PlanIt Tennessee
President's Message  
I hope everyone had a great Halloween and you did more treatin' than trickin'!  November is here and it is the month to give thanks!  We are thankful for you, our members, who make our chapter so successful!!  To our new members, thank you for joining.  I encourage to you jump right in and get involved.  To our current members, thank you for volunteering your time and energy.  It is greatly appreciated. 

This month will be an exciting one as our MPI:TN Road trip is back!  MPI Tennessee is on the road again.  3 cities, 3 days, 440 miles!  And THEY are coming! The MPI Tennessee Past Presidents are traveling to Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis.  They will be presenting a new meeting format called Pecha Kucha.  I am so grateful for all of the Past Presidents and everything they have done to lead our chapter to be one of the most successful chapters in the world.  I am honored to be the moderator for this event and look forward to them sharing their wisdom about what being a part of the MPI:TN family means to them.  If you haven't registered for this event I urge you to do it now as this is the one you aren't going to want to miss!!  Plus we are giving away a FREE MPI Membership to a new planner or supplier.  All non-members who attend in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis are eligible.  The winner will be announced November 19. Additionally, each non-member in attendance will receive a $50 gift certificate towards becoming a new member.  We are looking forward to seeing all of you in each region. 

We, the Board of Directors, wish each one of you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

In This Issue
Our Sponsors

Platinum Partners


Gold Partners

Do you want to become an MPI:TN sponsor and partner with the state's largest and most vibrant community of meeting and event professionals?

For more information, contact Colleen Cussick, Director of Strategic Alliances for MPI:TN!

Looking to make a job change or know someone is?  Check out the positions available at
Upcoming Meetings and Events
MPI Tennessee is on the road again.  
3 cities, 3 days, 440 miles!  And THEY are coming!  
    MEMPHIS            NASHVILLE            KNOXVILLE

The MPI Tennessee PAST PRESIDENTS are traveling to Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville.  They are presenting a new meeting format called Pecha Kucha.  

Explore the Pecha Kucha meeting format as our Past Presidents each provide 400 seconds of topic specific Meeting & Event Design information.  With eight (8) Pecha Kucha talks laced together with details on the meeting format, these topics, among others, will be shared: Working with Guests with Physical Disabilities, Booking Live Entertainment, Creative Room Sets, Top 2015 Food Trends and Waitstaff Service.  This will be a fast paced and concise session sure to cause a positive evaluation.

In addition to the meeting & event design topics, they will be sharing the value of MPI, their experiences and ROI.  

We are giving away a FREE MPI Membership to a new planner or supplier.  All non-members that attend in Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville are eligible.  Winner will be announced on November 19. Each non-member in attendance will receive a $50 gift certificate towards a new membership.
East Region Education Meeting
Tuesday, November 17, 2015 
11:00 am - 1:00 pm 
Courtyard By Marriott Knoxville Airport Alcoa
141 Furrow Way, Alcoa, Tennessee 37701
Central Region Education Meeting

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
11:00 am - 1:00 pm
DoubleTree by Hilton - Nashville Downtown
315 4th Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee 37219
West Region Education Meeting

Thursday, November 19, 2015
11:00 am - 1:00 pm
DoubleTree by Hilton - East Memphis
5069 Sanderlin Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38117
CONNECT 2016 will be Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Details coming soon!

November Community Service Projects
Central Region will be collecting baby care items for the Nashville Rescue Mission Women's Center in November. Please bring items such as lotion, powder, AD ointment, sippy cups, etc. to the November 18 meeting.

East Region will be collecting coats for "Coats for the Cold" at their November meeting.  Please start gathering gently used coats of all sizes to donate.

For more information about MPI:TN community service projects go to
Where do your MPI:TN fees go?
We get this question often - where do my membership and registration fees go?  What exactly is MPI:TN doing with my money?

First and foremost, our goal is to provide for our members - quality programming, a space to interact with industry peers and opportunities to grow as professionals.  We have a dedicated team of volunteers that help us accomplish this.  Our finance team takes this to heart when developing the yearly budget, making sure that the plan gives back to our members in the best and most diverse ways possible.

Membership fees are provided directly to the International organization.  The chapter does receive 18% back to assist with operating costs.  These funds, in addition to the event/meeting specific registration fees help us to cover the following:

Speakers - We have access to an amazing bank of speakers, both with local contacts, and also through the MPI International community.  At times, we pay honorariums to these speakers, and for those that are not local, we reimburse travel fees.

