Nearly 70 planners and hospitality partners gathered for this year’s Southeast Region Meeting March 17–18 at the new Loews Atlanta Hotel, exploring the meeting’s theme, “Demonstrating Your Value,” through keynotes, roundtable conversations and panel discussions.

The meeting kicked off with SunTrust Bank’s Chuck Allen and his keynote, “No Prizes for Juggling One Ball.” Attendees learned to go further faster by defining several personal and professional roles and aligning energy and time with those. Attendees also learned how their influence on other people can help create a map for their effectiveness. Conversations really started flowing when the group broke up for roundtable discussions, which provided great takeaways. Attendees shared how they are leveraging new technologies and platforms to enhance the value of their meetings, showing their value to their organizations, and using “Buy FICP” in order to negotiate a “win” for their stakeholders.

For this year’s meeting, the design team came up with five topics that were then given to the group to discuss and share, and share they did! It was clear from the discussion that both planners and suppliers are challenged to provide hard data to their companies and to upper management in order to show their value. Though challenged, the group was amazingly energetic and positive about the things they could take back to their companies in order to put these ideas into practice.

The group also received updates from the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau; Dale McDaniel, managing director at the Loews Atlanta Hotel; and FICP Executive Director Steve Bova, CAE about the benefits of association membership.

Four industry veterans also shared best practices, discussing how they differentiate themselves as meeting professionals and hospitality partners. The panel was facilitated by Todd Zint, CMP, CMM, NFP. Panelists included Brett Barrowman, American Fidelity Assurance; Carlin Putman, CMP, Valic & Western National; Michael Dominguez, natonal sales manager, Loews Hotels; and Amy Johnson, CMP, DMCP, of PRA Atlanta.

Receiving a standing ovation, Scott Burrows closed the event with an inspirational keynote, hosted by Diane Goodman, CMP, Goodman Speakers Bureau. Burrows used his remarkable life story to show that vision, mindset, and grit can inspire new thinking, turn setbacks into sustainable comebacks, and help us rise above the competition.

A lot of great news was reported with regard to current business and it looks like an upward trend is on the horizon. Attendees were excited to see business increasing and are looking forward to what 2011 has in store. Overall, the program was a great success! A special thank you to the Loews Atlanta for hosting this year’s meeting.