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MPI-CAC Conversations + Connections

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Erin Leary: Engaged Member of the Month

Posted by: Kate Shea, Bankers Life on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

How did you become involved in MPI?
Kaiser had been members for about a year before I really had the change to get involved.  We hosted Fall Leadership Day for MPI-CAC and I connected with the co-chairs that day and asked how I could be more involved!


What has been the most exciting moment or memorable thing that has happened since joining MPI?
It was at one of the Signature Luncheons.  There was a AWESOME spoken word artist- I can't remember his name but his references to the event industry were spot on!


How did you become part of the event industry?
I actually majored in Italian and International Studies in college!  I was working on the financial sector about 5 years ago when I made the transition to restaurant sales!


How has MPI impacted your career?
I am a relatively new member so I am still getting my bearings within MPI.  I can say for certain that I have learned so much about teamwork, management, and networking from the short time I have been on the Leadership Committee.


Tell us something unique about you?
I own a jewelry company!  It's called BeBuddhaJewelry and I spend most of my free time in the metals studio creating!  http://www.bebuddhajewelry.com/

Tips of the Road, Adapting to being a Road Warrior

Posted by: Amanda Masters, White Lodging on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Living life in the fast lane, or on the road for that matter, can be a lucrative way to make a living.  Consultants, outside sale managers, or implementation managers may find themselves logging many miles, either in the car or the air, resulting in many nights away from the comforts of their own home.  What are some best practices or tricks of the trade to maintain a somewhat normal lifestyle, and maybe enjoy some added perks along the way?

Pre-Trip Planning

  • To check your bag, or not to check your bag, that is the question.  Checking a bag is often associated with consuming more time, but if you are a true Road Warrior, you have probably reached the highest level of status and checking your bag is probably free.  Checking your bag saves you from the hassle of abiding by the 3-3-3 rule and frees up a little more leg room on your flight.   

At the Airport

  • If you classify yourself as a Road Warrior and you don’t already have TSA Pre-Check, get it, now.  For a nominal fee of $75, that your employer could cover, you can skip the long security lines, keep your shoes on, and keep your laptop in your bag, saving you a few precious moments you can spend at home with your loved ones, or Fido the dog. Being a Road Warrior is tough on pets too, they miss you! 

At the Hotel

  • Ask and you may receive; an upgrade that is.  Unless a hotel is sold out, there is no reason why you, the Road Warrior, shouldn’t receive a nicer hotel room for the week.  As long as the hotel has one available, most front desk associates are happy to oblige and treat you like the true VIP you are.     

  • Sign up for loyalty programs.  You are traveling a lot for work; wouldn’t it be nice to travel, even if it is just a little bit, for pleasure?  With the competitive loyalty programs that hotel brands offer, it is easy to rack up free nights stays or complimentary drink vouchers that can be redeemed for personal travel.  This applies to airline and rental car companies as well.  Just make sure you check with your company’s policies to be sure you aren’t breaking any rules.

  • Leave a tip on your pillow for the guest room attendant.  You’ll be surprised the nice things you will receive in return when you get to know the staff and show them your appreciation for keeping your “house” clean while you are at work.    

Bonus Tip

  • Embrace the travel, instead of ordering takeout food into your lonely hotel room at night, get out there and explore!  Ask your Uber Driver or the front desk associate where they go to grab a drink with friends or pick up some food when they get off work.  Sit at the bar, talk to the locals, not many people have the opportunity to explore new cities or towns every week.  Try not to think about what you may be missing out on at home, rater think about the great possibilities and experiences that lie ahead.      

How to Balance Your Personal Summer Schedule with Work

Posted by: Kristina Tarantino, CMP, American Express GBT Meetings & Events on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Early morning sweat sessions squeezed in before a hectic work day, then it’s off to the beach, summer vacation, family reunion…..Does this sound like your summer schedule? Amidst all of our summer plans, vacations, and family responsibilities it can be a challenge to find time to get it all done.

We all know that maintaining a healthy life balance is not only essential for happiness and well-being; it can be a tremendous boost to your productivity and career or business success as well. A well-balanced person has a far greater ability to focus their attention and energy on attaining their goals, taking productive actions and moving forward in a meaningful way.

Here are 10 ideas to balance your summer schedule like a pro!

#1 Venture Out - Get outside as much as you can! Schedule out door lunches with colleagues and friends, accept invitations to outdoor events, walk or bike to work, etc…Break up your indoor activities with outdoor options. The outdoors offers you much needed light exposure, giving you a mood boost and allowing you to maximize the summer season.

#2 Work a compressed week or take PTO - Give yourself a long weekend all summer. Instead of taking the traditional one week vacation, opt for taking (5) Friday’s off in a row. This will maximize your weekends and provide a four day work week. Make sure to fully utilize your vacation time as it drives performance, productivity, boosts morale and contributes to employee wellness and retention.

#3 Conference Calls and Meetings - Take your conference calls & meetings outside, looking at scenery and getting fresh air and sun. Schedule an outdoor walking meeting. There are many benefits! Research finds that the act of walking leads to increases in creative thinking. Plenty of evidence also suggests that walking meetings are more productive than traditional sit-down meetings, better for your health and increase engagement.

#4 Project Management - Schedule demanding projects in the fall and winter and complete all your major commitments by June. This will alleviate some stress and allow for a slower summer work pace.

#5 Create a Daily Schedule - Build downtime into your schedule. Check out Michael Hyatt’s “My Ideal Week" schedule to the minute, which allocates time for friends, family, work and personal time.  Create one for yourself and make sure to stick to it. https://michaelhyatt.com/myresources/my-ideal-week.pdf. Take stock of activities that don't enhance your career or personal life, and minimize the time you spend on them.

#6 Adjust your Work Hours - Talk with your employer to adjust summer work expectations. Mention that your adjusted schedule will ultimately help you add value at the office so that your manager and colleagues are motivated to accommodate your new schedule. Inquire about flextime, delegating responsibilities, or working from home.

#7 Spend time alone - Making time for you is probably the hardest thing to do for the typical busy meeting professional, but it is crucial for lowering stress, increasing happiness and encouraging creativity. Some things to try; meditate, read a book, do some yoga or simply sit quietly for a few minutes each day and do absolutely nothing. Giving everyone 24/7 access to you is not beneficial. Create boundaries & stick to them. There should be certain times each day that you cease doing for everyone else & focus on recharging.

#8 Focus on nutrition - Meeting professionals go non-stop! Food is the fuel that allows us to have energy and be productive. The summer season is a great time to go to farmer’s markets, grow a garden, try new recipes and feed your body in season produce! Try this new muddler https://amzn.to/2rOaG8X which is designed to intensify the essence of ingredients like mint, lime, berries and cucumbers to make flavorful water or try infused water recipes.Your water intake will naturally increase. Studies show you are 25% more productive when hydrated.

#9 Commit to Fitness - Summer is the perfect time to try a new outdoor activity. Tennis, walking, swimming or join a running group. It's hard to make time for exercise when you have a jam-packed schedule, but it may ultimately help you get more done by boosting your energy level and ability to concentrate.

#10 Trim and Prioritize - It’s a given that if your life is overflowing you will never be able to achieve balance and manage it all. It’s just not possible. Say no to everything that is either not essential or doesn’t add something valuable to your life. Say “Yes” to what inspires you and “No” to the things that no longer serve you.

You may love your new summer routine and once you start seeing positive results you’ll be better equipped to maintain that new found equilibrium all year long. The key is not to try to change everything at once, but to make small adjustments over time to determine what works for you. Eventually you will have a whole new set of positive life habits that can benefit you all year long. Start this summer!

