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MPI-CAC Conversations + Connections

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Event Rewind - Inside NATO: A Planner's Perspective

Posted by: Ted Miller, CHME, CHSP, CGTP, CGMP - Starwood Hotels and Resorts on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

If you missed this event, you missed one of the best educational events of the year. Bill Martin from Experient was a fabulous moderator directing questions to the panelists that addressed the true logistical issues that had to be overcome and the cooperation required to succeed during the 2012 NATO Summit. For many of the logistical challenges, you could imagine how they might be resolved, but what really came through was how everyone worked together to find a resolution.

Through the course of the planning and execution of the event, each of the players involved needed to develop a friendship and the confidence that the other members of the panel would not only complete their parts but were there as a true partner. The relationships they formed made it possible to have cooperation from entities that normally do not interact in their daily duties. As you would expect, Tamar Buttacavoli, Senior Event Manager from McCormick Place and Rose Horcher, Vice President, Client Services from Choose Chicago, made the facilities and services of McCormick Place and the entire city of Chicago really shine. Chief Debra Kirby from the Chicago Police Department and Gary Schenkel from the Chicago Office of Emergency Management & Communications delivered the city services and staff that made the logistics seamless. John Chikow the President of the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association created passports to help people better enjoy the city and also found a way to get flowers blooming on the streets when there were none to be found in the city. And as you can imagine Alyson Anderson the Senior Convention Services Manager from the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place always found a way to say YES to every request that came her way.

Even though the G-8 moved to Camp David in Maryland, Laura Bowen Wills from the Department of State managed to pull out her magic wand and keep all of the dignitaries satisfied the entire time they were in the city. What you really missed if you did not attend was the video of the Heads of State convening at Soldiers Field for a photo. Trust me.  Find it on YouTube and watch. The sky was dark and there was a threat of rain, but Laura must have more magic in her wand than anyone thought as they completed the photo and left for dinner just minutes before the rain came down.

Here is a tip Laura shared with the audience. If you have been faced with having delegates from another country attend a conference you are planning, many times the protocol of their needs and how they should be included in your agenda can be quite confusing. The State Department has a dedicated protocol office that is there to help you. Even if you need something as small as how to seat international delegates with senior members of your organization, they can give you the solution.

Meet Your New Board Member - Mark J. Carter

Posted by: Maura Dominguez - EPIC, A Kimpton Hotel on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mark J. Carter, Director of Marketing and Public Relations on the Board of Directors of MPI-CAC.  At the end of our conversation, I told Mark I would try my best to show through what a super passionate and fun personality he has.  So here it goes…

Mark has been with MPI-CAC for about a year and a half.  When I asked why he joined, he said “right place, right time!”  Mark was invited by Jim Grillo to speak at the first TechCon in 2011 and at that time, Mark thought you had to be a meeting planner to join MPI.  Although Mark is in the events industry, he does not consider himself a meeting planner, so he never thought about joining.  Well that same night he found himself at the bar hanging out with none other than the entire board of MPI-CAC.  He was having such a great time and someone in the group pointed out that he was actually joking around with the incoming President, Char Shada, whom he also shared a train ride with on the blue line after the event.  He thought to himself “if this is what it’s all about, sign me up!” So at approximately 1:30 am when he got home he used his credit card to join MPI-CAC online.

Mark wanted to make a difference, not only in a “touchy-feely” way, but to really use his skill set to have an impact.  He didn’t need a “resume filler”; his desire was to utilize his skills in a new arena, to take what he does best and take the opportunity to really make a difference.  At the time, MPI-CAC needed a new marketing strategy and an online strategy for promoting events and opportunities. Mark was able to apply his skills to help shape marketing and contributed to the monstrous online presence MPI-CAC has today.

When Mark took over the MarComm committee about a year ago, the committee had a print newsletter and social media was still in its infancy for MPI-CAC.  Mark was able to launch the Conversations+Connections online newsletter with a full strategy, new name and new initiative.  All social media channels are now active for the chapter.  MarComm also reinvigorated Facebook and LinkedIn and launched a new blog.  He is very excited about the blog, as it will be MPI’s own voice speaking instead of going through other channels.  MarComm has also created marketing programs for other committees so that there is a structured effort to promote successful events. He has watched these social media initiatives impact and help people.  But he wants to emphasize the most wonderful asset in this committee is the phenomenal TEAM effort around him to help implement these new concepts and recently win the Committee of the Year award.

Mark is now stepping into a leadership role as Director of Marketing by helping other people, teaching and mentoring.  What Mark loves about this new role is stepping out of doing everything himself and supporting other people.  Giving others the skill to get things done and helping them grow professionally, which is exactly what MPI has done for him and his business.

Mark shared a story about starting an organization a few years ago called Networking for a Cause. He was doing everything himself and after a couple of years he had to put things on hold.  What MPI has taught him the most is how to delegate and he says this is the biggest take away from his experience thus far.  He can take this back to his own business and his own world and build a great team to revamp his foundation, which will be resuming events in Chicago, New York and Boston in the near future.

Mark’s company recently ran a book launch and tour for former CSO of Yahoo, Tim Sanders.  I asked Mark what, (if any) influence working with Tim Sanders had on his concepts of Networking for a Cause?  I should preface by saying that Tim’s books have a common theme of giving back, networking and paying it forward among other ideas.  I could hear Mark’s tone and energy light up immediately when I mentioned Tim’s name.  He said “that is like a softball down the middle to my favorite thing in the world. Tim Sanders changed my life.  He took me under his wing about 8 years ago and when everyone used to tell me ‘you gotta sell, sell, sell’, Tim said ‘you have to give to get’”.  Tim Sanders taught me everything from his book “Love is the Killer App” and to this day he is my biggest mentor.  I found a focus thanks to Tim Sanders.

Mark is looking forward to seeing what the thought leaders are saying about the industry.  But mostly, he is looking forward to connecting with people, people who can teach him something and people who he can teach.  His advice is to network intelligently and find those people who can help you and vice versa.  Mark is also very excited about the focused topic on connections and communication...


Relationship Management

Posted by: Mandy Peace, Palomar Chicago on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Congratulations David Kinney, one of our volunteers of the Month for May. David was instrumental in pulling together another wildly successful 17th Annual MPI-CAC Golf Classic this year along with the help of his fearless Golf Classic committee. Because our theme this issue is Project Management , I wanted to find out how and why he got involved in the Golf Classic project.  

“It’s the people, and learning how to better manage my time. Those are the reasons I was happy to sign up for a second year on the Golf Classic committee.” He credits the committee for the success of the event, praising their leadership, time, dedication, brilliance and sprit of fun. As luck would have it, most of the same members worked with him the previous year. David felt that working with this committee consecutively would really lend itself to a fun and productive event. And he was right. Even though taking on such a large and daunting event can have its scheduling challenges and potential fires, David says seeing the happiness on the sponsor’s faces and knowing that they were happy with the end result makes all of the work more than worth it.

David could not express enough how much he loves the people on his committee. They learned so much together and really bonded and this definitely made the experience memorable and special. In fact, when I asked David why he wanted to volunteer for such a big project, he kept coming back to the same topic. “Friendships…I never knew how many great friendships I would develop from getting more involved in MPI.”  Early on in his career, he didn’t understand the benefit of digging in and being a bigger part of the organization. And then he “grew up” in a sense.  A light bulb must have clicked! 

He wanted to express to all new members, find someone you admire in this industry and learn from that person.  David personally looked up to a handful of people, and kept learning from these individuals.  He also stated that being nervous or intimidated is normal, but he hopes new members wouldn’t be afraid to reach out for direction.   “I have met so many friendly people and these connections will hopefully last a lifetime.”

We also talked a bit about how to get more of our members to the MPI events. You probably hear it all the time, that there are always more suppliers than planners in attendance. “The Supplier/Planner ratio depends on us…if we as suppliers brought one planner to the next meeting, we could really turn this around. We could really make the supplier community happy with the events!  We have a group of amazing people in our chapter of MPI-CAC and I am so happy to volunteer my time and be a part of a greater unit.”

David’s spirit of volunteerism comes from just wanting to be more involved…to try something new. As most of us have been, he has held many different roles in the meetings community. He moved to Chicago in 2000 from Iowa State University and has lived in the city for 12 years, working in the hospitality industry in various operational roles. He started his hotel sales career with Hotel (Hilton) Orrington in Evanston in 2007.  With an interest in representing a destination since he was in high school, he switched over to the Convention & Visitors Bureau side to work for the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau in 2009.  Most recently, David finds himself with the Louisville CVB as Director of Midwest Sales, a position he took this past winter.  He is passionate about hospitality sales and the meetings industry in general, and enjoys being an uncle/godfather in his spare time while rooting on the Iowa Hawkeyes!  David feels lucky and honored to live in this dynamic city, while representing a fun destination with outstanding people. 

In closing, we did talk about the benefits, pitfalls and challenges of project management. However, what I learned most from talking with David is that not only can MPI help to bring more visibility to your own platform, but personally, it can enrich your life through pivotal professional relationships and essential friendships that you will always carry with you no matter where you are professionally or geographically. That is a project I can always get behind.

Strengthen Your Personal Brand

Posted by: Ted Miller, CHME, CHSP, CGTP, CGMP - Starwood Hotels and Resorts on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Your personal brand is what people know and think about you in the entertainment industry. The most important part of your personal brand is how you continue to grow its value. 

Every day in your professional life you encounter situations that may be very new or ones that your peers look to you as the expert. As more people come to rely on your knowledge, your personal brand grows. If you decide to pursue a position with another organization your personal brand is one of the key elements in being selected for the position. If you are in a situation where you need to be able to influence others to solve a problem or create a success, your personal brand comes into play.

