The residents of Fort Worth, Texas, enthusiastically embrace the city's cow-town heritage. David DuBois, executive director of the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau, who rode in on a horse during RCMA's opening general session, told attendees: “We're the only CVB in America that owns cattle, horses, and trailers, and we're the only CVB that has its own cattle drive.”
By the end of RCMA 2010, swayed by Fort Worth's friendly people and outstanding meeting facilities, RCMA attendees had developed a fondness for this vibrant Texas city.
RCMA experienced the sincerity of Fort Worth during a busy slate of education, motivation, entertainment, and networking. RCMA 2010 featured captivating speakers, an impressive array of tutorials, terrific evening entertainment, and hands-on learning opportunities.
By noon Tuesday, participants in RCMA's Behind-the-Scenes Experiences already had gained valuable insight into many areas of meeting planning. RCMA is the only organization that provides attendees with the opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes to make a meeting happen, and members took full advantage of that opportunity at venues around the city.
Behind-the-Scenes Experiences gave more than 200 meeting planners hands-on access at a production company, a public relations firm, an advertising agency, the convention center, and hotels. In the session at the convention center, 31 meeting planners spent the morning learning about expo management, flowers for meetings, the inner workings of the business side of a convention center, and food preparation.
On Tuesday afternoon, RCMA members had their choice of Fort Worth city tours, which included museums, the Stockyards National Historic District, the Fort Worth Zoo, and the Botanic Gardens.
Tuesday night's reception was conveniently held at the convention center arena and gave attendees the chance to enjoy fellowship in a festive atmosphere of games, activities, and fine food — all with a Texas theme.
Saying ‘Yes’ to Life
In 2008, keynote speaker Matt Weinstein was on a once-in-a-lifetime trip with friends to Antarctica. During the trip, Weinstein was asked to take a satellite phone call. Thinking it was a work-related matter, Weinstein was surprised to hear his wife on the line. She told Weinstein, “Bernie Madoff is in jail.” Those words would mean that the Weinsteins — who had invested all their money with Madoff 10 years earlier — had lost their life savings in what turned out to be the $65 billion Madoff scam.
Weinstein, who works with businesses on how to bring fun and play to the workplace, suddenly had to find joy in his own life. After returning from his trip, he and his wife resolved that Madoff had stolen their money but that he wasn't going to steal their lives.
Weinstein cited author Daniel Gilbert, who has written that the best predictor of happiness is the amount of time spent with family and friends.
“You don't need a stock portfolio to feel joy,” Weinstein said. “Be real, be connected. Every day you have the opportunity to make connections with things that really matter. Look out your window each day to the uncertain future and say ‘yes’ to life.”
Fun is the Path
Thursday morning's speaker, Jim Jacobus, began his presentation with this question: “What would it take to be the best of the best?” A motivational speaker for nearly 20 years, Jacobus' high energy kept the audience engaged as he presented key principles for being successful at whatever one chooses to do in life.
The conference's luncheon speakers, Catherine Crier and Vince Poscente, challenged their listeners in very different ways. Crier urged attendees to listen to their own moral compass and challenge “group-think,” which can result in destructive decision making. Poscente said, “Fun is the path to faith. When you share your expertise, you create a gift in people's worlds that you don't even see.”
Wednesday evening, RCMA attendees were treated to a Texas tradition: the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. The annual show, held in Fort Worth for 114 years, included cattle roping, steer wrestling, and a calf scramble. Cowboys from around the country competed, and in the end both competitors and RCMA attendees came away winners.
Center of the Action
The expo floor, always a favorite meeting place for attendees, was abuzz with representatives from convention and visitors bureaus, hotels, convention centers, campus and nonprofit facilities, and the full range of religious-meetings service providers.
Equally important to attendees were the tutorials, held Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. The tutorials offered advice on an array of topics. RCMA members were eager students, taking notes, asking questions, and sharing ideas, and they left the sessions anxious to put the advice to use.
At Thursday's annual Gala, Jack Stone received the President's Award. Each year since 1992, the President's Award has been presented to an individual who has rendered distinguished service to RCMA and the field of religious conference management.
Through the years, Stone has served as a pastor, a district superintendent, and as chaplain to the Florida Legislature. He rose to the highest position in his denomination, the Church of the Nazarene: general secretary and headquarters operation officer. For the past 17 years, he has attended the RCMA annual conference each year, eventually serving on the RCMA Board of Directors and as president of the association.
After dinner, a cast of gifted performers from Branson, Mo., that included renowned entertainer Yakov Smirnoff brought the crowd to its feet.
Food for Hungry Children
RCMA came to a close Friday morning with a breakfast hosted by Tampa Bay & Company, the Tampa, Fla., convention and visitors bureau, which will welcome RCMA for its 39th world conference January 25-28, 2011. RCMA conducted its annual business meeting, followed by speaker Vicki Hitzges.
At the meeting, RCMA Executive Director DeWayne S. Woodring announced that RCMA again has donated $100,000 to the World Food Programme to feed hungry children worldwide. It is the fifth consecutive year that RCMA has made a $100,000 gift to the WFP.
Paul Catoe, president of the Tampa Bay & Company, invited the 2010 attendees to next year's conference, and he thanked RCMA for reviving the Tampa Bay convention business back in 2002.
Catoe said that at the time of that meeting, only five months after 9/11, his city's convention trade was nearly nonexistent. “You brought Tampa back to life,” said Catoe, who added that Tampa booked 175,000 room nights as a result of hosting RCMA 2002. “RCMA helped put food on the tables of 40,000 people who work in the Tampa Bay hospitality industry.”
Sidebar #1: RCMA in the Future
Paul Catoe, above, president of Tampa Bay & Company, the convention and visitors bureau, invited attendees to visit his city for RCMA's 39th annual conference, January 25-28, 2011. The RCMA Board of Directors has selected Minneapolis as the location for RCMA 2013. RCMA will convene in Tampa, Fla., in 2011, and Kansas City, Mo., in 2012.
Sidebar #2: RCMA Extends Grateful Thanks to this Year's Sponsors:
Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
Arlington Texas Convention & Visitors Bureau
Bagmasters Factory Direct Inc.
Cancun Convention Bureau
Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau
Dayton/Montgomery County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau
Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau
Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau
Irving Convention & Visitors Bureau
Norfolk Convention & Visitors Bureau
Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau
Plano Convention & Visitors Bureau
Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau
Springfield, Missouri, Convention & Visitors Bureau
Tampa Bay & Company
The state of Texas
Valley Forge Convention & Visitors Bureau