When attendees convene in Tampa, Fla., next month at RCMA's 30th Anniversary Conference and Exposition, they will do so in a spirit of celebration, faith, and confidence, and they will come together under a theme, “Currents of Change,” that will energize and inspire.

RCMA is expected to draw more than 1,300 meeting professionals to Tampa from January 29 to February 1. The meeting is constructed to help planners increase their knowledge and skills with the people they serve through their meetings, develop strategic partnerships with all types of vendors, and improve performance through the finest lineup of tutorials RCMA has offered.

“I particularly go for the tutorials,” says Susan Baird, events planning coordinator for Church of God Ministries in Anderson, Ind. “I find the tutorials very helpful. I particularly appreciate the ones on planning international meetings.” Baird says she's also gathered valuable information on how to streamline the meetings-registration process.

Attend RCMA and see why it is considered to be one of the premier events in the industry. Attendees come away impressed by its original programming, which is aimed specifically at fulfilling the information needs of religious meeting planners; the exciting “Behind-The-Scenes Experiences”; invigorating general session speakers; and sparkling entertainment that inspires you for the next day of activities. The state-of-the-art Tampa Convention Center, which will house the 2002 RCMA conference, will be filled with all the educational and networking opportunities that RCMA offers to veteran and new religious meeting planners.

Inspiring Speakers

RCMA is renowned for its general session speakers, and this year the tradition continues. For starters, RCMA has invited the energetic Willie Jolley to be the keynote speaker on Wednesday morning. Jolley will share an inspiring message of how to embrace and welcome change, and how change can lead individuals and organizations to dynamic growth.

The luncheon speakers will be equally uplifting. On Wednesday, Janet Lapp, PhD, a leading authority on how to adapt to an information society, will show how change is an opportunity to be seized. Thursday's luncheon speaker, James Hennig, is a man whose life is based on meaningful values. He'll inspire with his message of why people must operate on the principle of truth in every area of life.

Not all the excitement will take place during the daytime hours. Wednesday evening, RCMA attendees will have a treat: a trip to world-famous Busch Gardens, with its unparalleled combination of top-rated entertainment, majestic animals, and thrilling rides. Experience up-close encounters with wild animals on Busch Gardens' newest attraction, “Rhino Rally,” an off-road safari river adventure through the wilds of Africa. As the moon rises, enjoy a world-class ice show, “World Rhythms On Ice.”

On Thursday, prepare to be wowed by a festive evening that celebrates RCMA's 30th anniversary, with exquisite cuisine, the announcement of the 2002 President's Award winner, and memorable entertainment.

Learning Opportunities Galore

Of course, interspersed throughout all this fun and excitement will be tutorials presented by a select group of top meeting industry professionals from every aspect of the business: planners, vendors, suppliers, legal experts, and more. These tutorial leaders are the best in their fields, and they will share their expertise on everything from creative cost control, to surviving the Internet jungle, to successful negotiating, to efficient meeting administration.

Linda Amptmann, meeting planner with Oblates of Mary Immaculate in St. Louis, attended her first RCMA conference this past year in Milwaukee, and she came away impressed. “The classes were very good, and overall, everything was very good. All the sessions were interesting and helpful,” she said. “I enjoyed it.”

Choices for classes this year are plentiful. For those who would like to improve their negotiating skills, John Foster, III, an attorney with Foster, Jensen, Gulley in Atlanta, will present “How To Successfully Negotiate Anything with Anyone!” In this tutorial, participants will learn basic negotiating principles, strategies, and techniques that can be put to good use immediately. Foster's session includes an interactive negotiating exercise and tips for beginners and veterans.

New religious meeting planners should consider attending “Meeting Planning Made Easy!” presented by Stephen Hahn, director of religious sales with Marriott International. Hahn will give a comprehensive foundation for meeting management. The session also will be helpful to experienced planners because it will review critical checkpoints, systems, and methods in preparing an event.

In these uncertain economic times and with organizations scrutinizing their budgets more than ever, everyone is trying to save money. A panel of four meeting industry professionals will present “Getting the Most for Your Meeting Dollar.” After this tutorial, planners will be able to make the best use of available funds.