Here is something you might not realize, everything you write has the potential to be viewed by someone searching for topic specific information. It might be found on a business networking site such as LinkedIn or a general information search. How you choose to address a topic or comment on a current situation becomes part of your personal brand. The words you choose along with your grammar help define how people view you and the value of your opinion. This helps build your reputation and develop your personal brand.

You have an opportunity to demonstrate your communications skills that you use every day through participation in the MPI Chicago Area Chapter's Marketing & Communications committee. You can show the knowledge you have acquired in specific areas or in your ability to research a subject and present information valuable to the membership at large. Take a minute and think of joining the Marketing & Communications (MarComm) committee as an opportunity to grow your personal brand and have your peers in our industry see your contributions and get to know you better. If joining a committee isn’t an option, the opportunity to grow your personal brand online is always available through submitting an article for the Conversations+Connections e-newsletter, writing for the MPI-CAC blog or posting, re-tweeting and joining in on conversations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Build your personal brand. Get your voice heard.   

View the Marketing & Communications Committee Description
Complete the Join a Committee Form

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

AIBTM Recap Featuring John Nawn

Posted by: Jill Kaplan - Eved on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

In the last issue of CONVERSATIONS + Connections I caught up with MPI-CAC member John Nawn, a long time industry veteran and presenter at this year’s AIBTM conference to preview the Chicago Area Chapter's connection to the conference. With the conference still fresh in our minds I decided to ask John for his thoughts as a follow-up to the show.

Q: What was your biggest take away from AIBTM that you want to share with MPI-CAC members?
A: If you do international meetings, this is a solid show to attend. AIBTM will be alternating between Chicago and Orlando going forward, which should help attract the right planners and suppliers. All of these shows are boosting their educational offerings, primarily through partnerships with other organizations like MPI, which I think is a good thing.

Q: What was your favorite conference moment?
A: Besides my conversation with you (referring to Jill Kaplan)?  I know it sounds trite but I like meeting people in person that I've only met virtually or spoken to over the phone. For me, there's no substitute for face-to-face meetings, the level of conversation, and the emotional connections I can make with individuals. I enjoy chatting up different vendors and finding out what's new and different. A panel discussion on the impact of the GSA scandal on government meetings was a highlight.  Also, I presented the results of the Business Value of Meetings research, funded by MPI and AIBTM.

AIBTM, the Americas Meetings & Events Exhibition, will rotate between Chicago and Orlando starting next year. AIBTM 2013 will be held June 11–13 at McCormick Place West in Chicago, while AIBTM 2014 will be held June 10–12 at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in Orlando.

Starting the New Year with a Bang...Fireworks of Course!

Posted by: Sean Lynch - NHS Meeting Services on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Happy Fourth of July MPI-CAC members! Your new board is in place, very strong, and we are tremendously excited to demonstrate the value of your membership.  Look at the incredible events coming up beginning with fireworks:

  • Inside NATO: A Planner’s Perspective on July 11th at Navy Pier will be a must-attend education program and networking reception.  The education program features a panel discussion with 6 insiders.  Following the program, Navy Pier is hosting the networking reception concluding with fireworks.  Don't miss this if you want to learn and make connections.  The $30.00 will be your best investment of the summer.
  • MPI-CAC Wrigley Experience: Major League Networking at iconic Wrigley Field on August 22nd. This will be lots of fun and a great opportunity to develop business relationships with fellow members and industry professionals.
  • MPI-CAC EdCon Chicago 2012 is booked and to be held October 24th at McCormick Place.  Save the date now, as content will be offered at an advanced level.
  • MPI-CAC Holiday Party on 12.12.12. People are still talking about last year's event, so be sure to mark your calendars to join us for THE holiday celebration of year.

The Board would like to thank each of our 1000+ members, and especially the 200+ who volunteer their time and talents for the greater good of the chapter. Your membership is very important to us. Call myself or any board member if you need help with anything.  It is an honor to be a MPI-CAC member as we continue our 35 year legacy of chapter and industry leadership.  

In closing, we are very excited to represent you in the hospitality industry and to make a positive difference in your lives and in your business.  Your Chicago Area Chapter has the framework to meet our promise; to help you grow your career and build your business.   

See you next Wednesday at the fireworks.

Making Deeper Human Connections Online

Posted by: Maura Dominguez - EPIC, A Kimpton Hotel on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

In today’s hyper-connected world, there are a myriad of ways to find, reach and discover people and potential customers.  But are we really “connecting” with these people?  

As of today, I have 445 connections on LinkedIn which link me to 5,506,267+ professionals. Seriously?! This is fabulous but how many of these connections am I really cultivating?  How many of these connections are growing and meaningful?  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they couldn’t be, but it seems like in order for me to foster these connections, I need to get back to basics. I need to make a deeper “human” connection with these individuals.  

The common mission used to be to have the biggest online presence and have the most “friends” on every available channel and that was considered connecting.  But companies are now trying to figure out how to do this better and more significantly.  I recently attended the annual Kimpton National Sales Meeting at the Fire Sky Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona where the conference theme was “Get Connected”.  We had lectures from company executives and guest speakers about how to connect our brand to our customers.  The one thing that resonated throughout was how to connect with their hearts.  

There were two specific companies referenced which have done a fantastic job of making their customers fall in love with them.  One example was Chipotle, a company that says they have “food with integrity”; they “respect the animals, the environment and the farmers” and their customers believe it and buy it because they deliver the promise in-store and online and the reviews prove it.  People like to know that you do good deeds, so share them in your online networks.

The other example was Zappos, which has become synonymous with excellent customer service.  A Google search of Zappos will yield outstanding reviews and videos of actual phone calls where the customer service agents have helped customers with things they don’t even sell at Zappos (like the pizza delivery story – Google it!).  They have mastered the art of WOW customer service through “delivering happiness”.  They have created WOW moments that both their existing and new customers will experience online.  They not only share their customer interactions but also their internal culture and training with the world via their ZapposInsights.com site.  They have a transparent online presence, thus connecting with their customers’ core values of honesty and integrity.

A wise woman once told me that “people do business with people they like”.  She was one of my mentors in the very beginning of my career and I have never forgotten her advice.  The saying “it’s WHO you know, not what you know” is more relevant now than ever.  People (humans) have a need and desire to connect with other people.  In our hyper-connected society, it is important to figure out how to maximize the opportunity to truly engage with others. Let real people be the voice of your company online. 

The most important quest in business is to create and foster human connectivity.  At WEC 2012 in St. Louis July 28-31 you’ll find your inspiration.  Learn more.

About the Author
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Miami, FL, Maura Dominguez has a degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University.  She has worked in the industry for 14 years and is currently Senior Sales Manager at EPIC hotel in Miami.  Maura has been an MPI member since 2004.

Connecting with Von Fabella, CMP - May Volunteer of the Month

Posted by: Mandy Peace - Hotel Palomar Chicago on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (1)

If you haven’t already, meet our May Volunteer of the Month, Von Fabella, CMP. Von, a long standing member of MPI-CAC, recently served as co-chair of the 2012 Annual Awards Recognition Gala committee and we wanted to thank him for all of the hard work, creativity and dedication that went into putting together such an amazing event!

As a Chicago native, Von attended Whitney Young High School and received his B.S. degree in Finance from Colorado State University. When he moved back to Chicago, he began his career in the hotel industry by joining the team at the InterContinental Chicago. Since then he has worked as a hotel sales and marketing executive with IHC Brands, Kimpton Hotels, Swissotel Chicago, Loews Hotels, and Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Currently, Von founded end-points solutions, a consulting company focusing on solutions for both points of the meeting industry. He assists various organizations with venue selection, logistics and sales implementation to grow market share.

Von has always been very involved with our chapter of MPI. He has served as past vice chair for the MPI-CAC Golf committee and as a member of the Membership, Education, Registration, and Special Events committees. When I had the chance to catch up with him this month, we talked at length about what went into organizing the Gala and he humbly gave most of the credit to Kathleen Clickett, his co-chair. “I couldn’t have done it without her…we were two peas in a pod and we worked so well together.”  From registration, to marketing and sponsorship and any and everything else that needed to be done, Von and Kathleen divided the tasks and as a result of their efforts, attendance far exceeded their expectations. I, for one, have heard nothing but positive feedback about the event.

When I asked Von what he will remember most about this experience, he mentioned people. In Von’s opinion, our members, who give so much of their own time and dedication to MPI were responsible for the success of the Awards Gala. Von’s connection to people, his passion and his acumen for excellence are the kind of characteristics that make MPI successful, not to mention our Volunteer of the Month for May!

We are focusing on social media in this issue so I wanted to get Von’s thoughts on the topic. Currently, he connects with colleagues through all the typical sites; LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. But Von gave me some great insight into how he builds his business through social media and beyond. “In order to make a greater impact with a customer, YouTube is a great tool. Clients who have access to a 360 degree tour and additional two dimensional demonstrations, have given me great feedback. This is a great option if they aren’t able to physically visit a site or property.”

While he uses Twitter and Facebook to deliver promotional information, daily updates and events to the masses, he sees these sites, primarily, as marketing tools. What is most valuable to building his business is person-to-person communication. The greater ROI for Von comes from the human connection. Social media is not going away, and even Von is working on new ways to make it more beneficial for him, but he would rather talk to you about that in person.

About the Author
Mandy Peace has been a hotel sales professional for over 11 years and a member of the MPI Chicago Area Chapter for the last 3 years.  As a Natchitoches, Louisiana native, the last 8 years in Chicago have felt a lot like home. A rich and colorful history, friendly people, amazing food, passionate politics are just a few commonalities that make her two favorite cities so special to her. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Event Rewind: Annual Awards Recognition Gala 2012

Posted by: Ted Miller, CHME, CHSP, CGTP - Starwood Hotels and Resorts on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (1)

The stars were all out at the new Museum of Broadcast Communications for the MPI-CAC Annual Awards Recognition Gala on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. As you looked in the audience you saw many of the award winners from previous years, members who have been quite active in their respective committees plus numerous past and present members of our board.

