photographer Mark Skalny eyes business through a lens of his own–
A camera lens, to be exact. His fresh perspective as a photographer is among the traits that make him a valuable member of the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) team. Skalny says he believes in the impact of meeting, events and personal interaction despite the growing popularity of alternative technological modes of communication.

“Meetings allow people to ‘be present,’ and in person rather than on an impersonal screen in the front of the room and better able to share and express experiences and differing approaches to the issues at hand,” Skalny says.

Meetings give Skalny the chance to build “community, that core team of professionals, experts, educators and leaders.” It’s this community that he cites as beneficial to his business.

“Interacting with a group of professionals expands my knowledge of the current business climate and challenges me to constantly learn more and in turn grow,” he says. “This is what the MPI organization is all about.”

Skalny says, like many of his peers, he stands by education as the answer to issues facing his industry.

“Education is crucial,” Skalny says. “People need to feel ‘hope’ both in their business and professional worlds. Educating our membership about the state of our economy at home and abroad is key…”

As a photographer, Skalny said he believes he has a rare insight into the art of corporate interaction and, thus, an exclusive opportunity to educate other professionals.

“I am constantly moving about in the business/corporate arena,” he says. “I see and hear, and photograph, what’s new in this world.”

Don OrtizMeeting Professionals International, Don Ortiz - AZ Business Magazine September/October 2011
Supplier, DEO Entertainment Group

Face-to-face interaction is still the most valuable way to communicate because it helps build one-on-one relationships, Don Ortiz asserts.

“When you speak in person, you may uncover things that connect you like kids’ birthdays,” Ortiz says. “It also allows people to get a good feel for one another.”
Ortiz is an international music supplier with DEO Entertainment Group and global community chair for the Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. In his job, he travels the globe constantly, which makes him a valuable asset to MPI.

Many of the companies that come to Arizona for business are global companies and having learned their protocols and etiquette are beneficial for MPI, Ortiz says.

“It helps to build long-term relationships,” he says.

But the benefits are mutual, according to Ortiz. MPI enhances his business by helping him establish relationships with the global communication community, he says.

“Greeting people in their language helps break down barriers,” Ortiz says. “Establishing and maintaining relationships is important, especially during times when companies stop spending money for corporate events.”

And even in these uncertain economic times, Ortiz says he is optimistic about the future of the meetings business.

“We’re seeing a bounce back and it trickles down to everybody,” he says. “Companies are doing things that they weren’t doing before now and that will help the industry get back to where it was prior to the recession.

By Malu Banuelos & Megan Mitchell

[stextbox id="grey"]For more information on Meeting Professionals International, visit their website at www.mpiweb.org.[/stextbox]

Arizona Business Magazine September/October 2011

Meeting Professionals International, AZ Business Magazine September/October 2011

Face-To-Face Meetings Are Still Relevant, Despite Technology

Face-to-face meetings are back: Despite teleconferencing and technology, study shows meetings that provide human contact — face-to-face meetings — are still relevant.

As technology provides businesses with cost-effective means for communication with cloud technology, smart phones and Skype, one element among these virtual options will never be outdated — human contact.

MPI, Photos: Courtesy of MPI Arizona and Mark Skalny

Sure you can conduct a business meeting with your staff convened in a conference room to other parts of the country via teleconferencing. But meeting face-to-face is as personal — and effective — as you can get.

Dirk Smith, president and founder of Sports Destination, Inc., says face-to-face meetings haven’t fallen out style. “They might have fallen out of favor because of the economy,” he adds.

Jen Merkel, operations manager for CMI Resources, says she’s seen some scaling back in meetings, but lately, “in general, our clients seem to be back booking like they always have.”

In the white paper, “Why Face-to-Face Business Meeting Matter,” by Richard D. Arvey, professor at the Business School, National University of Singapore, it states that while business attributes 84 percent of communication to emails, teleconferences and other technology, meetings that provide human contact are still relevant.

