PlanIt Tennessee

Message from the President


It is now September, and you know what that means... School is back in session and another busy meeting season is upon us! What does that mean for you as a professional in the meetings industry? This usually means long hours on the job, juggling personal & business commitments, and not enough time in the day to accomplish everything that you desire.


While this month may bring about anxiety for some I encourage you to STOP, enjoy a good football game, take in the fall foliage, maybe attend an education luncheon or two:-) and dedicate a few moments each day to YOU. Remember that you have a great MPI TN family to lean on during this busy time. Call a fellow member to ask advice, share ideas or business, or even just to vent. That's what we're here for:-)


Looking forward to connecting with my MPI TN family this month!


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!
Future CMPs
Interested in the CMP process? Visit the MPI:TN Website, or contact one of the regional representatives below.

Cindy Brewer, CMP, DMCP

Carol Norfleet, CMP, DMCP

Nashville Shines at ASAE Convention
Nashville recently hosted the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) annual conference and MPI Tennessee helped make it a success.  Over 50 MPI Tennessee members volunteered to cover 80 shifts during the week.  Chapter members assisted with everything from airport transfers to sightseeing tours to information desks.  "I am so proud of our MPI members.  They really came together to help another organization and the city of Nashville, "said MPI Tennessee President Tammy Gilbert Cardona.   An added bonus to volunteering for the conference was the opportunity to talk with MPI's own Brad Shanklin and Christian Savelli who were conference attendees.
Education Announcement

Fall MEP session begins Friday, September 26th. Here is a link to the updated course schedule: click here

Contact Jessica Pfranger with any questions at  

Educational Message - Central
At September's Educational Luncheon, we will go to the "wild side". The MPI:TN Chapter will be heading to the Nashville Zoo to take a look at Inventing the Future of Our Meetings. Midori Connnolly will be leading us through 14 ways we can invent the future of our meetings. Midori is a well known and respected MPI speaker, as well as, being named the Most Innovative Event Professional by BizBash Media.

She will be discussing all sorts of industry trends from gamification, seating, strategy, technology to sustainability. If you haven't been able to go to a luncheon in awhile this one is going to be very exciting! Site Visits of the Zoo will be available upon request after the event.

We hope to see you there, and bring a guest!

To register, please click the following link:
Education Message - Central
By popular demand we have released the slides from Michael Owen's Room Block Poaching educational luncheon in August, click here. If you have any room block poaching stories or information, please let him know so that it can be included in his research. His contact information is: Michael Owen, EventGenuity,  
Community Service Calendar

MPI:TN's next Central Region community service project will be the Nashville Public School's Career Exploration Fair Wednesday, October 29.  The fair will be held at the Music City Center from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

The Career Exploration Fair will provide an avenue for high school freshmen in Nashville schools to explore a breadth of career areas including hospitality.  It will host approximately 5,000 freshmen from the Academies of Nashville and the Magnets of Nashville. Students will complete career exploration research at school in preparation for their visit and learn about professionalism. They will also participate in an essay contest and other follow-up activities to show what they learned.  MPI:TN's goal is to raise awareness and excitement about the meeting and hospitality industry.  We will be asking for volunteers to staff our booth and promote our industry.  Booth sign-up will be available soon!

Central Region's third quarter project is pending.  More information coming soon!

"Dress for Success" is tentatively scheduled as the Central Region's fourth quarter community service project.  Start saving gently used profession clothing for donation.  
The East Region has an exciting community service calendar for 2014-2015.  If you would like to contribute to any of their projects please contact Kristi Sowards at

December - Ronald McDonald House Knoxville
February - Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee
March - University of Tennessee Relay for Life (American Cancer Society) 
WEC Member Article
By: Antwone Stigall

My first MPI WEC experience is one that I will hold on to for the rest of my career as an Event Professional and I OWNED IT. The conference fostered an environment for each attendee to professionally develop business skills, network amongst other industry professionals, and have fun all at the same time. Highlights of my WEC experience include participating in the 2014 Future Leaders Forum, making the front page of the Conference Magazine with a half page article written about me, meeting my favorite industry leader, Ms. Laura Schwartz; and becoming the conference superstar through engaging everyone through our social media platforms. I was able to meet people from all over the world and develop relationships that have now developed into business and career opportunities. Did I forget to mention the social events during the conference? My favorite of all was the MPI Foundation RENDEZVOUS. The costumes, the food, and the live band were all amazing. The BellaDivas rocked the house and made sure that we were on our feet dancing all night. At the end of it all, I enjoyed getting to meet many people, learn new skills, and I can't wait to attend next year's conference in San Francisco, CA. I encourage everyone to experience WEC it is definitely life changing, but YOU have to OWN THE EXPERIENCE.

