8 a.m. Behind-the-Scenes Experience
(Advance registration required)

A unique experience awaits, as conference attendees go behind the scenes to explore the inner operation of hotels, a convention center, or a convention bureau. Here's your opportunity to gain hands-on experience under the tutelage of leading professionals. Through the years, this RCMA exclusive event has attracted thousands of attendees who have expanded their knowledge in religious conference management. The learning experience begins at 8 a.m. and concludes by 1:30 p.m. Complimentary breakfast and luncheon are served to participants, who register in advance for this program.

Noon-6 p.m. Registration

Charlotte Convention Center
Sponsor: Lexington Convention & Visitors Bureau

1:30 p.m. New Member Orientation

First-time meeting planner attendees meet the RCMA Board of Directors, become acquainted with other professionals in the field, gain insight into the intricacies of the conference, and receive tips on how to maximize the experience for personal and professional development.

2:30 p.m. Sightseeing Tours:
(Advance registration required)

1. Motor Speedway. “Start your engines” at the famous Lowe's Motor Speedway. Take a rare peek into the world of auto racing. Learn the history of racing, fun facts, and surprising data as you visit the Winston Cup Garage, infield hospital/trauma center, scoring tower, and media center. Experience the thrill as your motorcoach rides along the 1.5-mile oval track and finishes with a photo in the winner's circle.

2. Historic Charlotte. Travel through one of America's most interesting cities, one that has big-city sophistication yet reminds the visitor of a bygone era. Explore the historic Fourth Ward, a charming, preserved area with an abundance of Victorian architecture. Then it's on to the Mint Museum, which is home to renowned Wedgewood and Dalton porcelain collections.

4:45 p.m. New Exhibitor Orientation

This orientation is especially for those who are attending their first RCMA Conference as exhibitors. Come and meet others in your profession and learn from veterans about how to gain the most from this landmark conference and exposition.

6:45 p.m. Buses depart for Grand Reception

7-9 p.m. Grand Reception: Soaring Through Science

Sponsor: Charlotte Area Hospitality Community Explore one of the nation's top 10 hands-on science museums, Discovery Place. This premiere center provides an unusual setting for the Grand Reception, launching RCMA's 31st Annual Conference and Exposition. Enjoy the amazing Omnimax Theatre and exhibits that foster experiences ranging from health science to space exploration, while dining at tasty buffets and sharing in fellowship.


8 a.m. Opening General Session and Breakfast

Sponsor: Visit Charlotte, the Convention and Visitors Bureau RCMA's 31st year is launched in grand style with a lively opening session featuring keynote speaker Nido R. Qubein. Join professional colleagues from around the globe as you begin a time of networking, fellowship, and learning.

Nido R. Qubein, CEO, Creative Services Inc.

10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Grand Opening/Expo 2003

RCMA's Expo 2003 is the largest trade show in the world exclusively for the religious meeting market, and it offers an opportunity for planners and suppliers to come together for valuable information sharing. Plan now to make the most of this one-stop shopping arena, where hundreds of representatives await to share the latest data regarding meeting destinations, services, and products.

12:35 p.m. Luncheon and Special Presentation

Sponsor: Jacksonville and the Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau

Address: “Soaring … To Success and Taking Your Family with You” Charles Petty, PhD, was reared in the farming communities of England and Arkansas, where he learned the importance of family from the school of hard knocks. He has been a counselor and a visiting professor, been on the staffs of large corporations, and for seven years was on the senior staff of the North Carolina governor. The founder and president of Family Success Unlimited, Petty is known for his ability to inspire, motivate, educate, and entertain.

Charles Petty, PhD, CSP, CPAE

2:20-3:20 p.m. Tutorials

1. FUNdamentals of Meeting Planning

This interactive learning experience will explore essential meeting planning skills that ensure successful events through effective communications, the development of resources, and professional management. Save time by using specific techniques, shortcuts, resources, and tools. Learn how to work with suppliers and how to plan conferences and meetings that fulfill ADA guidelines and anticipate legal and insurance requirements.