Arvey states that physical meetings provide people with a way to build trust, figure out social norms, develop social identities and engage with each other. It also provides better business outcomes, with more negative outcomes associated with virtual meetings. Offsite meetings at hotels were surveyed to be 94 percent productive.MPI, Photos: Courtesy of MPI Arizona and Mark Skalny

“Technology makes it possible to connect with people from your own office, couch or pool deck, but when was the last time you made a new contact that way?” Merkel questions. “When a person attends a conference, they meet new people and have new experiences that are so much more than just looking at a laptop screen. Face-to-face conferences are far more enriching than virtual ones.”

In making efforts to be in the same physical space as other colleagues, co-workers or clients, “there is a perceived value in making the effort to physically meet,” Smith says. “Also, if you want to show off a product, to touch or feel something has intrinsic value for people. You can’t get that from a picture. People need to experience the value of interaction.”

Face-to-face meetings are important, but human interaction can sometimes create more complicated situations. Smith says face-to-face meetings tend to fail when there are no agendas, clear goals, important information, entertainment, or way to meet other people.

Merkel says he believes if your speaker isn’t engaging or meet the audience’s expectations — then attendees walk away with feeling they’ve wasted their time. One way to combat this is to ask audiences questions addressing these areas after meetings.

Another way is  to “listen to your planners,” Merkel adds. “They want the meeting to be as successful as you do, try to give them a little free reign to get creative and shake things up.”

Avery concludes in his paper that while teleconferencing and other virtual elements may be used by business, the key is to figure out the balance of virtual and face-to-face for creating a successful workforce.

[stextbox id="grey"]Check back next Friday, September 16, to read what Meeting Professionals International members had to say about the importance of face-to-face meetings.[/stextbox]

 

Arizona Business Magazine September/October 2011

 

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

Jill Longfellow - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Jill Longfellow, Convention Group Sales Manager At EnterpriseHoldings Inc.

Jill Longfellow
Convention Group Sales Manager
Enterprise
Holdings Inc.
www.enterprise.com

Jill Longfellow is grateful for her membership in the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International, and now she is helping others see the benefits as well.

As the chapter’s director of Membership Retention and Global Community Challenge, Longfellow spends time speaking to members who want to cancel their memberships because of downturns in the economy and the tourism industry. The decline in membership is why the chapter created a global community challenge that encourages members to learn about each other’s businesses in order to create referrals, she says.

“(The global community challenge) has been a terrific way for our members to truly see the ROI from their MPI membership above and beyond the education we receive at our monthly meeting,” says Longfellow, the convention group sales manager for Enterprise Holdings Inc.

A referral is also what piqued her interest in MPI. She joined in 2000, after a former Enterprise employee explained to her that MPI is a “terrific association.”

In her time with the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter, the group has created a return on investment receipt program. This program allows members to see what their MPI membership has done for them in the past.

“It is a goal of our chapter this year to make sure that every member sees the ROIs from their local involvement with our local chapter,” Longfellow says.

“My MPI membership has allowed me the opportunity to meet with hoteliers and meeting planners that I would not have been able to meet with in the past without the exposure I receive from my involvement with my local chapter.”

The exposure Longfellow has created for Enterprise through MPI is “critical” to her job, she adds.

“My involvement and membership with MPI helps to ensure that the meeting planner committee understands Enterprise’s commitment to community service and customer service,” Longfellow says.

MPI also has allowed the business and meeting planning community to better understand all that the rental car industry can do for companies holding gatherings in Arizona, she says.

Just as MPI has had a big impact on her career, Longfellow says the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of MPI has a major role to play in the business community in the years to come, especially in this current economic climate.

“I believe it’s very important that our board and our members get the word out to the public and to our elected officials about the large effect that group conventions, meetings have on Arizona as a whole,” she says. “As a destination state, we need to keep our local hotels and resorts and convention centers full with meetings, so we can keep our Arizona residents employed through these businesses — and to keep meetings happening in our beautiful state, from the northern pinecap areas of Northern Arizona to the Valley here in Phoenix, and south all the way through to Tucson.”

http://azbigmedia.com/tag/september-october-2010-2

meetings industry

MPI Is Touting The ROI Of In-Person Meetings

The best advocates for the positive return on investment of in-person meetings may very well be members of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. The meetings industry has been hit hard by the media and public scrutiny of the actions of major companies that received bailouts from the federal government. But members of the industry remain adamant that face-to-face meetings are a crucial part of every business.

