PlanIt Tennessee
President's Message  
Happy New Year!  I hope everyone has recovered from the crazy yet most wonderful time of year!!  Our chapter had tremendous success in 2015 and we are so excited with what 2016 has in store for us!!  First order of business is our chapter has been nominated for 2 RISE awards!!  Yes 2!!!!!  How awesome is that y'all???  We have been nominated for Membership Achievement for our student drives/universities relationships and for Education Programming for the Past Presidents Roadtrip.  A big shout out to our very own Carol Norfleet who has been nominated for Member of the Year!!!  Congrats Carol it is well deserved for everything you do for our chapter as well as MPI International!  These awards will be presented to the winners during the RISE Awards Presentation at WEC (World Education Congress) in Atlantic City on June 13, 2016.   If you haven't already please make plans to attend WEC in AC in June as it will be an amazing conference.  We always like to have a great representation from our chapter but this year will be more important than ever!

Second, our educational luncheon this month is going to be a killer one!  It will be at Studio A at the Grand Ole Opry House on January 20 and feature Jill Kopecky and Colleen Cussick on flashpoint sessions about talent buying and the ins and outs of it.  And, hear from Steve Buchanan, Executive Producer of the ABC drama Nashville on the effects the show has had on Nashville as a city.  

Lastly our annual CONNECT event is just around the corner, February 19!!  Please be on the lookout for the Cvent invite as it is coming out soon to register for this event.  We are very excited to have Michael Dominguez, Senior Vice President & Chief Sales Officer for MGM Resorts International as our keynote speaker.  You are not going to want to miss what he has to share with us!!  

To our new members that joined in December welcome to the crazy family and thanks for joining!  Now take the plunge and get on a committee and volunteer!

See you all soon!!!

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
Chapter Statistics as of January 1, 2016
Total Membership    310

New Members        47

Volunteer Engagement   
75% of membership volunteers

Average Total Education Meeting Attendance
110 per meeting

Average Planner Attendance at Education Meeting
27 per meeting

Average Satisfaction of Chapter Education Programs
9.28 per meeting

Average Attendance for Networking Events
35 per networking event
Upcoming Meetings and Events
Central Region
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
11:00 am - 1:00 pm
at Studio A at the Grand Ole Opry House
2804 Opryland Drive
Nashville, Tennessee 37214
The Effects, The Booking, and The Behind the Scenes

Have you ever struggled with booking the perfect entertainment for your event?

Did you forget you had to have staging, sound, and someone to run the show?

These educational and entertaining flashpoint sessions will teach us how the Talent Buyer works for YOU, the client, and not the artist.  Then learn about how to budget and what not to forget to make the show go on once your entertainment is booked.

Lastly, hear from Steve Buchanan, Executive Producer of the ABC drama 'Nashville' on the effects the show has had on Nashville as a city.

CMP-IS Domain G: Meeting or Event Design, 1 CE
Spring Dates Announced for Belmont University's Meeting and Event Planning Certificate (MEP) Course
The Center for Executive Education at Belmont University, in partnership with Meeting Professionals International Tennessee Chapter, offers a Meeting and Event Planning Certificate Program. The program is collaboratively taught by some of Meeting Professional International's most outstanding members, seasoned meeting and event professionals, each with his or her own area of expertise. If you are responsible for planning meetings for your business whether it be health care, non-profit, a governmental agency, public corporation, a privately held company or your own business venture, this five session certificate program will give you new skills to work more effectively and more efficiently.   More details and the schedule are available at
Happy New Year!!! Let's Get Started!!!
Attention Current Members!!! Renew your MPI membership in January to be entered into a drawing for one of two great prizes. The winner will pick either a Complimentary CMP Study Kit or 1 year extended MPI membership. Renew today!

Future Members!!! Let MPI help you achieve your professional and personal growth in 2016. Use promo code "MPILinkedin2016" to waive the $50 application fee when you join online at before Feb 1.
Banner UP!
Your brand should be front and center on the MPI:TN website!!

Website Banner ads are affordable and available, so start 2016 with a vivid visual to catch our attention! 

For information, email Colleen Cussick at and get that jump on your 2016 leads and sales through MPI:TN!
Upcoming Community Service Projects
Central Region
Books For Soldiers
The Central Region will be collecting books and miscellaneous items for Books For Soldiers,  You may visit their website for a list of requested books and items or bring gently used books to the February meeting.  The website login is MPI2016 and the password is MPIteam16.  

East Region
The "Eastside" will be focusing on accessible events that ensure inclusion for all people in January.  We will be supporting Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT), a nonprofit legal services organization that protects the rights of Tennesseans with disabilities. In 2015 DRT has provided education, training, and direct advocacy and legal assistance to more than 6,000 Tennesseans with disabilities.  A donation to DRT allows us to continue to assist students like Brayden be safe in school with the help of his service animal, or eliminate barriers to health care access for people like Mike. Your support of DRT does not stop with a donation though. Below are two steps you can take (all from your smart phone) to help us extend the reach of our service and achieve our mission:
  1. Pass along our information to friends and family. Our main intake line is 800-342-1660 and we always provide information and support to all our callers.
  2. Connect with us on Facebook and follow us on twitter for the latest events, news, and disability rights information.
Much like MPI:TN, DRT has representation in East, Middle, and West Tennessee and is a great advocate in our state. Attendees are encouraged to bring their donations to our January meeting - Looking forward to seeing you all there!
Save The Date

Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Nashville
February 18 - 19, 2016

February 18    Kick Off Reception

February 19    CONNECT Workshops and Keynote Address by Michael Dominquez,
                       Senior VP & Chief Sales Office for MGM Resorts International

It's a fact: You realize more benefits from your MPI membership the more time and effort you put into it! Jumping onto a committee is the best and fastest way to get involved in the work of the chapter, and there is always plenty of room for you! Service to your MPI:TN chapter is a professional development tool you can utilize for both personal and professional growth.