Bonnie Wallsh, CMP, president, Bonnie Wallsh Associates, LLC

2. Working with Your Event/Convention Manager

So now you have the contract signed, and it's time to sweat the details; or maybe not. In this tutorial, you'll discover how event-planning logistics can be made easy. Learn how the event manager can be a resource for you in managing all the details, including the items that you haven't even thought about. Discover the “tools” the hospitality industry is using to make the process simpler, faster, and friendlier.

Peter Cantone, vice president, event management, Marriott Lodging

3. Hot Technology Trends Impacting the Meetings Industry

The growth of the Internet and related technologies make the advent of other communications media such as radio, television, and the telephone seem anemic by comparison. Join an industry leader in digital integration for a fast-paced (but understandable) look at today's high-tech meetings, and learn how to harness the power of technology for your events.

Jeffrey Rasco, CMP, president, Attendee Management

4. It's on the Rise. Are You Prepared? It's Your Choice. Don't Be a Victim!

Self-defense must become a way of life. As a nation, we have replaced the mantra “Thou shalt not” with “What's in it for Me?” Criminals are calculated predators; we are merely inventory. While awareness is important, you must have an immediate, effective plan to protect yourself in any situation. That means learning how to define and control fear. The mind is the most lethal weapon, and you must learn to control fear to survive. This seminar will offer practical solutions for everyday living.

Dan Starks, personal safety specialist

5. Off the Headlines … Into Your Lap (Presented Once)

You can't pick up or put down a newspaper, you can't watch a television newscast, you can't listen to an all-news radio station without hearing something that may affect your approach to the meetings that you are planning. The same is true for suppliers. This session will lead you through the maze of current hot legal topics. It will deal with the headlines of today and how they may affect you and your organization.

Jonathan T. Howe, senior partner, Howe & Hutton Ltd.

6. How to Write an Effective Request For Proposal — Getting What You Want (Presented Once)

Get the inside scoop on how to get vendors interested in your proposal. Do you find that the firms you are interested in put no priority on your business? Understanding and presenting the information that suppliers need versus the kind of information meeting planners often provide could encourage suppliers to clamor for your business. Learn to structure and control your project up front and eliminate unnecessary time loss and cost. Find out how to develop and customize an RFP that will promote your objectives and educate your suppliers.

Rodney E. Abraham, president, Professional Meeting Planners Network

7. The Wide, Wide World of Religion (For Exhibitors, Presented Once)

While many segments of the hospitality industry are experiencing drastic cutbacks, the religious world remains strong and represents an ever-growing source of revenue. Sales representatives who are most effective in tapping this market are those who understand its unique and varied requirements. Learn from professionals in the field how to develop a special rapport with religious meeting planners and gain insights into the varied types of religious conferences, from citywide events to weekend retreats.

Sally Gardiner, director, convention sales, Daytona Beach Area CVB

John R. Foulkes Sr., CMP, associate general minister, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Robert J. Sanford, director for travel and conferences, The Christian and Missionary Alliance

Terry K. Dittmer, director, youth ministry, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

8. Managing Your Life and Achieving Personal Goals

Explore differences in managing your work and personal lives. Identify time and stress-management issues and conditioning messages that you've been receiving since childhood. Discover personal motivations to better manage leisure time; recognize the degree to which you have been conditioned and its negative impact; distinguish physical and emotional signs of bad stress, where it comes from, and what it does.

Sylvia Robinson, director of organizational development, Hilton Hotels Corp.

9. Event Management: Five Steps to Successful Planning

There's an element of magic in successfully producing a meaningful event. Learn the essential steps of research, design, planning, coordination, and evaluation. This high-energy presentation will transform your event management process and empower you to effectively execute a flawless affair.

Clarke Allen, president, Charlotte Arrangements

10. Getting the Most for Your Meeting Dollar (Presented Once)

Receive more bang for your meeting buck. Take this opportunity to learn valuable tips for careful planning and negotiation that will save your organization money. Presented by professionals from various segments of the industry, this session will demonstrate how you can apply select strategies to stretch your meeting dollars when dealing with hotels, convention centers, and airlines.

