PlanIt Tennessee

President's Message 

The 2014 Member & Chapter Satisfaction Survey is Headed Your Way on Valentine's Day! Actually, you'll receive it in your email a day early, on February 13th. :-)


Knowing how to best meet your needs and exceed your expectations is important to me, your MPI:TN Board and the entire MPI leadership team. Sharing feedback about your MPI experience takes just 15 to 20 minutes.

Out of respect for your time, International and Chapters have collaborated to only issue one satisfaction survey to the membership. Your feedback enables MPI:TN to improve programs and services to better meet your needs. We will use your input to make adjustments, refine and deliver greater value to you. We thank you in advance for taking the time to complete our survey. And as a thank you, we will award two (2) members, randomly selected from the survey participants, with a complimentary ticket to the
MPI: TN Gala taking place on May 7th!

The survey closes on February 27th so don't delay!


In This Issue
Our Sponsors
Platinum Partners

Gold Partners

The Peabody Memphis


Silver Partners
BB King's Blues Club Nashville
Chef's Market
Country Music Hall of Fame � and Museum
DG International
Drury Plaza Franklin
Embassy Suites Nashville South/Cool Springs
Gary Musick Production
Geo Teaming - John Chen
Hard Rock Caf�/Nashville
Hilton Memphis
Hilton Nashville Downtown
Holiday Inn/Fogelman Executive Conference Center
Hutton Hotel
Kix Brooks
Knoxville Airport Hilton
Knoxville Convention Center
Liberty Party Rental
Musicians Hall of Fame
Park Vista a DoubleTree by Hilton Gatlinburg
Rock Bottom Brewery
Ruth's Chris Memphis
SpringHill Suites Memphis
Schenk Photography
The Cannery
Union Station Hotel

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!

Educational Message - Central
CONNECT Education & Marketplace

Join us on February 18th at the Omni Nashville Hotel for our annual half-day education and networking event.  We have some great education lined up for a total of 3 CEUs to go toward your CMP.  Additionally, we're bringing back our popular speed dating set up for a fun, fast-paced way to connect with potential clients and providers.  Visit our event page to see why you should participate!


Calling All Planners: Thought Leadership Needed

STR (Smith Travel Research) has asked that our chapter provide some thought leadership and consultation for their annual DestinationMAP survey.  They are asking for a few planners who would be willing to provide 15 minutes of their time to talk on the phone with one of their research analysts.  Providing assistance will allow them to narrow down their survey questions and better utilize meeting planners' time.  Please contact Brian Riley at if you are interested in helping.

Follow up to our August 2014 Education Meeting on Room-Block Poaching...
Meetings & Conventions Magazine 
Convention Industry Council Releases 
White Paper on Room-Block Poaching 
by Sarah J.F. Braley | January 28, 2015 

The Convention Industry Council has developed a white paper and tool kit tackling room-block poaching. The suite of resources aims to help meeting professionals prevent businesses from actively recruiting their attendees and exhibitors away from their established block and to lessen the impact if poaching should occur. To explore the issue, the CIC's Accepted Practices Exchange initiative assembled a work group chaired by Michael Dominguez of MGM Resorts International and MaryAnne Bobrow, CAE, CMP, CMM, CHE, an independent planner. In research conducted with the CIC's pool of Certified Meeting Professionals, the organization found that 73 percent of respondents had meetings that had been targeted by poaching, yet the majority of them (71 percent) had not developed prevention or mitigation best practices. APEX then examined the issue from the perspective of stakeholders such as event organizers, hotels, housing bureaus, destination marketing organizations, and industry associations to create definitions and resources. The tool kit provides an overview of the issues, implications for stakeholders, a list of state attorneys general, and guidance and resources on how to handle the issue. Find the tool kit and resources here

Belmont Meeting & Event Planning Certificate Program Starting Soon
The Belmont Meeting & Event Planning Certificate program Spring session will begin Friday, March 27, and run for five consecutive Fridays until Friday, April 24, with the exception of one Thursday on April 2 due to the Easter holiday.  

For more information you can visit Belmont's website at or contact MPI:TN Director of Leadership and Professional Development, Jessica Pfranger at
Central Region Community Service Project
Do you have books cluttering your shelves or closets that you would like to get rid of but hate to throw away? If so, bring them to the February lunch meeting and we will donate them to Altrusa International. Altrusa International was founded in Nashville, Tennessee in 1917, and is a global volunteer service organization whose purpose is to promote better communities through service by an international network of people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. In the spirit of altruism - to give selflessly - Altrusans share human and financial resources in their local communities, support NGOs through foundation grants, and provide humanitarian relief through multiple avenues. One of Altrusa's projects is to provide books to various populations in order to promote literacy and the enjoyment of reading. Books of all reading levels are welcome...but donating your copy of Fifty Shades of Grey might not be a good idea.

Learn more about Altrusa International at

And...the 2017 Altrusa International Convention will be held in Nashville at the Sheraton Music City!
MPI:TN Inspires University of Tennessee Hospitality Students
What a night with the University of Tennessee! On January 27 over 45 UT students and faculty gathered at the Knoxville Convention Center to learn more about the meetings industry and MPI. Immediate Past President Melanie Clifford gave the opening keynote and Lisa Skinner, MPI:TN member and member of the UT Alumni Board, shared her MPI story. The University of Tennessee hospitality students accepted the challenge from the University of Memphis students to join MPI and launch a student club.