Follow me on linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristinatarantino/  twitter @katarantino for more tips on balance, health & wellness.

Ask the Expert Get Involved and Get Known

Posted by: Ted Miller, HMCC, CHME, CHSP, CGTP, CGMP, Enterprise Holdings on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

A deep thinker once said “People Buy from People they Know and Trust” which has been the basis of all relationship buying decisions. The extended version also includes “and are known.” You must be known in order to be effective in any business relationship. People need to understand who you are and how important you are to their success.

The Chicago Area Chapter of Meeting Professionals International has stood out as the premier organization to build and create business relationships with people who are actively seeking new business partnerships. But to be effective, you must be known to your potential audience by being very visible and approachable and being involved with committees and events through MPI is a great way.

Get Involved: There are two levels of involvement you should consider when joining an organization, personal and business enhancement. Your personal interest of growing your resume or professional friend list generally involves becoming part of a committee which offers an area of personal interest to you.  This allows you to identify people you want to know and gives you the opportunity to make a personal connection.

You can expand your involvement and further discover the organization by adding your business commitment. This can be done through either a direct cash sponsorship so you further focus your efforts or through “In Kind” sponsorship which is also a very valuable tool for business development. The more you can keep your organization in front of the membership the more business opportunities will become available to you.

Get Known: It is as simple as being consistently active within the organization. This is where you use your personal and business commitments to grow your personal brand within the organization to generate a return on your time and sponsorship. For people who have been a consistent sponsor, they get the opportunity to speak directly to the membership on a regular basis which gives them a distinct advantage when it comes to growing their business opportunities. Remember people buy from people they know and trust.  

Where you can further leverage your involvement and sponsorship is using membership endorsements of your business from members who have become your business partners. This is probably the best way of growing your business within the chapter. It also allows you to be known in other organizations where an existing member also has relationships.

You may not immediately recognize your contributions or even the people you are meeting, but it will become evident to you as your grow within the orgnaization. Based on your level of consistent involvement, you may find people who know who you are, but are people you may not have personally met yet. This is all part of building your personal and business brands within the organization. This also is how future business relationships can develop from people who are familiar with you from your involvement and can actively seek you out or be very willing to talk to you about creating a new business partnership. Get Involved, Get Known and Grow Your Business!

Video: Looking Beyond Squares and Rectangles

Posted by: Amy Current, Frost Chicago on Tuesday, July 10, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

We all know that content is king. But until recently, little attention was made to how content was shared. The advent of affordable high brightness projection and modular LED walls in recent years makes cutting edge video more exciting and attainable than ever. Consider the following applications to enhance video at an event:

  • Directly map projection onto existing architectural elements.   Blank walls become a canvas and obstructions like doorways and windows become part of the show.   Projectors in the 14k-20k ranges are a sweet spot for walls that are 15’ tall and as wide as 80’!

  • Use high definition modular video walls to create the set.  The stunning results - an immersive environment designed to delight and captivates attendees while showcasing content in the most engaging way possible. LED walls can be used in any brightness room or in situations that compete with direct sunlight where projection is not an option

  • Imagine video designed around the event’s aesthetic, logo or branding. Secure a non-traditional screen size and add an element of surprise. Ovals, rounds and curved screens are readily accessible. The days of squares and rectangles are over!

  • Program a screen to morph from décor to presentation to branding and back again, literally with the push of a button. Video switchers easily create visual effects (mixes, wipes) between scenes.  If seamless transition is the challenge, then switchers provide an easy answer.

If content is truly king, then the video screen supporting the message has evolved into a golden chariot!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Quick Tips Anyone Can Use to Host a Green Meeting

Posted by: Corinne Como, Loyola University Chicago on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)








Loyola University Chicago is a leading destination for green meetings and events in the Midwest.  Check out this checklist to green your events anywhere!  Even if just a couple strategies are implemented, a measureable impact can be made by each event. 


Venue Selection

  • Select a LEED certified or energy efficient building/ venue
  • Choose a convenient venue that is centrally located for all attendees
  • Turn off lights when not in venue
  • Turn off audio/visual when not in venue


  • Choose a LEED certified building with a green roof
  • Select a housing facility that measures energy usage
  • Encourage guests to turn off lights when not in room
  • Opt for a housing location that is close to event venue
  • Ask if energy efficient light bulbs are used
  • Request that guests reuse linens/ towels for the duration of their stay
  • Ask if organic toiletries are available


  • Select a conference destination that is easily accessible by all attendees
  • Use public transportation
  • Offer shuttle or bus service for conference guests
  • Encourage carpooling or taxi sharing
  • Provide guests with walking/ bike maps

Food & Beverage

  • Prohibit the usage of bottled water; give guests a reusable water bottle upon arrival
  • Request reusable plates, glassware, cutlery, tablecloths, and napkins
  • Ensure all staff are trained on separating recyclables
  • Request that attendees RSVP to get accurate guest count and only order that amount of food
  • Reduce meat items and serve vegan, vegetarian, or seafood items
  • Consider serving local produce and organic menu items
  • Avoid ordering items that are individually packaged (i.e., individual packets of cream, sugar)
  • Have leftover food donated to food shelter


  • Send all conference correspondence to attendees electronically
  • Use electronic documents/ file sharing
  • Offer an event application for conference attendees to access during event
  • Use double-sided printing on 100% recycled paper, when necessary
  • Promote using laptops/ iPads for note taking
  • Reuse signage
  • Have attendees bring their own name badges
  • If using bags, purchase organic reusable cotton or bags made from 100% recycled materials


For any tips or advice feel free to reach out to us at conferences@luc.edu or 773-508-8090.

Linda Whitlock: January Engaged Member of the Month

Posted by: Kate Shea, Bankers Life on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)












How did you become involved in MPI?

 Val Braun. Val has always 'encouraged' me to get involved in the industry -- then, set me up to be her successor on committees and in leadership roles.  ILEA Chicago VP Programs, ILEP Chicago President, MPI Golf Committee, MPI Membership Committee.


What has been the most exciting moment or memorable thing that has happened since joining MPI?

I won the beer stein holding contest at the New Member Mixer in November at Kaiser Tiger! A great welcome back into our MPI community :)


How did you become part of the event industry? 

I kind of stumbled into it. I visited Chicago for the first time when I was in college and fell in love with the Windy City! After graduating from MSU, I returned to Chicago and knocked on doors. Kenneth Brown at The Hyatt Regency Chicago offered me a job to manage the midnight shift of Scampi's -- 24 hour restaurant. I jumped at the chance and then was here to stay!


How has MPI impacted your career?

MPI helps keep me stay in tune with the pulse of the industry and popular trends. As a business owner, I want stay ahead of the curve to design new programs that enhance my client's meetings and events. 

Also, MPI has also connected me with great people -- both clients and vendors -- that are forward thinkers and passionate about the industry.


Tell us something unique about you?

Whenever I book a new program (or someone on our team), we gather together and blow the Wiener Whistle. It's a tradition!  

What to know about cancellation and attrition?

Posted by: Amanda Masters, White Lodging on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

As a sales manager, getting a signed agreement is probably one of the best feelings in the world.  On the other hand, as a sales manager, getting a cancellation, right before month end, quarter end, or year end, depending how you are evaluated, is the worst feeling in the world.  Now don’t get me wrong, we get it, things happen, plans change, and cancellations are inevitable, but let’s make sure we know the basics to avoid any confusion down the road.