J. David von Gunten, CMP, director of administrative services/controller, Missionary Church Inc.

Valerie Watson, convention sales manager, Kansas City Convention & Visitors Bureau

Vera Key, association sales manager, groups & meeting sales, US Airways

Bob Wells, senior sales manager, Executive West Hotel

3:20-3:35 p.m. Refreshment Break

Sponsor: Valley Forge Convention & Visitors Bureau

3:35-4:35 p.m. Tutorials

1. Feeling Overwhelmed? Try Outsourcing! (Presented Once)

This tutorial will unleash a cutting-edge, practical path to obtaining world-class competence in outsourcing management. Learn how outsourcing can be positive for your organization. It does not jeopardize your control or your job, but rather enhances your organization's resources. Discover how to select the right outsource and to set realistic goals and controls so that you obtain the desired results.

Rodney E. Abraham, president, Professional Meeting Planners Network

2. How to Be a Certified Meeting Professional (Presented Once)

The Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation recognizes those who have reached the highest achievement in meeting management. Three RCMA members who hold this distinguished recognition will explain the process for becoming certified and will answer questions concerning this program, which was launched by the meeting industry.

Melvin L. Worthington, CMP, executive secretary emeritus, National Association of Free Will Baptists Inc.

Phyllis Cox, CMP, sales manager, Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau

Charlene Johnson Ugwu, CMP, director, event management, General Board of Discipleship, The United Methodist Church

3. Organizing and Managing the Family Conference (Presented Once)

The family conference, involving an infant nursery, childcare, and programs for children and teens, as well as a full schedule of activities for adult men and women, presents a special challenge to both meeting planner and supplier. This tutorial will focus on those needs and suggest practical help as you plan and conduct your family conference.

Dean Jones, CMP, convention manager, National Association of Free Will Baptists Inc.

4. How YOU Can Avoid Liability (Presented Once)

In our litigious society, you face tough legal issues that make your high-pressure job as a meeting planner or supplier even more difficult. This fact-filled tutorial addresses your special needs and teaches you how to avoid liability, so that you can operate effectively in today's complex meeting environment. Be sure to bring your questions to this informative session.

Jonathan T. Howe, senior partner, Howe & Hutton Ltd

5. FUNdamentals of Meeting Planning

6. Working with Your Event/Convention Manager

7. Hot Technology Trends Impacting the Meetings Industry

8. It's on the Rise. Are You Prepared? It's Your Choice. Don't Be a Victim

9. Managing Your Life and Achieving Personal Goals

10. Event Management: Five Steps to Successful Planning

5:40 p.m. Buses depart from hotels

6 p.m. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus!

Sponsor: The North Carolina Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, come one, come all! On this spectacular evening, RCMA attendees will be treated to The Greatest Show on Earth, the 132nd edition of the incomparable Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The all-new edition of the circus includes a spectacular show with a host of incredible animal and human performers. And, of course, there will be clowns, elephants, trapeze artists, and more.

Before the circus, a palate-pleasing dinner will be served at the Farmer's Market adjacent to the Charlotte Coliseum, the “shining star of the Carolinas.”


8-9:40 a.m. Breakfast and General Session

Sponsor: Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau

Recognition of RCMA Members with Decades of Service

Address: “Soaring … Above the Road Less Traveled”

A veteran hotelier, Fred Kleisner is chairman and CEO of Wyndham International. Earlier in his career he served as president and chief operating officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Westin Hotels and Resorts, and in key positions with Interstate Hotels, The Sheraton Corp., and Hilton Hotels. Currently he is a member of the National Outdoor Leadership School Advisory Council and was honored by President Reagan with the nation's top honor for directing the best summer jobs youth program.

Fred Kleisner, chairman and CEO, Wyndham International

9:50-10:50 a.m. Tutorials

1. Left Brain … Right Brain Creativity

When planning meetings, it's important to use your whole brain! We need our right brain to generate creativity: developing an event theme, selecting accompanying decor and props, and using color, entertainment, and lighting. The left brain handles logistical and analytical tasks that are critical to the success of event planning, such as determining and allocating budgets, laying out floor plans, assessing a ticketing system or registration process, and constructing an event timeline. Learn how to apply your whole brain to the planning process!

