April 2017  

President's Message

GMID 2017 turned out to be a spectacular event at the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort.

This year hundreds of Meetings Industry Professionals joined MPI South Florida as we partnered with 10 other South Florida Associations, the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB and Discover the Palm Beaches for what turned out to be a memorable and educational afternoon. We even had Florida's Paradise Coast CVB (Naples & Marco Island) bus over 17 attendees from Southwest Florida. Many of the 200+ attendees present represented at least one of the participating associations: MPI South Florida, GMIC, SITE, FFEA, FRLA Palm Beach, ILEA, NACE, FAME, HSMAI, SKAL and GMBHA.

The theme and main topic discussed was the Sustainable Development within the Meetings & Hospitality Industry. The afternoon started with an Educational Networking Table Top Coffee Break at 10:30am where 10 vendors showcased their Sustainable Business Practices and educated attendees on their products as we listened to the sounds of the regaee band provided by Mike Sipe Entertainment. Then at 12pm we moved in to the Ballroom for the Lunch & Learn portion of the program where Jeff Chase, VP of Sustainability for Freeman Companies flew in from the West Coast and was our Keynote Speaker and Panel Moderator. Joining Jeff were three of South Florida's top Hospitality & Meetings Industry Sustainability Professionals. Representing Miami-Dade was John D. Buschman, M.S., B.A. Adjunct Instructor, Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management who each February serves FIU and the community as Food Rescue Coordinator for the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, a complex operation that recovers unused foods from more than 100 exhibiting chefs, and delivers it to local agencies including Feeding South Florida and the Miami Rescue Mission. Representing Broward County was Julia Johnson, LEED® AP+ O&M, CSM Sustainable Programs Manager for the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center and LEED Project Team Manager who worked from March 2009 to July 2012 to earn the facility the LEED Gold Certification. Last but not least, representing Palm Beach was Kathy S. McGuire, ISSP-SA Climate Reality Leader and Principal at 3 Pillar Solutions, LLC; Kathy is an award-winning Sustainable Development Professional (ISSP-SA) and LEED Green Associate with 10+ years of progressive experience and a proven track record of implementing sustainability projects to reduce waste, engage stakeholders, and increase brand awareness.

There were many examples shared with the audience on easy and affordable ways that we can have Sustainable Meetings & Events and the importance of why. Keeping our South Florida MPI Has Heart tradition we partnered with "No Local Kid Hungry" for a hands-on CSR experience where attendees had the opportunity to pack 1 child's weekend bag and writing him or her an encouraging note. Last but not least, partnering with Margaritaville, Koncept Events and some of our other sponsors we were able to track our Sustainability Efforts implementing the SMPP program with the guidance of the creator of the program, Suzanne M. Burke, SMPP.  The event was Chaired by Vimari Roman, CMM, CIS current VP of Education and Managing Partner at Swantegy and Co-Chaired by Steven Pollock, of Helmsbriscoe and President | GMIC Florida/Caribbean Network. All proceeds from this program will benefit the MPI South Florida Educational Programming. 

We would also like to thank the following sponsors for their help in supporting this year South Florida Global Meetings Industry Day:

If you missed the event, please visit to see the photos from our event!

Back to top


Indy 500

May 26-29 2017

The Indianapolis 500, known as The Greatest Spectacle in Racing, is the world’s largest spectator-sporting event. Experience a century of tradition while you explore and witness the limits of man and machine. More than 300,000 fans from around the world will travel to Indy to witness an event like no other. MPI’s Experiential Event Series will offer attendees a unique experience in sports event management, and you’ll have a front row seat.

This is a planner-only event.


By the end of this experience, participants will:

  • Learn about the Indianapolis 500 and its history
  • Gain a broad understanding of the unique aspects of managing the world’s largest spectator event
  • Develop a knowledge of the ancillary events that take place in conjunction with the Indy 500 sporting event

MPI’s Experiential Events Series is eligible for 20 clock hours, provided by the Convention Industry Council.

For more information and to register please visit

The World Education Congress is designed to teach meeting and event professionals to think outside the ballroom. More than 2,000 global meeting and event professionals join us every year to learn how to stop planning meetings and start designing transformative experiences that deliver return on investment dividends to all stakeholders and participants. WEC is produced by Meeting Professionals International, the largest, most diverse and influential association of its kind in the world.

WEC is the quickest, most efficient way you have to gain the education you need to get certified as a meeting professional, refresh your business contact list and gain important new friends and allies in the meetings and events industry. You won’t find the same content or education anywhere else, and each breakout session is filled with timely, actionable advice that you can apply to your work right now.

Learn more about WEC and register online @

2017 SES: A Revitalized Event for an Energized Event Community

MPI is proud to present Sunshine Education Summit 2017 (SES), where the business of meetings and events showcases the resources, beauty and energy of Florida. Formerly known as Southeast Educational Conference (SEC), SES remains a cooperative effort between the four MPI Florida Chapters (Tampa, Orlando, North Florida and South Florida), and introduces collaboration from MPI Global. This conference demonstrates how Florida’s MPI community drives the meetings and events profession forward.

Sunshine Education Summit 2017 will feature cutting-edge industry education that addresses the hottest topics and issues affecting meetings and events professionals—at all levels—through learning styles that range from invigorating keynotes to interactive roll-up-your-sleeves collaborative workshops. It's education that's sophisticated, personalized and unparalleled at other industry events. You'll leave with renewed strategies for the ever changing world of adult learning and the expectations of future meetings and events participants.

Beyond the clock hours, SES presents business and peer exchange opportunities throughout the conference. SES 2017's many networking functions will provide you with ideal settings to reconnect - and make new connections - with industry leaders, employers, suppliers and planners who can be integral to your success. In addition, our MPI Exchange Program (sponsored by Helms Briscoe) will pair qualified buyers with the best suppliers, resulting in bookings and business, both immediate and future. Planners accepted into the program are eligible to participate in exclusive SES classes resulting in industry certificates.

