By Michael Humphrey
Do you believe in magic? That’s not simply a question from a pop song of years gone by. It’s an essential question for meeting and event planners who need some “abracadabra” every time groups gather.
Missouri Meetings & Events Expo 2007 waved a magic wand, rolled up its sleeves and – presto! – pulled out a hatful of tricks for making “Magical Meetings and Enchanting Events.”
“We’re going to be doing a lot more business in the meeting industry over the next one to three years,” said William Johnson, CEO of Corporate Solutions. “And this program fit our needs perfectly. We learned so much from the speakers.”
Of course you can never make magic with just one. And Missouri Meetings & Events had plenty of help pulling off its own enchanting event. For instance, the Overland Park Marriott produced the stage on which all the magic took place – for the second time in Kansas City expo history.
“Marriott Overland Park is an excellent partner for these events,” said Missouri Meetings & Event publisher Joe Clote. “Their professionalism and eye for detail always make meetings more enjoyable for everyone.”
Tan-Tar-A Resort, The Resort at Port Arrowhead, Up, Up & Away, ProExpo Systems, Poly Teknology, Visual Aids Electronics, CVent and Kleertech pitched in with corporate sponsorships for one of the best expos yet.
“We rely on our partners to elevate the expos to the next level,” Clote said. “That’s important not only for the planners who attend because we want to produce a high quality show. It’s also important for them because it gives planners an opportunity to see the possibilities when you use top-notch suppliers and venues.”
Planners certainly didn’t lack access to top-notch anything. From venues and suppliers as close as Overland Park, throughout Missouri and Kansas, and as far away as Washington, D.C., two halls were brimming with meet and greet opportunities.
In fact, there were so many good exhibitors, the expo provided four booth awards this time around – twice as many as last year.
The Apprentice Wand Award was presented to the American Restaurant, of Kansas City, a newcomer to the Missouri Meetings & Events Expo. It won for its stylish and clean booth design – the perfect image for a restaurant that only serves the best. (See a feature on The American Restaurant in our Meet Over Eats segment.)
Winning the Silver Wand Award was a large contingent from Branson, led by the Branson CVB, who not only had spectacular booths, but offered mini wizards and magic eight balls that doubled as stress squeezers.
Taking home the Gold Wand Award was Brancato’s Catering, of Kansas City, for its highly decorative, magical booth that revealed the wonders of fine food delivered with care and style.
Finally, the Best of Show Award was handed to Up, Up & Away, for its nearly life-size balloon renderings of magicians and wizards.
“The booths were just great today,” Clote said. “And as I went around to talk to the exhibitors, they were complimenting the planners for coming with good ideas that provided them with real leads for upcoming events. That’s what both the exhibitors and planners want in the exhibition hall and we were pleased that was the case.”
Johnson agreed with Clote on that count.
“The exhibits were great,” he said. “It’s really nice to meet the companies that can help make your job easier.”
“A lot of my ideas and inspirations come from my early days,” said luncheon keynote speaker Rob Schaefer, NBS, a catering and event specialist for Steven Becker Fine Dining. “When I didn’t have a lot of money to work with, I found people had more ideas and better ideas when they couldn’t rely on buying a spectacular event.”
Cost efficient is not the opposite of creative, festive or even elegant if you’re willing to look at the core categories, he says.
Using a bevy of examples, Schaefer showed how starting with the identity of the client and its product leads to pulling off events that fit nicely with the purpose. He talked about nitty-gritty details too, from what colors represent and what olfactory ambience does to moods in the room, to what new trends in food are emerging.
Schaefer’s talk was just one example of the stimulating presentations focused on the broad and specific points of making meeting magic.
Joy Bray, a highly renowned travel planner, gave a very popular talk that compared using a travel planner to using online travel software.
“She made her point well,” Johnson said. “We certainly are going to start using a planner, because our meeting travel is about to increase.”
Terri Williams, professional trainer, presented the seminar, “The Power of the Goddess, The Power Within YOU.” Focusing on the usefulness of emotional intelligence, Williams said, “When you know which of the six goddess archetypes predominates within you and others, you can use that knowledge to deal more effectively with people.”
Sean Lynch, executive vice president of NHS Meeting Management, presented “‘Win Win’ Strategy for Meeting Buyers and Suppliers,” along with a panel of experts showing the advantage of teamwork between planners and suppliers.
“There are a lot of resources out there to help beginning planners,” Lynch said. “You help yourself by asking questions and by knowing that anything you need is negotiable with the service provider.”
The breakout sessions proved to be very useful, planners said.
“Very informative – I learned a lot,” says Christy Johnson, president of Point Technology Inc. “The information they gave opened my eyes to some of the possibilities in the industry.”
Next up: St. Louis
Now it’s back to St. Louis for an Expo in March, Clote says.
“We’re learning that these expos are helping a lot of planners who may have never had training before today,” Clote says. “This is their opportunity not only to learn from experts, but also to meet the suppliers and colleagues who can help them do their work better and easier in the future.” MM&E
(Michael Humphrey is the Contributing Editor from Kansas City, Mo.)
Thank you to all of the companies that donated door prizes:
• Bo Lings
• Kansas City Zoo
• Chocolate Cafe and Coffee House
• Osage Beach Premium Outlets
• The Culinary Center of Kansas City
Thank you to the student volunteers from the Keeter Center at the College of the Ozarks for their participation, positive attitudes and dependability. You were a pleasure to work with!
Thank you to our talented magicians who provided enchanting entertainment!