| RCMA BUCKS THE INDUSTRY TREND |
30th Anniversary Conference Breaks All-Time Attendance Record
TAMPA, Fla. - At a time when meeting industry organizations are struggling with conference attendance, the Religious Conference Management Association continues to set records.
RCMA's 30th Anniversary Conference and Exposition, held in Tampa, Fla., Jan. 29-Feb. 1, attracted 1,378 attendees, a record for RCMA and a 7 percent increase over the attendance at the 2001 conference in Milwaukee.
The conference participation reinforces an informal survey of RCMA meeting planners that indicated attendance atshould hold steady in 2002. In fact, many religious organizations are expanding the number of meetings for 2002 and are expecting increased attendance.
The association's membership also has reached an all-time high, now standing at 3,178 members representing hundreds of diverse faiths.
According to Dr. DeWayne Woodring, executive director of RCMA, "This annual ecumenical conference seeks to provide religious meeting planners with the tools and knowledge they need to produce meaningful events for their 18 million meeting attendees."
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, with the theme "Currents of Change," the conference presented a variety of learning experiences, dynamic speakers, an impressive array of tutorials, fun-filled evening entertainment, behind-the-scenes looks at how meetings are put together and a mock trial, entitled "You Be The Judge."
General session speakers included Willie Jolley, Janet Lapp, James Hennig, and Barry Banther. The tutorials offered practical information on a wide range of topics, including site selection,, negotiating, marketing, and budgeting. Evening events included an opening reception at The Florida Aquarium and a trip to spectacular Busch Gardens.
RCMA's Behind-the-Scenes Experiences, in which meeting planners obtain hands-on access to the inner workings of meetings, included half-day immersions at the Tampa Convention Center, local hotels, and media outlets. RCMA is the only meeting industry
organization that regularly offers its members this type of conference experience. In Tampa, a record 231 planners took advantage of this unique educational program.
The tutorials greatly impressed Rev. Mary K. Selzer, Mission District Assemblies of God, Farmington Hills, Mich., and she said attending RCMA was an education in itself.
"Observing the way the convention was put together by RCMA was very helpful," Selzer said. "That was very educational for me."
Tampa literally rolled out the red carpet for RCMA outside the Tampa Convention Center. A delegation of city officials and other local dignitaries were on hand Wednesday morning to greet each attendee personally prior to the opening general session, and a police escort accompanied the buses that brought attendees to Busch Gardens.
"They made us feel like they'd been waiting for us for years," Selzer said.
Charlotte, N.C. will host the 31st RCMA Conference, Jan. 28-31, 2003 and Pittsburgh will be host in 2004. It was also announced that St. Louis has been awarded the conference in 2005. RCMA is the world's paramount society for religious meeting professionals. RCMA is the only international organization composed exclusively of religious meeting planners and those who provide services within this specialized field. The association provides a wealth of resources designed to enhance the professionalism of its members and to improve the experience of religious meeting attendees worldwide.
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