I've attended every RCMA conference since 1980, and I have to say the Tampa conference in January was, in my opinion, one of the best ever. I heard the same from many other attendees as well. The opening reception set the tone for the entire meeting: high-energy, great fun and fellowship, and wonderful spirit.
And I learned a lot. In fact, I'd like to share six lessons that I came away with:
The value of relationships. During the conference I was able to renew relationships with many meeting planners and suppliers I have met over the years. The RCMA conference is like a family gathering -a time to get reacquainted with friends in the meeting planning and hospitality industry. And as we know, establishing and maintaining relationships is a critical part of success in the hospitality industry.
The value of resources: As a meeting planner for more than 30 years, I am keenly aware of the dramatic change in the meeting planning field. Planners today have many more tools to be proficient in the production of their meetings. While some cry for the good old days, they would do well to embrace the technology and tools that are at their disposal today to help plan their meetings.
The value of reports: Reliable historical data for one's meeting is more critical than ever. It is helpful to have at least a five-to-seven year paper trail showing the pertinent data regarding your meeting. Accurate data conveys to those you are working with that you are a competent meeting planner.
The value of review: Reviewing your practices, procedures, and policies keeps you from getting stuck in a rut. It helps to cope with change and stimulates creativity. Ask yourself questions like: Why do we do it this way? Can we use a different method? How can we be more efficient and effective?
The value of retention. Building a better meeting means putting what we've learned to work.
The value of reflection: Time spent in reflection is not wasted time. People who are creative tend to be reflective. After your meeting, reflect on what went right and what went wrong. Ask yourself: How could I have done this better? How could I have been more effective and efficient?
As a final note, I'd like to thank the city of Tampa for its fine hospitality hosting RCMA's 39th World Conference & Expo.