Mindy Gunn, CMP, AVP, senior meeting and event planner with Wells Fargo’s bank technology and operations group, and an MPI member for four years, is the first to admit that times have become increasingly challenging for professionals in the meetings industry.

“We are in a very transparent environment, and the meetings industry is being scrutinized from many angles,” she says. “This, combined with technological advances, has created a movement toward more virtual meetings, whether they be via Web, video or teleconference.”

However, she does not believe these technological advances can entirely supersede face-to-face meetings.

“I don’t think that in-person meetings will ever be completely replaced by Webinars or video conferences, especially those that are designed to build relationships and network with teams,” she says. “I do think, however, that the smaller meetings with existing teams can and will be replaced with the virtual approach.”

She adds that face-to-face meetings facilitate a form of relationship building that simply cannot be done via the telephone or Internet.

“The meetings where interaction plays a key role, such as large project planning, team networking and sales coaching, requires at least periodic face-to-face contact in order to create solid teams,” Gunn says.

Bernadette Daily, meetings manager, corporate meeting solutions with American Express and an MPI member for four years, agrees that in-person meetings offer something that other meeting formats cannot: the human touch.

“Yes, technology has changed meetings, and attendance for in-person meetings has lowered,” she says. “But we are humans. We like to see, feel and touch. People like to put a face with a name, and they like the camaraderie and personal touch that you get with an in-person meeting. Face-to-face interaction and body language mean a lot.”

Technology and recent media scrutiny may have changed the way meetings are being held, but MPI members are united in their belief in the benefits of face-to-face meetings.

There are obvious benefits of in-person meetings, according to Kathi Overkamp, CMP. Overkamp has been an MPI member since 1995, is past president of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter, past board director for the international board of directors for MPI, and manager, special events and client hospitality for US Airways.

“In-person meetings are important for a number of reasons: better learning environment, networking, peer-to-peer interaction and accountability,” she says. “Our meetings are all business.”

Overkamp also thinks that conference calls and the like can be less effective as a result of daily diversions and interruptions.

“Have you ever been on a conference call at your desk? Do you check e-mails? Handle paperwork? Put the call on mute and talk to someone? How can you be engaged when there are so many distractions?” she asks. “Being able to see your counterparts face to face and meet folks you may have only communicated with via e-mail or on the phone is important.”

In Overkamp’s opinion, the biggest return on investment of meetings is face-to-face communication, whether it is a company or business update or training.

“You can communicate via the computer, conference calls and Webinars, but to have the leaders of your company in the same room as you, giving you important information about the direction of your business and then being able to network with these same leaders and talk to them up close and personal — that is priceless,” she says.

Gunn adds: “Meetings create a venue where strategy can be discussed efficiently and key decisions are made. In my industry, especially in the current economic climate, this is critical in doing business.”

She thinks that without effective meetings, the strategic and decision-making processes slow down and critical business suffers.

“Meetings, when planned and executed efficiently, bring together the key players and allow them to communicate in a way that other venues cannot duplicate, thus saving time and resources,” Gunn says.

www.wellsfargo.com
www.americanexpress.com
www.usairways.com

Panel of MPI Students

The Meetings Industry Is On The Offensive To Counter Negative Perceptions

When individuals and organizations meet, solutions are created, ideas are shared, business initiatives are crafted and skills are learned. Such meetings are crucial to North American business success, even more so in a dynamic, faltering, global economy. In an increasingly faceless world, effective human connections are a powerful business weapon.

The EventView 2009 study reveals that for the fourth year in a row senior sales and marketing executives in North America believe meetings and events have the highest ROI of any marketing channel. EventView is produced through a collaboration of the Meeting Professionals International Foundation, the Event Marketing Institute (EMI) and the marketing agency George P. Johnson (GPJ). EventView is the meetings industry’s longest-running global report on event marketing trends.

“This first report of the 2009 series shows that CMOs (chief marketing officers) and senior marketers believe events are the most effective medium to engage customers and move them to purchasing behavior,” says Bruce MacMillan, president and CEO of MPI. “While we’ve seen event marketing mature as an effective marketing channel for several years, the benefits become heightened in an uncertain economy. Marketing decision makers have clearly taken notice.”