Mary Tribble, president, Tribble Creative Group

2. On-Site Crisis Management (Presented Once)

Hurricane headed your way, hotel overbooked, ballroom not going to be ready until an hour late? Learn, from real-life examples, the best possible ways to prepare to handle the myriad of on-site issues that affect meeting planners every day. Learn what can be done to be proactive and avoid common mishaps on-site.

Brad Weaber, CMP, vice president, Mid-Atlantic Region, Conferon Inc.

3. Synching Your Events with Today's Mobile World (Presented Once)

Handheld computing devices, commonly known as PDAs, or personal digital assistants, are no longer the toys of early technology adopters, and should not be overlooked as an important component of your events. From the simplest of applications — providing your attendees with downloads of basic event content from your Web site — to supplying a wireless channel with up-to-the-minute event news and personalized schedules for each participant — mobile communications have applications throughout your event.

Jeffrey Rasco, CMP, president, Attendee Management

4. Big Challenges Come in Small Meetings: Tips for Getting to Win-Win

Your meeting is not small to you, nor to its attendees! From committees to board meetings and seminars, smaller meetings require special techniques for successful execution. In this session, you'll explore the art of troubleshooting small meeting problems before they occur. The tutorial will address the issues and considerations important to selecting the right size and type of facility; provide pointers on how to assure top-quality service and how to stretch your food and beverage budget dollar; cover communications and planning; and talk about how to build your negotiating power when working on a series of meetings.

Warren Breaux, vice president, marketing, Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center

5. How to Influence with Integrity

Explore the issues of personal power and discover how to influence others toward win-win outcomes. You will examine tools for increasing your personal power, such as the ability to develop and maintain rapport with many different types of people. You will learn how to develop flexibility in leading others by overcoming resistance to change and increasing your repertoire of influential behaviors. You will also look at your willingness to take risks to become a more influential person. This highly acclaimed process has inspired hundreds of people at all professional levels to take action.

Jeanie Fox, senior consultant, Meridian Consulting Group

6. Creating Fabulous, Yet Frugal, Food Functions

Gain valuable insights on planning food functions that your attendees will be sure to enjoy. Learn how to save money yet produce meals that are delicious and nutritious. Receive a wealth of creative ideas to help make your events sparkle. Hear about items to negotiate creative alternatives, dollar-saving ideas on refreshment breaks, receptions, buffets, and seated meals, plus the newest and hottest food trends.

Fernando Salazar, corporate director of food and beverage, Omni Hotels

7. Practical Financial Management

No matter what our age, income, or station in life, creating and following a financial plan is a necessity. This session will concentrate on the principles that are time-tested and that work in all kinds of markets; the difference between investing and speculating; the value of time; the concept of risk and reward; the role of emotion and lessons we should all learn.

Dareld Herod, financial advisor, A.G. Edwards & Sons

8. Marketing For Success

We live in an “attention economy,” one in which the success of any meeting depends on whether it can attract the notice of an audience increasingly bombarded with communications from other sources. Here is a practical guide on designing and executing a marketing plan to promote your meeting attendance. The session will include information on target audience identification, strategy development, pros and cons of media vehicles, and creative considerations to maximize attendance and participation.

Nathaniel Brookhouse, senior vice president, general manager, Anderson Advertising

9. What's Hot in Hotel Contracts Now (Presented Once)

Negotiating hotel contracts in today's uncertain world requires the wisdom of Solomon, the courage of Daniel, and the patience of Job. Get updated on the issues that are facing meeting professionals and the solutions to smooth the way to a fair and enforceable contract. This session's topics will include attrition in rooms and F&B, liability for ancillary revenue, cancellation, and force majeure clauses.