Let’s start by defining what cancellation and attrition is.  Put yourself in the shoes of a meeting planner: you are booking a sales meeting at a hotel and you need 50 rooms for 2 nights for a total of 100 room nights.  You also require 1,000 square feet of meeting space for the one day meeting.  The guest room rate is $289, the meeting space has a room rental of $500, and a food and beverage minimum of $2,000.  Therefore, the total value of the program is $31,400.00. ($289 x 100 room nights = $28,900 + room rental $500 + food and beverage minimum $2,000).  The contract carries 90% cancellation and 90% daily attrition.

Situation A, Cancellation: Two months before your event is to take place, your boss tells you that he needs you to cancel the sales meeting. Since the contract was written with a 90% cancellation clause, your company owes the hotel $28,260.00 as a cancellation penalty for breaching the agreed upon contract.     

Situation B, Attrition:  Your cutoff date is approaching and the event manager from the hotel lets you know that you have only picked up 35 rooms per night.  It turns out many of your sale managers are attending a nationwide sales summit that was scheduled for the same week as your meeting.  You tell the hotel event manager that your group will not need any additional rooms past the 35 rooms booked; enter the attrition clause.  Since the contract was written with 90% daily attrition, your company is responsible for actualizing 45 rooms per night (50 room x 90%).  Since your group has only picked up 35 rooms per night, you are responsible for the difference between 45 and 35, or 10 rooms per night, 20 room nights total.  The attrition dollar amount is figured on the contracted guest room rate, so in this case, $289.  $289 x 20 room nights, means your company owes the hotel $5,780.00 as an attrition penalty for not fulfilling your end of the contract. 

Just one important thing to note, taxes will be charged on your cancellation and attrition fees. It isn’t up to the hotel, the law makes hotels pay it.

From the sales managers prospective, they never like someone to pay for guest rooms that go unused.  On the flip side, they do have to report up as to why anticipated revenue has changed.  If a contract is signed 9 months or a year in advance, the hotel is turning away other potential groups and making other business decisions based upon the anticipated revenue your group contracted to bring in.       

We all know things happen and cancellation and attrition is inevitable.  What can we do to make bad situation into a win-win situation?


As the Planner

  • Keep your sales manager in the loop. If you have even the smallest inkling that your group might cancel, let your sales manager know so they can prepare the hotel team.
  • When breaking the news to your sales manager, offer a solution instead of just saying your group is cancelling and you don’t want to pay the cancellation fee.

As the Hotelier

  • Reduce the cancellation fee if the planner is willing to sign a new agreement for a future booking.
  • Offer payment plans to ease the financial burden to planners.
  • Take a look at the total hotel; if the hotel is able to recoup or rebook a new group in the place of the cancelling group, maybe look at reducing the penalty.

“Life isn’t always perfect.  Life isn’t always easy.  Life doesn’t always make sense, but that’s the beauty of life.”

Event Design - The Design Process

Posted by: Kim Bakota, Kehoe Designs on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Kehoe Designs just took event design to the next level at The Geraghty. After successfully executing a global firm’s 37th annual holiday party, Kehoe Designs took the design process to a case study and provided a little insight on the design process.


A global firm hosted their 37th annual holiday party at The Geraghty, which is a venue with 25,000 sq. ft. of open space that is located less than four miles from McCormick Place and about five miles from the Magnificent Mile.

This was the client’s 3rd consecutive year celebrating in the space, and surprisingly, the only venue they had visited more than once. To continue providing experiences unique from previous events, the Kehoe Designs’ team blended deep sea and cosmic aesthetics with 360-degree immersive technology to create a dramatic and comprehensive, “Under The Cosmic Sea” environment for the client’s 700+ guest.


  • The open floorplan was utilized in-the-round, anchored by a 55’ x 55’ x12’ “Cosmic Curve” circular structure framing the dance floor.
  • Vast, flexible space allowed for a cocktail reception to flow into a buffet station dinner with dancing.
  • Large, themed neon-colored sculptures were suspended from the towering 22’ ceiling.
  • Lighting patterns scaled the perimeter of the floor-to-ceiling draping to create celestial effects.
  • Polished concrete floors reflected the décor and dynamic lights.
  • Each aspect was tailored to capitalize on the venue’s character and amplify the design.


Over 100 animated and programmable lights were used during the event, the most ever to be used in this space by the Kehoe Designs Technical Production team. These lights worked seamlessly with the décor elements to generate kinetic energy. Small moving and wash fixtures in the Cosmic Curve complimented a full-perimeter wash, which danced against the draping and changed colors and textures throughout the evening. Extensive use of haze accented light beams and connected the room with beams of light. 2,000 ft. of hand-crafted LED tubing cascaded from the central ceiling focal and embraced the radiant structure. A stylized high-end audio system focused sound within the Cosmic Curve, creating a booming dance environment while keeping a comfortable volume to allow conversation throughout the space.


The Kehoe Designs created a cohesive blend of technical production and décor to produce a surreal experience tailored to the open space. The Geraghty’s reflective, polished floor emphasized the textured lighting and gave the illusion that the acrylic chairs were floating. The above collage was brought to life by The Geraghty’s soaring ceiling, which allowed color-changing LED tubing to cascade downward to give the room life-like pulsing energy. Mirrored bars and tabletops strategically doubled the impact of the lighting and décor, providing glimpses of our galactic creatures from all angles. Every engaging detail, down to the iridescent accents in each centerpiece, was designed to immerse guests in their fascinating new world of bioluminescence.

Venue: The Geraghty | Event Design, Technical Production, & Photography: Kehoe Designs | Planning By: Meetings & Incentives World Wide | Catering By: Paramount Events

Friday, June 22, 2018

Ask the Expert Social Responsibility

Posted by: Ted Miller, HMCC, CHME, CHSP, CGTP, CGMP, Enterprise Holdings on Friday, June 22, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Question:  We hear a lot about Corporate Social Responsibility and wonder how a small company be involved in such a practice.

Answer: Corporate Social Responsibility is not something you just start, it must be part of the nature of the company or organization. It also does not require mass amounts of money or time. as the object is to accomplish something positive and not to make a PR Splash.  Consider starting with your hiring practices, are you actively seeking to hire a recent veteran? Their training and disciple translate into outstanding staff. This may not seem like a big step, but it makes a big impact on someone who has already served you.

Question: I see signs along the road with company and organization names as the ones who “Adopted” that part of the highway. How big of a commitment is such an undertaking and how should we pick the area?

Answer: If you are willing to make a commitment, such as adopting a highway, it can have a positive impact on those who see it, especially for your potential business partners or corporate neighbors. Plan to spend at least one day a week for one hour to pick up the debris that has collected and tend any landscaping you may have added. It does not have to be the same people every week, so you can rotate it to spread out the work. It can also be used as an evaluation of your staff, based on how much effort they put in when it was their turn. A project such as this can show the true commitment of your staff to the firm and also their ability to consistently follow through on an assignment.

Question: Everyday when I walk to the train I see homeless or unemployed people with signs asking for a handout. I do not feel comfortable giving money. Is there an acceptable alternative way to help them?

Answer: My daughter started seeing a homeless man in front of Northwestern Hospital every day when she came to work. The man was very well dressed and clean but he does not have a job and keeps trying to find work. That gave her a great idea and she convinced her brother to go with her once a month and distribute bags that have personal hygiene items such as a tooth brush, soap and deodorant.  She then also gets me to cook a whole turkey and carve it up and she makes about 40 sandwiches. She gives a bag, sandwich and a bottle of water to people who she thinks need it the most. She always gives one to the man in front of Northwestern, which is where she starts each month. She would not feel comfortable doing this on her own, which is why she has her brother with her. Now this makes a difference giving those with less something they really need.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Buying Power of Multi-Year Contracts

Posted by: Michelle Olewinski, Sofitel Chicago Magnificent Mile on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

What is the benefit of a multiyear contract? Multiyear contracts present convenience for a group hosting a conference in the same city year after year and can save planners and organization time, reduce required negotiation, create cost savings, increase data collection and build great relationships.

