No room at the inn…No worries. Many find a safe haven in Atlanta.

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Special people make up the staff at Wyndham Atlanta Galleria. During the rare winter snow storm that brought the Atlanta metro area to a halt, the Wyndham quickly sold out of all available rooms. But that did not stop these caring people from opening their doors to stranded motorist who were unable to reach their destinations.

Situated on a major interstate known as the perimeter, this hotel stands alone and proud between two bustling exits. The lobby was a welcoming place to many who had no other place to be in the frigid temperatures but their cars.

Roads were jammed and quickly became impassable. Those who could not face the road ahead or perhaps had not enough fuel to continue on, sought the beacon of the Wyndham. No one was turned away.

This is hospitality at its finest!


Meet Kasey McNeil, Advisory Council Member

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This is the latest in a continuing series highlighting members of the Advisory Council, comprised of meeting professionals and others in the meetings industry who help shape to meet the needs of the industry.

Kasey McNeilKasy McNeil
Exhibits Manager
American Academy of Physician Assistants

Advisory Council Member Kasey McNeil is starting 2014 off in a new role with the American Academy of Physicians Assistants as the Exhibits Manager. She brings her over 17 years in meeting planning to this new role. Congratulations and best of luck, Kasey!

Apparently the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s loss is a gain for the meeting planning industry.

That’s because Kasey R. McNeil says that if she wasn’t a meeting planner, she would “want to be in the world of crime scene investigation or be an FBI behavioral agent.”

She notes that meeting planning can “become like a huge jigsaw puzzle,” and no doubt her ability to manage this complex process is being put to good use as a meeting planner, a profession she has enjoyed for more than 17 years.

At the American Academy of Physician Assistants, she oversees the management of exhibits for their annual conference and other events. AAPA is the only national organization representing physician assistants in all medical and surgical specialties and students.

Prior to joining AAPA, McNeil worked with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), where she managed exhibits for the annual citywide convention as well as the association’s smaller conferences. IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide.

McNeil has also served as the Exhibit Operations and Events Manager at the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA)/Digestive Disease Week (DDW), where she managed exhibits for the annual citywide convention, including security, expo floor and vendors, general contractors, and 250-450 ancillary meetings and industry supported seminars during each conference. Prior to working in conference planning, McNeil worked in hotel management for eight years as a banquet manager and catering sales manager at hotels such as the Hilton, Embassy Suites and Doubletree.

Her favorite feature of is RFP OrganizationSM She particularly enjoys the platform’s ability to organize quotes for service providers without having to re-key any information. “I would highly recommend this free service to meeting planners and tradeshow managers,” she says.

View more members of the Advisory Council.

Navigating Cultural Differences at Global Meetings

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When does it matter whether you kiss, bow or shake hands? According to meeting professional experts at the PCMA breakout session on How to Navigate Cultural Differences When Planning Global Meetings, it’s key to understand that in Europe you can kiss once, twice or three times on the cheeks (depending on the country) but in Asia, personal space must be respected by keeping one’s distance.


Planning a global meeting can be nothing like putting on an event in your home country so research is important to ensure the successful outcome of your endeavors.

Timing, negotiations, greetings, gifts, food/beverage and financials will all be impacted to some extent based on the local culture and customs. Following these simple guidelines will help planners who are just beginning to “go global:”

  • Be prepared
  • Be creative/flexible
  • Be patient
  • Be respectful

You can also check the Global Tools section on for even more tips on arranging an international event. What additional tips would you share?

Delta Air Lines Recognized at PCMA

Comments Off supplier partner Delta Air Lines won PCMA’s 2013 Environmental Leadership Award.

This Achievement Award was presented Tuesday at the general session and is given to members for their contribution to PCMA and the meetings industry. 140113_006

Norma Dean, Director of Specialty Sales, accepted the award by citing the recent efforts to improve fuel efficiency of their aircraft and ground-support equipment, evaluating alternative fuels and providing commute options for employees among other initiatives.

Congratulations to Delta!



PCMA 2014: The {R}evolution Starts Now

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Well, if it’s January, it must be the annual PCMA Convening Leaders 2014! Your intrepid blogger arrived in Boston Sunday and joined the ranks of meetings industry planners, suppliers, students and faculty ready to be transformed by education, engagement and networking.