Of the company executives questioned in the 2009 Business Leader Survey commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association (USTA), 82 percent say they believe business travel is important to achieving their businessresults.

“It’s a classic trade-off between short-term cost reductions and long-term value,” says Daniel Diermeier, a professor at the Kellogg Business School at Northwestern University. “During times like these, many companies will go too far, and actually cut back on the activities that would best position them to compete in the future.”

Another study from USTA shows that 87 percent of Americans who have attended an out-of-town meeting or convention for work say it is important to running a strong business. Meetings are far more than a collection of speeches or talking points. They are an opportunity for people of similar interests to come together and share their stories about how they are coping, as well as what they are doing to increase business, says leadership coach John Baldoni, who writes the Leadership at Work blog for Harvard Business Publishing.

Meetings and events are also strategic tools that deepen employee relationships and contribute to the overall health of companies. According to a Harvard Business Review survey, a 5 percent increase in employee retention can generate a 25 percent to 85 percent increase in profitability. Travel events show employees they are valued. If employees are only committed to the paycheck, their allegiance can be compromised when they are offered a higher salary elsewhere.

Additionally, meetings and events are essential to motivating sales forces, rewarding high performers, communicating new company initiatives and attracting top talent. According to a 2008 study by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, responsible, well-designed and well-executed meetings and training sessions have yielded significant benefits. Such benefits include improved company culture, increased employee retention and more highly engaged and satisfied employees. These companies generate better overall returns in the stock market, with firms on the list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For earning up to five times as much return as their competitors.

According to USTA, business travel in general has become a $240 billion industry due to the real value and measurable benefits derived from the collaboration and cooperation that can only occur when people meet face-to-face.

Phoenix, which covers 517 square miles, is the fifth-largest city in the country with a population of more than 1.57 million people. The Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau (GPCVB) has accreditation from the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program, an international accreditation program developed by the Washington, D.C.-based Destination Marketing Association International.

“We are pleased to be recognized in the destination-marketing community for providing outstanding services in accordance with international standards and benchmarks in this field,” says Steve Moore, president and CEO of the GPCVB.

Unfortunately, adds Brent DeRaad, executive vice president of the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, “the positive Arizona attributes we worked so hard to promote as a business destination are being used to portray Arizona in a less positive light. Our meeting planners are telling us they’re hard pressed to ‘sell’ our destination up the chain of command since there is a perception that the Valley is a hotbed of negative media activity, as well as a desirable leisure destination. Regardless of our state-of-the-art meetings facilities, easy air accessibility and the great values our resorts are extending, we’re losing business to destinations facing less scrutiny.”

Since October 2008, four national news stories have featured TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) recipients or federally funded organizations holding meetings at resorts. Three out of the four meetings scrutinized on the national stage were held at Phoenix-Scottsdale properties. As a result, planners charged with staging legitimate, privately funded meetings are fearful to bring them to Arizona and are canceling and downsizing programs. In fact, ArizonaGuide.com reports that some planners are willing to spend more to host their meetings in alternate destinations that are not receiving negative media scrutiny and are not perceived as leisure markets.

In a June letter to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), asked for assistance to reverse an informal federal policy prohibiting and discouraging government meetings and conferences in cities that are too leisure oriented. Emanuel agreed by saying “federal policy should not dictate the location where such government events are held. Our view on the issue of government travel is not focused on specific destinations, but rather on the justification for and the cost-benefit ratio of the individual exercise.”

The USTA declares that companies receiving taxpayer dollars need to be responsible, transparent and accountable. To that end, the travel community has developed a clear meetings-and-events policy these companies should adopt. Although this policy is intended for companies receiving emergency lending from the federal government, other companies interested in adopting these guidelines may choose to alter metrics based upon industry size, company size and market sector. The general USTA policy statement says “the CEO shall be responsible for implementing adequate controls to assure that meetings, events and incentive/recognition travel organized by the company serve legitimate business purposes and are cost justified.”

