Conference Speakers

Conference Host

Jason Carroll, CMP

Jason Carroll, CMP LinkedIn

Director of Sales of The Florida Aquarium
Speaker – Trainer – Emcee
Past President, MPI Tampa Bay Area Chapter

Jason Carroll, CMP, received a degree in Musical Theater from Point Park University, moved to New York City, performed professionally in theater and off-Broadway, and even waited on his share of restaurant tables. Unfortunately, he was in New York for September 11, 2001 and experienced a complete career transition. This is where he began a career in the Events & Hospitality field.

Since then, he has produced events for New York University at venues like Madison Square Garden and in many New York City venues. He now works at The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida where he is the Director of Sales & Events. His position here is responsible for more than 250 private events, many fundraisers, and all group sales.

He has been a dedicated Meeting Professionals International volunteer serving on the Board of Director’s for the Tampa Bay Area Chapter in many roles and became President of the Chapter in 2010. He continued his volunteer association work and was selected to join the MPI Chapter Advisory Council. In 2014 he was the Chair of that council and will continue to serve in this role for the 2015/2016 year. He also volunteers for the Florida Society of Association Executives on their Associate Advisory and Membership Committees. He is an active Facilitator and Speaker and thrives when speaking about Board Management, Volunteerism, Chapter Finance, and Leadership. He is a published author and in April 2014 he was named 1 of 9 “Influential Meeting Professional’s Electrifying the Industry” by MPI International’s One+ magazine.

Keynote Speakers

Daymond John

Daymond John LinkedIn

Founder & CEO of FUBU
Star of ABC’s Shark Tank
CEO of Shark Branding, marketing consulting agency

An entrepreneur in every sense of the word, Daymond John has come a long way from taking out a $100,000 mortgage on his mother’s house and moving his operation into the basement. John is CEO and Founder of FUBU, a much-celebrated global lifestyle brand, and a pioneer in the fashion industry with over $6 billion in product sales. He is an award-winning entrepreneur, and he has received over 35 awards including the Brandweek Marketer of the Year, Advertising Age Marketing 1000 Award for Outstanding Ad Campaign, and Ernst & Young’s Master of Excellence Award. His marketing strategies and ability to build successful brands has made him a highly influential consultant and motivational speaker today. John is also an author of two best-selling books Display of Power and The Brand Within. In 2009, he joined the cast of ABC entrepreneurial business show the Shark Tank by acclaimed producer Mark Burnett. Millions of weekly viewers tune into the show as John demonstrates his marketing prowess and entrepreneurial insights.

Daymond John’s appearance sponsored by:  Visit St. Pete/Clearwater

Christine Duffy

Christine Duffy LinkedIn

President of Carnival Cruise Line

Connecting, Collaborating and Learning to Achieve Success in All That You Do

Christine Duffy began serving as president of Carnival Cruise Line on February 1, 2015, after spending four years as president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association, the trade association representing the more than $35 billion global cruise industry. At the helm of the world’s largest and most popular cruise line, Duffy oversees 43,000 employees and 24 cruise ships that carry 4.5 million passengers annually from homeports throughout North America and Australia.

Duffy has been recognized for her industry and community leadership. In 2007, she was inducted into the Convention Industry Council Hall of Leaders. Corporate Meetings and Incentives chose her as one of the “Top 10 Women Leaders in the Meeting Industry,” and Meetings News magazine named her one of the “25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry” four times. She received the New York Councils’ Boy Scouts of America Ninth Annual Distinguished Women of the Year award in 2001.

Learning Objectives:

  • Success, whether in selling or achieving larger career aspirations, is not always a predictable or linear path. How pursuing opportunities out of your comfort zone can lead to success.
  • A collaborative effort achieves greater results. Understanding the parallels between collaborating to build a stronger corporation and collaborating to build successful meetings, incentive and charter business.
  • Meetings at sea – understanding the ease, value and appeal of meetings at sea and the endless customization options available to your clients.