John Foster III, attorney at law, Foster, Jensen & Gulley, LLC

10. Designing Forms that Fit the Religious Meeting Planner (Presented Once)

The paperwork trail of your event can be a blessing or a curse. This session will teach you to design and organize your forms, charts, and other crucial pieces of the event picture to ensure successful communication between you and the supplier. You'll learn how to map your event in flowchart form, how to revise antiquated forms, and how to adequately juggle your responsibilities — all from a religious planner's perspective.

Dean Jones, CMP, convention manager, National Association of Free Will Baptists Inc.

10:50-11:05 a.m. Refreshment Break

Sponsor: Louisiana Office of Tourism

11:05 a.m.-12:05 p.m. Tutorials

1. Demystifying Convention Center Licenses (Presented Once)

Attendees will be given a complete background in contract negotiations with convention facilities and learn how to end up with a valid agreement that meets the objectives of both parties. The session will include a checklist for negotiating convention center license agreements, legal tips to follow when negotiating with a meeting facility, and discussion of real industry controversies and how to avoid them. Participants will also be shown sample contract clauses — the kinds of clauses that planners should never sign.

John Foster III, attorney at law, Foster, Jensen & Gulley, LLC

2. Checking in on Online Registration: Understanding Today's Attendee Management Systems (Presented Once)

No technology has affected meetings or created more efficiencies than online registration and attendee management. This session will allow you to delve into some of the more popular systems and discover for yourself the advantages of online attendee and registration management.

Jeffrey W. Rasco, CMP, president, Attendee Management

3. Values and Relationships in Today's Selling (Exhibitors Only, Presented Once)

A review and analysis of how and why relationships and perceived product value are critical selling skills. Attention is given to how the two are linked in all aspects of selling. Through the building blocks of sales, participants will learn the keys to creating strong customer relationships and explore ways they can add value to their products.

Robert P. Imperata, executive vice president, Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau

4. Negotiations — Win/Win (Presented Once)

Make the maligned and feared part of a meeting planner's job positive and fun! Develop strategies to make your business more appealing to hotels. Become a better negotiator by addressing issues in the process “outside the box.”

Brad Weaber, CMP, vice president, Mid-Atlantic Region, Conferon Inc.

5. Left Brain … Right Brain Creativity

6. Big Challenges Come in Small Meetings: Tips for Getting to Win-Win

7. How to Influence with Integrity

8. Creating Fabulous, Yet Frugal, Food Functions

9. Practical Financial Management

10. Marketing for Success

12:15 p.m. Luncheon and Guest Speaker

Sponsor: Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau

Address: “Soaring … With Your Differences”

Leadership expert and former talk show host Emory Austin focuses on dealing with change. She teaches people how to build on their individuality and analyze their strengths to move beyond where they are toward a heightened role that the future will demand. Join in a treasure hunt of rediscovery that will shine new light on your perceptions of your possibilities.

Emory Austin, CSP, CPAE

1:55-4:30 p.m. Expo 2003

6:45 p.m. 31st Annual Gala

Sponsors: Adam's Mark Hotel, Charlotte Marriott City Center, Hilton Charlotte and Towers, Omni Charlotte Hotel and The Westin Hotel Charlotte

Mix and mingle with industry professionals during this vibrant social gathering. This festive evening is always a conference highlight, featuring exquisite cuisine, the President's Award, and electrifying musical entertainment with audience interaction.


8 a.m. Breakfast and General Session

Sponsor: Greater Pittsburgh Convention & Visitors Bureau This spirited breakfast offers a preview of the 32nd RCMA Annual Conference and Exposition, which is slated for Pittsburgh, Pa., January 27 to 30, 2004.

8:50 a.m. Annual Business Meeting

The annual business meeting of RCMA focuses on the many programs offered by the association and recognizes those who have given special support to the society.

9:10 a.m. “Soaring … Into the Future”

Experts from various fields provide a view of the world that lies ahead for the religious meeting planner and those who represent the supplier side of this vast market. Regardless of your background and professional experience, you will find much of practical value in this lively session.

Robert F. Bedell, president & CEO, Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association

Warren Breaux, vice president, marketing, Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center

Linda de Leon, CMP, assistant treasurer/meeting planner, General Conference Seventh-day Adventist Church

9:45 a.m. Adjournment