The Special Event Conference

The Special Event Conference

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I always wanted to surround myself with knowledge and people that live and breathe event planning. My opportunity came at the 2010 Special Events conference in New Orleans, LA. The Special Event (2010) is the largest tradeshow and conference in the world for event professionals (2010, The Special Event). TSE allows attendees to make invaluable connections with thousands of key event industry notables and colleagues, experience education both inside and outside of the classroom environment, choose among over 100 relevant Conference Sessions and Training Workshops taught by hand-selected speakers, and discover thousands of event products and services on the Tradeshow Floor (2010, The Special Event).

I was excited and anguished to be attending this conference because this would be my first professional conference where the topic is all about events! I often thought this would be an opportunity for me to attend this international conference, and have a small place on the map since I was flying in from Nashville, TN. However, I met people for all over the world. There is one person in particular, Jane Yong. Jane was residing at the time in Dublin, and attending the conference to learn more American events. There were many professional that I exchanged business cards with, but I have remained in contact with Jane. And we often exchange ideas at events, job search and weddings!

I arrived in early to take in the sights of New Orleans, and to also get a jump on navigating the New Orleans convention center to avoid getting lost as I transition to classes. The location of the conference was two blocks from my hotel. Fortunately, I did not stay in the host hotel, and choose to lodge at Marriott, which faired out cheaper than the host hotel.

During this week long conference, it opened my eyes to a world on opportunity. I was excited to be able to really dig deep into the opportunity. At the time of the conference, my mind was solely focused on Business and Event management because I was looking for ways to grow my business that I started two years ago. I wanted to find courses that was designed to give me the confidence and tools to meet more clients, garner skills that other personal may not have and explore ways on how to market with a small budget, and there were several classes that were available to help me with this.

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The first class I participated in was “ The Art of the Schmooze”. This class claimed to give you the tips and knowhow to position yourself in “win-win” situations when meeting the clients and attempting to close the deal. I found this class to somewhat helpful. They really didn’t live up to the course description that it would give us techniques to learn the “art of schooming”. However, it did conveyed to each of us it is more about having confidence in your brand, and this is a skill that I feel cannot be taught.

The next class I participated was in the sales and marketing track. This class was called Brand Conscious or Unconscious. It helped business owners and executives to find their niche and develop their brand. I enjoyed this class very much. It was interactive and relevant to all aspect of being a professional. I was able to hone in on what is my niche and develop my brand consciousness. Furthermore, the instructors offered a free consultation and I was able to get professional opinions on my marketing materials such as my website, logo, mission statement and etc. This class received high marks from me.

Because I wanted to get my monies worth, I took advantage of several classes. The classes includes Reinventing Yourself, A “brand” New Day, Making Google Pay In Your Business, Award-Winning Marketing on a Shoestring Budget, Get Attention for You, Your Company and Your Events and Too Busy ….to do it all! These classes were insightful, and it allowed me to hear the woes and successes of other professional.

However, the special presentations really stood out. I have a chance to attend the Michael Cerbelli’s: Hot Event and Entertainment Ideas. I enjoy that the presentation was given as a talk show, and I even participated on stage. During my stage participation, we were asked to sample the ice cream made high oxygen ice maker. The ice cream was medicro, but it was a new idea on ways to entertain guest. Because of my participation, I won this lovely tabletop book of floral designs.

Overall, the education sessions were great. There was an energy and excitement with each of course that I have never experienced before. However, the next time that I attend this conference I will try another track.

Experience

Professionally, I think it help me with my confidence as an event professional. I knew that I have the creativity, but I wanted to have the education to stand behind it. I must reflect, during that time I attended the conference I was in my second semester in the AMTA program, and everything was a challenge educationally. However, TSE reaffirm what I already knew and propel the possibilities that are within this culture of being an event professional. Moreover, through the many conversation I had throughout the conference with several professionals, I know to reach ultimate greatness as a event professional it will take time and the ability to show something new to industry insiders. This is my plan as I grow within the industry.


Organization

The Special Event Conference managed and produced by Penton Media, Inc. Penton Media, Inc is oversees The Special Events magazine. Other partners for the TSA conference were Weddings Industry Professional Association (WIPA), International Special Events Society (ISES) and National Association of Catering Executives (NACE).

Purpose

The purpose of this conference is to educate those who want to learn and experience the latest trends in the events, network with individual across the world and to have a good time. It showed in every facet of the conference of the goal they were aiming for within their mission. Sponsors were prominently displayed throughout the conference. I understood what each sponsor and partnering organization represented and the services that they offered to attendees. Often times, you hear of the sponsor called by name, but not by experience. The TSE conference did a great good in integrating the sponsor’s message at every level.


Critique -
The TSE conference wasn’t perfect, but the good definitely out way the bad. As an event professional, I was thoroughly impressed by the Welcome Event at Mardi Gras World. Mardi Gras World is the epic center for the Mardi Gras floats and displays created every for the traditional Mardi Gras Festival. I would have been truly happy with just a tour of the facilities because the facility in it of itself was amazing.

I was once told that an event should touch the five senses of your guest as they experience your event, and the Welcome Event did exactly that! New Orleans is clearly a backdrop for having a good time, but from the event professional prospective it truly was top-notch.

However, there were a couple of flaws in very well-planned event. The Ernest N. Morial Convention Center was probably one of the largest convention centers I have ever been in, and it was hard to navigate the center. I definitely suggest that the TSE planning committee provide individual to serve as floor guides and/or have information booths on each level of the where the conference is being held. I often found people running in circles to trying to find the classes.

Lastly, many are in hopes of obtaining their CMP. Since this somewhat serves as the Mecca for event professional, it would have been nice to have known which classes were available for me to use towards my CMP designation.

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