For those new to the Internet, “Surviving Your Foray Into the Internet Jungle,” led by Jan Majewski, CLE director at Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg, Fla., will demonstrate, in nontechnical terms, the fundamentals of using the Internet. It also will give you the addresses for four Web sites that all RCMA members should know.

That's just a sampling of the menu of tutorials being offered. From site-selection tips to marketing strategies, resource management to budgeting, this year's sessions will provide religious meeting planners with exactly what they need to make meetings run more smoothly, cost less, and provide more for attendees. (See the conference schedule that begins on page 44 for a complete listing of all the exciting tutorials planned for 2002.)

To keep track of the happenings, RCMA provides a handy daily guide, RCMA Highlights. Given to attendees personally each morning, RCMA Highlights is filled with articles and photos of important conference events as well as practical tips and advice.

Valuable Networking

Planners may find that the most valuable aspect of RCMA is the networking opportunities on the Expo floor.

This year's Expo will have more than 340 booths 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: Relationship-building on the Expo floor is an important part of RCMA. This year's Expo will be open Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Thursday from 1:55 to 4:30 p.m. To begin planning your Expo business schedule, see the Exhibitor List starting on page 67.

Whether at the Expo or the tutorials, enjoying Tuesday's “Behind-the-Scenes Experiences” and sightseeing tours, mingling at “A Watery Wonderland” grand reception on Tuesday night, or enjoying the elegance of Thursday night's festivities, be sure to take advantage of all the opportunities RCMA affords for fellowship and shared fun.

Thursday Luncheon Speaker: James F. Hennig, PhD

From Hawaii to South Africa, from Australia to Mexico, James Hennig is known as a dynamic speaker and consultant to Fortune 500 companies and major national and international associations. He has also served as president of the National Speakers Association.

Through the years, Hennig has been president of four successful corporations in four divergent fields, become an accomplished author, and been the producer of learning systems that have been translated into 23 languages and used in 52 countries. A man whose life is based on meaningful values, Hennig explains, “You've got to operate on the principle of truth in every area of your life. Sometimes doing the right thing makes you unpopular, but in the end it is always worth it.”

Court Is in Session!

RCMA is known for using creative techniques to impart educational information, and this year's “You Be The Judge” session is a good example.

“You Be The Judge” is an interactive learning session that will be held during the Thursday breakfast program. Attendees will be asked to serve as the jury and sit in judgment of two parties that have a dispute. At the end of the trial, attendees will have to render an opinion. In the process, everyone will learn and have fun.

Friday speaker: Barry Banther

A leader in business and human resource development, Barry Banther has spent the past two decades encouraging adults to achieve their highest potential. During his career, he has been a key administrator of a nationwide broadcasting company, served as president of a college, and been a professor of communication and management. His popular training course, "The Leader In You," is offered throughout the United States and Europe.

Special Rates, Reduced Fares

Special room rates for RCMA planners and exhibitors registered for the conference are available at the Tampa Marriott Waterside, Hyatt Regency Tampa, and Wyndham Harbour Island. The official room registration form will be sent upon receipt of your conference registration.

American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and US Airways are offering special reduced rates to attendees. For more information, contact the American Airlines reservations line at (800) 433-1790 (refer to Star File 9712AH); Southwest Airlines at (800) 433-5368 (refer to ID Code R9061); or US Airways, (877) 874-7687 (refer to Gold File 96692022).

Also, Avis-Rent-A-Car Systems is offering a discount to attendees. Contact Avis at (800) 331-1600 and mention Avis Worldwide Discount T409699.

A Salute to Our Sponsors

RCMA would like to thank the following sponsors, whose generosity enables us to bring such outstanding programs to planners and suppliers during our annual conference.

  • Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • The Florida Aquarium
  • Hyatt Regency Tampa
  • Tampa Marriott Waterside
  • Kissimmee-St. Cloud Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Valley Forge Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
  • Lexington Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Avis Rent-A-Car Sytems Inc.
  • Daytona Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • City of Tampa
  • Charlotte Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • pc/nametag
  • A La Carte Pavilion
  • St. Charles (Mo) Convention & Visitors Bureau