When you looked further into the room you could see many of the people who had been nominated for awards and a bit of the nervousness in their eyes as they were waiting for their award category to be called.  If you were to ask anyone who was in attendance they would tell you the fact that someone thought enough of their contributions to the chapter to nominate them for an award was as important to them as winning an award.

This was the first private event at the Museum of Broadcast Communications. It lent itself quite well to the Awards Gala. Our hosts offered various levels of the building to meet and mix with colleagues while viewing some of the memorabilia from the great performers of the past. As I visited the collection I was struck by the fact that what made the great performers of the past was not just their talent, but the organization behind them that allowed them to perform.

This is what we strive to do as a chapter by creating an environment that allows others to show their talent and perform.

And now let me introduce you to the Stars of 2012...

Chapter Leader of the Year:  Judi Holler - Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel

Planner Member of the Year:  Sonal Sullivan, CMP - HIMSS

Eleanor H. Woods Supplier Member of the Year:  Catherine McKenna, CMP, CMM - Peabody Hotels

Student Member of the Year:  Kristin Ferraris - American Dental Hygienists' Association

Tomorrow's Leaders:
Jill Brown Smith - JBS Registration Management
George Chrisopulos - Aloha Document Services
Rhonda Grizzard - SmithBucklin
Jennifer Radcliffe - Wolfgang Puck Catering
Tina Reedy - TRAVIS Inc. Audio Visual
Katherine Strandquist - ACCESS Destination Services
Anne Zambrano - Eved

Hall of Fame Organization: Rick Hud - San Francisco Travel Association

Hall of Fame Organization: Classic Party Rentals

Kathy Osterman Industry Award:  Jim Grillo, CMP - Hereschicago.com

President’s Awards:
Inspiration & Effort: Sean Lynch - NHS
Dedicated Industry Professional: Kevin Boland - The Drake Hotel
Most Valuable Player: Judi Holler - Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel

Committee of the Year: Marketing & Communications Committee

Congratulations to this year's award winners!

Meet Kevin Hinton - Chairman Elect of the MPI International Board of Directors

Posted by: James Sanden - Sanden Magic on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Recently I caught up with Kevin Hinton, Chairman Elect of the MPI International Board of Directors.  A member of the Chicago chapter of MPI since 2000, Kevin has held multiple roles on the MPI-CAC board of directors, including a term as president in 2006.  In 2008 he joined the International Board and is now preparing to embark on a year as Chairman of the International Board.

Kevin’s enthusiasm and passion for MPI is infectious.  He deeply believes in what MPI has to offer, its potential and the difference it can make for both its members and the meetings industry.  He talked about how the meetings and events industry is, unfortunately, being defined by those outside the industry who don’t understand the difference and impact made by meetings.  “The meetings industry supports 1.7 million jobs and contributes $106 billion dollars directly to GDP, but few people are aware of that,” Kevin says.  And recent scandals such as the General Services Administration, (GSA) lavish conference spending don’t help.  There’s a story to be told, one that encompasses all that the meetings industry has to offer.  It’s our job, he explained, to tell that story and to redefine it.  And there’s not a lot of time to do so.  “We have to create talking points and distill our message,” Kevin explains.  We’ve have to get the message out quickly, dramatically and effectively.

And the impact of the meetings industry is not just financial.  Listening to Kevin talk about the difference meetings make in people’s lives is inspiring.  To him, meetings aren’t just a way to accomplish business objectives.  They’re an example of the fundamental way human beings interact.  “Human beings live in a community, and meetings are how we get together,” says Kevin.  “It’s how we advance our species.”  He says we should share the message that meetings go beyond the traditional labels of “boring,” “boondoggle,” or “extravagant.”  Meetings are how we grow and make a difference.  “They can break down barriers by providing an experience two groups or individuals share.”  Through Kevin’s eyes meetings become a fundamental aspect of human existence.

Kevin also shared how the International Board has been investing in a knowledge plan for meeting professionals that goes beyond the traditional designations (CMP, etc.)  He explained their goal is to help members (both planners and suppliers) in different phases of their careers identify where they want to go and how to get there, based on the idea that the skills one needs change as one’s career evolves.  The skills, he explained, a young planner needs aren’t the same skills he or she will need as a manager, which aren’t the same skills needed as the individual moves into a more strategic role later in his or her career.  The knowledge plan is designed to help members more effectively and efficiently understand what skills they need and how to go about gaining those skills.

Kevin explained this knowledge plan is part of a greater goal to create a more cohesive community, investing and supporting in individual chapters so that they can thrive, which makes the entire global community more successful, empowering MPI and its members to increase their voice and position in the global community of professionals.  

For Kevin, globalization isn’t just a buzz word.  As a member of the International Board he and the other members have worked hard to understand not only what the organization as a whole needs, but what the chapters need locally.  Through “Chapter Connect,” a program where board members visit individual chapters, the Board has come to better understand individual chapter strengths, what they’re good at and what they need, helping MPI operate with a unique mixture of both global and local perspective.  Because, says Kevin, while what we do is local, there’s always a global aspect to it, always a connection to people outside our local world.  His advice is to keep an open mind.  “Someday,” he says, “there’ll be someone who will come to you with an international program or opportunity.”  And you have to be prepared for it.

Much of the work boils down to communication.  It’s our job, says Kevin, to create a compelling story for the meetings industry and share it powerfully.  There are a number of strategies to do this, including, of course, social media.  The important thing to remember, says Kevin, is that social media, despite prevailing beliefs, isn’t free.  Yes, posting on Facebook, sharing on LinkedIn and tweeting on Twitter are all free, but the work it takes to effectively leverage these outlets comes at an opportunity cost.  To be effective takes time, energy and planning.  It’s both an art and a science.  Remember, says Kevin, social media is just another way to engage customers.  It’s not the only way, and it’s important to be effective, however you engage them.

Kevin feels privileged to serve in the international community, but remains a proud member of the Chicago chapter.  He talked about what a fantastic job our local MPI-CAC board is doing, and that it’s all thanks to the hundreds of volunteers, folks doing the work, on the ground, whose efforts are what make MPI successful.  

About the author
James Sanden (www.sandenmagic.com) is a corporate comedy magician specializing in private and corporate entertainment and education at awards banquets, receptions, promotional events, sales meetings and trade shows.

MPI-CAC Connection to AIBTM Featuring John Nawn

Posted by: Jill Kaplan - Eved on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

AIBTM is the one of the premier global exhibitions for the U.S. incentive, business travel, meetings and event industry. The show brings together the world’s meetings, incentive, business and corporate planners for three days of focused business.

John Nawn, a member of the Chicago Area Chapter of MPI, leads the learning and content strategy for MPI's Business Value of Meetings research project and presenting this year at AIBTM in Baltimore. He is founder of an experiential design firm, the Perfect Meeting which is focused on optimizing the meeting attendee experience. John is a leading authority on meeting design, the future of meetings, and related topics. A long-time industry veteran and former executive with PCMA, John speaks, writes, and consults extensively on learning and engagement strategies for large meetings, events, and trade shows.

Q:  What are your top 3 objectives for AIBTM?
A:  I'm presenting at AIBTM this year with Bill Voegeli of Association Insights for the Practitioner Series: Determine the Business Value of Meetings and Events.  I want to make sure I do a good job and make sure folks get good value from attending. We've put a lot of effort into crafting our message to resonate and hit the right tone. I find determining meeting value is all the more critical these days and most folks aren't doing it or don’t have a clue where to start.  The template we have developed serves as a road map for everyone to follow. We're hoping to raise the profile of this key topic so that more meeting professionals follow suit. It's the cure for what ails meetings these days.  As an attendee, I split my time pretty evenly between educational sessions and networking. If the sessions are not providing new value for me, (which I can assess pretty quickly), I spend more time networking.  I'm pretty fearless about approaching others and engaging them in a conversation. I approach networking from the stand point of trying to help others succeed and I always make sure to follow up with everyone via LinkedIn after the event.  Feedback is critical to the continued improvement of an event and I make sure to let conference organizers know about my experience at their event.

Q: Name 1-2 points that you would like to share with any Chicago MPI Members planning to attend AIBTM
A:  I always encourage folks to give some thought in advance about your objectives. Is there anyone in particular you want to meet or reconnect with at the event? Is there a session you have to attend.  For me it’s like a friendly little competition with myself to see if I can exceed my own goals. And remember to always bring plenty of business cards. 

AIBTM America Meetings Week is going on now, June 19-21, 2012 in Baltimore, MD.  AIBTM will be in Chicago June 11-13, 2013 at McCormick Place and will deliver a fantastic range of learning and thought-provoking education, exciting networking opportunities and offer powerful business connections for attendees of the show. You can learn more about AIBTM at  www.aibtm.com/visiting

Happy 35th Anniversary MPI-CAC!

Posted by: Ben Palmer - Expressive Structures & Sally Magallanes, CMP - Independent Meeting & Marketing Profess on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Happy 35th Anniversary MPI Chicago Area Chapter!  On June 22nd, we are celebrating 35 years of helping our members thrive by providing human connections to knowledge and ideas, relationships, and creating marketplaces for meeting professionals in the Chicago area.

Over 1,000 members strong, the Chicago Area Chapter is one of the largest chapters in MPI. In addition to its distinction in terms of membership size, dedication and involvement, the Chicago Area Chapter is also one of the founding chapters rich with industry history.

Founded in 1977 as the Chicago Area Meeting Planners International and known by the acronym CAMPI the name remained unchanged until 1993. The leadership decided to change the name to Meeting Professionals International - Chicago Area Chapter, (MPI-CAC) recalls John Potterton, CMP who served as Chapter President in 1992 -1993.