Time: Securing 2 or more years will save an organization time, money and peace of mind. By doing this, you eliminate the need to do site visits and RFP gathering again next year.

Negotiation: Planners can gather information on the facility once and focus on strategic negotiating, which translates to consistent concessions and commissions with minimal increases in rates/pricing annually. 

Cost Savings: Event budgets can be determined early, giving the planner more time to focus on the important things like planning for the success of the event. And, if you have done all of this well in the beginning, you will have the peace of mind to know that you are well prepared for those unexpected surprises that inevitably come along with every meeting.

Data: Multiyear contracts are also important in data collecting. You can partner with a hotel/conference center and truly learn about the attendee experience. You can watch the behavior of attendees in regards to sleeping rooms, food and beverage, registration etc. and use these for future negotiations.

Relationships: Most importantly, multiyear contracts require a partnership. Planners and venues can create a strategic plan to build the event and their services. Entering into a contract is a major decision in the ever changing marketplace and with the ever-changing world of hospitality, a high level of service and convenience remain constant.   Hotels are sought after for hosting conferences and special events for these specific reasons. It’s convenient to have guestrooms, meeting space and meals under one roof, complimented by an eager staff that is equipped to handle any request that comes their way.

Next time you have concern on the risk of multiyear contracts, remember with risk comes great reward.

Whitney Taylor: Engaged Member of the Month

Posted by: Kate Shea, Bankers Life on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

How did you become involved in MPI?
My involvement with other great live event industry organizations, such as NACE and ILEA led me to MPI. For Drape Kings, MPI is a great mix of our clients, prospective clients, and our clients' clients.

What has been the most exciting moment or memorable thing that has happened since joining MPI?
Being a part of various committees! It is SO true that just showing up to meetings won't provide the full value of MPI. When you get to plan events together, learn, create and challenge one another, strong bonds are formed that you can't get anywhere else. THAT is what makes MPI most memorable.

How did you become part of the event industry?
I've always fallen under the arts & entertainment umbrella. I love every component that goes into the production of an event; how a cavernous space can transform into a rock concert, large conference, ANYTHING imaginable. Road cases, truss, motors, drape, everything rolling in to a show floor is fascinating and exciting!

How has MPI impacted your career?
MPI has been a very powerful connector to help open doors. As a member, I'm a peer of everyone else in the room; C-Suite to entry level event professionals. MPI allows me the opportunity to engage with clients in a meaningful, personable way, while getting to understand the nature of each of our businesses.

Tell us something unique about you?
I grew up on a farm in WI, and plan to get on the tractor this spring. I'm also a painter, and hope to get back to figure painting soon. Growing up with a dad who's a metal sculptor, and stepdad who's a farmer has been a dynamic combination which has cemented my love for nature and the arts.

Healthy Eating for the Attendee

Posted by: Mallory Mondloch, Pinstripes on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Business travel is hard on the body, mind and spirit. The traveler/attendee is sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, exposed to a lot of new germs on the airplane, dehydrated and exhausted. Help battle these travel symptoms and improve retention by providing healthy meal options.

Breakfast options can always include oatmeal, fruit and yogurt. Low sodium, low sugar, high protein snacks can be available throughout the day instead of candy or chips. For lunch and dinner, all salad dressings and cream based sauces can be served on the side.

Most people do not eat dessert on a regular basis, so why do all conferences have dessert on the table for lunch? It is extremely tempting to eat the brownie, cake or pie that is sitting right in front of you.

Baked potatoes and steamed vegetables can always be served in place of mashed potatoes, French fries and sautéed vegetables, all loaded in butter and salt. When possible, selections should be served dairy free or dairy optional.

Here is a great sample menu:


  • Oatmeal
  • Sliced Fruit
  • Yogurt
  • Egg White Sandwiches

Am Break:

  • Whole Fruit
  • Trail Mix to include almonds, dried cranberries, dried mango’s, cashews and sunflower seeds
  • 4 ounce fruit smoothies


  • Create your Own Salad Bar with hot protein items such as grilled chicken and tofu
  • Composed Salads Mango and Sweet Potato or Quinoa
  • Hot Vegetable sides such as grilled asparagus
  • Soup
  • Sliced Fruit for Dessert

Taking some extra steps to create a healthier menu will promote higher levels of energy throughout the day for the weary traveler and attendee, which will ultimately generate higher information retention.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Engaged Member of the Month

Posted by: Kate Shea, Bankers Life on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

How did you become involved in MPI?
I was very fortunate to be introduced to MPI through my colleague Sasha Sook. She is so involved and always sharing such fun stories and experiences with me. I was lucky enough to attend the awards gala with her (and watch her win an award!!) and was able to meet so many inspiring people that I knew I wanted to be a part of the MPI community.

What has been the most exciting moment or memorable thing that has happened since joining MPI?
I attended a leadership conference that introduced me to many of the board and committee members! While I did learn a lot and find my spot on the NEXT committee, I think squaring off against the male members in a beer stein holding contest was quite a rush.

How did you become part of the event industry?
I have always been a planner, I constantly was trying to put together fun new events for my friends and I to try that I decided to pursue it professionally. I started managing a restaurant in Minnesota and I jumped on the opportunity to help out with our booth at the Minnesota Bridal Convention! From there on, I was working on sales and operations for all of our catering and events and loved it. When the chance came to move to Chicago for a position at The Summit I knew it was the right step further my career.

How has MPI impacted your career?
In so many ways! I have attended leadership, educational and social events that have taught me so much and also really expanded my Network. Being new to the professional setting in Chicago, I have gained so much confidence in myself through networking and also attending events that I see a huge change in my personal and work life.

Tell us something unique about you?
I have a secret chocolate chip cookie recipe that is all the hype around my friends and family…so if you need some yummy treats, let me know!

The Stress of the Busy Season - How to Relax and Recharge

Posted by: Rachael Riggs, Tourism Vancouver on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

It is the busy conference season and you are taking care of everyone but you.   However, for you to take care of everyone else, you must make yourself a priority.   For you to produce a good meeting/event, you need to be the top of your game.  

I bring lots of experience in health and wellness.  Originally, I wanted to run corporate fitness centers and then I went to work for the Association for Fitness in Business.  It was the perfect place to meet the people I needed to know.   I had no idea it would change the path of my career.  I loved both the health and wellness side as well as the meeting side of working for AFB, which later came the Association for Worksite Health Promotion and then eventually was integrated into the American College of Sports Medicine.   Flash forward today, I have a unique opportunity to bring my 2 career “loves” together…health/wellness and meetings/events.   It is my belief that you must take care of yourself before you can take care of others.   In this Spring/Summer series on health and wellness, I will provide you with tips and tricks on how to take care of the best you and ways to help you stress less this season.

As a former planner, I get the time crunch and the deadlines and the stress it causes. You never want anyone to see you sweat. There is always the “buzz” you get from being in the thick of it all and the adrenaline rush is great, but it can take a toll on you.  Balance is key and we all need reminders of how to do this.   Over the years, I learned a few tools that I would like to share with you that really help me. Here are the top two:

Tip # 1 - First thing in the morning….even if it is 4am….give yourself  at least 5 – 10 minutes to get in the right “headspace” before you even get out of bed.   Meditation and breathing are the best ways to do this. I use an app called Headspace that walks you through a meditation. After a little stretching, I listen to Headspace.   Not only does this help me listen to my body, it prepares me mentally for the day.  Try it and I promise it will be a good way to start your day.