Michael Dominguez

Michael Dominguez, CHSE LinkedIn

Senior Vice President of Sales of MGM Resorts InternationalCMP Pre-Check logo

Meetings Move Us Forward
Clock Hours: 1.0 | CMP-IS Domain A: Strategic Planning

As the economic environment and hotel structure continue to change at a rapid pace, it is important to understand the current outlook, economic concerns and forecasts that will dictate behavior in the Meetings Environment. Our meeting’s world has become much more complex with a variety of issues from room piracy, cyber security, meetings advocacy and Health & Wellness leading the charge. Join Senior Vice-President of Global Hotel Sales for MGM Resorts International and MPI’s Immediate-Past Chairman of the International Board of Directors, Michael Dominguez for a review of where we have been, where we are and what is on the horizon for the meeting and event industry. You will have an opportunity to look at recommendations and dialogue on ways to prepare to take advantage or protect yourself in this current environment.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand Pricing demands in today’s meeting market
  • Review industry forecast for major North American Markets
  • Understand the need for change and rapidly changing meeting planning technology
  • Understand behavior changes in audiences of the future
  • Review the future of Meeting Room design and the influences behind the trends

David Adler

David Adler LinkedIn

CEO and Founder of BizBash

Being Digital Ready for the Next Generation of Event Participants

David Adler, C.E.O. and founder of BizBash, is a veteran media and event entrepreneur. He founded BizBash as an idea and resource marketplace for event organizers from corporate and association to high-end personal and social events. His site has become the largest media property in the B-to-B event industry. In addition to BizBash, the company also owns Masterplanner, a date conflict resolution for New York and Los Angeles, as well a major investment in the Event Leadership Institute, a leader in online video training for the event industry. Adler has recently served in various volunteer roles with U.S. State Department as a consultant to the chief of protocol on the Patrons of Diplomacy, the first Global Chiefs of Protocol Conference and Diplomatic Culinary Partnership’s American Chef Corp. Prior to BizBash, Adler held posts as Vice President of Corporate Communications for Primedia and Macmillan Inc., Chief of Passion Branding at Cone Communications, developing the initial Avon Breast Cancer Initiative, Reebok Human Rights Awards, Polaroid Missing Children Program, and the John F. Kennedy Library Profile in Courage Award. At the age of 21, a month after graduating from American University, Adler founded and was the C.E.O. of Washington Dossier, a magazine that covered power, society, politics, and entertaining in the nation’s capital.

Learning Objectives:

  • Integrating Smart Technology into The Changing Dynamics of Events
  • Managing The Powershift from Organizer to Attendee
  • The Taste Making Power of Event Organizers
  • The New Foundations and Vocabulary of Events and Meetings
  • What’s Now
  • What’s Next
  • Using start up mentality to execute on target events

Educational Speakers (in alphabetical order)

Susan Arts

Susan Arts LinkedIn

Meetings & Incentives WorldwideCMP Pre-Check logo

Healthcare Meetings 101
Clock Hours: 1.0 CE | CMP-HC Domain A: Planning

You are now entering…the HCP Zone. It’s a place where rules abound, strange acronyms are heard, and things are very different from anything you have ever experienced. Come and find out how rules, regulations, and guidelines impact pharmaceutical and medical device companies, the meetings they host/sponsor, and some of the best practices when working on healthcare meetings.

This session will help you and your organization/company understand the special needs of the pharmaceutical and medical device industry when healthcare professionals are in attendance at meetings, and how you can help your company (and clients) stay in compliance with internal guidelines and governmental reporting policies.

Doreen Collier and AJ LeBlanc

Doreen Collier LinkedIn

President & Creative Director of Event Show Productions

AJ Leblanc LinkedIn

Technical Director of Event Show ProductionsCMP Pre-Check logo

A Special Event: Unique Entertainment Through Technology
Clock Hours: 1.0 CES | CMP-IS Domain G: Meeting/Event Design

Explore different ways talent professionals use technology as entertainment, branding, and messaging components at conferences and events. Utilizing various visualization techniques, leading entertainment producers will be joined by internationally recognized technical designers to share how technology and specal effects, including multi-medi projections, are becoming an integral part of performance art at conferences.