As a chapter volunteer you are eligible to receive the monthly Rock Star Award.  The Rock Star Award recognizes MPI:TN committee members for their service and contributions to our chapter.  At the end of the year all Rock Star Award recipients are nominated for Chapter Leader of the Year.  Both awards are nominated and voted on by the Board of Directors.  

Rock Star winners so far this year include:
  • Chelsea Harris Williams - Communications Committee
  • Cory Brooks - Education Committee
  • Courtney Hudson - Special Projects Committee
  • Virginia Cochran - Leadership & Professional Development Committee
  • Dannah Scott - West Region Committee

Would you like to learn more about volunteering? Contact Holly Stephenson, CMP, for more information.
"New Member Spotlight"
Name:  Cheryl Akey  

Current Employer and Position:  GCFA, The United Methodist Church - Travel and Meeting Planning Manager

How long in the industry?  21 years   

Why did you join MPI:TN?
I joined for several reasons.  The most important reason for joining is to develop relationships.  I feel that being a member will assist in my self-growth as I work toward my CMP.  I also joined to be part of an organization of like people to learn industry trends.  Finally, I joined as a way to get quality candidates for job positions.  I am excited about the opportunities of being a member of MPI.

What would you like to gain from MPI membership?
I would like to build relationships with others in the hospitality industry.  I hope learn and share from each other's experiences and learn about upcoming industry trends. 

What would you like the chapter to know about you?
I am a native of Nashville and love to travel.  The position I currently hold has allowed me to go to some amazing areas of the world.  I look forward to meeting everyone, building local connections and learning from their experiences.
Carol Norfleet, CMP, DMCP Recognized Locally and Internationally
MPI:TN's own Carol Norfleet of Destination Nashville has been named one of Nashville Business Journal's 2016 Women of Influence winners  and has been nominated for the MPI RISE Awards individual achievement honor of Member of the Year.

The Business Journal's Women of Influence award recognizes local women for standing out in their fields, bringing their businesses to the forefront and helping others achieve success.   Carol will be recognized at an awards luncheon on February 9 at Gaylord Opryland.

The MPI RISE Award for Member of the Year is given to an exceptional MPI member who through volunteer efforts has made outstanding grassroots contributions and demonstrated unparalleled commitment to the advancement of a chapter, club, community, or region.  The 2016 Member of the Year will be recognized at the RISE Awards presentation and luncheon during MPI's 2016 World Education Congress (WEC) in Atlantic City.

Join us in congratulating Carol on these outstanding achievements.  We have always know how great she is and now the world does, too!
A Special Thank You to Melanie Clifford
 Thank you, MPI:TN Past President Melanie Clifford,  for nominating the chapter for both RISE AWARDs.   Without your hard work and dedication to our chapter we would not be nominated for these prestigious honors.  We appreciate your service to our chapter.
Gatlinburg - #1 Destination on the Rise
Gatlinburg, TN has had a banner year! It was voted #1 in ConventionSouth Magazine's 2016 list of "The South's Cool Spots for Summer Meetings, the city's 4th of July parade was chosen as a Top 100 Event by the American Bus Association, the Southeast Tourism Society named the Gatlinburg Beans n' Cornbread Festival as one of the "TST Top Events" in the Southeast and the best news of all Gatlinburg, TN was named the #1 Destination on the Rise in the United States and 4th in the world by TripAdvisor. What an honor! TripAdvisor is the world's largest travel site, reaching 350 million unique monthly visitors, covering 5.3 million accommodations and operating in 47 countries worldwide.

We asked Dian Stanfill, a proud member of MPI for over 10 years and the Convention and Group Tour Sales Manager for 16 years what Gatlinburg being named the #1 Destination on the Rise by TripAdvisor means to her........

Gatlinburg is honored to be chosen as a destination that inspires those planning travel for 2016 to consider our wonderful city as their top choice! We feature excellent hotels, restaurants and attractions, and also provide a great vacation experience and convention destination value.  This distinction will certainly enhance what those who have been here already know....Gatlinburg is special.  We anticipate this will drive more inquiries to our web site as well requests for site visits to the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau Sales Division.  

How do you like working in Gatlinburg?
Gatlinburg is all about hospitality!  Customer service is our top priority for all of Gatlinburg guests....whether it is for the leisure visitor, convention attendee or meeting planner ...everyone is greeted with that special and genuine attitude of "Welcome!"  It is gratifying to work with a team of professionals who exhibit this attitude daily.

What is your work history in the area?
I began my hospitality career in the overnight rental business over 30 years ago.  This experience taught me the importance of putting the visitor first as I was able to see their excitement and impression of Gatlinburg through the prospective of many first time guests.

We congratulate Dian Stanfill and our other MPI Members in Gatlinburg and the surrounding area that have worked so hard to earn this designation! Way to go - Sharon Rinehart (Park Vista Resort Hotel), Kahla Williams (Edgewater at the Aquarium Hotel & Convention Center), Melanie Clifford (Springhill Suites by Marriott Pigeon Forge) and Robin Jones (Fee Hedrick Family Entertainment)!
Travel + Leisure Destination of the Year: Reader's Choice - NASHVILLE
Nashville has added another title to its belt, Travel + Leisure's 2015 Destination of the Year: Reader's Choice. Nashville snagged 15.8% of the votes, which is more than double what the second spot on the list received.  New hotels, the endless bachelor and bachelorette parties on Broadway, and of course the food helped secure Nashville's "It-City" status. 

Read the entire article here