The Mayor of Boston welcomes PCMA

The Mayor of Boston welcomes PCMA

As usual, Convening Leaders combines the best of PCMA’s premier education and best practices under the theme “The {R}evolution Starts Now.” The five area of focus are:

  • Technology 140113_002
  • Business & Strategy
  • Globalization
  • Working Together
  • Meetings & Experience Design

Attendees will be leaving with more than a few good nuggets of information, helpful strategies and plenty of new contacts.

Providing a glimpse into the future of meeting planning, PCMA recognized today’s emerging leaders by introducing the “20 in Their Twenties” inaugural class. Applicants had to be employed full time in the meetings industry, be 29 years or younger and showcase three ways they can be considered industry leaders.

The number of applications submitted exceeded all expectations, and those chosen receive complimentary 2014 PCMA conference registrations, $1,500.00 for travel expenses, and with additional benefits to be awarded until they reach 30.

Truly a worthwhile initiative by PCMA, engaging these young leaders who promote innovation within the industry is critical to its continuing success.

2014 Meeting Trends

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2014 meeting trendsThe 2014 American Express Global Meetings & Events Forecast has some noteworthy prediction for meeting planning in the coming year.

The forecast surveys meeting professionals and hoteliers in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Central/South America in areas of meeting attendance, number of meetings, and meeting spending.

North America expects to see slight growth in the number of meetings, the number of attendees per meeting and the increase for regional meetings. Lead times for planning are expected to decrease. Europe expects to see a flat trend in the number of meetings, but a decrease in number attendees and overall spending. Regional meetings are expected to increase here as well.

Asia-Pacific is anticipating a down year in all areas, except regional meetings where a four percent increase is expected. Central/South America expects a flat trend in the number of meetings with a slight increase in number of attendees and regional demand and a decrease in overall spending and lead times.

Looking to 2014, meeting planners surveyed for the 2014 American Express Meetings & Events Forecast revealed a number of key trends and identified expectations across all regions:

  • Increasing Engagement through Social Media and Mobile Apps – According to research from Google’s Our Mobile Planet, since 2012, smartphone penetration has increased by 10 percentage points in most major regions and the daily use of social networking sites via those smartphones is also on the rise. In 2014, according to the 2014 American Express Meetings & Events Global Forecast, the use of social media within meetings is expected to slightly increase across all regions, as the use of mobile apps and social media is expected to transition from attendees’ personal to professional lives. Meeting planners indicated an increased interest in using mobile apps and expressed a desire to learn how to best utilize apps for their individual meetings. With the technology to develop meeting specific apps becoming ‘mainstream’, companies are in the process of choosing the appropriate tools and providers for their meeting apps. Overall, meeting planners are facing increased pressures to use social media and mobile apps before, during and after meetings as a way to communicate with and connect attendees to one another in order to maximize time spent at meetings and create opportunities for increased engagement and efficiency.
  • Budget Controls Continue Local and Regional Meeting Trend – As budget challenges likely increase, localized meeting demand was reported as a key trend by planners for 2014. Meeting planners revealed that companies are expecting to keep meetings closer to home by looking to hold more meetings within their region and/or their own facilities. Compliance, cost, and travel time are all noted as top drivers of this trend, as companies likely continue to seek alternative ways to control costs and reduce time away from the office.
  • Meeting Approvals Becoming More Challenging – The approval process for meetings is expected to become increasingly complex and more rigorous across all regions as a result of expected delayed approvals and a likely shift toward more revenue-focused, external meetings. Senior level executives must often approve meeting programs above a certain budget or attendance number threshold, further delaying the approval process.
  • Group Fares – Incorporating group fares into a strategic meetings program is another way meeting planners are looking to optimize costs in 2014. Group hotel and air rates for meetings and events are expected to experience slight increases compared to rates from 2013. As meeting organizers become more aware of the cost advantages and flexibilities associated with these fares, group rates will likely become more critical in the meeting planning process.
  • Non-Traditional Properties – Meeting planners surveyed for the 2013 American Express Meetings & Events Forecast revealed they were considering more non-traditional properties as locations for meetings such as outdoor venues, universities and aquariums. The 2014 survey results predicted similar trends with Europe and Asia leading the charge with a 2.5 percent increase in the use of alternative properties. In North America, the use of non-traditional facilities is expected to increase as a result of a stronger desire for locations that are considered ‘hip and trendy’ for more promotional events.

What would you add to this list? Comment below to share your ideas. We will be sharing the best comments in a future issue of the e-Alert newsletter!

