“The most educational aspect of the RCMA conference for me was meeting the exhibitors and looking at the potential sites for conferences that we could use down the road. It was a great opportunity to meet the people face-to-face and see what was up-and-coming in the cities where we might have a meeting. By seeing what was out there, I knew immediately what facility would be able to host one of our conferences, based on the size of the facility, the accommodations, and whether it would suit the needs of our attendees. The one-on-one interaction was great.”

“I especially liked the Kollege of Kongregatin' Knowledge's test question about the wording involved in putting together a contract with a hotel or other vendor or supplier. Often there is confusion between the conference planner and a vendor because of the wording of a contract. The test gave you an idea of what legal terms to use to make things as clear and as legally binding as possible.

“This conference and other RCMA conferences that I have attended over the years have really helped me to prepare to take the test to become a Certified Meeting Planner.”

“I went to one particular seminar that was especially excellent. It was called ‘Marketing Your Meeting,’ and the speaker was Samuel Del Brocco. He had some really good insights on how to promote attendance at meetings.

“We're finding it more and more challenging to get people to attend our meetings because of budget and time constraints. He offered some good tips to really stress the value of the meeting to the potential attendee, tailoring the information so that it best meets the needs of the individual. Basically, answer the question, ‘What will the meeting do for me?’

“Mr. Del Brocco also talked about different promotional strategies. The more creative the promotional materials for the conference, the more creative, innovative, and valuable the conference will be perceived to be.”

“There were two seminars that I really enjoyed. The first seminar was ‘Skills for Success: The Art of Negotiation.’ It focused on how to negotiate contracts with vendors when planning a conference or how to negotiate just about anything in life. The main point is to make sure you negotiate everything up front. That includes everything from room arrangements to parking, right down to the way the gratuities will be handled. By putting everything in writing up front, there are no surprises when you get the final bill.

“The other seminar that I learned a lot from was ‘Classic Cuisine.’ I received many tips for planning meals at a conference. For instance, you should never repeat a food item at different meals within the same day. If you serve fruit at breakfast, don't serve it again for lunch or dinner. I also learned that you should try and keep the menu interesting and use lots of color in the food preparation. It was a great conference, and I learned a lot.”

“I was really impressed by the keynote speaker, Keith Harrell. He talked about how we, as conference planners, need to be ‘superfantastic.’ It struck home with me because it is something that so many people forget to think about.

“We get so caught up in planning the details of our meetings and conferences that we forget that being excited about what we're doing is just as important as what linens will be on the tables. We have to be good salespeople. When we're excited about what we're doing, our enthusiasm carries on to our coworkers, vendors, and potential attendees. If everyone is motivated, you can't help but have a positive outcome.”