He explains the reason behind the name change was a statement that we are MPI members first and a chapter second, in addition to representing our supplier members. We also wanted to elevate our perception to the outside world as a serious business organization and the acronym CAMPI conjured up images of camping and marshmallows by the fire.

The global MPI membership is now comprised of more than 23,000 members belonging to 71 chapters and clubs worldwide. During the last several decades, the Chicago Area Chapter has had numerous members serve on the MPI International Board.

We had the pleasure of speaking with many former and current board members in the writing of this article. Let’s hear what they had to say…

We caught up with 15 year veteran Michelle Wierzgac, MS, CMM, who served in the dual roles of VP of Education for the Chicago Area Chapter and as the International Chair of Certification in Meeting Management, (CMM) Committee between 2000 - 2001. At the time having a member serve in both a local and international role had never been done. Michelle commented that as a result of that dual role she was able to bring international brainstorming into the Chicago Area Chapter continuing the long tradition of breaking new ground and exploring new ideas to help the membership and the organization grow stronger.

Francine Pepitone, CMM, MAS, who served as Chapter President from 1986-87, recalled with fondness, “I remember our 10th anniversary celebration (1987) at the Pump Room while I was the CAMPI (Chicago Area MPI) chapter president.  We had an actual red carpet and local celebrities. Most of the past chapter presidents came to the event and we had them walk down the red carpet. It was an exciting time! We were the largest chapter then and extremely active. In 1987, we were named Chapter of the Year during my presidency and also the next year, when Bill Grusich, CMP, was president. I think we had 600 members or more at the time. The Chicago Chapter was also the host city for MPI’s international annual meeting and “rocked!” There used to be chapter sports’ competitions that I believe were held at Grant Park. The Chicago Police escorted us in their cars as we were named champions for this event. Chicago has always been, and remains, the chapter everyone looks to as its model. We are very proud of this… Happy 35th MPI-CAC!”

Brian Palmer, CMM, who served as Chapter President from 1990-91, recalled, “Our membership was about one fifth of what it is now, when I joined the Chapter in 1980. Meetings were simpler, more repetitive and every evening event had an after-dinner speaker. There was an open bar at our Chapter lunch programs and the bank of pay phones was busy as soon as meetings were over.”  Apparently, Brian has lots of fun stories that will remain at those luncheon meetings, so next time you run into him at an MPI event don’t hesitate to try to get one out of him!

While the MPI Chicago Area Chapter has had many changes, one thing that remains a constant is the volunteer commitment and goal towards excellence. The tradition will continue to thrive as planners and suppliers alike will join as members seeking to grow their career or build their business. Members will continue to get involved by becoming part of a committee and move on to leadership positions on the Board; all in an effort to continue the work of our charter members and make the Chicago Area Chapter the best organization for meeting professionals in the area.

It is the dedication of our members, the spirit of teamwork, and Chicago’s willingness to try out new ideas that makes our chapter outstanding, and why we can say with pride, “Happy 35th Anniversary, MPI-CAC!”

Conferences, Tradeshows and Networking on LinkedIn: What NOT to do

Posted by: Mark J. Carter - ONE80, LLC on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

After attending a conference recently (over the weekend) I logged into LinkedIn the following week to check for new invitations and send some out.  Of all the ones I received, NONE of them included a personal message or introduction.

Sending a friend request on LinkedIn or Facebook WITHOUT a personal introduction is like walking into a networking event, passing your business card out to every person in the room and hoping they call you back (without giving them a reason to). Would you do that?

Here’s how you can help THEM connect with YOU after any event, conference or tradeshow that you attend…


A simple reminder is always helpful and makes you stand out in their mind.  It takes less than 30 seconds to type something like:

“Hello ___________, we met at (this event, this meeting, etc).  We talked about __________. Thought it would be helpful to connect here on (Facebook/LinkedIn) to stay in touch for networking.”

Of course, if you have a more specific reason to connect – something you’ve talked about at length with that person – remind them!


At many conferences there’s just too many people to meet; but you might want to connect with the people you missed.

One of the great things about Facebook and LinkedIn is the fact that you have the opportunity to meet new people – everyday.  This can (of course) include potential clients and referral sources; but should also include possible collaborators, mentors, power partners and like-minded people in your field of work or interest.

Let’s say you work in or are passionate about the nonprofit arena and search a social network for people who mention “nonprofit” in their profile.  Reach out – and let them know WHY they should connect with you.  Again, in less than 30 seconds you can say something like:

“Hello _________, I came across your profile and noticed that you work with nonprofits.  I’d like to connect because (I own a nonprofit/I also work with nonprofits/I want to volunteer/etc).

NOTE: Sometimes Facebook just automatically sends the “friend request” without giving you the option to add a personal message.  If that happens – send that person a message separately with a personal introduction explaining why you sent the friend request.

WARNING:  Transparency and honesty are KEY when it comes to connecting.

  • DON’T just say “I’d like to network with you…” What does that actually mean?  Do you want to sell them something?  Do you want to work for them?  Do you want to talk about referrals?
  • DON’T hide your intentions – if you think that person would be a good client for you – tell them that.  If you just want to learn more about their industry and have an idea exchange – tell them that.
  • DO be specific about WHY you want to connect.
  • DO be brief in your personal introduction.  They’ll respond if they want to know more.

Who are you going to reach out to TODAY online – and how are you going to introduce yourself to them?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

MPI + IMEX AMERICA + LAS VEGAS = A winning combination!

Posted by: No Author on Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

The IMEX and MPI partnership at the inaugural IMEX America Trade Show in Las Vegas was anything but a risky bet – delivering big returns to the meetings, events and incentive travel industry, with new energy, new education, new business and new relationships.

A large part of the success of IMEX America was the high caliber of buyers, with hundreds of the 2,000 hosted buyers being MPI members.

In 2012, MPI and IMEX are gearing up to make the IMEX America Hosted Buyer experience even stronger, with enriched education and networking opportunities, enhanced scheduling technology and significant growth in high quality exhibitors from across the United States and around the World.

Wondering if the MPI Hosted Buyer Program at IMEX America is right for you?

We asked Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, to share 3 must-know points of this unique program:

  1. How to become an IMEX America Hosted Buyer: IMEX America Hosted Buyers are invited to apply by specially selected Intermediaries, or Exhibitors. You must play a key role in planning, organizing, recommending or making financial decisions for events outside of your home country. We ask buyers to schedule and attend individual appointments while on-site with exhibitors of their choice as well as pre-scheduled appointments with exciting new destinations and hotels.

  2. What’s In It For You?: IMEX America Hosted Buyers are given the opportunity to meet the world under one roof … schedule appointments, network with industry partners and meet with new exhibitors, suppliers and venues all at the Sands Expo. In fact, many buyers have said they got more business done in 3 days at the trade show than they had in a year at the office. 

    You will have the opportunity to attend more than 100 free learning programs, booth receptions, panels and MPI keynotes – offered on Smart Monday ‘Powered By MPI” and in the morning before the show floor opens. Smart Monday is a day of free education sessions, which includes Association Focus and Association Evening as well as sessions hosted by other industry trade associations.

    Hosted Buyers are able to book flights through IMEX from selected destinations, or arrange their own transportation and be refunded within our flight bands. IMEX hosts accommodation for MPI buyers at The Palazzo Hotel for 2, 3 and 4 night programs. MPI Buyers are also invited to attend the MPI Rendezvous on October 10th.

  3. What’s Required Of You?: As an IMEX America Hosted Buyer we ask that you schedule and attend a minimum of 8 appointments per day – either with exhibitors of your choice, or arranged on your behalf by your intermediary. You will be in control of your own schedule and, using our exclusive online appointment software, you will be able to search exhibitors and schedule meetings with those you are most interested in meeting with. Our messaging service also means that you can send RFP’s and emails before arriving at IMEX – meaning you get business done on the show floor.

Still aren’t sure it’s the right program for you? No worries, non-hosted buyers (buyer attendees) get the same access to networking opportunities, free education, IMEX America’s online exhibitor appointment scheduling system, excellent rates at the headquarters hotel The Venetian®| The Palazzo® and airline discounts. New for 2012: all buyer attendees will also have access to free shuttle transfers around Las Vegas.

Whether you attend as a hosted buyer or a buyer attendee, you’ll hit the jackpot at IMEX America.

Register your interest in attending IMEX America as an MPI Hosted Buyer

Register as a Buyer Attendee at IMEX America

Communications Looking Back

Posted by: The Expert on Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Have you ever wondered why some venues tend to generate certain questions? Have you ever been in a museum and have people ask you questions? When your hair is a mixture of gray and white people tend to think that either you will know certain historical information or assume you lived at the time when certain historical events happened. The MPI-CAC Awards Gala at the Museum of Broadcast Communications seemed to have generated a lot of questions that were focused towards a certain member with excessive tenure in the chapter. Here are just a few of questions asked:

Question: Since email is relatively new how did an organization promote a conference or an event without electronic media?
Answer: Prior to email the majority of conferences were promoted in either trade journals or magazines published by a trade association or a conference management firm. The normal lead time to produce one of these publications was three to five months and you also need to remember that these publications were sent by the US Mail.  With today’s electronic media you can produce a trade publication is less than a week.

Question: Can you tell me how electronic media has changed from years past? I seem to get more promotional emails and often wonder how they got my name.
Answer: What we consider electronic media is basically email and is used to blast information to a wide list. In years past the electronic media was the radio. There are still today many business-oriented radio stations such as WBBM in Chicago and WTOP in Washington which were the prime way of using electronic media to reach decision makers. One thing to remember is that you could and can still use the newspaper as a fast means of communication to targeted audiences. The best newspapers for business advertising are still the Wall Street Journal and Barrons.

