Nearly a thousand attendees converged in Kansas City in January for a milestone meeting of RCMA. Four decades earlier, the association had launched its first conference with a budget of less than $2,000 and fewer than a hundred members. This year's conference was a celebration of all that RCMA had achieved in the 40 years since then, and it also marked a historic leadership transition.
In a moving tribute on the final night of the meeting, several RCMA leaders as well as high-profile industry representatives gave speeches honoring Dr. DeWayne Woodring, who retired last year as executive director. RCMA's new executive director, Harry Schmidt, spoke several times at the conference about the path ahead for the association. “Our past is a prologue to our future. … Together we will continue the great movement that we call RCMA.”
Several changes and initiatives were announced, including the hiring of Dean Jones, CMP, as the association's first director of conferences and events. The expanded role of the association's board of directors was also detailed for membership at the meeting.
Themed “Dare to Dream,” the meeting brought together a mix of powerful speakers, expert-led tutorials, and a two-day expo where planners could shop for destinations and facilities from among hundreds of exhibitors. The meeting also featured a great combination of performers, including a renowned opera singer, artistic dancers, a high school choir, a hilarious comedy act, classic rock singers, and a stirring performance by the 12 Irish Tenors at the final banquet.
Enjoy the photos that follow, highlights of a remarkable, historic meeting for RCMA.
Opening Reception & Wednesday General Session
The opening “Carnival of Dreams” reception at the Kansas City Convention Center (3) featured boardwalk games and entertainments. Twila Jones, Columbia (SC) Metropolitan CVB, tried her hand at cow milking (4), while some attendees shot some hoops, (6) and others tried a little putting (9).
Enjoying the reception's refreshments were (7) from left,'s Betsy Bair with ExCel London's James Rees and Andrew Swanston, and Cape Town International Convention Centre's Linda de Gouveia.
The next day's general session kicked off with spectacular performances by Quixotic (1), the Ruskin High School Choir (2), and Kansas City opera star Nathan Granner (8).
After welcoming attendees, Kansas City Convention & Visitor Association's President & CEO Rick Hughes (10) noted that donations to local charities derived from the opening reception totaled $10,000.
At the conclusion of her talk, speaker Julie Funt called a surprised Dr. DeWayne Woodring on stage for a dance (5).
Speakers and Entertainers
RCM's Executive Director Harry Schmidt (1) introduced speaker Julie Funt (2), who offered advice on how to deal with “too much to do and too little time.” Other speakers included Barbara Glanz (5), who delivered an inspiring message about the value of showing appreciation. Hall of Fame speaker Al Walker (7) talked about five things that people can do to make a difference in the world.
At the opening breakfast: RCMA board member Hugh Hill and his wife, Beverly (6), both with Awana, and Rabbi Yitzchok Lowenbraun (9), Association for Jewish Outreach Professionals.
RCMA board member Obadiah Jenkins Jr. (8), Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A., spoke at the lunch sponsored by the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
Barry Williams (3), aka Greg Brady from the TV series “The Brady Bunch,” was the emcee on Wednesday night at the Kansas City Music Hall. Acts that night included scenes from the hit musical Joseph (4), and ventriloquist Todd Oliver (10), who brought two RCMA members on stage for some fun. Other entertainers included the Platters (11), Ambrus (12), and John Presley.
Hundreds of exhibitors participated in the meeting's two-day exposition (1). Among them were Jamaica Tourist Board's Marcia Bullock-Jobson (2), as well as representatives from the Bahamas (3), including (from left) Carmel Churchill, Radisson Grand Lucayan Resort; Linville Johnson, Bahamas Tourism Center; Charmayne Duncombe, Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort & Casino; and Jorge Colona, Wyndham Nassau Resorts. Dayton/Montgomery County CVB's Crystal Jackson-Moore, CMP (4), (left) and Anna Nash representing the birthplace of aviation.
RCMA board member Jackie Walker (5), Church of God Executive Office, stopped to chat with Jorge Colona. Exhibitors from Oklahoma City (6) included (from left) Robert Wood, OKC CVB; Anne Young, OKC Marriott; and Lalo Hernandez, Crowne Plaza OKC. Dr. Dennis E. Williams (7), North American Professors of Christian Education Board, at the Bloomington (Minn.) CVB booth. At RCMA's Welcome Booth (8) were board members Hugh Hill, Awana (back to camera); Molly M. Stewart, United Methodist Church; and Josh Townsend, Little Rock CVB.
Dr. DeWayne Woodring (9) (left), retired executive director of RCMA, shook hands with Dan Carr, GES, who arranged a tribute wall highlighting Woodring's accomplishments. The wall was prominently displayed in the exhibit hall and was one of many surprises planned for Woodring during the conference. Jennifer Rodriguez, Kansas City Marriott Downtown (10), offers planners some chocolates, one of many goodies and giveaways that planners could find at the.
Final Night Gala, With Special Tribute
Thursday night's gala banquet (1 and 3) featured a beautiful setting and sumptuous meal prepared by the Kansas City Marriott. A big part of the evening was the special tribute to Dr. DeWayne Woodring, who retired after 30 years of service with RCMA. Among the industry leaders who gave speeches honoring Woodring were RCMA vice president of the board, Melvin Tennant (6), Meet Minneapolis; as well as Hyatt Hotels and Resorts' executives (2), (from left) Gus Vonderheide, and Ty Helms.
RCMA's Executive Secretary Jackie Walker (4), extended thanks not only to Woodring but to his wife, Donna, who also served RCMA for many years. She received a bouquet of roses (5) and looked on with smiles as RCMA President Melvin Worthington presented Woodring with an award to mark his years of achievements. The Woodrings thanked tribute speakers (7), who included (from left) Melvin Tennant; James Morris, Indiana Pacers (being hugged by Woodring); Paul Somogyi, Marriott International; and longtime RCMA member and sponsor Nick Topitzes, CMP, CEO/chairman, pc nametag.
The multi-talented 12 Irish Tenors (8, 9, 11) provided rousing and moving musical performances at the Thursday night banquet. The group performed songs from Broadway, Frank Sinatra, and opera classics, as well as The Beatles and Barry Manilow. The audience ended the evening with a standing ovation for the group.
Smiling for the camera at the evening's end (10) were Dr. DeWayne Woodring; Beverly Kindade (center), former Sheraton executive; and Kitty Ratcliffe, president, St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission.
Dozens of RCMA meeting planners took part in several different Behind-the-Scenes programs on Tuesday before the opening reception. (Top, from left) Darren Tipton, Jeanette Cosper, and Marjorie Homer, were among the participants in the Behind-the-Scenes Experience held at a local marketing agency. Helping one of the chefs at the Marriott Downtown make lunch for attendees during another Behind the Scenes event were (from left) Bridget Sloane, Bryan Crowson, and Debbie Sulcer.
Making It All Possible
RCMA wishes to thank once again the many sponsors of its 40th World Conference & Expo. “Without you, we could not deliver a meeting of such great caliber. We thank you and truly appreciate your contribution to RCMA and its members,' says RCMA Executive Director Harry Schmidt. He added special thanks to pc nametag, Oklahoma City CVB, and Valley Forge CVB — all sponsors for more than 15 years.
Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
Blue Ribbon Arrangements
Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau
Dayton/Montgomery County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Fort Smith Convention & Visitors Bureau
Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau
Jamaica Tourist Board
Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association
Kansas City Marriott Downtown
Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau
Montego Bay Convention Centre
Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau
RegOnline by Active Network
Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau
Rochester Riverside Convention Center
Rogers Convention & Visitors Bureau
Valley Forge Convention & Visitors Bureau
Visit Hot Springs