HOPE FOR THE UNEMPLOYED

Making Lemonade What do you do about a terrible job market for meeting planners? For Pat Schaumann the answer was to launch Current Temp, a temporary placement agency for planners and event organizers. “It's a critical time for displaced planners — there are lots of very competent planners who need jobs. Currently we staff 1,000 meetings worldwide,” she says of the St. Louis, Mo.-based company.

Schaumann is president of MAC Meetings in St. Louis, an adjunct professor teaching hospitality courses at three universities, and the author of The Guide to Complete Destination Management. She says what differentiates her agency from others is the “total online procurement of members and clients.” Starting in May, members can bid on jobs using an online bid sheet, which offers jobs by date and geographic location. For membership criteria visit www.current-temp.com. You can even earn bonuses based on evaluations of your work. But don't expect health insurance.

Women Leaders — Where Are They?

An interesting panel at the April IMEX show in Frankfurt, Germany, debated whether a glass ceiling still exists for women in the travel and hospitality industry. In Finland, the glass ceiling doesn't exist, said panelist Tuula Lindberg, past president of the International Conference and Congress Association. Equal opportunity is the law of the land — and not just on paper. Panelist Mary E. Power, CEO and president of the Convention Industry Council, Washington, D.C., had different message: A survey by Meeting Professionals International two years ago revealed that although 15,000 of its 19,000 members are women, just 11 percent of them (versus 30 percent of the men) held positions of leadership. “Sometimes we sell ourselves short. We try to be perfect — where a guy will wing it, especially when seeking a promotion,” she said.

Readers should check out the upcoming issue of Association Meetings. Our salary survey confirms that women just don't have the earning power of their male colleagues. We'll look beyond the numbers to tell you why. Stay tuned.

EATING WITHOUT UTENSILS

The Heart of America

With attractions in Branson, Mo., Myrtle Beach. S.C., and Pigeon Forge, Tenn., it was only a matter of time before Dolly found her way to Orlando. A new Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner and Show opens this month between Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Meeting groups are a target market. The 128,000-square-foot facility offers banquet services, themed meeting spaces for up to 1,200, and dedicated dinner shows. Shows feature lots of red, white, and blue, a stampede of 38 horses and their riders, and a four-course feast with everything from rotisserie chickens to corn on the cob and apple turnovers. There are no dining utensils unless you ask for them.

“I wanted to recreate the family fun of my childhood… Dixie Stampede is the most fun place to eat anywhere,” Parton says in a press release. All that wholesome food and entertainment will be accompanied by Pepsi beverages only, which includes Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, Mug, and Lipton Brisk. Hold the vodka for the Dixie Chicks show.