Question: Can you please explain how the cost of using various media today has changed?
Answer: The more a media source is used the more expensive it is to use. Email is a relatively inexpensive form of communication, but a similar media source used earlier were blast fax transmissions. You design a one-piece promotion announcement and have a fax transmission company send it out for you. Usually the transmissions were done at night from 11PM to 5AM as the cost to use the phone lines at those hours was far less expensive. The fax transmission might cost you a dollar per page or less if sent at night versus the email which has only production costs.

As I enjoyed the Awards Gala at the museum I could not help but look around and be amazed by how the changes in technology have impacted our industry in such a short period of time.

Killer Presentations

Posted by: Tim McDonald - My Community Manager on Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Quick…tell me one thing you learned from the meeting you just attended. Will your attendees be able to answer that without stopping to think? More importantly, did they focus on the lack of coffee, the great A/V or the convenient location rather than the incredible presentation?

Too often, meeting planners rely on handing off presentations to marketing without staying involved to make the message incredible and just make sure we don’t run out of coffee.

At the very core, meetings are intended to communicate important messages.  So, why is it that presentations are all too often the weakest link at any meeting?  Improve your meetings by improving the messages and the manner in which they are communicated!  Think of all the time, money and effort that gets wasted when a presenter fails to communicate effectively.  We all know this to be true.  Why?  Well, we've either been to meetings like this, or worse, we've presented at meetings like this.

During the upcoming Lunch & Learn Webinar on June 20th presented by SquarePlanet Presentations, you’ll see how communication is the essential tool we all need to be successful, whether we are a planner or supplier, new to the industry or a seasoned veteran. Think about it, when was the last time you invested time or resources into improving your own communications skill-set?

Learn how to make an immediate and lasting impact on your meetings by:

  • Identifying the fundamental flaws
  • Obtaining a road map for your success
  • Gaining tips and tricks to help you execute better than you've ever imagined possible

Plus, you'll have an opportunity to ask questions afterward. After talking with Brian Burkhart of SquarePlanet Presentations, you won’t want to miss this! So register (FREE for MPI members), grab a lunch and listen from the comfort of your home or office!

Partnerships Are Essential Because You Just Can't Do It All

Posted by: Sally Magallanes, CMP - Independent Marketing/Meeting Professional on Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

The hype has died down. World-wide media coverage? Over. And the intense security of every square inch of ground, air and sea? It is back to Chicago’s normal. Yes, the 2012 NATO Summit came to the Windy City and held its vital meeting without too much interruption. Most Chicagoans breathed a sigh of relief.

On Wednesday, July 11, Meeting Professionals International Chicago Area Chapter (MPI-CAC) will partner with the Greater Midwest Chapter Professional Convention Management Association (GMC PCMA) and the Midwestern Chapter of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) to hold an in-depth session on what was involved in planning the NATO event. The fourth partner for this meeting is our host, Navy Pier.

Let’s take a look at another exciting, grand and complex event that attracts thousands of people from across the globe each year. Eleven staff, hundreds of volunteers and about every type of supplier imaginable is involved, including different types of security.

The annual Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is a fabulous event that illustrates the key areas of partnership, planning and safety, yet is still dependent on the right weather to be a complete success. In its 41st year, it is the largest, most premier and photographed international balloon festival. Running for nine days straight each October, it draws an average of 800,000 visitors in addition to the nearly 700 balloon pilots and crews.

The 2011 festival attracted balloonists and tourists from 20 different countries. Even with 25 hotels in Albuquerque, and numerous ones in Santa Fe (one hour away), don’t even think of trying to book the same year, or a year in advance. No rooms at the inn. It’s one reason many people travel in RVs and commute back and forth to the festival.

The balloon launch field is roughly the size of 54 football fields. There is a mass launch each morning when 700 balloons go up in sequence, directed by the balloon “police.” Due to the event’s excellent safety records, over 100,000 people may be on the launch ground at one time. Each day is packed with events, including 700 balloons glowing every evening in the Twilight Twinkle Glow™.

So, what do a high-profile, international government meeting and a world renowned, international hot air balloon festival have in common? For planning purposes and successful execution, both have many key areas to consider:

  • How to safely enable leadership, whether heads of state or balloon pilots/crew, to reach their destination after airport arrival.
  • How multiple time zones affect the delegates and guests.
  • How to move people within the city. For NATO it meant long security “brigades” and closed down streets. For the balloon festival it’s getting over 700 crews safely launched. In both cases ground transportation of all types is needed and coordination between multiple regulatory agencies is a top priority.
  • How to handle the volume and diversity of the multiple cultures and cuisines.  In the food and beverage world, dignitaries representing many countries have their own cultures and cuisines (not to mention food dislikes or allergies)… can the restaurants and caterers handle the volume and diversity?
  • How to follow protocol.  Does the host country or state understand correct protocol? In an international balloon fest, it might not be an issue. But they will need to adapt to the organizers’ rules.
  • How to ensure the proper security is in place. Dealing with people in the thousands, or hundreds of thousands, is not an easy task!
  • How to handle media. Huge events draw tons of media. The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is the most photographed event in the world. Every attendee has a camera (or two), but there’s sure to be other international media. Media control or media handling—it’s still a huge job and an event in and of itself.

Yes, NATO was an immense event, costing thousands of people's time, money and expertise to make it logistically and diplomatically come together. Chicago was proud to be the host. Don’t misst the "INSIDE NATO: A Planner's Perspective" panel discussion followed by a networking event and fireworks at Navy Pier on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 to gain insight on the topics listed above, and much more! Now, it’s London’s turn for the 2012 Summer Olympics!

(Sources: about.alburquerque.com, wikipedia.com, baloonfiesta.com)

MPI-CAC Spring Board Retreat Wrap Up

Posted by: Mandy Peace - Palomar Hotel Chicago on Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

On May 11-12, 2012, our MPI-CAC Board Members met for the annual Board Member retreat at the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa. My sources tell me that the weekend was very successful, informative and fun. I am also excited to report that the primary goal of this retreat was all about us, the members of MPI-CAC, and how they can help facilitate a promise to help grow our careers and build our businesses through MPI.

The meeting was facilitated by Mark Thorsby who is the Vice President of the SmithInstitute for SmithBucklin. Mark leads the SmithInstitute and has more than 35 years of non-profit management and consulting experience.  Through a series of case studies sessions, strategic planning and roundtable discussions, our board discussed how they could come together as they planned their goals for MPI in the next year.

The two-day agenda covered a lot of topics, but I wanted to share with you some of the feedback I got about their experience.  I asked all of our board members to list two take-aways from the retreat and what they felt was important for our members to know going forward. Here is what they said:

Hali Cooper, CMP - Vice President of Education

  • Our Board worked diligently to streamline all events, including networking and education, so that our membership can better plan their schedules each year to include attendance at our signature offerings.
  • We firmly believe that working strategically, we can ensure all offerings from the Chicago Area Chapter will align with our current brand: “Grow Your Career.  Build Your Business.”

Sonal Sullivan, CMP - Vice President of Finance

  • Learning to separate Board responsibilities from Committee work.  Mark Thorsby was a wonderful facilitator and has background experience in training several Board of Directors.  His insight was very helpful in understanding Board practices from actual committee work.
  • Having the chance to get to know all of the new and old Board members for fiscal year 2012-2013.  Sean is leading a very bright, fun and strong team and has been instrumental in having us all work together.  Looking forward to a very successful MPI-CAC year.  

Kearstin Hurd - Director of Awards Gala & Awards Selection

  • “If you want someone to do something, ask them.”
  • The role of Governance (Board of Directors) vs. Management (Committee Volunteers)
  • Governance needs to discuss where, what, why and when
  • Management needs to discuss the how and the who
  • Governance sets the budget and management sets the price

Andrew Ettenhofer - Director of Education Programs

  • The difference between management and leadership, and how that relates to a Board of Directors
  • One of the biggest issues facing associations like MPI is staying relevant to its members

Tina Reedy - Director of Sponsorship & Golf

  • We have formulated a plan to work on improving our technology and re-inventing ourselves as an educational resource for the Meeting Planner
  • As a board, we are going to focus on the members and what their needs are when making decisions on their behalf; we are all MPI-CAC Members

Fergal O’Sullivan - Vice President of Strategic Alliances & Events

  • We need to continue to be forwarding-thinking in our approach and not think of just the upcoming year but of the next three.
  • It is key that we keep our relevancy for our members on everything we do as volunteers and leaders of the chapter

Judi Holler - Vice President of Membership

  • As a board member it is important to focus on governing rather than “managing”.  So many of us are here because we were great committee chairs and stood out at managing a team.  However, when you step onto a board you have to take off the “manager” hat and think high-level focusing on the where, what, why and when of things … to GOVERN. Then trust in your chairs to manage that message.
  • I also loved the lesson/reminder that as a board we are ONE VOICE.  Sometimes it’s easy to feel stuck in your “silo” or area of focus (i.e. for me – Membership) … but we are on the board as ONE voice for the entire chapter and we have to help every area of MPI-CAC and govern accordingly.

Closing Thoughts
As we move forward with our current MPI-CAC Board, it is our responsibility to help them help us. If we keep an open line of communication, increase participation and work together with our fellow MPI members, we can all find success in Growing Our Career and Building Our Business!

The Board would like to send out a special “thank you” to the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa. Your beautiful facility and wonderful and gracious staff made the meeting a huge success!

The Business of Golf

Posted by: Association Manager on Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Meeting professionals don’t often think about networking on the golf course as a traditional means of business communication, but groups have been hosting golf events and conducting business over 18 holes since the beginning of the game. I had the opportunity to speak with Amanda Hebert with Eaglewood Resort and Spa, host of this year’s MPI-CAC Golf Classic on June 18, 2012, to gather some more insight and tips for hosting effective golf events.