Tip #2 – Luckily, I attended a session on breathing by someone who studied under Deepak Chopra.   They taught us a breathing technique that really helps in stressful situations and I use it a lot on-site when everything is going 110mph or when I can not go to sleep.  It centers my mind and suggest you try it.   It is called the 478 Breathing Technique.   When you are stressed or can’t sleep, try the following:  

This is followed by the five-step procedure listed below:

  1. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  4. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.

478 will help you relax before you respond to a stressful situation or when the sheep are not working. 

I hope these questions spark some thought and inspires you to pay attention to you.   Being in great space mentally will help your stress level.   Any questions, feel free to reach out to me at rriggs@tourismvancouver.com or 847-853-1647 happy to help!

Help Wanted - The Marketing & Communications Committee needs YOU!

Posted by: MPI-CAC Marketing and Communication Committee on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Calling all project managers, social media stars, thought leaders and writers! The Marketing & Communications Committee needs YOU! 

If you’re thinking that this article is for someone with more marketing experience than you, think again.  With guidance from your fellow committee members, co-chairs, and the MPI-CAC executive office, taking a position on the committee allows you to explore the world of event marketing in a safe, organized environment.  Build your resume as you guide committees through creating a strategic marketing plan, employ metrics to measure the success of various social media posts and campaigns or create and manage a yearly editorial calendar.   Study best practices at the monthly meetings and take them back to your company to boost your own event exposure and attendance. Comprised of three subcommittees – Marketing Liaisons, Social Media, and Conversations + Connections – there’s a place for everyone to grow their career and build their business on the Marketing & Communications Committee. 

Are you intrigued? Good! Now let’s break down these subcommittees to find your perfect fit!

Marketing Liaison Subcommittee
You create and execute complex, large-scale events every day by breaking down a big picture into small, manageable pieces.  Put your project management skills to use as a Marketing Liaison.  Your role would be to guide a committee through a structured project plan to help them create and execute their event marketing initiatives.  Instead of generating the entire marketing plan from scratch, you provide expertise on deadlines, available platforms, and processes and procedures.  And if you’d like to help create content, your committee will surely welcome your contributions! 

Social Media Subcommittee
Do you always find the best memes? Have you #nailedit recently with a particularly witty #tbt post? Have you cultivated your personal brand across your social media platforms? If that sounds like you, the Social Media Subcommittee is the place to be!  Use your mad skills to create fun, interactive posts to increase awareness, promote chapter events, and inspire conversation. As you help manage the chapter’s social media platforms, you’ll learn Hootsuite and how to employ metrics to measure the impact of various posts on boosting awareness and attendance. 

C+C Subcommittee
We know you have some great tips and tricks up your sleeve from your years in the events industry.  Put your unique insight to great use on the C+C Subcommittee managing the content provided to the C&C bi-weekly newsletter.  This newsletter, tailored to our very own chapter, presents event ideas, discussions and topics throughout the year, providing thought leadership for your peers and colleagues.  Being engaged with this subcommittee will help you stay on the forefront of event professional topics to help educate the chapter.

See something you like? We thought you might.  The Marketing & Communications Committee has numerous opportunities for you to be creative, have fun, meet fellow chapter members and grow your event skill set. 

Want to learn more about joining the MarComm Committee? Click here to fill out the committee interest form.  We can’t wait to meet you!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

December Engaged Member of the Month

Posted by: Kate Shea, Bankers Life on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

How did you become involved in MPI?
I was a part of MPI in South FL when I worked for the Renaissance Plantation Hotel. When I moved back to Chicago, I wanted to get involved in something so I decided to reach out and join.

What has been the most exciting moment or memorable thing that has happened since joining MPI?
Too many good memories to only list one!

How did you become part of the event industry?
College Career Fair – totally random. I didn’t know the difference between a Ritz Carlton and Holiday Inn when I started.

How has MPI impacted your career?
It has allowed me to build some great relationships within the industry. Those relationships and friendships have helped me get to where I am.

Tell us something unique about you?
I have a 2 year old daughter named Danica.

3 Ultimate #SocialSelling Tips for Smart #EventProfs

Posted by: Barbara Rozgonyi, CoryWest Media on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Wondering how ​social selling really work​s and how it can work for you​?​​

Here’s a quick recap from my MPI-CAC NEXT presentation . . . .

In 2018, 70% of sales professionals plan to invest more time on social selling. Why is that?

According to LinkedIn, top social selling leaders realize these benefits:

  • 45% more opportunities
  • 51% more likely to achieve goals
  • 78% outsell peers who don’t use social media

Social selling is so successful that 70% of sales professionals plan to spend more time on social selling in 2018. But, what is it and how does it work? Let’s find out.


Step One: Get Your SSI Score

LinkedIn first coined the term “social selling” and they’ve even come up with a way for you to rate how well you do.

Your Social Selling Index score, or SSI for short, rates your performance on four quadrants: establish your professional brand, find the right people, engage with insights and build relationships.

You can get yours for free at https://business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions/social-selling/the-social-selling-index-ssi

Where do you need to spend more time?


Step Two: Realize Your PR [Personality + Reputation] Potential

PR is the missing ingredient in most content marketing, both for people and companies. Why is that? Because personality and reputation are often disconnected from values and virtues. When you are intentional about connecting, it shows.

How do you know what your values are? It’s easy. Think about three to five people, or for companies -brands, you admire.

Then answer this question, “When you think of __________, what positive qualities do you associate with them?”

Which attributes do you see more than once? These are your personal values. These values will drive your content marketing, decisions and work performance. For example, if one of your values is integrity, you will do best when you work with people and partners who have the same value.

Now, check your reputation and see how you show up on Google, LinkedIn – and even Siri. Do you like what you see? To track every mention of you, or your company, online sign up for free email alerts at https://www.google.com/alerts.

Pro tip: you can set up alerts for your competition, top clients and prospective companies. You’ll always be in the know, up to the minute – and ready to connect IRL and online.


Step Three: Show Up in the Right Places

According to 2018 Content Marketing Trends research, the top three social networks B2B companies use are, in order, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Top three types of content? Social media, case studies and videos.

Is your business more B2C? Your top social networks, in order, are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Your top types of content are social media, videos and photos. B2C is a much more visual space so have fun!

Now that you know where to invest your time, make sure your content is BRAVE: bold, relevant, authoritative, valuable and energizing.

This applies to content you create, curate and comment on. Follow the leaders and share their top content.

Remember to add your take as a comment and write a LinkedIn article or a blog post if you have more to say. Use a free tool like http://rightrelevance.com to track the hot topics in the meetings and events industry.

Yes, you and can and should spend more time on social selling. Make the most of it with these four steps for smart eventprofs.



The lifecycle of event planning - Part 4: Execution

Posted by: Sarah Wantz, Wantz Events on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

After each detail is finalized, all vendors confirmed, and every element carefully timed out in the run of show, we move into execution phase where planners go from ‘planning’ to project managing. Everything you have spent months booking and organizing comes together for a few (hopefully) perfect hours! Below, we discuss elements to consider and plan for, insuring a smooth and flawless event.

The number one thing to do onsite is simple, but often times people forget… treat EVERYONE kindly and with respect, regardless of how big or small their role in the event might be; the valet, load-in crew, the bussers, union staff, the kitchen staff. We are all in this together and the event success is dependent on one another so treat each other like teammates, as we all want to succeed!