  1. Event producers will learn how to approach the creation of a media projection entertainment program with a varying price point.
  2. Meeting planners will learn what questions to ask and to whom, depending on your focus: entertainment, branding, or messaging.
  3. Conference managers will discover various pre-packaged innovative entertainment options that will fit a wide range of budgets, providing greater return on investment.

Midori Connolly

Midori Connolly LinkedIn

AV Girl ProductionsCMP Pre-Check logo

I Don’t Speak Lumen: AV Survival Skills
Clock Hours: 1.0 CES | CMP-IS Domain G: Meeting/Event Design

For the nearly 10 years Midori Connolly has been serving the industry, there has been a repeating pattern—the discomfort and frustration that meeting professionals experience in dealing with technology. Because many have been taught that math, tech, and science are only for the geeks, they feel intimidated when trying to speak about tech with a potential vendor. This falls on both the planner AND supplier side!

Anter the AVGirl Way. Midori Connolly makes technology more human, approachable, and sustainable. Her mantra is that there are NO dumb questions, because she has asked them all and came up with answer to share. Post-session, she will provide a deep toolkit of worksheets, spreadsheets, and other helpful resources to ensure the learning sticks. By eliminating fear and frustration, Midori will help you unlock the ingenuity inside!

Holly Duckworth

Holly Duckworth, CAE, CMP LinkedIn

Chief Connections Officer of Leadership Solutions InternationalCMP Pre-Check logo

CTRL + ALT + Believe: How to Reboot your Organization for Success
Clock Hours: 1.0 CE | CMP-IS Domain A: Strategic Planning

At the 24/7/365 pace of life today, do you feel your organization is spinning out of control? Do you ever wish rebooting your organization was as simple as hitting CTRL + ALT + Delete? In this session, you will learn simple strategies to build the future of your organization.

CTRL: Tips to learn how to let go of your need to control
ALT: Look for alternate solutions to common problems such as lack of leadership, funding, and resources.
Delete: Now is the time to delete all you thought about how your organization works and create a new future.

If you are overwhelmed as a CEO, Executive Director, or Manager, take an hour to slow down and gain simple strategies that will reboot and redirect your organization to meet its vision and mission now.

George Fenich and Marlene Blas

George Fenich, PhD LinkedIn

President & CEO of George Fenich & Associates

Marlene Blas, CMP LinkedIn

Program Advisor and Instructor, Meeting and Event Planning Certificate Program at California State University, San MarcosCMP Pre-Check logo

Are You Ready? Disaster Prep for Meeting Planners & Suppliers
Clock Hours: 1.0 CE | CMP-IS Domain C: Risk Management

The most critical step in being able to deal with a disaster is being prepared for one in the first place. Don’t panic; this session will get you started. Picture a beautiful day at the beach, the waves are calm and the sun is shining. All of a sudden the hurricane warning flag goes up… two days before your annual conference at the beach. What goes through your mind? Is it different if you are a planner? A supplier? Will attendees still come? Should you cancel? Will Cancellation and Attrition Charges apply? Who decides if the circumstances fall under force majeure? Is it too late to purchase event insurance? While hurricanes are the disasters that may come to mind first, what about inland flooding, power outages, illnesses, travel bans, strikes, national security, etc?

This interactive session will address the issues mentioned above by providing insight on the concept for force majeure, how and when it applies. The case study method will be used. In a unique session delivery approach, attendees will be divided into two groups for each case, being required to take either or planner OR supplier perspective. Each group will then collaborate to create their case and then ‘argue their case’ as well as the decisions they made. Session facilitators will begin with a brief lecture and wrap up the session.

This session will be equally valuable to both planner and supplier attendees at the 2015 Southeast Educational Conference and call on them to Unlock Their Ingenuity as attendees will learn about force majeure, how and when it applies, and connect with one another on how they can deal with catastrophes and disasters.

Although meeting professionals cannot predict when, where, or what kind of disaster till strike, a good first step in disaster preparedness is in knowing what types of disasters an area is more likely to experience.  It is also important to consider what the possible effect of a disaster might be.  Acts of terrorism, storms, floods, outbreaks of diseases and illnesses.