The Philippines Welcomes Meeting and Exhibition Business – Manila Untouched by Typhoon Haiyan

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Please enjoy the following guest post from our friend Liz Jackson, President of Jackson Consulting, Inc, with some uplifting news form The Philippines.

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Hayain hit islands in the south of the Philippines,  the 1st annual Association Executive Summit was held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila on November 19.  The capital was spared all damage from the storm and over 150 Filipinos attended the two-day educational conference and the launch of the new Philippine Council for the Advancement of Association Executives (PCAAE).

Filipino residents continually approached international visitors with warm thanks for the global response aiding the storm’s survivors and “business as usual” was the message everyone conveyed about the meeting and exhibition business in the Philippines.

The country is composed of over 7,000 islands and tourism, including MICE, is a major employer.  Assuring the world that the Philippines’ typhoon damage was restricted to a small part of the country is a major effort of the Philippine business community.  The Philippine Tourism Promotions Board’s press release quoted, “The (Filipino) government, through the Department of Tourism, said the outpouring of (MICE) support shows that travel and tourism have transformed the globe into one community, ready to stand by each other not only in times of festivities, but in times of challenges.”

Susan Sarfati, High Performance Strategies, and Liz Jackson, Jackson Consulting Inc., were speakers and facilitators during the AES conference’s two days and report to ConventionPlanit that the convention center delivered a flawless meeting and the meeting scene in hotels and throughout the city was alive and vibrant.

“The country is working to repair the typhoon damage while business interests in the country continue everywhere.  Everyone expresses appreciation for global help in caring for the survivors and for continuing to do business with the Philippines.  I am looking forward to my next visit!”

Want to see a brief 5-minute video of the Association Executive Summit?   Check it out, see how well the event was managed and join the world in the Philippines!

Thank you to Liz for writing this post for us and reporting firsthand. Comments or questions? Please post below!

ICOMEX 2013 – Breaking into the Latin American Meetings Market

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Sandra Reed of Meetings Alliance, served as your intrepid bloggers “wingman” while in Mexico City.

With French as my second language, I was a bit stymied when trying to communicate during the show. Thanks to Sandra and her fluent Spanish, is making inroads with the Latin American meeting professionals.

We hope to expand on this partnership in the near future.

icomex 2013

Sandra and myself at the Stand

Gregg Talley, President and CEO of Talley Management, found out the hard way that Mexicans love their music.  As he began his speech on “The Importance of Association Management” in a semi-enclosed area without a ceiling or doors, a nearby festival orchestra began playing a very energetic march using ALL the horns available to the musicians.

After several attempts to speak, he was finally forced to surrender until the music ceased. At least by then, everyone was paying attention!

ICOMEX Trade Show Underway

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ICOMEXBuenos Dias! Your intrepid traveling blogger (or blogging traveler) landed in Mexico City this week for the ICOMEX Trade Show for Latin America being held November 6-8 at the World Trade Center. Hosted buyers attended scheduled appointments with more than 200 product and service providers positioned to help them manage and operate their events.

The education portion of the event included more than 30 national and international breakouts with first tier speakers. SITE Mexico’s breakfast and the local MPI Mexico City Chapter luncheon were available for additional networking opportunities.

Officially, ICOMEX is Latin America’s leading event for bringing together MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Congress and Exhibitions) professionals from around the continent.

A three-day tradeshow with more than 200 suppliers, ICOMEX is designed to help buyers select new destinations for their events, diversify options for organizing events large or small, and implement incentive programs or loyalty plans for employees. Unofficially, there are many opportunities to taste excellent tequilas and various culinary delicacies in a myriad of shapes and forms. Guadalajara is the “home” of Jose Cuervo and they scripted an evening event around their tequila. Chihuahua passed out their traditional beverage and Culiacan presented their shrimp ceviche for tasting during the marketplace. Ole!

Tomorrow…tacos and tequila!

IMEX America – In Pictures

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There was so much excitement and activity happening last week at IMEX America that we just had to capture it on camera to share with you!

photo 3v

Associated Luxury Hotels International’s extensive hotel portfolio has been part of for many years now. It was great to meet new President, Jim Schultenover (left), pictured here with Koleen Roach of the Securian Financial Group, and Dave Gabri, Founder of ALHI.

Minnette Velez-Conty, Neil Mullanaphy, and Mandi Engram from the Puerto Rico CVB pose for a quick photo

The show floor this year was larger than ever before. Here are a few shots of the many Members represented around the hall:



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If you have some great photos from IMEX America, we’d love to see them!

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