Onto setup… in order to set yourself up for success, a few reminders we like to keep in mind:

  • Be overly detail oriented with a clear plan up front, shared with all involved parties
  • Follow up and document vendor notes, times, potential issues (example – loading dock only available 9a-10a, call security at 10a upon arrival)
  • Strong load-in plan, understanding any dock and/or venue restrictions
  • Check in with all vendors to confirm they have updated documents and know exactly where/what they are to be doing
  • Know who your onsite partners are – catering lead, setup and teardown crew, etc.
  • Have a pre-meeting with onsite event staff, confirming they know all event details and have answers to potential guest questions
  • Be positive! Remain calm when things go wrong and immediately look for a resolution

From a guest standpoint, their event perspective begins immediately with the arrival experience and check-in. This is the first element the guest will encounter and can set the tone for a positive or negative experience. We always recommend additional staff at check-in to insure this is smooth. Guests always seem to have an intrinsic concern they will not be found on the list, or can get easily agitated at the thought of waiting at check-in. 

As the event continues on, it is important to frequently check in with your vendors – does the band need water, are the photo booth props still organized and nice looking, is the photographer hitting everything on the requested photo list, are the food stations plentiful, are the bussers clearing as necessary? Checking in to make sure the client is happy is also always a good idea. While everything is up and running smoothly, begin to review the teardown plan and follow up with any vendors necessary for load-out.

Once the event concludes, everyone usually sprints into action on the teardown plan. Be readily available to answer questions and have a good understanding of moving items out of the venue. Once all items and vendors are out, walk the space to confirm everything is being left as it was when you arrived and thank your event partners for their support on a successful event!

After each guest has left and each vendor has loaded up, think about measuring the event’s success and considering wins, misses and learnings. Provide compliments and feedback to your event partners and also receive feedback from them, as well as the client, setting yourself up for continued success on future events. Learning from our mistakes and also realizing our successes helps us learn and continue to grow into better event partners so the next event can be even smoother.

As planners and event industry professionals, we all know unexpected issues can arise no matter how many times you followed up or conversations you had in advance. Events involve many moving pieces and parts so sometimes, things out of our control are bound to pop up. We are responsible for planning and considering every detail, so have your problem-solving hat on and remember to remain calm!/







Paradise Coast # 1 Golf Destination

Posted by: Debi DeBenedetto, Naples Marco Island Everglades CVB on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)




Welcome to Florida's Paradise Coast of Naples Marco Island Everglades.  Miles of white sand beaches, luxury resorts and Golf galore!  IAGTO voted Naples America's number 1 golf destination for 2016.  For meetings our Resorts will please every type of sporting or beach event with 4 & 5 star quality.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Rebecca DeLuca, December Engaged Member of the Month

Posted by: Kate Shea, Bankers Life on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

How did you become involved in MPI?
When I was a meeting planner in Ohio (my first industry role) I was a planner-member and attended MPI PEC in 2007! When I moved to Chicago I became involved with MPI-CAC and when I was asked to chair the Holiday Party in 2013 I didn’t hesitate to accept. It’s been a very fun 5+ years of involvement!

What has been the most exciting moment or memorable thing that has happened since joining MPI?
Being recognized as the 2017 Chapter Leader of the Year for my service to the chapter was a true highlight within my MPI career, thus far. I am also very proud to have played a part in the creation of two chapter education events, the Signature Luncheon and NEXT, during my time as VP Education.

How did you become part of the event industry?
I had a marketing internship with Cardinal Health when I was attending The Ohio State University and part of my responsibilities involved working on the 4,000 person annual program. After a few long months leading up to the event and looong days working the program, I was hooked and knew this was the industry I wanted to grow my career within.

How has MPI impacted your career?
MPI has given me the opportunity to serve on a board, cultivate my strategic thinking skills and immensely grow my network. Within the safe environment of MPI-CAC I have learned how to make mistakes, ask for help and be appreciative of diverse perspectives. I am better at what I do and how much I contribute to my organization’s success because of MPI.

Tell us something unique about you?
My go-to unique fact is that I drove an ice cream truck as a summer job in college (yes, free ice cream all day, every day)! On a more personal note I have a beautiful 13-month-old baby boy and he’s been on 5 trips with us so far - starting him young!

Ask the Expert Speaker Selection

Posted by: Ted Miller, HMCC, CHME, CHSP, CGTP, CGMP, Enterprise Holdings on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Question: In the past we have always used our senior executives to be the speakers at our conferences. While some can communicate quite well, we have several who are true experts in the field but do not have the presence to be a standalone speaker. How can we use their skills and put them into an environment where they can feel comfortable?

Answer: There are many people who have great knowledge, but are naturally not great speakers in a standalone environment. Where you can use people like this is to have them be part of a panel discussion where the moderator can direct specific questions to them to address. This format also allows you to invite pre-conference questions that can be directed to members of the panel. The best way to use this format is having someone develop the questions to be asked first and then assemble the panel members who are best able to address each question.

Question: We have attended many conferences where independent speakers have been booked to cover a topic or address certain issues that are the main theme of the conference. How do you select a speaker who is not only an expert but will be well received at our conference?

Answer: The list of independent speakers is quite large and you need an expert to help to narrow down your choices from a point of cost and abilities to address your audience. Use a speakers’ bureau to give you the options available and then request a video of each speaker to review each one that interests you. Once you have narrowed your list further, then make a point to speak to them and be very specific about the topic and the material you want them to present. Also make a point to advise them about people at your conference who might be offended by certain remarks and terms you want them to avoid. Doing as much pre-screening as possible will show in their reception by the audience.

Question: We recently booked a speaker for an event this Fall and just heard them speak at an event and were not impressed with them. How do we move to change the speaker and is there a cost to cancel their contract?

Answer: First, if you used a speakers’ bureau, have them help you replace the speaker with a more suitable choice. Be aware that in most speakers contracts, you will find that when you book them there is a usually a non-refundable deposit. When a speaker is booked for date they are no longer available to be booked by another organization and must decline other booking requests for that date. This is a normal business practice and one that should not surprise you. If you feel the speaker you booked is the wrong choice, pay the cancellation fee. It will be a small cost compared to the issues they could create at your event not being the appropriate choice.

Question: How should you prepare for the unforeseen situation of having a key speaker not show at your conference or cancel at the last minute?

Answer: When you plan a conference every great meeting professional will tell you that you must plan for the worst situations from the beginning. It would be difficult to have someone standing by, who is of the same caliber, as your original speaker. However, you can have alternate topics that can be presented using the other speakers in your program. Prior to your conference, make sure you have a meeting or a conference call to discuss such an event happening and have a specific plan in place ready to be used. If you plan ahead for problems, they can be handled with organization instead of panic.

The lifecycle of event planning - Part 3: Vendue and Vendor Sourcing

Posted by: Sarah Wantz, Wantz Events on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

We are now onto the phase where we know and understand our clients, we know the tools to accomplish their vision, and so the time begins to source vendors that can make it all happen. Dependent on the event format and client’s wish list, an event planner will be booking and managing everything from the venue to the DJ, catering, entertainment, sound, lighting, photography and interactive activations. With so many moving pieces, a quality team of vendors is absolutely crucial in putting on a high quality event.

The first booking, if possible, should be the venue as it sets the tone for the entire event. This also may determine your date (if flexible for the client) and may set a hard limit for guest count.