John Foster

John S. Foster III, Esq., CHME LinkedIn

Attorney at Foster, Jensen & GulleyCMP Pre-Check logo

Hotel Contracts Boot Camp 3-Hour Course
Continuous Boot Camp: 3.0 CEs (1.0 CE per hour) | CMP-IS Domain B: Project Management, Sub-Skill 5.02

You can be the best negotiator in the world, but the bottom line is whether your contract is legally clear, inclusive, and enforceable. Understanding hotel contract basics is critical to both planners and suppliers. This session is for novices and pros that need a refresher on the basics. It will cover legal tips and pitfalls to avoid that every meeting professional must understand to survive in today’s business climate and avoid expensive lawsuits. Topics will include:

  • the three steps to reviewing a contract proposal
  • John’s golden rule of contracting
  • breach of contract issues
  • “penalties” vs. “damages” and what’s enforceable
  • the importance of understanding profit margins in hotels
  • the two methods of calculating guest room attrition damages and which one is preferred by planners vs. what is preferred by hotels
  • a recommended formula for calculating attrition damages
  • tips on renegotiating your contract in today’s economy

The session will be interactive, and your questions will be addressed.

The devil is in the details when preparing or revising hotel contracts. Terms that appear to be “reasonable” or “standard” may contain expensive pitfalls for the unwary and untrained. This session is an intermediate to advanced approach on how specific terms in hotel contracts should be strategically written in order to allocate risk fairly between the parties. Prepare to analyze and discuss contract clauses dealing with attrition (rooms and catering), cancellation, and force majeure. Sample “corrected” clauses will be distributed as take-home material.

Hot Topic: Ask A Lawyer

Have you had questions come up while planning an event and wished you could ask a lawyer for clarification or advice?  Here is your chance!  Come prepared with questions to ask John S. Foster, III, Esq., CHME, during this interactive Q & A Session.

Denise Glass

Denise Glass LinkedIn

Social Butterfly at Sensory 5

Hot Topic: Build Your Own Personal Brand

Social Butterfly – doesn’t sound like an executive title but this title is more about personality than a reflection of responsibilities.  Denise Glass – aka Social Butterfly – is a hard driving Freehold, New Jersey native who can recite the words to every Bruce Springsteen song, knows the value of networking and social media and who expects to create opportunities for her clients through traditional and non-traditional mediums.  Ask any client of hers and they’ll tell you – there’s not a minute that goes by that Denise is not pushing, creating, and marketing her clients products or services.

Having experience as a successful entrepreneur herself, Denise transitioned into a corporate role as VP Marketing and Advertising for a multinational organization before moving into the role of VP of Sensory 5, a Marketing and Advertising Agency eight years ago.  Since joining Sensory 5 she’s now the company President and has led the agency through double digit growth for 4 consecutive years.  Even more impressive, she’s helped her clients achieve equal or even better growth with their companies.

Denise brings the experience of operations, marketing and advertising strategies, creative thinking, and execution of all these on both a local and national level.  She understands the stress small business owners face and she understands what it takes to get to and keep the number one spot for larger enterprises. Whether it’s a new logo, packaging, collateral, branding, ad campaigns, social media strategies, public relations or a new or updated website, Denise and her agency Sensory 5 make sure their clients stand out from the crowd to achieve their expected success.

Hot Topics Conversation Starters:

  1. What is Personal Branding and Why is it so Important?
  2. What Makes You Unique, What Makes you Successful?
  3. What are the Benefits of a Strong Personal Brand and How Can it Help you in Business ?

Executive Chef Chad Johnson

Chad Johnson

Executive Chef of Élevage & Haven | James Beard Best Chef: South Semi-Finalist (2012, 2014)

Hot Topic: Culinary Trends

“I want to take the great iconic dishes, the ones you’ve loved your entire life, and elevate them. I want it to be the best you’ve ever had.”
Johnson began his career in the modern Mediterranean kitchen of Layla under Chef Frank Proto. At Layla, Johnson was introduced to and influenced by the fresh ingredients and cooking styles of the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. After a stint at Layla, Johnson worked in the popular kitchen of Montrachet where, as he assisted the pastry chefs and plated amuses nightly, he learned, from Chef Chris Gesualdi, how a high volume, fine dining kitchen could be organized for maximum efficiency. While at Savoy, under Chef Peter Hoffman, Johnson was exposed to premium products in their natural state. This was the essence and focus of Hoffman’s cuisine; great ingredients prepared simply, allowing their natural flavors to shine.