Member Spotlight - Carol Luttrell
  FedEx Services, Sales Programs & Events - Solutions Specialist Advisor 
  • How long have you been in this position? 23 years
  • How long in the industry? 30+ years
  • Why did you get into the meeting and event industry? I think the very first meeting I ever worked on was way back in the late 70's when I worked for the government.  I enjoyed the research, planning and execution - keeping track of all the details.  Fast forward through a few career changes, and I began working for FedEx in 1985 (that's a whole other story!).  I was at the right place at the right time.  In 1991, Jack Johnson had become the voice of FedEx Sales executives and customers, striving for improvement of business entertainment opportunities.  Jack needed someone to keep track of names of customers being invited to the FedEx Orange Bowl, and I was pretty good at Microsoft Excel.  My ability to understand the big picture and manage the details was a perfect fit.  Jack and I worked on two customer entertainment events, and two of our peers managed two major employee events.  As the formalization of managing meetings and events grew, FedEx recognized the need for a team of people focused on these programs.  What was once four people in different departments is now a team of 14.
  • What do you enjoy the most and least about the industry? Most - still love the details, Least - folks with private agendas!  
  • What is your favorite meeting or event you have held?  Why?  The FedEx annual Sales incentive program.  Lots of lots of details for me to play with!  And the execution of the event - 650 of your closest friends and executives, from all over the globe, all together, with high expectations and trusting our team to deliver! 
  • Where is your favorite meeting or event location?  Why?  Ritz-Carlton Kapalua because it is a beautiful property, great facility and has excellent service.
  • What advice would you give someone entering the industry?  Get used to change.  And own up to it when you make a mistake.  We all make mistakes.
  • Tell us something about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc.  Two grown daughters I'm ridiculously proud of, two sons-in-law who I adore.  And I love to sew, particularly baby quilts!  I'm a fabric-aholic!
  • If you weren't in the meeting and event industry what would you be doing?  Sitting in my sewing room, with my dogs Gus and Riley curled up near me, designing my next quilt project!
Know Your Board  - Valerie Summers, VP Membership 
  • Have you held other positions on the MPI:TN Board? Yes
  • If yes, which positions? VP of Education
  • Why did you decide to become a part of the MPI:TN BoD? I love MPI and the education and community that it brings.  I wanted to get more involved with the organization and its programming, which is why I was joined as VP of Education.  Now I'm so in love with MPI and its people that I want to share my experience with as many people as possible so they can benefit from their membership in MPI.
  • What is the benefit of being on the BoD? Working hard to keep the high expectation level of education maintained.  Getting to know all the members, not just those with whom I already work.  Being on the board acts as a bridge to get to meet new people.
  • What is your paying gig?  VP of Business Development for Destination Musick City and Gary Musick Productions
  • How long have you been in this position? 4 years
  • How long in the industry? 4 years
  • Why did you get into the meeting and event industry? I have a background in the Music Business in Nashville.  Through that avenue I fell in love with this city. When it was time to change careers I knew I wanted to do something that would pair my sales ability with my affinity for Nashville and this is the perfect fit.
  • What do you enjoy the most and least about the industry? The people.  The music business can be vindictive at times.  Nearly every person I've met in the meeting and events industry has been willing to be helpful, even when it may not benefit them directly.  We support each other.
  • What is your favorite meeting or event you have held?  Why? My favorites are ones where we can put our arms around the entire event and manage all the pieces and parts.  Keeping multiple things in the air without crashing and then seeing the final outcome on the day of the event is invigorating.
  • What advice would you give someone entering the industry? NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK ... And be kind.
  • Tell us something about yourself...hobbies, little known fact, etc. In college I was paid by a company to be a professional thief.  I would be scheduled to go to certain stores and determine the efficacy of their quality control by stealing certain items and reporting on the difficulty or ease of leaving the store with products.  I never got caught!
  • If you weren't in the meeting and event industry what would you be doing? Sipping wine somewhere in the Italian Riviera.
Tips and Tricks from WEC
The Tennessee Chapter of MPI had a record number of 26 members represented at the August World Education Congress in Minneapolis, MN. During a recent post con to discuss what we had all learned, everyone agreed it was the best WEC yet! There was a variety of educational content, keynote and flashpoint speakers shared relevant information for everyone, the venues and entertainment did not disappoint and definitely listened to attendees feedback from Vegas bc they fed us more too! In the coming newsletters we will share a tip or trick one of the MPI TN members learned at the conference. Thinking about joining us next year in San Francisco? Feel free to email Adam Spivey, if you have any questions about the conference, hosted buyers program, scholarships offered by both the chapter and other organizations. Mark your calendars for July 25-28, click HERE for more information.

TIP: How often do you press send on an email, only to realize seconds later that you forgot the attachment or some other piece of information? Defer Delivery holds your emails in the Outbox for a set amount of time (which you program, example: one to two minutes).... long enough for you to realize any items omitted. For complete instructions click HERE.

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