When searching for the perfect venue, there are a number of questions to ask to determine if the space works for the event. Venue type is an easy starting off point – does the client want a hotel, restaurant, or freestanding venue? From here, finding out what venues are available for the client’s event date, and then moving down the list of questions once you have determined the top venues of interest. Below we shared some recommended questions to ascertain if a venue will work for your event:

  • Location: Is the venue located in an area that makes sense for the client? Easy to get to, safe, enjoyable neighborhood or centrally located to their office or hotel? Is there parking or valet?
  • Inclusions: This is where a lot of venues win the business! Does the space come with any furniture, linens, in-house security, built-in AV? If the venue is priced right and also has inclusions that save your client potentially thousands of dollars, it may be a no-brainer. In the case of no inclusions, review their preferred vendor list and understand what outside vendors you can bring in, and if there is a fee associated.
  • Timeframe: How long can you utilize the space? If you have a lot of activations and require a full day setup, will the venue charge you per hour or does it include all day access?
  • Pricing: Often times, a client’s decision will come down to pricing, and additional costs they will incur on elements not included with the venue. Be sure they fully understand what is and is not included in the price. Dependent on what day of the week the event falls, you may be able to get a reduced fee.

Now we move onto all other event vendors!  Even though many planners have set vendors they prefer to work with, that vendor may not always be able to provide exactly what you need. You may also be working on an event outside of your home base and need to source vendors local to that market. Finding new vendors can sometimes be challenging as you don’t know their quality level, if pricing is fair based on the market, and if overall, they will be a good event partner. This is where a lot of research and references come in.

Do your due diligence and search for all vendors capable of providing the service you require. Reach out to the top three based on that research and see how they respond to you. Are their responses timely or are you repeatedly following up with them for quotes? Does their pricing seem reasonable according to the market? Ask to speak with previous clients to hear about how they work and/or if their product is high quality. Another helpful tip is to hone in as closely as possible on your exact needs, as early as possible. This will give the vendor a very clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish and provide more realistic cost estimates up front. We all know that can be wishful thinking as special events are ever-evolving through the planning process.

The venue and vendors you partner with are paramount in pulling off a successful event!. Insure you are all on the same page up front and communicate well throughout the planning process. Pick them wisely and treat them well as you are all in this together with the same end goal.

Unique Meeting Venues Just Outside of Philadelphia

Posted by: Rachel Riley, Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board on Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Valley Forge and Montgomery County are the ultimate meetings destination.

With more than 300 cutting-edge venues, planners can hold an event in the countryside and still have that city feel.

From beautiful estates to golf courses, Valley Forge and Montgomery County can revolutionize your meeting and forge the extraordinary with unique meeting venues that are located near major roadways, and minutes from Center City.

Montco is home to more than 20 venues with at least 2,000-square-feet of space, including two IACC-approved conference centers, and dozens of conference hotels.

Valley Forge is well-equipped to host even the largest event with a pair of expo and convention facilities: the 240,000-square-foot Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks, and the newly renovated 100,000-square-foot Valley Forge Convention Center at the Valley Forge Casino Resort.

Plus, many of Montgomery County’s unique meeting venues offer historic elegance combined with modern amenities, like at the 1700s Philander Chase Knox Estate, which is surrounded by 3,500 beautiful acres of Valley Forge National Historical Park.

Or, the 44-acre and more than 200-year-old Georgian Highlands Mansion & Gardens features a two-acre formal garden enclosed by massive stone walls. An excellent example of early 20th-century historic architecture, this facility includes nine outbuildings, bright and spacious rooms with 15-foot ceilings, and 2,400 square-feet to accommodate 120 to 150 people.

People enjoy the natural lighting, customizable space, and great views of locations such as those and the Merk Conshy, the flagship location of the newly renamed WorkMerk.

Other properties that also provide great views include the 19th-century field stone barn at John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, a 4,000-square-foot space that sets the stage for an unforgettable event.  The first American home of John James Audubon celebrates his artistic and scientific legacy with a small museum housing all his major paper works, and original oil paintings.

Another barn facility, the fully-restored 18th-century dairy barn, Barn on Bridge provides the perfect canvas for you to paint the meeting of your dreams for up to 200 people.

Montgomery County is also home to 54 golf courses with 300,000 yards for meeting and playing! Some of the most historic, and top-ranked courses in the country are here. And, with 75 hotels, incredible attractions, and 1,600 restaurants, Montco is the ideal destination for your meeting.

For more information on meetings in Valley Forge and Montgomery County, visit www.valleyforge.org/meetings.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Erin Connell, November Engaged Member of the Month

Posted by: Kate Shea, Bankers Life on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

How did you become involved in MPI?
I had a professor that introduced me to MPI as a Freshman in college and I was intrigued. I finally made the commitment to join two years later!

What has been the most exciting moment or memorable thing that has happened since joining MPI?
So far, the most exciting thing that has happened to me since joining MPI has been sitting on the MPI-CAC Annual Awards Recognition Celebration Committee. I am surrounded by such intelligent, like-minded people and I look forward to chatting and learning from them each time we meet.

How did you become part of the event industry?
I have a long background of hospitality and have always been interested in the industry (I used to want to be a chef), but the moment I knew I wanted to get into events was when I got the opportunity to be the segment lead for planning a fashion show in high school.

How has MPI impacted your career?
MPI has impacted my career by allowing me to expand my network, have a community of like-minded people that I can learn and grow from, and has given me the opportunity to grow my skill set and knowledge base. I love being a part of planning the Annual Awards Recognition Celebration as I am currently in corporate events and haven’t had the opportunity to truly express my creativity.

Tell us something unique about you?
I was hired full-time at my organization as the Corporate Events Associate the summer before my last year of college. I am graduating a year early, so although I am technically a Senior graduating in May ‘18, I have only been in school for 3 years and will be 21 when I graduate. In addition to school and work, I sit on the MPI-CAC Annual Awards Recognition Celebration committee, volunteer occasionally, travel, and still manage to watch all of my Netflix shows! My next trip is to Vancouver, BC to do some personal research on the city’s sustainability initiatives including visiting different event venues and caterers. I am very interested in event management and sustainability, and how the two elements can be combined to achieve successful green events (If you have interest in this, please reach out. I would love to chat!).

Engaging Event Presentations Do This And Then Some

Posted by: Brella Productions on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

As presentation specialists, we understand how to “read the room.” We know when a presentation is connecting with an audience, when an audience is losing interest, and we also know that many clients are operating under a misconception about how much time they actually have to reach their audience.

We generally subscribe to the idea that the attention span a person can comfortably hold is around 20 minutes. Focus fades after that, but it can be rallied back with meaningful action. Here are a few effective approaches to captivate and engage your audience.

Ask Good Questions
Posing thought-provoking questions can invite audiences deeper into your subject matter. Let them participate in an exchange of ideas. In addition to critical thinking questions, go interactive with an app that attendees can answer questions on. Everyone’s answers can then appear live on screen to open up a bigger group discussion.

Show, Don’t Tell
Your audience has 5 senses—here are some strategic ways to engage them.

  • Touch — Let  the audience use their hands for something other than taking notes or checking their phones. Challenge attendees to create something that promotes intellectual and physical engagement. For instance, an event Bella helped coordinate, incorporated an interactive presentation aid where attendees built buildings to emphasize constructing something part of a whole…with legos. Who says legos are just for kids?
  • Taste — Implement an experience to go with a meal. Brella helped a client design a strategic murder mystery dinner in Muir Woods for a leadership team meeting. A senior leader used food, mystery, and an awesome venue to weave an experience into his presentation about collaboration and cooperation.
  • Hearing — Give them an auditory experience with live performances to reinforce your theme. Brella produced a video with live singers for a meeting that played Lean on Me, which tied in to patients leaning on the company to help improve their quality of life. Good tunes and a good message.
  • Sight — Many of us are visual learners. Tap into that with an opening video, or powerful visuals in your presentation that aren’t crowded with too much text. Don’t underestimate the impact of a stunning and cleverly built PowerPoint that incorporates meaningful visual reinforcement.
  • Smell — Strengthen your theme with complementary smells. Case in point: Brella helped with a campaign launch that had a train theme, and carts of roasted nuts and popcorn (popular snack foods on European trains) were brought in to give off the aroma and vibe of being on the train (and give attendees a delicious snack).