Growing up in Paducah, Kentucky, Johnson decided to pursue a culinary career after spending time at his best friend’s family’s restaurant. He attended the French Culinary Institute in New York where he was determined to learn all he could from the famed staff which included modern culinary luminaries like Jacques Pepin, Andre Soltner and Alain Sailhac. He paid for his own tuition, came in early and stayed late – always pressing his instructors for more information. From these legends, Johnson learned the techniques and traditions that have made French chefs leaders in dining for hundreds of years.

His natural passion for great food combined with his French Culinary Institute education and exposure to some of the country’s best restaurants have all influenced Johnson’s signature modern cuisine at Élevage and Haven.

Chris Krimitsos

Chris Krimitsos LinkedIn

Principal of Tampa Bay Business OwnersCMP Pre-Check logo

Connecting with Your Audience – Awesome Tech Tools for Association Planners
Clock Hours: 1.0 CE | Domain G: Meeting/Event Design

Are you an Association Planner? This session will keep you and your members on the cutting edge of technology for the groups/communities which you work with. By the end of this session, The Association Planner will:

  1. learn the most up-to-date concepts, innovative experiences, and fundamental business principles using technology tools.
  2. discover the connection opportunities to build meaningful relationships that make an impact.
  3. be able to identify resources to grow their member community via social media and cost containment strategies through virtual “coffee breaks.”

Felice Levy

Felice Levy, CMP LinkedIn

President, Gulf Coast Meetings and EventsCMP Pre-Check logo

Sponsors as Partners: How to Engage and Profit from your Sponsorships
Clock Hours: 1.0 CE | CMP-IS Domain D: Financial Management, Sub-Skill 7.01

Ideal for both meeting planners and suppliers, both are encouraged to attend so the group can hear from both sides and learn how to meet in the middle. This session will focus on creating real value through sponsorships, finding the right sponsors, creative ways to sell your sponsorships and more. This will be an interactive presentation, encouraging the audience to jump in and share their thoughts… from both sides of the sponsorship fence!

Attendees will use their ingenuity to create new and different ways to form real alliances with sponsorship partners. They will have to step away from a sponsor form with three options on it and find the key to unlock the sponsorship treasure chest. There will be some laughter and some trinkets for engaging audience members.

Tara Liaschenko and Jeannette Davidson

Tara Liaschenko, CMM LinkedIn

Principal of The Link Professionals

Jeannette Davidson LinkedIn

Principal of GeoteamingCMP Pre-Check logo

Gamification for the Meeting Professional
Clock Hours: 1.0 CES | CMP-IS Domain G: Meeting/Event Design

Gamification is the number-one trend in the meetings industry.

Meetings and conferences are now using gamification to get maximum participation and engagement. One landmark event was MGIC’s (Green Meeting Industry Council) 2011 Game On conference, which divided the entire event into teams and gave points for tweeting, blogging, attending educational sessions, and for a team case study. The value returned was 17 case studies, combining hundreds of years of industry knowledge, combined with information from the conference’s educational components about sharing innovative ways to save money and resources at meetings and conventions.

Learning Objectives Include:

  1. How to engage conference participants by using as many of your meeting features as possible.
  2. How to create Sponsor Value by using gamification to incent participants to drive traffic to key areas at the meeting and trade show while exceeding networking goals by making the sponsors high-point-value “missions.”
  3. How to bring measurable value to your next conference by combining high tech with high touch, in new and innovative ways to get meeting results.

Tara Liaschenko

Tara Liaschenko,CMM LinkedIn

Principal of The Link Professionals

Workshop: Solutions Roundtables

Would you like to have the collective brain power of a number of industry professionals focusing on solving a professional industry related challenges you’re experiencing? Bring your challenge and allow your peers to focus solely on providing you with solutions. Come join us for a Solution Circle experiential learning solution collective. Walk away knowing your challenge is on its way to being solved.