QUESTION:  So many organizations, including MPI-CAC, use golf as an opportunity to conduct business and meet new industry contacts, tell us in your opinion why you think golf events are effective for networking and team building strategies?
ANSWER: The game of golf creates a very informal and casual environment which helps people open up and talk to people who they may not otherwise have approached while attending a typical conference or meeting. A round of golf is at least 4.5 hours, not including the reception after. If you spend 4.5 hours with someone you really get to know them on a personal level.  Personal level is what networking is about: meeting and building long term relationships.

QUESTION: What are some of the most interesting or successful golf contests you have seen during a golf event?
ANSWER: It is always great to have the classics, such as longest drive and closest to the pin contests, but then you could always add the shortest drive to mix things up.  Also, the group can never go wrong with a helicopter golf ball drop and, when fundraising, use odd ball items such as three foot long licorice ropes to be used on the greens to complete your putt.

QUESTION: What do planners need to consider when planning a golf event?
ANSWER: Get an early start! Timing is everything especially when it comes to marketing the golf event.  Money matters! Make sure to determine a break-even price with an accurate budget. This is particularly important for fundraising golf events. Finally, don’t forget the fun! It can be a great idea to have games, activities, or even spa services available for non-golfers. That way you attract more attendance by including those who are not interested in playing golf.

QUESTION: How can industry suppliers work with the golf clubs to help make memorable golf events for the host?
ANSWER: Donate time, talent and equipment or supplies to leave a great impression on the guest. Also, think out of the box and brainstorm on ideas with the golf club.  Each year, there are some awesome new things happening during golf outings.  Finally, it always goes back to building a relationship between the planner and the golf course. Keeping in constant contact between both parties will make the outing a true success.

QUESTION: Finally, how is this year’s MPI-CAC Golf Classic going to wow our members?
ANSWER: The planning committee has really outdone themselves this year! This year’s event is uniquely themed with lots of give-aways and a variety of sponsors. In fact, with so many suppliers offering to sponsor a planner, there are still lots of opportunities for planners to play for free! The networking reception will transport you to the Island of Puerto Rico thanks to our reception sponsor, The Puerto Rico Convention Center with amazing décor courtesy of The Meetinghouse Companies. Of course, the experience wouldn’t be complete without liquid nitrogen ice cream courtesy of Nitro Dessert Station. Finally, FunFotoz.com will make all your friends believe your picture was truly taken on the beach in Puerto Rico!

While golf spots are sold out for the MPI-CAC Golf Classic on June 18, 2012, please register to join us for the networking reception from 4:00-7:00pm.  If you would like to be added to the wating list to golf or you are a planner interested in being sponsored to golf, please contact Misty at misty@chicagoindoorracting.com.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

MPI-CAC Teams Up With SquarePlanet Presentations

Posted by: Char Shada, CMP - Experient on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Meetings are critical components of every organization. They allow for the exchange of profound ideas, authentic networking and motivation for success. As meeting industry professionals, we know the exhausting effort, real cost and tremendous time that goes into every event.

We also know the success of the meeting is based on many factors, however, above all else, one element stands alone; the content of the meeting. The messages being communicated are at the very heart of the program. It is the main reason meetings are held in the first place, to transfer and exchange ideas!

MPI-CAC is excited to partner with a company whose sole mission is to help individuals and organizations communicate better than they ever imagined. SquarePlanet Presentations, in partnership with MPI-CAC, is hosting a series of free webinars for MPI members that explore how to create compelling, targeted content and how to best present it.

Started by highly experienced professionals with decades in the meetings industry, SquarePlanet has collaborated with presenters from Chicago Ideas Week and TED. They have developed content and crafted presentations for c-level leaders of Transamerica, Margaritaville, Redbox, Habitat for Humanity, The J.M. Smuckers Company, Illinois Tool Works, The Coca-Cola Company, Ernst & Young and many more.

The quarterly webinars are offered as an additional benefit to all MPI-CAC members. All members of your organization who are interested in communicating more effectively than the norm are welcome to participate. These shouldn’t-be-missed Lunch & Learn sessions will empower you and your people, propelling your meetings to the very highest level while helping you grow your career and build your business.

The first in this webinar series is coming on Wednesday, June 20th at 12:00pm. Learn more

Volunteer of the Month Spotlight: Kearstin Hurd

Posted by: Hali Cooper, CMP - Meeting Expectations! on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Kearstin Hurd has been super busy this year volunteering for our Membership Committee.  Her volunteerism shows no chance of slowing down, as she is gearing up to for her role as incoming Director of Awards Gala and Awards Selection for the 2012-2013 MPI CAC Board of Directors.  I had the pleasure of interviewing Kearstin this past month.

Immediately after college, Kearstin started her career in public relations and development working as the Director of Communications for a statewide not-for-profit organization in Iowa. Kearstin loved raising awareness and funds for that organization but after a few years in the position, she was ready to explore new challenges. Through networking Kearstin was able to find out about a hotel sales and event planning position at a local full-service hotel and restaurant. This was the perfect fit for her personality and skill set.

Hurd’s previous experience made for an easy transition into sales and detail management for her clients. After a few years, she moved to Michigan to get married and assumed the role of Director of Sales and Marketing for a large full-service hotel. To bring everything current, just over a year ago, Kearstin and her husband made the move to Chicago and she came on board with White Lodging, one of the fastest growing, fully-integrated, independent hotel ownership, development and management companies in the country. Kearstin loves being based at the first hotel in the company, The Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza in Merrillville, Indiana.

“Not only does MPI-CAC offer strength in numbers by leading as one of the largest and strongest chapters, I also believe they offer strength in years. I’m not talking about the years the organization has been around, but the years of experience that all of the talented, professional and diverse members bring to the table and how so many of them are ready to offer their resources to help their fellow members succeed. MPI-CAC continues to shine as an innovator in keeping their members engaged with dynamic educational and networking events but also by taking feedback from their membership to heart in order to make the changes necessary to keep moving the chapter forward.” 

“Show up, participate and follow through. Show up to events and meetings. Participate whole-heartedly. Follow through with your commitments. Do those three things and unlimited opportunities will come your way. I currently serve on the membership committee but in July will be the incoming Director of Awards Gala and Awards Selection for the 2012-2013 MPI CAC Board of Directors.”  

“I have aspirations to continue working for White Lodging and being an active member of MPI-CAC. After my initial board term, I hope to continue in leadership within the organization for many years to come.”

About her life outside of MPI, Kearstin states: “The things I cherish the most are my family, especially my husband Kevin and our eight month old son, Karsten. My passions are live music, traveling and good food and wine. I also love making friends all over the world and learning about new cultures.”

Thanks for your service Kearstin, MPI-CAC is lucky to have you!

Meet Alisa Peters, CMP, CMM - Immediate Past President

Posted by: James Sanden - Sanden Magic on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Alisa Peters, Immediate Past President for MPI-CAC, shares innovative ways to get value from your membership in MPI from day one, including business development, skill acquisition and marketing knowledge.

Recently I caught up with Alisa Peters, CMP, CMM, Immediate Past President of the MPI-CAC Board of Directors.  A member of MPI for over ten years, Alisa has held an astounding number of roles, including VP of Finance, Director of Membership and the MPI Foundation’s US Advisory Council.  When she’s not volunteering, Alisa can be found working as a National Account Manager at Experient, one of the largest 3rd party meeting management companies in the world.

Alisa, like many new members, attended only one event her first year with MPI.  She was intimidated by how close-knit the community was and was concerned that she didn’t have anything to contribute as a young planner.  But she decided to keep at it, and at her second event met Jim Grillo.

Jim introduced her to a number of people and encouraged her to get involved.  He taught Alisa that even as a young planner she had something to offer, certain fundamental skills and knowledge her peers could benefit from.  “Everyone has relevant and critical skill sets and information,” says Alisa.  “When you go to your first meeting, presume the other attendees have something to learn from you.  Recognize that senior folks need and want to talk to you.”  It’s your job, she says, to identify those skills and areas of knowledge, and bring them to the table.

At the same time, says Alisa, MPI leadership needs to make a special effort to reach out to new members, to make them feel they are needed and wanted.  It can by tough to try to catch up with old friends and meet new members, all in the span of a three hour event, but it’s important and should be a priority.  After all, if Jim Grillo hadn’t taken the time to introduce himself to her, Alisa might haven given up on MPI.


  1. Acquire new skills:
    Alisa recommends combining what you’re good at with what you’d like to be good at, demonstrating your expertise while broadening your horizon.  One of the great opportunities of MPI is acquiring skills you might not have the opportunity to use at your job, but would be useful to have.  And unlike your job, as a volunteer you aren’t expected to know everything or do it all perfectly.
  2. Improve your marketing:
    Suppliers can learn how planners think by helping to plan an MPI event.  There’s nothing like walking in a planner’s shoes as a way to understand what they want and what’s important to them.  You can then use that perspective to hone your message and understand pain points when addressing a marketplace opportunity.
  3. Build your business:
    The relationships you develop as a volunteer can also be an effective way to win business.  Alisa said she uses suppliers she’s met through MPI all the time because she knows they can be trusted.  If you show you can be relied on when no money is involved, people know they can trust you when everything is on the line.

Alisa recommends thinking outside the box when it comes to volunteering.  To illustrate, she told me of her tenure as VP of Finance, a job she initially wasn’t interested in filling.  But Laurel Rhoads McCarthy told her to look at it from how it could be done, not how it had been done.  She treated it as an opportunity to recreate the chapter’s business plan and revisit sponsorship.  Instead of the traditional ways sponsors were rewarded for their contribution, she explored new ways of incentivizing them, talking to past participants and collaborating with sponsors.  During her tenure, sponsorship increased dramatically, allowing the chapter to create programs that helped members in transition stay active, all through the generosity of new and enthusiastic sponsors. Sponsors her new approach brought to the table.

