When Janiece Sneegas, the general assembly manager for the Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston, arrives at RCMA each year, she comes with a plan in hand.

One of her top priorities is the expo floor at RCMA. There she zeroes in on targeted vendors, distributing requests for proposals for upcoming meetings, which include an annual national meeting, district meetings, and a small leadership conference.

Sneegas' national has been held in recent years in Fort Worth, Long Beach, and Québec. The meeting will be in St. Louis in 2006, in Portland in 2007, Fort Lauderdale in 2008, and Salt Lake City in 2009.

“We made all of those initial contacts at RCMA,” she says.

The national meeting moves to assigned regions each year, so Sneegas typically has several cities in mind for the specified region when she gets to RCMA. But often she is pleasantly surprised by cities that she has not considered.

“It's all about relationships,” Sneegas says of the site-selection process. “RCMA provides one-stop shopping for future sites, and it's great to have those face-to-face encounters.”

The expo floor is great, but it isn't the only reason to attend RCMA, not by a long shot. Sneegas looks forward to attending tutorials and to getting together with a group of fellow planners that meets each year at RCMA to discuss common issues and challenges. It's a collegial sharing of information that Sneegas says is invaluable.

Sneegas says the RCMA conference is fun. She enjoys the entertainment and the energy that she feels. “It's an upbeat meeting experience.”

A Common Quest

Everyone's RCMA story is unique, but RCMA members share a common goal: to build relationships and to grow in their professional and personal lives.

“Quest for the Best,” RCMA's 34th World Conference and Exposition, will be held January 31 — February 3, 2006, in San Jose. RCMA is expected to draw more than 1,300 meeting professionals to this international event.

The meeting is constructed to help religious meeting planners like you increase your knowledge and skills. As an attendee, you can expect to develop strategic partnerships with all types of vendors and to learn ways to improve your performance through the finest lineup of tutorials RCMA has offered. You also will enjoy wonderful fellowship.

One of the best parts of the RCMA experience, as so many members have discovered, is that this event makes learning enjoyable. You will be inspired by general session speakers. You will improve your meeting-planning skills at the tutorials, and you will enjoy top-notch entertainment. But the one thing that attendees really cherish about RCMA, the thing that keeps them coming back year after year, is the connections they make with other members and associate members.

Over the years, attendees have commented that the spirit and camaraderie at RCMA set it apart from other meeting-planning events. The opportunities for professional growth are available everywhere: in the hotel lobby, at wonderful luncheons, during breaks in tutorials, or on the way to evening events.

Early Bird Activities

On Tuesday morning, conference attendees go behind the scenes to explore the inner operation of hotels, a convention center, an advertising firm, or a public relations company. This is your opportunity to gain hands-on experience under the tutelage of leading professionals. This RCMA exclusive event has attracted thousands of participants through the years, all of whom have expanded their knowledge in religious conference management. The 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.

You will be able to see the great California city for yourself with the early bird sightseeing tours and other activities that RCMA has planned for January 31. (See page 33 for details.)

Tuesday night, you will enjoy the opening reception, “Wild, Wild West.” You can pan for gold, learn trick roping, and toss horseshoes. Of course, there will be tasty food and fine fellowship, too.

Opening Ceremonies, Expo

Wednesday morning, an energizing extravaganza at the McEnery Convention Center will fill you with anticipation for what is to come.

Then it's off to the Expo, which this year will have more than 300 booths, all staffed by knowledgeable suppliers who provide services and facilities for religious meetings. Again this year, booth space sold out almost as soon as the general mailing hit the post office, and for good reason. Expo 2006 is your opportunity to make contacts, develop relationships, and get plenty of work done in a short period of time.

Visionary Learning

At the heart of RCMA's mission are the educational opportunities offered at its expert-led tutorials. This year's lineup continues the RCMA tradition of offering the finest breakout sessions. RCMA's 2006 tutorials ensure that there is something for everyone.

From risk and crisis management, to cost-effective food and beverage, to developing an event guidebook and communicating with confidence, these tutorials will provide you with exactly what you need to improve your meetings. (See the conference schedule that begins on page 33 for a complete listing of all the tutorials planned for 2006.)

Fun-Filled Evenings

The RCMA experience will be completed with evenings of fun, excitement, humor, and wonderful dining.

Celebrated entertainer Ben Vereen will perform Wednesday. (See box on page 28 for more on Vereen).

On Thursday, the 34th Annual Gala will be an excuse to put on your Sunday best. This festive evening is always a conference highlight, featuring exquisite cuisine, the President's Award, and delightful entertainment from Russ Merlin. (See more on page 29.)

As you can see, RCMA has plans in place for you in San Jose. Now it's time for you to come up with your plan for RCMA 2006.

Wednesday Night Entertainment: Ben Vereen

Emmy- and Tony Award-winner Ben Vereen comes straight from Broadway to perform for RCMA. His unique ability to blend rare talent with a strong sense of social consciousness has enabled him to take on inspirational, musical, comedic, and dramatic roles with finesse and excellence. The Tony Award winner appeared on the cover of Newsweek in November and has starred in “Jelly's Last Jam,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and “Pippin” on Broadway, and numerous highly acclaimed television productions, including his performance as Chicken George in “Roots.” A memorable evening is in store.

Thursday Night Entertainment: Russ Merlin

Share in a fast-paced variety show that is both entertaining and spontaneous. Russ Merlin is hysterically funny and unlike anything you have ever seen before. You must see him to believe his uncanny ability to create excitement on stage. An alumnus of The Tonight Show, he has performed in more than 60 countries around-the-world from China, Cambodia and Laos to Brazil and South Africa. While he may be difficult to categorize or explain, the laughter he generates is unmistakable.

RCMA 2006 Sponsors

RCMA extends grateful thanks to this year's sponsors:

Adam's Mark Hotels & Resorts
Atlantic City CVB
Buffalo Niagara CVB
Crowne Plaza San Jose
Dayton/Montgomery County CVB
Daytona Beach CVB
Digitell Inc.
Dolce Hayes Mansion
The Fairmont San Jose
GES Exposition Services
Greater Birmingham CVB
Greater Houston CVB
Greater Louisville CVB
Greater St. Charles (Mo.) CVB
Hilton San Jose & Towers
Illinois Council of CVBs
Lexington CVB
Mobile Bay CVB
Oklahoma City CVB
Richmond Metropolitan CVB
Rochester, MN CVB
The Sainte Claire
San Francisco CVB
San Jose CVB
San Jose Marriott
Santa Clara CVB
Tourism Toronto
Valley Forge CVB
Virginia Beach CVB