Thank you East Region Vice President Angie Campbell and her team for arranging this outstanding event, and to the Knoxville Convention Center for donating their space.
MPI:TN members - Please welcome our two new Platinum Alliance partner!
MeadowView Conference Resort has joined a prestigious group of businesses who understand the ROI of Partnering with our Chapter!

The Hutton Hotel, NCVC, Hotel Indigo, Tunica CVB, and Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa all are integral to our meetings and events, and we appreciate ALL of our sponsors, for without them, we wouldn't be the Award-winning Chapter that is a leader in the industry! Interested in joining this elite group?

Contact Colleen Cussick at or at 615-256-6260.
CONNECT Planner Education Sponsorships Available
Suppliers Only!

Suppliers, you may sponsor up to seven (7) planners to attend CONNECT. Your planner guests will be invited to sit with your company representative(s) at a sponsored table during lunch. The CONNECT Planner Education Sponsorship is $500.00. For more information contact Colleen Cussick at or at 615-256-6260.

Registration Deadline Monday, February 16, 2015 5:00PM CST
When: May 7th at The Hutton Hotel

Donations for the auction are being accepted now. To donate please use the attached form. auction will go live in mid-February.
MPI:TN Member Nicolette Thomas Named to Young Memphis: 2014
Ten of Memphis's greatest assets prove they have what it takes to put Memphis on top!

Read more
Member Spotlight - Jennye Williams
  Sheraton Music City Hotel, Director of Group Sales     
  • How long have you been in this position? 26 years  
  • How long in the industry? 29 years
  • Have you been on the MPI:TN Board of Directors?  No, just on committee
  • If yes, which position(s)? N/A
  • Why did you get into the meeting and event industry? Honestly, it was by accident. It all began with a position at Union Station Hotel when it was being converted to a hotel from a train station. I was recruited by their Director of Concierge Services to be the Assistant to their GM. Because he was let go after only 2 weeks, I thought my hotel days were "doomed". Luckily, the Hotel owners liked me and offered me a position in Sales & Catering. My response was "what is sales & catering?" They laughed and said "Don't worry, we will train you" and that's where it all began! I am so thankful every day for their ability to see my potential!  
  • What do you enjoy the most and least about the industry? I love my customers, and the bond and friendships I have formed over the years. Some of my dearest friends started out as customers. I value the relationships in this industry more than I could ever say! What I enjoy the least? That would be having to break bad news to a customer that I care about, which is all of them!
  • What is your favorite meeting or event you have held?  Why? Wow, I have so many favorites! One of them has to be my group many, many years ago that did a "Space Odyssey" theme and we had everything themed for them, including the food, the servers outfits, the music and fog machines- we had it all! I will never forget the standing ovation our team received when the servers came out through the fog with music blaring, in full costume, for the dessert parade! I was so proud of our team!
  • Where is your favorite meeting or event location?  Why? Besides my Sheraton Music City, of course? ☺ I would have to vote for the Country Music Hall of Fame.   Being a Nashville native, it holds a dear place in my heart and with their new space and renovations, it is just breathtaking! They Ryman is fabulous also!!
  • What advice would you give someone entering the industry? Try to remember that hospitality is truly a relationship business!  I know our city is so hot right now, but let's not forget why everyone fell in love with Nashville in the first place!   But no matter what city you're in, it is so important to build those relationships- you will get more out of it than the client does, I promise!
  • Tell us something about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc. Little known fact- I marched in the Rose Bowl Parade when I was 16 years old with my fabulous McGavock High School Marching Raiders Band! It was a long 7 miles to march and twirl a 6' flagpole, but we had a blast! I enjoy all sports, but love my Titans (even when they lose!) so I spend lots of time watching/attending sporting events. I love, love, love the Beach and want to retire there one day. I love my doggies and I love to work in my yard - lots of flowers/plants I've babied for years!
  • If you weren't in the meeting and event industry what would you be doing? Hmmmmm, good question! I used to say all the time when I was little that I was going to be a lawyer, but I'm happy I didn't go that route! Would love to have worked in the Music Business.
Know Your Board  - Taffy Ashley     
  • Board Position: Vice President of West Region
  • Have you held other positions on the MPI:TN Board? Yes, West Committee Membership Chair, West Committee Programs Chair
  • Why did you decide to become a part of the MPI:TN Board? To become more involved in the Statewide workings of the TN Chapter and connect with members on a statewide level.
  • What is the benefit of being on the Board?Developing not only professional relationships but friendships with members of the entire chapter.
  • What is your paying gig?  National Sales Manager for Caesars Entertainment
  • How long have you been in this position? 10 years
  • How long in the industry? 21 years!
  • Why did you get into the meeting and event industry? Started working at local hotel as Sales Admin and then was promoted to Sales Manager within 4 months.
  • What do you enjoy the most and least about the industry? My least is enjoyable is paperwork! LOL. The most enjoyable is the long term relationships developed.
  • What is your favorite meeting or event you have held?  Why? Large Corporate client that had over 700 attendees for 4 day meeting. They were open to all kinds of different experiences and had numerous unique teambuilding opportunities.
  • What advice would you give someone entering the industry? Always be open and honest with your clients and help them have realistic expectations. Communication!


Congratulations, Heather Willis, on your recent engagement! 
The next time you see Heather, your Director of Monthly Meetings, ask her about the proposal.  Her fianc� Dale is not only romantic and handsome but creative, too.