Meetings and Special Projects - While we have an amazing network of members that offer support for our monthly programs and special events, often in the form of in-kind donations, we do still have to provide funding in some cases for audiovisual needs, catering, and meeting materials, such as name badges and ribbons.

Management Company - The MPI:TN Board of Directors is made up of industry professionals who volunteer their time. We engage the services of Travelink, a management company that assists with the backend details and reporting necessary to keep an association running.  This represents 1/3 of our total expenses, and while this is a lot, their service is much needed to keep MPI:TN running smoothly!  

Grants and Scholarships - The chapter offers scholarships to members for the following - membership fees, World Education Conference attendance and CMM and CMP registrations and exam fees.  Further details on our scholarship program can be found on the chapter website, under "Resources."

CIC Preferred Provider Program - MPI:TN works with CIC to provide programming that allows our members to earn clock hours to meet the CMP application or CMP recertification requirement.

If you have any questions about our budget, please feel free to reach out to Erika Biddix, CMP, CMM, Vice President Finance.
A message from MPI:TN WEC Scholarship Recipient Shannon Yeater 
When I first joined the MPI:TN chapter, I knew it was going to be a personal and professional life changer for me.  Not only was attending meetings a great way to get to know more industry professionals, but it was also a great way to learn better tricks of the trade in doing my job.  I quickly realized that one of my goals as an MPI member was to attend a WEC event.  I was excited about attending in San Francisco, but I wasn't sure my company would be able to support my registration cost, so I took the opportunity to apply for a WEC Registration Scholarship.  I was very honored to be rewarded one and to get to attend the WEC in San Francisco in 2015.

I knew I was in for a great experience, but there was no way of knowing just how great this experience would be.  I got to know local members of the MPI:TN chapter better and improve my connections and relationships with our local professionals which can only do great things for my Nashville career.  What I didn't expect was all of the great relationships I would make with meeting professionals all over the country.  Getting to meet people with great ideas, new insight, and high professionalism was my favorite part of the experience.

The education at WEC is also an outstanding benefit.  I attended many educational sessions throughout the conference, and I had so many takeaways that I use in my personal and professional life every day.  My favorite quote was, "Life begins right outside of your comfort zone."  When I am set up do something that makes me just a little bit uncomfortable, I let this quote run through my head and take it on with a full commitment.  Because of this, I have experienced so many new things, made new relationships, and grown in ways I wouldn't have imagined. 

What WEC did for me was beyond what I ever thought it would do.  I am so thankful to have received the scholarship, and I look forward to many WEC conferences in the future.
Holiday Party Save the Dates!
East Region
Tuesday, December 1, 2015, 5:00 pm at the Visit Knoxville Office

West Region
Tuesday, December 8, 2015, 5:00 pm at the Doubletree East Memphis

 Central Region
Wednesday, December 9, 2015, 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM at Margaritaville

 'Tis the season...and there's no better way to celebrate than with your MPI friends! Escape to paradise, visit with friends, and network with industry professionals at one or all of the annual MPI Tennessee Chapter holiday parties. 

Warmest thanks to our hosts Visit Knoxville, Doubletree East Memphis and Margaritaville. Stay tuned for more information and registration details.
Volunteer Opportunities
Is there something you absolutely love doing like developing educational content or sharing your passion for MPI?  There are committees that need your help.  Is there a skill you need to learn or improve upon such as social media marketing or fundraising?  There are committees that can help.  Learn more about volunteering for MPI:TN at

Urgent!  Your help is needed. 
  • The Education team is looking for additional help with researching and soliciting venues for future events.  They are also looking for volunteers to help plan the CONNECT meeting in February.
  • The Strategic Alliances team is looking for someone to reach out to Central Region partners to develop sponsorship's and strategic alliances.
Interested in either of these opportunities?  Contact Holly Stevenson, CMP for more information.

Attention Members!
Did you know that MPI:TN is such a POWERHOUSE that its 300+ members represent over $390 million in buying power within the meetings industry??

We have multiple and effective ways for you to get your Brand in front of our powerful and influential members!

Become a Strategic Alliance Partner!

For information, go to or email Colleen Cussick at and get that jump on 2016 leads and sales through MPI:TN!

Mark Your Calendar Now for CONNECT 2016 
What:          CONNECT 2016
When:         Friday, February 19, 2016
Where:        Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Nashville/Convention Center

We are honored to have Michael Dominguez, Senior Vice President & Chief Sales Officer for MGM Resorts International as our keynote speaker for CONNECT 2016.  Michael provides oversight for the company's sales strategies in the convention, leisure and transient segments, including industry relations, diversity sales and MGM Resorts events. Additionally, he offers strategic oversight for the company's vertical sales efforts manages the strategy for regional sales offices in Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, New Jersey and Phoenix and oversees the development and execution of a company-wide sales strategy for top destination accounts.