The recognition Alisa is most proud of throughout her career is the recognition she received as a volunteer.  While it’s nice to hit a sales target or professional goal, she says, being recognized by your peers for your leadership and contribution is an entirely different experience.

While there are countless was to serve, there are few opportunities to recognize that service.  By the time this interview is read, this year’s chapter award winners will have already been selected, but a new year is ahead.  With over 250 active volunteers, there are plenty of people who deserve recognition.  Alisa recommends taking the time to write down the names of volunteers who have made a big difference and nominate them during the next award nomination period.  It gives them a chance to celebrate their professional and personal accomplishments, letting them know they make a difference, as well as encouraging them to continue contributing.  Alisa makes sure to take the time to do this at least a dozen times a year, and this year is happy to have had the chance to nominate Jim Grillo, that same person who made such a big difference for her at her first event returning to MPI.

Alisa says MPI has been with her at every big, career-changing point in her life, not just as a volunteer, but with educational and accreditation opportunities as well.  She challenges everyone to search out the innovative programs developed in the last couple of years that offer savings and career benefits.  And, of course, get involved.  Membership is always and only what you make of it.

About the author
James Sanden (www.sandenmagic.com) is a corporate comedy magician specializing in private and corporate entertainment and education at awards banquets, receptions, promotional events, sales meetings and trade shows.

Event Rewind: "The Neuroscience of Engaging Meetings" & Networking Reception

Posted by: Valerie J. Repasky - Elgin Community College on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

"The Neuroscience of Engaging Meetings" workshop was presented by Richard and Emily Axelrod, founders of The Axelrod Group on May 9, 2012 at The Hyatt Lodge in Oakbrook. Dick Axelrod authored Terms of Engagement: New Ways of Leading and Changing Organizations and in it explains why the old mechanistic approaches to change no longer work and offers four essential new principles that lead to an engaged organization. Richard also co-authored You Don’t Have to Do It Alone: How to Involve Others to Get Things Done with his wife Emily Axelrod. Her strategy is to “stretch” organizations to promote creativity and knowledge and is a contributing author to The Change Handbook, the Flawless Consulting Field Book, Future Search in School District Change, as well as numerous other articles.

This educational workshop offered information regarding deepening our understanding of brain-based meetings using the Meeting Canoe. A “meeting canoe” is a canoe-shaped blueprint that helps us to create meetings with an engagement framework. The group had multiple opportunities to exchange their most engaging meeting experiences and identify whether the SCARF elements (Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, Fairness) were present. This was followed by a discussion of Design Considerations (Purpose, Digestion, Content Placement, Connection, Learning, Timing). Members who did not have an opportunity to attend can learn more about The Axelrod Group at www.axelrodgroup.com.

Following the workshop, attendees were able to participate in a Networking Challenge provided by Corporate Event Interactive as well as obtain complimentary professional head shots provided by DEJA VIEWS.  Thank you to all of the event's sponsors including Colonial Williamsburg and Five-Star Audio Visual and The Hyatt Lodge for an "engaging" event!

Spotlighting Our Stars

Posted by: Tim McDonald - My Community Manager on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Running an organization the size of MPI-CAC with an all volunteer pool of labor is a remarkable achievement. It takes the dedication and hard work of all the volunteers to make our events, education, networking and communications run like a fine-tuned machine. MPI-CAC volunteers sometimes go unnoticed by many but this is the night to recognize all volunteers. Not only honoring the award winning volunteers, each and every volunteer of MPI-CAC will be celebrated and applauded for their involvement, dedication and generosity that helps maintain such a proud, hard-working and successful chapter.

This year’s Annual Awards Recognition Gala continues the tradition of recognizing the contributions of our volunteers that are invaluable to the success of our chapter. The Museum of Broadcast Communications, honoring the past and current broadcasting stars from Chicago and worldwide, is the perfect venue for this event as MPI-CAC volunteers are recognized and spotlighted as our own STARS!

Join us for the 2012 Annual Awards Recognition Gala as we celebrate the contributions of our fabulous and hard-working volunteers. "Tune in" to the the Museum of Broadcast Communications on Tuesday, June 5th for an evening where the stars of MPI-CAC's finest hours share the spotlight with the stars of broadcast power.

The history, celebration and dedication that is exhibited at the museum is incorporated throughout the entire event. You are invited to join this black-tie optional event to honor the amazing volunteers and to celebrate the successes of our entire Chicago Area Chapter!

Announcing the winners of three of the 2011-12 MPI-CAC awards:  

  •  Kathy Osterman Industry Award - Jim Grillo, CMP, HeresChicago.com
  •  Hall of Fame Individual Award - Rick Hud, San Francisco Travel Association
  •  Hall of Fame Organization Award - Classic Party Rentals

Awards still to be announced at the Gala:

  •  Chapter Leader of the Year Award
  •  Student Member of the Year Award
  •  Planner and Supplier Member of the Year Awards
  •  Tomorrow’s Leader Awards
  •  President’s Award
  •  Committee of the Year Award

Annual Awards Recognition Gala co-chair, Kathleen Clickett of TMS, demonstrates why volunteers make MPI-CAC so successful,  “I’m honored to co-chair this year’s AARG committee and am even more appreciative that I’m able to be a part of such a great event recognizing our amazing volunteers and bringing back the formal gala-style celebration.  I can’t wait to see it all come to fruition!” See you at the celebration.

Volunteer of the Month Spotlight: Lora Stanley

Posted by: Association Manager on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Lora has been the Midwest Sales Director for the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor & Convention Bureau for over 17 years. Prior to that, she served in various leadership roles both on property as well as in National Sales.  For Lora, selling Anaheim and Orange County has been exciting over the years.  She has been able to see the destination grow with projects such as the new Grand Plaza, Convention Center expansion, free Wi-Fi, and green initiatives throughout the city.

Lora’s love of the industry started in high school. Her mother was a travel agent, and she used to accompany her on trips. Seeing all of the action in the hotels made her want to be a part of it.  She studied Hotel Management at Purdue and has been in the hospitality industry ever since; graduating and starting her first job with Hilton.

As an MPI volunteer, Lora has served on numerous committees over the years including: an editor of News&Views, a team leader and member of the Golf ommittee, Holiday Party, Membership Committee, and currently a member of the Awards Selection Committee. Lora states: “Being involved in MPI has given me the opportunity to connect with my peers, customers and opened doors for me throughout the years. There is no better way to get to know people than serving on a committee with them and becoming involved with an industry organization such as MPI. As an organization, MPI is wonderful because it embraces all levels of meeting planners and suppliers from all types of businesses, both corporate and association.”  

Lora’s volunteer commitment and leadership has won her various accolades throughout the years including the prestigious MPI-CAC Eleanor Woods Supplier of the Year in 1998-1999.  She has also served as Chapter President of the Greater Midwest Chapter of PCMA.

In whatever spare time she has left … Lora enjoys running, yoga, biking, skiing, and has even done a few sprint triathlons!  She shares her life with her husband and two daughters, one in college at TCU and the other a senior in high school.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Recognition: Something That Should Never Grow Old

Posted by: Sally Magallanes, CMP - Independent Marketing/Meeting Professional on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

The Volunteer of the Month shines the light of recognition onto those that step up, and up, to perform their “duties” and create new solutions for the benefit of the entire membership.

We are very fortunate to be part of an association that encourages participation and does not fail to show recognition to those that do an outstanding job. Leadership is fostered, so that individuals joining have a pathway working together to develop their skills and move forward in their professional growth. This is definitely a good thing! And the journey begins by getting involved. As you do, peers and leaders will begin seeing the special gifts you have to offer and doors will open!

In my many years as a MPI-CAC member, I never sought after leadership roles. Each time someone came to me to request, (well. . . sometimes a little pushing occurred), that I take on a position. This, in itself, was recognition. Others saw qualities about me professionally and personally that could enrich the efforts of a committee and the organization. Most importantly others believed I could do it.   

As we move closer to our annual celebration, it is important to take special note of all our members' contributions and applaud our nominees. Stranger or friend, lending your praise and “hooray” is important as the recognition from our industry peers resonates deeply and brings great joy.

When a nominee’s name is called as the winner at next month’s Annual Awards Recognition Gala, the applause will begin, affirming that recognition in some way is how we should respond. Emails, cards or phone calls are ways to be part of the celebration!

We hope you will join us in this festive occasion on Tuesday, June 5, at the Museum of Broadcast Communications!  Register now for the Annual Awards Recognition Gala!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ask the Expert: GSA Scandal

Posted by: The Expert on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Question: I have been reading a lot about the GSA Scandal in the papers.  Can you please explain to me what they are talking about?
Answer: The US General Services Administration (GSA) is the arm of the Federal Government that sets the policy for official government travel that includes city pair airfares, maximum hotel rates by city and meal reimbursements also set by city. Additionally they also set the policy on what is permissible to spend for conferences and meetings. Basically they set the rules that all Federal Government employees must follow for business travel. The issue at hand is that the conference held in Las Vegas and the pre-conference trips violated the Code of Conduct by several management and director level staff. There were many items purchased that were clearly outside of what is considered “Appropriate Expenses.” Just so you know the hotel in question did nothing wrong and did their part in providing the services requested.

Question: I have heard several news accounts on the GSA Issue referring to the FAR.  What is it?
Answer: The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) are the guidelines the Federal Government established to cover any purchase large or small that can be for services, hard goods or just about anything you can imagine. The FAR is similar to the normal policies set in place by corporations or associations when they make a purchase. The guidelines require that at certain dollar amounts there are different levels of approval required.