Patrick O'Malley

Patrick O’Malley LinkedIn

Leading Authority on Social MediaCMP Pre-Check logo

Advanced Social Media for Meeting Planners—Without the Waste of Time
Clock Hours: 1.0 CE | CMP-IS Domain I: Marketing

Think social media is a waste of time? Are you overwhelmed by all of the things you are told that you have to do with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.? Are you taking advantage of just the most important features of each of these sites? In this session, Patrick O’Malley will show you the newest thing that you have to know and implement in social media… and show you how to do it in a time efficient manner (because we know you have lots of other things to do).

Takeaways will include:

  • The hottest new trending in social media.
  • Techniques you need to use as a meeting and events professional to save time
  • Case studies of how they are being used.
  • the most powerful uses of LinkedIn
  • Why your Facebook posts aren’t being seen by most of the people who “Like” your page.
  • The easiest and most necessary types of social media to use from your smartphone

Tom Pasha

Tom Pasha LinkedIn

President of Contact PlanCMP Pre-Check logo

Advanced Contracts—New Essentials for Today’s Planner (Double Session)
Continuous Sessions: 2.0 CEs (1.0 CE per hour) | CMP-IS Domain B: Project Management, Sub-Skill 5.02

This program begins with a brief overview of hotel facts and figures…Average Rate, Target Date, Space Yields, RevMax, RevPar, and other areas to acquaint attendees to what hotels strive to achieve to maximize occupancy, rate, and revenue.

From there, specific areas of a contract will be discussed, from room blocks, cut-off dates, programs and clauses, focusing on areas to request and negotiate based on maximizing your contract on behalf of the client’s group. Attendees will receive a full download of the presentation and a Planner’s Contract Checklist of items for inclusion in their contracts.

This is a highly interactive and high-energy presentation, so attendees enjoy the program and retain a strong background training in hotel operations and how to use that knowledge to be more effective planners. An immediate benefit is the Planner’s Contract Checklist, which receives exceptional reviews and is shared by attendees with their co-workers.

Lisa and Jim Schalk

Lisa & Jim Schalk In the News

Owners of Toffee To GoCMP Pre-Check logo

The “Oprah Effect” – Commanding the Attention of Powerful Influencers
Clock Hours: 1.0 CE | CMP-IS Domain I: Marketing

Toffee to Go owners Jim and Lisa Schalk started their business more than a decade before appearing on a list of Oprah’s Favorite Things in the 2013 holiday issue of O Magazine! Sales shot up and they’ve stayed up. “With the ‘Oprah effect’, the business grew overall 60 percent for the year, but we are still seeing that effect now,” Lisa Schalk said. Growth has been so strong, the Schalks have purchased a 16,000-square-foot warehouse, five times bigger than their existing location. The expansion will more than triple production of their addictive treat.  Find out how these enthusiastic MPI members “unlocked their ingenuity” , turning a favorite family recipe into a recipe for sweet success while garnering the attention of Colin Cowie, Oprah Winfrey and Good Morning America!

Learning Objectives Include:

  1. Hospitality professionals will learn how to collaborate and connect with other Meeting Professional International members to help successfully grow their industry relationships.
  2. Independent Planners will be inspired to learn and leverage key media opportunities; marketing to powerful influencers.
  3. Third party industry entrepreneurs will learn how to find ways to turn obstacles into opportunities through sound financial management and the power of envisioned intention.

Ryan Shortill

Ryan Shortill LinkedIn

CEO/Founder of Positive AdventuresCMP Pre-Check logo

The Power of Giving Back—A Caring Guide for Planners and Event Managers
Clock Hours: 1.0 CE | CMP-IS Domain A: Strategic Planning

Giving back is easy and fun! Walk away knowing what Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is, why it is important, and how to get your team involved. Discover unique ways to weave giving back into your business meetings and conferences.

Planners and Event Managers will learn:

  1. How to engage inter-generational members in the workplace via charitable events.
  2. To employ innovative strategies to offer new programs and networking opportunities for their meeting and event participants.
  3. The benefit of making authentic connections with other attendees and getting back to what matters—giving back.