Dominguez is a Certified Hospitality Sales Executive (CHSE) from Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International, and he serves on the International Board of Directors for Meeting Professionals International, Industry Issues and Trends Task Force for the Professional Conference Management Association, the Industry Partner Alliance for the American Society of Association Executives and the Advisory Board for Starcite. He is currently co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, and was the Past President for MPI - Southern California Chapter.
"New Member Spotlight"
Name:  Chelsey Shults 

Current Employer and Position:  Events Manager at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee

How long have you been in this position?   Almost two years    

How long in the industry? 10 years

Why did you join MPI:TN?
I joined MPI to meet and develop relationships with other event professionals in the area and expand my knowledge. I'm excited to be a part of this fantastic organization.

What do you hope to get from your MPI:TN membership?
I hope to meet other event professionals and develop a broad base with which to share ideas, network and learn from one another.

What is your favorite meeting or event you have been involved with?  Why?
Choosing one event you've worked on as your favorite is difficult as they are all unique. They each bring something to table, teach you something new and provide new experiences. The events I manage at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee are special because we always keep our focus and mission of feeding hungry people and working to solve hunger issues in our community top of mind. Planning events, going through all the logistics and seeing them through to completion is always a gratifying experience for me.

Tell us more about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc.
I am getting married in March 2016.
Name:  Brad Ford 

Current Employer and Position:  Project Manager for Snyder Entertainment

How long have you been in this position?   2 years

How long in the industry? 5 years

Why did you join MPI:TN?
It feels like a synergetic group.  I like movement and meeting new people but not at the pace where you can't really grow in diversified relationships.  Nashville is growing so quickly but I think MPI can help provide the education and networking opportunities to keep our industry up to the task.

What do you hope to get from your MPI:TN membership?
Relationships!  I truly believe when it comes to networking and successful synergetic relationships that quality trumps quantity.  I have never been a person that wanted to know "everybody" but always wanted to be in the position where everyone I do know shares success with what I bring to the table and also brings about the best in what I do. 

What is your favorite meeting or event you have been involved with?  Why?
My favorite meetings typically involve an experience that is new to me.  I love to learn and have a hard time turning my brain off so when someone brings a product, food experience or unique sales approach that I've not seen before I get really excited.  I like challenges so my ideal meeting would be something that might make me a little uncomfortable...

Tell us more about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc.
Well my experience is varied...that's the nice way to put it!  I cut my teeth in Nashville as a music artist with EMI and a songwriter for many years in the 90's.  After five years on the road I moved on to a career in music publishing and law school.  Because I love to entertain and I love to let my OCD beast out; getting into the DJ, Event Planning business has given me the best of both worlds.  Everything is so customizable that every day is a challenge.  I am married and have 3 amazing kids ages 16, 14 and 5!  My hobbies are music, songwriting, video production, wine, playing corn hole, being terrible at golf and having a heart attack every time the Cincinnati Bengals play.
Name:  Elizabeth Sauls 

Current Employer and Position:  Knoxville Marriott, Sales Manager

How long have you been in this position?   I have been in this position for 2 months, but with The Marriott for 3 years.

How long in the industry? 9 years

Why did you join MPI:TN?
To keep expanding my knowledge and also to help network the Marriott.

What do you hope to get from your MPI:TN membership?
I hope to gain even more knowledge and insight about the industry and meetings today. I also hope to meet some great people.

What is your favorite meeting or event you have been involved with?  Why?
My favorite meeting/event has to be the East Tennessee Military Affairs Council Veterans Day Luncheon last year. I got to work with some awesome planners on that event. It was also so amazing to see that many amazing people, veterans, all together and to see our ballroom all decked out in red, white, and blue honoring our country and those who have sacrificed so much for us. It was so touching to see the expressions on their faces as they said the Pledge of the Allegiance and the Color Guard marched in and how such tradition is so important.

Tell us more about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc.
I am 27 years old and have worked in the hospitality industry since I was 18 years old. I attended the University of Tennessee and graduated with a degree in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management.  I am recently engaged and planning to get married April 16, 2016. My fiancĂ© is also in the hospitality industry.
Member News
Sending a big congrats to Antwone Stigall, CMP, in our West Region who was recently promoted to Events Manager at the New Memphis Institute.... Way to Go, Antwone!