  • A Micro Purchase is any purchase under $3,000 and does not require competition and it is not that closely scrutinized.
  • A Simplified Acquisition is any purchase of $3,000 up to $25,000. It requires competition by three or more qualified vendors and must be approved by a Contracting Officer.

For the conference in Las Vegas, the purchase was above the $25,000 level and required not only competition but also to be advertised on a government acquisition site known as Federal Business Opportunities or FBO for short. In this particular situation, while the conference was posted on FBO, the guidelines of conduct involving the selection of property were not followed and an unauthorized agent was additionally used to complete the transaction. The bottom line is that the FAR is no less strict than the purchasing procedures most of us follow. They simply were not followed by those who authorized the transaction.

Question: I have read that Congress is now proposing new laws that would further restrict how federal conferences are handled. Can you explain what this really means?
Answer: The laws that are being proposed are an attempt to set limits on the size of government conferences as it relates to funding. One thing many people may not realize is that the normal government conferences held for agency business operations are from 50 to 150 people. Usually there is a training component included and would compare to a meeting held by a corporation for their business operations.

The larger conferences that were referenced in the proposed bills have several exclusions based on whether there are outside funds used to support the conference costs. These funds come from exhibitors and sponsors who are doing normal sales activities just as you would see at an association conference or convention.

What I think you will find in the end is that government agencies will spend more time looking at how a conference will be perceived and the value of the training they are delivering. A common theme across our industry.

MPI is closely monitoring and reporting on this story as it continues to develop. For more information on what you can do to join the collective meeting and event industry's effort to inform and educate legislators of the potential impact of this legislation, view the arsenal of tools MPI has posted.

Meet Judi Holler: MPI-CAC Director of Membership

Posted by: Mandy Peace, Palomar Hotel Chicago on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Judi Holler is the Director of National Accounts for the Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel.  Judi currently lives in Chicago, covering accounts in the Midwest for the Omni Dallas.  Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Judi served on the St. Louis Chapter of MPI’s board of directors for 2 years and was the co-creator of the chapter’s annual EduCon conference. She has been a member of the Chicago Area Chapter of MPI since 2002, served on the Membership Committee for 2 years, is currently the Director of Membership Recruitment and Retention and will be moving up to the VP of Membership on the 2012-13 MPI-CAC board of directors.

Judi has a tremendous sense of pride to be a member of MPI, crediting our organization for much of her success in the industry. At the advice of a colleague, she attended her first MPI meeting and has been “hooked” ever since. Not only was she personally enriched to have the opportunity to meet so many new people, but through networking she was able to land an interview leading to her first job in the industry. The work she put in then, and continues to display, has obviously paid off. As an active member of MPI, she wants to create awareness and motivate others to be passionate about our community.  

How does MPI help you in your business?
According to Judi, you have to make MPI work for you. You have to be willing to give back. By getting involved and investing dedicated time and attention, there can be a tremendous ROI for your business. Judi has also been lucky to work for leaders in the industry who really believe in MPI and understand what it means for their business. Recently, she was featured in a MPI One+ article. While this was certainly an honor, it was also free press and her team recognizes the value in that visibility. For Judi, visibility lends to connections. It promotes a level of trust when you take an active role. People will have a certain comfort level with you, which makes it easier to connect on many levels. I don’t know about you, but I would rather do business with someone I know. And after one conversation with Judi, I can see why she has been so successful in her career. You want to know her and I think this is still a valuable acumen for business that is sometimes lost in the fast-paced reality we face every day.

What is the best way to get involved?
When I asked Judi her opinion on the best way to get involved, she simply said, “Stand behind MPI and put in the work. People want things so much faster in our present climate; everything in an instant. True networking takes time and care. You will see MPI work for you if you put in the time and effort.”

Judi has been recognized in her career by getting to know her colleagues and by being promoted along the way, but recently, she was recognized at the 2011 MPI-CAC Annual Awards Recognition Gala as Supplier of the Year.

How can we improve our recognition programs within our organization?
Some great areas of opportunity for recognition that Judi and I discussed are as follows:

  • An education course/seminar for how to make MPI work for you
  • A simple “Thank You” to a member/s for a job well done, goes a long way. It’s nice to get awards, but the “thank you” is sometimes more important. This helps to develop pride and respect for our organization and our industry
  • Take the time to celebrate our successes.

Judi is really looking forward to the MPI-CAC Annual Awards Recognition Gala on Tuesday, June 5th at the Museum of Broadcast Communications. For her, this is such a great opportunity for the leaders of our industry to recognize those who are consistently passionate and motivate others to follow that path.

Closing Thoughts
As evidence of Judi’s passion and pride in MPI, I leave you with a quote by Judi herself, “Not only is MPI a space to grow your career and build your busines, it also raises the voice of the industry.” We can all be a part of raising MPI's voice, not only through recognition, but through active and passionate day-to-day participation.

Event Rewind: HUG Chicago 2012

Posted by: Jiwon McCartney - ALLURE Event & Meeting Productions on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

HUG stands for Hospitality Unified Group, representing the mission of Hospitality Cares Chicago (HCC), and is the first annual one day volunteer event to show how much we love our city by taking a day to help maintain its grandeur. The event kicks off National Tourism Week in a city that counts nearly 40 million visitors a year and ranks 10th among the most popular U.S. destinations for overseas travelers.

In January 2012, Choose Chicago (formerly The Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau) had a vision to enhance our city with an annual day of community outreach.  Hospitality Cares Chicago (HCC), was created in collaboration with unified hospitality organizations passionate about the betterment, greatness and goodness of Chicago.  The HCC Steering Committee, comprised of some of our very own MPI-CAC leaders: Char Shada, CMP - President; Sean Lynch - President-Elect; and Dahlia El Gazzar, CMP - VP of Strategic Alliances & Special Events, identified various areas throughout the city to benefit from a beautification project and reached out to their respective organizations for volunteers. The beautification project is really about "giving back and maintaining the beautiful destination," said Meghan Risch, Vice President of Communications for Choose Chicago.

Thursday, April 26, 2012 started out overcast and cooler than expected.  At 10:00 a.m., almost 500 volunteers from local chapters of the hospitality industry organizations and City of Chicago civic organizations came together at Wrigley Field to receive instructions on where their group would be located in the city to help beautify Chicago.  Volunteers registered and gathered on the bleachers of Wrigley Field with their designated project groups.  Margie McCartney, MPI-CAC’s very own Director of Special Events, Holiday & Golf, kicked off our day by singing the National Anthem!  The energy was exciting and we all felt a bond, knowing that our organizations were there together to serve a cause.  Many new and familiar faces peppered the crowd.  It certainly was a breath-taking experience to be in the park without a sea of fans, but just us HUG Chicago 2012 volunteers!  This was just the beginning!

Volunteers were transported to the different project areas that had been identified. HUG Chicago sent out hundreds of volunteers to 13 project locations.  Projects consisted of: sweeping and painting the Lake Shore Drive underpass at Roscoe Street; raking and planting outside the Shedd Aquarium; and picking up trash and twigs at South Shore Cultural Center, Burnham Harbor, the river walk from State Street to Lake Shore Drive, and behind the Museum of Science & Industry.  After the projects were completed, the HUG Chicago 2012 volunteers were treated to a thank-you concert at the Park West where Chicago band Umphrey's McGee performed their song "Chicago" with blues legend Buddy Guy!

What an amazing day it was.  Many new friendships were created along with a unity amongst our local organizations.  The first annual HUG Chicago 2012 is hands-down one of my personal top 5 to have experienced in my 20 year career in the hospitality industry.  Kudos to the city of Chicago and its fabulous volunteers.  I am looking forward to meeting many new faces at next year’s HUG Chicago event!

"Chicago is the best city in the world. Let's give it a hug."
Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Chicago Cubs, HUG Chicago
2012 Primary Sponsor

  Chicago band Umphrey's McGee performed their song
"Chicago" with blues legend Buddy Guy

Be a Part of it! Mosaic Project on Oak Street Beach Tunnel!
HUG Chicago is working on a photo mosaic project with the Chicago Art Group and we are looking for amazing photos of scenic Chicago or of people hugging to showcase on our mural.

Submit your photos by May 11, 2012 to:
www.facebook/hugchicago2012.com or email them to dahlia@hugchicago2012.com

Volunteer of the Month Spotlight - Michael T. Smith, CMP

Posted by: Sally Magallanes, CMP - Independent Marketing/Meeting Professional on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Our volunteer leaders continue to make a difference in the chapter, giving us a chance to showcase many of them every month! Michael T. Smith, CMP has been actively involved with MPI-CAC since 1999. Among other roles, he served on the chapter’s board of directors and has always been a mentor to others, old and new. Michael is currently on the Membership Committee serving as chair of the Grants Sub-committee.

When asked what he feels truly motivates our volunteers, he responded in a manner that fits his personality and leadership style, stating, “…we all remember coming into (MPI-CAC) and experiencing awkward moments. Volunteers give back to the association and membership by sharing knowledge and information to new members and anyone asking for assistance/guidance within the MPI family.”

Yes, when someone is the newbie, it can take time to feel connected. Michael continues to give of his time and skills because he understands the value in “the feeling of making a difference and being supportive to fellow MPI members.” Wherever someone is in their professional career or leadership track, those that work hardest do make that difference. He has obviously been sensitive to members in need of support.

In his business role, Michael is a Strategic Account Manager for Experient, Inc. in downtown Chicago, yet he has found the work/life balance with his love of the arts. He attends a variety of theatre and musical productions, including operas, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, local musicals, dance performances and concerts. Michael also enjoys playing golf and having a regular fitness regime. It seems true that leaders are people who stay involved in many areas of life.

Please reach out to Michael at michael.t.smith@experient-inc.com or www.experient-inc.com.



Visit This Valued MPI-CAC Partner

Visit This Valued MPI-CAC Partner

Visit This Valued MPI-CAC Partner


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