Chris Wezel

Chris Wezel LinkedIn

Chief Visionary Officer of E-proDirect LLC

Hot Topic: Hottest Trends In Apps

Chris Wezel is one of the Principal owners at E-proDirect, A 15 year old hospitality marketing and technology firm where his primary focus is marketing, business development, product development, event technology, and brand strategy. His passion is helping meeting planners and meeting suppliers implement marketing and technology solutions that will either save them time, money, generate revenue or enhance the overall event experience for meeting attendees.

Though he does not claim to be the absolute expert in technology, Chris certainly has the vision of how to leverage technology to generate revenue or enhance the meeting experience for the clients of E-proDirect.

Since beginning in the hospitality field 28 years ago, he has had the opportunity to work in many sales leadership and marketing roles with several major hotel brands including Marriott, Hilton, and Holiday Inn and a variety of independent properties.  He sits on the Board of Directors for the Greater Orlando Chapter of Meeting Professionals International currently as the Immediate Past President, and finds his involvement with MPI to be extremely rewarding, allowing him to maintain a great pulse on the meetings community.

Hot Topics Conversation Starters:

  1. The benefits of an event app far exceed the basic benefits just for attendees.
  2. Budgeting in advance for event apps. Associated costs, time, and man power.
  3. Marketing your event app to encourage the highest adoption rate.
  4. If you haven’t deployed an event app, why not?

JC York and Lori Harbin

JC York Website

Wise Guys InterACTive

Lori Harbin Website

Account Executive of Corporate Events UnlimitedCMP Pre-Check logo

The Art of Boothing—Getting the Most from a Tradeshow/Expo Experience
Clock Hours: 1.0 CE | CMP-IS Domain G: Meeting/Event Design

Whether you are the planner looking to purchase products or services, or the team designing and managing the booth, the tradeshow/expo experience is a vital piece of the planner-supplier relationship. This interactive session focuses on the art of conventional selling instead of the tired sales pitch method, and highlights tips and tricks for planners and exhibitors to maximize any booth visit.

From the beginning of the session, planners and suppliers will be full submerged in the tradeshow/expo booth experience. First, attendees will experience mock booth interactions highlighting successful techniques. Then we will focus on tips of what works and learn what doesn’t work within a booth interaction. The session focuses on the planner experience in the booth and ways both the planner and the exhibitor can maximize that experience.

CMP Pre-Check logo


The Art of Boothing—Time to Work the Floor
Clock Hours: 1.0 CE | CMP-IS Domain H: Site Management

In earlier sessions we discussed what it took to go from the standard sales pitch to conversational selling.  We also focused on listening skills both from the perceptive of attending a booth and those within it.  This fully integrated and interactive session will now focus on utilizing some of the tips and lessons learned by actually working and visiting our in-room “trade show”.  Attendees will have the chance to practice what they have learned instead of just listening, so they are ready to hit the show floor running.

CMP Pre-Check logo


The Lost Art of Customer Service
Clock Hours: 1.0 CE | CMP-IS Domain F: Stakeholder Management

In the everyday world, on a daily basis we take part in one of the most basic forms of existence…to communicate.  We interact with other people in all types of situations and in most cases it will deal with a certain level of customer service.  We all have faced a disappointment when it comes to someone else attending to our needs but are we guilty of the same mistakes?  When it comes to customer service in our everyday lives we definitely know when it’s there and when it is lacking.

In our industry, customer service is vital and quite possibly the main reason we continue to be a success and stay in business.  In this session we will dive into what it means to provide excellent customer service, as well as discover common mistakes people make.  Learn how to give to your customer without losing yourself or them as a client.

Panel Discussion: Getting the Most of Your CVBs

Margaret H. Williams, CMP

Panel Moderator: Margaret H. Williams, CMP LinkedIn

Immediate Past President, MPI Tampa Bay Area Chapter
CEO of Pizzazz Meeting & Events Planning Group

Margaret has been in the meetings and events industry for more than 25 years providing services for corporate, national associations and non-profit organizations. Her involvement with industry associations allows her to stay abreast of the latest trends and strategies. She is owner and Chief Education Officer of Pizzazz MEPG, a full service event management and training firm. Margaret serves as Immediate Past President of the Tampa Bay MPI Board of Directors, has been an adjunct professor at City College of NY, NYU and USF where she co-created a certificate program in Meeting & Event Planning that successfully reached over 1500 students for the past 8 years. Ms. Williams holds a Masters degree in Education and continues to share her knowledge and skills with individuals interested in the Hospitality industry. She is a speaker, mentor and trainer. Her mission is to provide planners with the skills to deliver successful meetings and events.