USTA President and CEO Roger Dow says “… corporate and government meetings have come under attack in the media and among some members of Congress seeking to portray meetings as excessive and unnecessary. The net effect has been cancellation of thousands of meetings, the termination of tens of thousands of jobs and the loss of billions of dollars of spending for the American economy.”

According to MeetingsMeanBusiness.com, each meeting and event traveler spends an average of $1,000 per trip.

“(Travel for business meetings and events) drives the whole hospitality industry in America, and that industry isn’t fat cats; it’s waiters and dishwashers, maids and cooks, event staff and hotel clerks — blue-collar workers who belong to unions,” writes New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. Investor’s Business Daily columnist Kathy E. Read adds, “Those who get hammered — the reservation clerks, maids, baggage handlers, waiters and tour guides — are the little guys and gals whom (President) Obama’s stimulus package is supposed to put back to work.”

The tourism industry is one of Arizona’s largest revenue generators. The Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) reports that in 2008, the state hosted 37.4 million visitors, including 32.4 million domestic and 5 million international travelers. AOT Director Sherry Henry explains that although the combined visitation equates to a net decrease of 3.3 percent, or 1.2 million fewer visitors from 38.6 million in 2007, the travel and tourism industry is resilient and continues to generate billions of dollars for the state’s economy.

Based on Arizona Department of Revenue data, gross sales for four key sectors of the meeting and travel industry are down 13 percent year-to-date as of May 2009, with corresponding state tax collections down almost 14 percent.

“Arizona’s visitor spending brought in $18.5 billion in direct travel expenditures in 2008, underscoring the fact that the travel and tourism industry is a major economic driver for our economy,” Henry says. “In the wake of our current economic situation, our industry brings revenue into the state that supports the quality of life of all Arizona residents.”

Last year, visitor spending generated $2.6 billion in local, state and federal tax revenues. Furthermore, the tourism industry is critical to both job creation and revenue generation for the state, supporting nearly 170,000 jobs and generating $5 billion in direct earnings.

According to Henry, unlike other industries, taxes generated by travel industry spending are paid by visitors rather than residents. These visitors bring new money to Arizona’s economy and generate revenue in all 15 counties, validating the economic importance the travel and tourism industry has across the entire state.

The Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association (AzHLA) conducted a poll of select members in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area and determined that canceled or downsized meetings have resulted in lost revenue easily topping $100 million — equating to a minimum of $11 million in tax revenues not funneling to city and state budgets or critical public programs such as education.

“Meetings account for more than 70 percent of most resort revenues,” says Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association President and CEO, Debbie Johnson. “When we lose those revenues, all Arizona taxpayers suffer; our pools are closing early, we’re losing our precious teachers and we’ll likely face a tax increase on the next ballot election. Many of those issues could have been avoided with the tax revenues from those lost visitors.”

www.eventmarketing.com
www.mpiweb.org
www.tia.org
www.visitphoenix.com
www.experiencescottsdale.com
www.azot.gov
www.azhla.com


Beth Fagan MPI

Beth Fagan: Senior Manager, Meeting Planning And Membership Services National Council For Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP)

Beth Fagan has been an active member of the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International for five years, and has served as co-chair of the chapter’s membership recruitment committee for two years.

This involvement is a natural fit for Fagan, who manages the membership services and meeting planning departments at the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs (NCPDP) based in Scottsdale.

“As the manager of membership services, my role is to oversee the maintenance and the analysis of the data for over 1,500 members,” she says. “As a membership association, MPI provides excellent practical examples of dealing with the challenges of attracting and retaining members.”

As manager of the meeting-planning department, Fagan also is responsible for coordinating all aspects of NCPDP’s annual conference, as well as quarterly meetings.

“This includes hotel arrangement, meeting room set up, food and beverage, trade shows, golf tournaments, formal dinners, informal parties and receptions,” she says. “MPI provides education programs focusing on current trends, and by staying informed about what’s going on in the industry, I am able to plan innovative and effective meetings for our members.”

