Location: King of Prussia, PA

NAME OF RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION: AMERICAN BAPTIST CHURCHES, USA

TITLE: ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR TRAVEL & CONFERENCE PLANNING

When did you begin serving as a religious meeting planner?

September 2003

How did you get started in meeting planning?

In 2001, I did my internship for my bachelor's degree as a logistician for a religious organization. I helped plan the Evangelism Conference and that is when I discovered my love for meeting planning.

Describe the meetings you plan (number per year, size of meetings, where are the meetings held)?

Our office plans an average of 90 meetings a year, varying from a handful of people to several hundred people. Our largest event has an attendance of about 3,000 to 4,000 people.

What part of the meeting-planning role do you enjoy the most?

The best part of meeting planning for me is being on site, when the event actually takes place. You get to see everything coming together and experience the fruit of your labor.

What is your biggest current challenge as a meeting planner and what are you doing to try to solve it?

My biggest challenge is associated with the tough economic climate. It is difficult to predict turnout using past history. In these tough economic times, people and congregations are cutting budgets, and events and conferences are affected. As a result, there is anxiety associated with attrition and cancellation penalties.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

I want to investigate further the applications of social networking sites in the meeting planning industry. I attended a tutorial at the last RCMA that sparked my interest in that subject.

What are your main software programs?

Our main software programs are:

  • Meeting Trak, which we use for registration and housing reservations,

  • E-trak, which is our online registration portal, and

  • Scheduler plus, which we use for function sheets (equivalent of hotel banquet event orders) and event specification reports.

In what other roles have you served your religious organization?

I used to volunteer in an organization affiliated with American Baptist Churches, USA.

How did you find out about RCMA?

I learned about RCMA from my boss and mentor, who has been a faithful member for many years.

How many RCMA conferences have you attended?

I have attended three RCMA conferences

What benefits do you derive from your RCMA membership?

I love attending RCMA conferences. I find the tutorials very informative and I also enjoy networking with fellow planners and suppliers during the exhibit time.

What's your advice for new meeting planners?

Networking is very important in this industry. Making connections with fellow planners and/or suppliers makes your job easier.

Are you glad you became a meeting planner? Why or why not?

I am glad I became a meeting planner because I find this job exciting. There is never a dull moment in the life of a meeting planner.

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