Aimee Blenker

Panelist: Aimee Blenker,CMP LinkedIn

Destination Sales Manager for the Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

In her position at the Bradenton Area CVB, Aimee Blenker, CMP works to help increase economic impact for Manatee County by targeting corporate association meeting business, travel agents bookings, group tours and leisure travelers. Prior to working for the Bradenton Area CVB, Aimee was working as an Events Manager, successfully managing events and staff at both the Powel Crosley Estate and the Bradenton Area Convention Center. Aimee was the Event Sales Manager for local Chef Paul Mattison, managing events and sales off site and at Mattson’s Riverside in Downtown Bradenton. Aimee also owned her own Event Planning Company for more than 8 years. Aimee is a certified Events and Wedding Consultant and a Certified Meeting Professional.

Kelly M. Defebo, CMP

Panelist: Kelly M. Defebo,CMP LinkedIn

Director of Sales at Visit Sarasota County

Kelly Defebo is the Director of Sales at Visit Sarasota County, a Destination Marketing Organization charged with educating the world about Sarasota County and increasing Economic Impact to the area through a travel and tourism strategy. Kelly is a graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising, and has acquired the Convention Industry Council’s Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation – the foremost certification of the meetings industry.  She is past-chair of Visit Florida’s Meetings & Travel Trade Committee and currently serves on the VISIT FLORIDA International committee, as well as the Receptive Association of America’s Education Committee.


Renee Prine

Panelist: Renee Prine LinkedIn

Convention Service & Event Manager for Visit St. Pete Clearwater

Renee has been in the hotel industry for over 20 years. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of South Florida in Business Management. And has been an MPI member for over a year. She began her career at TradeWinds Resorts, St. Pete Beach for 11 years, as the Senior Wedding Sales Manger, hosting over 1800 weddings. After TradeWinds, she took a position at the St. Petersburg Marriott as a Sales Manager in the local market. Renee’s current position is the Convention Service Manager on the meetings team at Visit St Pete/Clearwater since 2014, sharing her passion an knowledge about the beautiful destination.

Lisa B. Chamberlain, CMP

Panelist: Lisa B. Chamberlain,CMP LinkedIn

National Sales Manager for Visit Tampa Bay

Lisa Chamberlain has been with Visit Tampa Bay for over 10 years and works with corporate and association meeting planners from Florida and Georgia to bring their meetings to Tampa! Lisa has over 28 years in the hospitality industry, with 17 years in the CVB world. She is a Penn State graduate and started her career in the Washington, DC area with Hilton brand hotels. She earned her CMP designation in 2002. Lisa is proud to have served on the board of the Tampa Bay Chapter of MPI and is actively involved with both the Tampa Bay Chapter and Georgia Chapters of MPI. She is also a long term member of the Florida Society of Association Executives, the Society of Government Meeting Professionals and Convention Industry Council. She is currently serving on the board of FSAE, an active member of the FSAE Associate Advisory Committee and a recent recipient of the FSAE ‘Associate of the Year’ Award.


Professional Development/CIC Certification

CMP Preferred Provider ProgramSoutheast Educational Conference is a CMP Preferred Provider. The program(s) identified with the CMP Preferred Provider logo meet the requirements to receive continuing education (CE) credit for the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) credential. All qualifying activities also indicate how many CE credits attendees will receive for participating.

For more information about the CMP credential or CMP Preferred Provider Program, please visit

Note: This program is not endorsed, accredited, or affiliated with the Convention Industry Council or the CMP Program. Applicants may receive CE credit for attending any program that meets eligibility requirements of the CMP Program. There are no specific individual courses required as part of the applications –selection of eligible education is up to the applicant based on his/her needs.

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