Fagan believes that MPI offers some incredible benefits to help her in these roles, including educational programs and the opportunity to meet and interact with others in the meeting planning industry. “Monthly speakers at the local meetings and annual conference provide a wealth of information that I find extremely useful,” she says. “In addition to the educational speakers, I am able to learn from my peers in the industry at both the local and national levels. The opportunity to network with those who have a shared understanding of the industry has often provided input, ideas and contacts that have helped me become a more proficient and innovative meeting planner.”

All levels of business travel, including the nonprofit sector, have been affected by the state of the U.S. economy, according to Fagan, but she’s dedicated to moving forward in her industry.

“It’s a constant struggle to gain active involvement from our members, but we have tried to address the economic shortfalls with an aggressive membership recruitment campaign and a constant line of communication to our members that illustrates the value of active participation,” she admits.

“Through MPI’s online forums, I’ve had the opportunity to share my experiences and learn what others are doing to counteract this issue.”

AZ Sunbelt MPI Chapter

MPI Is A Handy Resource For Professionals Throughout The Meetings Industry

Meeting Professionals International has 70 chapters worldwide with 24,000 members who service and support the meetings industry. The Arizona Sunbelt Chapter’s membership currently stands at 532, and is comprised of meeting planners and suppliers who partner to organize and serve the meetings industry across the globe.

With statistics like that, who could doubt the importance and value of MPI as a resource for those in the industry? Not its members, that’s for sure.

Mark McMinn, CMP, director of sales for the Tempe Convention and Visitors Bureau and vice president of finance for the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter, has been associated with the organization for 20 years and a member of the local group since 2001.

In that time, he has experienced first-hand the resources the group offers. He says “education, relevant content to the industry and career advancement and knowledge, marketplace connections to further my business contacts and sales, and being in a community of like-minded professionals and people who understand what you do, and who want to make sure you are successful in the marketplace” are some of the most important aspects of his MPI membership.

Regarding resources, McMinn points to MPI’s directory, available online and in print, as a great place to find a member.

“After you have found us, give any one of the members a call and doors are opened for you,” he says. “A wealth of information can be gained through one phone call or e-mail. It’s the power of connection. There are many resources that can be found at MPI: best practices, forms, directories, books and publications, speakers, subject matter experts, legal advice, discounts, and so much more.”

Beyond that, McMinn says education is MPI’s best resource.

“You can learn so much from our education resources online and at a monthly chapter meeting or at one of our fantastic conferences,” he says.

McMinn adds that with MPI “you are connected to so many professionals like yourself that you are instantly able to get what you need, when you need it from some of the finest professionals in the meetings business.”

Beth Longnaker, site selection specialist with Scottsdale-based Hospitality Performance Network and vice president of membership for MPI’s Arizona Sunbelt Chapter, is all about helping MPI members maximize their memberships and make the most of their involvement with the organization. She even developed the global development committee and has been active on various other committees during the course of her membership.

She agrees that the education aspect is a great tool MPI members can take advantage of, including earning accreditations and certifications within specific specializations.

Longnaker says networking, industry discounts and the MPI global directory are some of the most beneficial resources MPI has to offer, even though, in her opinion, the latter does not get utilized as often as it should.

“People don’t use the directory enough and they don’t use their references enough,” she says. “They need to utilize those connections.”

In addition to the online directory, Longnaker cites as wonderful resources some of the online programs available via the international Web site.

“There are subject boards, special interest groups and programs,” she says. “You can go on and gain knowledge of current trends, and you can ask questions and get honest answers because there are more than 20,000 professionals around the world from which to get feedback.”

Longnaker believes there is always an opportunity to learn something new within the forum of MPI, because it constantly presents new products and tools to help its members keep on top of current trends.

As a site selection specialist, Longnaker acts as a liaison between her client and the hotel they are negotiating a contract with, and she finds the knowledge she gains via MPI invaluable.

“My goal is to present the most beneficial contract for all involved,” she says.

MPI has given Longnaker the tools to offer her clients better opportunities.

“I have the personal knowledge to make qualified referrals and it offers a validity in my profession,” she says.

McMinn encourages MPI members to take full advantage of all the resources available to them.

“Use your membership to the fullest and you have the meetings industry at your fingertips,” he says. “It’s like having a secret handshake … but there is no secret.”

www.exploretempe.com
www.hperformance.com