by Midwest Meetings
With a decade of experience in developing and implementing meetings, conferences, and events ranging in size from 45 to 28,000 attendees, Mitchell Biersner, CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) prides himself on his expertise to maximize ROI for organizations and clients. He’s recently come home to the Midwest, where he’s currently in between industry jobs and actively searching for the next great opportunity.
It’s a story all too familiar to other industry professionals still feeling the after-effects of budget cuts and staff reductions in recent years. Biersner discusses how he got here, his perspective of the Midwest job market, and what he’s doing to prepare for a return to the meetings industry.
•Pamela Patsavas reflects back on her years in the meetings and events industry.
Every successful individual in the industry starts out with humble beginnings. Pamela Patsavas is a Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP) and serves as the Sales Manager for a company called FREEMAN. FREEMAN is a provider of integrated services for face-to-face marketing and brand-building events, which includes expositions, conventions, corporate events, meetings and exhibit programs. In this Q&A with Patsavas, she takes a look back at her experiences in the meetings and events industry.
Midwest Meetings: How did you get involved in the meetings and events industry?
Alexander deHilster serves as the Principal for the Chicago-based company ADH Meetings & Events. His enthusiasm centers around creating unique corporate and private events. deHilster has traveled all over the world and worked in cities such as New Orleans, Orlando and Los Angeles, but all of those experiences ultimately brought him to the Midwest. deHilster discussed his passion for the meeting and event industry and what brought him to where he is today.
Midwest Meetings: You didn’t start your career out in the meeting and event industry, so tell us what got you interested in this particular path?
A common career thread among many meeting professionals is an “accidental” discovery of the industry. Whatever the path that led to meetings and events, everyone has a story to share! Here, a few industry professionals reflect on their beginnings and what they have learned along the way.
Philip W. Arbuckle, CMPMeetingTrack Inc.Olathe, KS
MM: How long have you been involved with the industry?
PA: I have been involved in international meeting and convention planning since 1983. That was before most offices had desktop computers; we had to deal with a mainframe. But when I look back, perhaps I was always meant to be a meeting planner.When I was in the first grade, I planned a party, designing invitations and hand-delivering them at school. I planned the activities on a chalkboard and arranged chairs and games in the garage.
Q: How can a Convention & Visitor Bureau (CVB) help me? Do I have to pay them for their services?
A: Most cities and regions have a Convention and Visitors Bureau. They exist to help not only individual travelers, but also meeting professionals and convention planners. The majority of services are complimentary.
A CVB can be helpful at the earliest stages of planning. For example, if you are contemplating different cities, you can submit your Request for Proposal (RFP) to the individual cities you are looking at. Not only can the CVB respond with their available services, they can also send out your RFP to local hotels and convention centers, collect and compile the proposals and send them to you for review. This is a great time and money saver for planners. Keep in mind though that most CVBs are unable to tell you which facilities are the best or which venues may be less than desirable. It is still important to do your own visit to see your options.
by Linda Leier Thomason
Randy Stratton is President of TSG Marketing, headquartered in Sioux Falls, SD, which he founded in 1992. As a seasoned conference and meeting planner, he has successfully weathered economic and industry changes that impacted not only the services his company offers but also the way TSG delivers them to the customers. Stratton shared how his rural South Dakota upbringing strengthened his resolve to guide a sought-after conference planning company for nearly 20 years.
Midwest Meetings: It takes certain personality traits to endure ownership and all of the associated responsibilities. Where did you find the confidence to start your own business and grow it into a company that today produces conferences internationally?
Randy Stratton: I had the pleasure of being raised by two strong parents on a Midwest farm.