Give Concrete Next Steps
What should audiences do with what you’ve presented? Give them a clear call to action. Without direction, they won’t know what to take away—and won’t remember what you’ve told them. Give them digital reminders—a presentation summary, a handout, or a post-event video to reinforce your message.

Incorporate some of these strategic approaches and help your clients create interesting ways to keep their audiences engaged far longer than the status quo. 


The Life Cycle of Event Planning - Part 2: Creativity in all Elements

Posted by: Sarah Wantz, Wantz Events on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Event vendors are in a prime position today as special events become more and more prevalent as the form of B2B and B2C marketing. Events are an opportunity for a company or client in general, to show who they really are, what their product is, how it works, and what building community means to them. Many companies realize the value of an event and the lasting impression it can leave on guests. They also realize the competition is fierce and they have to step up their game if they want their company to stand out from the crowd!

With more and more people understanding the impact of an event, come a higher number of event invitations! In today’s market, people value the experience and that value is determined by how an event made them feel. Feeling valued, understood, appreciated, sought after, leaves guests appreciating your brand. How can we achieve this as event vendors? Through creativity, originality, imagination and uniqueness making the guest feel special, and giving them something they have never seen before.

Venue: The venue of course sets the tone for the entire event. Once that is set, you know what you are working with regarding layouts, themes, and what makes sense within the space.

Lighting: An entire room and mood can be changed with creative lighting concepts such as uplights, gobos, colorful lighting schemes, and more.

Seating: Going from 60” rounds with a seated dinner to a mix of lounge seating, highboys, cabarets, and action food stations changes the entire feel of an event by changing the layout.

Décor: Drive home the theme of the event by way of linens, florals, props, stage sets, etc. as the game changer. Events can touch on all five of the senses so why not use all of them!


Entertainment - With a wide variety of directions to go with entertainment, give guests something they have never seen before – a classically trained violinist playing along with current pop music.

Photo booth - Every event now has a photo booth, and everyone loves a good photo booth, but many are the same with cowboy hats and feather boas. Taking an activation that in and of itself is not necessarily ground-breaking, but doing it differently, is key! Example - the still-motion photo activations with 40 cameras placed around providing a 3D GIF is exciting, different, and sure to have your guests sharing on social media.

Product engagement - A tennis shoe brand allowing guests to design their own shoe to take home, a TV show recreating their film set for guests to fully immerse themselves in the theme (SXSW Westworld event) – two examples of the endless ways to creatively drive home the company’s message.

As each specific event detail is important, so is ‘the big picture’ – revamping the entire look and feel of a tired and dated annual gala means changing the entire concept, along with a fresh venue and different décor, and new and modern activations. Innovation in and of itself is a large task, but one that will increase your ROI. Creativity is instrumental in all of event planning elements and we must continue to think outside of the box. While certain things limit creativity, first and foremost budget, and second, the client’s wishes, understand your parameters and work within those to add these elements of surprise to awe and captivate your guests.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Adam Hud, November Engaged Member of the Month

Posted by: Kate Shea, Bankers Life on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

How did you become involved in MPI?
Through my father’s recommendation.

What has been the most exciting moment or memorable thing that has happened since joining MPI?

Joining my current company (PSAV) though MPI involvement and Co-Chairing the Golf Classic for many years.

How did you become part of the event industry?
Through my father.

How has MPI impacted your career?
It has educated me and created numerous wonderful relationships over the years.

Tell us something unique about you?
I am a HUGE Chicago sports fan and am also a soccer coach.

40 Years of MPI in Chicago - It is a Matter of How We Communicate

Posted by: Ted Miller, HMCC, CHME, CHSP, CGTP, CGMP, Enterprise Holdings on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

The history of our chapter has always been tied to how we communicate and how we express our identity. When our association was young and growing, it had a different name: Meeting Planners International. It took several years before the association recognized that of its many members, barely half of the membership was involved in planning or executing meetings.

As the organization continued to grow, it became very apparent that without the supplier community, the organization could not survive. As a result, both the name of the organization and the rules of who could be involved in the leadership of the national organization and the chapters changed. Thus, the new name of Meeting Professionals International was born.

But the organization had one more step to take before it could become more of a global organization. The national organization had allowed the chapters to assume their own identity and had seen a movement of favoring the local chapters over the national organization . This is when each chapter had its own nickname.  So you saw Chicago being known as CAMPI for Chicago Area Meeting Professionals International, and if you went to Wisconsin their nickname was WIMPI.

A lot of this had to do with how we as a business community communicated, which involved a heavy reliance on the US Mail, the telephone and fax machines. People looked forward to their printed newsletters and magazines which carried information of new venues and advertising on ones that had a special offer for you. When we had meeting announcements to send out, most times we sent a flyer or post card, as their postage cost was less than a first class letter.

This also was a time of personal conversations and meetings which created very strong business and professional relationships. People buy or deal with people they know and like, and when you know someone on a personal level the connection is very strong. Yes, the “3 Martini Lunch” was a part of this time, but you also saw people who wanted to exchange ideas and met in person on a regular basis.

It was not uncommon for a meeting planner and their staff to come to a supplier’s office to discuss their conference needs and layout a calendar of events for the coming year. This was also the time when cell phones had started to move from being the size of a brick to something that could fit into your pocket. Email was seen as a way to document a conversation and the size and type of attachments was limited.

As technology evolved it became easier to send larger files and include more color in email attachments. It was accepted faster by younger users as they had much more of a fascination with technology than more senior users. It then became more of a generational way of communicating.

If you look back even just three to five years ago we as an organization communicated much differently and not as frequently. Now we expect to see more communication with a variety of content arriving in our inboxes each day. One thing, though, is important to remember: the style and way you communicate defines who you are as an individual. We as an organization want to encourage as much in-person communication as it creates friendships and relationships that should be an integral part of our professional lives.

The Lifecycle of Event Planning - Part 1: Understanding Your Client

Posted by: Sarah Wantz, Wantz Events on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Understanding Your Client is the first step to planning any event. Before diving into mood boards and conception, it’s important to try to get a real sense of your client’s personality, likes and dislikes, and the ‘vibe’ they are trying to achieve. Do they want a serious tone to come across, or do they want this to be an event where their employees and/or customers let loose, socialize with one another, and leave with a positive feeling towards the company? At Wantz events, we find it helpful to have initial meetings at the client’s office to get a firsthand sense of the company culture. If they are a young tech company, it is unlikely they will host in a hotel ballroom as they tend to gravitate towards unique, stand-alone venues. If they are an older and well-established association with attendees from out of town, they may love the idea of a hotel ballroom as a one-stop-shop where guests will also stay.

Knowing your client’s dislikes is equally as important as understanding their likes and goals for the event. Some people have strong opinions about things you may not have expected – one type of alcohol or food item, disliking certain songs, preference towards DJ over live band, etc. - and not want that element present anywhere at the event. Getting to know your client and truly understanding them and their goals, makes every decision through the planning process easier.

As creatives, it can be easy for planners to get excited and start down a path that they feel is the better choice for the client, but at the end of the day, we are here to insure they feel the event was a success!

Who is your client, and who are they putting this event together for? What are your client’s goals and objectives? How would they define a successful event? What is their style, vibe, and company culture?

Once you know and understand your client and their objectives, you can then move onto developing themes, concepts, venue ideas, event activations, and all of the other fun involved in planning and managing a special event.



Visit This Valued MPI-CAC Partner

Visit This Valued MPI-CAC Partner

Visit This Valued MPI-CAC Partner


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