If you're looking for unique learning techniques, innovative strategies, distinguished education and creative networking events in an exceptional and inviting environment that can uplift your career, you've found it! SES 2017 is your opportunity to collaborate, connect and build camaraderie with Florida's best and brightest. It's the ideal convergence of ideas and business exchanges, and the perfect face-to-face experience for the face-to-face professional.

Sunshine Education Summit is the conference that's been revitalized for you. Be part of the momentum!

For more information and to register please visit

Back to top


Storytellers at MPI’s European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC) have, and they shared these success stories—and more—during the StorySlam session in the EMEC EduLab. If you couldn’t make it, here are five challenges that industry professionals overcame with the help of innovative partners who refused to say “I can’t.”

Butler Service
Mariska Kesteloo, entrepreneur and speaker

The MPI Belgium Chapter wanted to give their faithful members and volunteers an unforgettable experience, and the planning team’s expectations were “above the ceiling.” There were talks of renting a plane and other pie-in-the-sky ideas that would provide the “wow” they were looking for.

But the budget simply would not allow for such extravagance. So, the chapter involved a third-party agency staffed by creative and dynamic personalities, who eventually suggested that the team enlist the help of a nearby certified butler school. 

The butlers-to-be opened automobile doors and escorted attendees into the event. For dinner, one large table accommodated all 60 participants, and the butlers provided personalized service. When the event concluded, each person received personal escort back to their vehicle.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. The chapter saw an immediate increase in memberships and renewals; 50 percent of attendees sent personal thank you emails to the planning team. The local papers covered the event, providing increased exposure for the chapter…and the butler school got eight new bookings.

Three Weeks to Go
Gilbert Villard, CIS, regional director of sales at Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB

For three years, Gilbert Villard helped an organization source its venue as part of his role with the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB. It’s a free service that the CVB offers to help clients find the right strategic patterns in the GFL region. When that client opted to try using its own resources, a big challenge emerged.

The beach hotel the company chose was going through a major renovation, which kept getting pushed back…and back…and back. Until three weeks before the event, the client received a call from the venue that the property just wasn’t going to be ready in time. The hotel offered two options: an inland (not beach) hotel or Orlando. Neither seemed like a viable option. Activities were already planned on the water, and flights had already been booked.

Gilbert Villard was ready. When the client called him, desperate for a solution, it took Gilbert just one phone call to find another beach hotel that could accommodate the event. His advice to all planners: Even if you’re an expert, the local CVB or DMO is always there to help.

Four Walls in Tokyo
Héctor A. Venegas, chief executive officer and partner for SwarmWorks Ltd.

Hector Venegas’ client planned to take its executive and management teams to Tokyo for three days of education and knowledge sharing. Four hundred managers from all over the world would fly into Japan for a series of sessions and workshops, and 70 percent of them had never been to Tokyo. The organization allocated just three-and-a-half hours for its attendees to explore the city.

SwarmWorks was in charge of the workshops. And the time allocated to seeing the city didn’t sit right with Venegas. He suggested that the company take all of its workshops outside. The executives were dubious at best as to how learning could occur outside the conference space, but put their trust in SwarmWorks to get it done. 

Venegas designed a scavenger hunt that ran five hours and allowed participants to explore the city’s greatest tourist sites, but also imparted all of the learning that would have occurred in the conference space. Attendees experienced the destination while also gaining the knowledge they needed to implement new company solutions.

In Real Time
Jim Russell, executive vice president of audiovisual for Freeman Co.

Freeman had a large customer with an event that spanned the length of a Tier 1 city convention center. The event didn’t require attendees to pre-register for breakout sessions, and this was one of the top things people liked about the event. But full rooms were what people liked the least, and one beget the other. The event was so large that it could take 15 minutes to walk to another session if your first choice was full.

Freeman took inspiration from airport departure signs that keep travelers informed of delays. The company placed RFID chips in badges so it could track how many people were in session rooms. Pan-event signage included upcoming sessions as well as whether or not seating was still open. 

Freeman used the terms “available,” “limited” and “full” to let people know if they should make the trip. If a session proved particularly popular, the team opened up a new room and streamed the content live to the overflow audience. Complaints about full rooms virtually disappeared. 

Steve Segers, founder and business manager of Streamdis

The MPI Belgium Chapter approached Streamdis with a challenge. Their preferred keynote would not arrive on site in time for the general session. The speaker would have landed, but would be en route. Because Streamdis knew of the challenge ahead of time, it decided to outfit a car that would allow the speaker to present while driving. The team drove all routes from the airport to the venue to discover which had the best connectivity. It equipped the vehicle with a camera, mobile Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, hands-free technology. Buttons on the steering wheel could advance slides in real time. 

Streamdis even created a two-way connection so that the speaker could take Q&A from the driver’s seat. When he actually arrived on site, the team was there to record him driving up, and his entrance—to much applause. Press coverage for the unique delivery lasted for weeks after the event was over.

Great partners help their clients achieve results, even when those results require outside-the-box thinking due to unforeseen challenges or an influx of innovation to ensure right-sized engagement. Empower your partners by sharing your ultimate event goals and objectives and create life-changing events that deliver on business value—together.

The CIC is rebranding!

Announcing the new name and look for the Events Industry Council, and the new look for Certified Meeting Professionals (CMPs). This change makes an exciting future for the Council and all event professionals as the business of meetings continues to evolve and thrive around the world.

To read more click the link below:

Back to top


Eddie Rodriguez
Events & Engagement Manager

Weatherby Healthcare

New Members to Meet & Greet!

Sandra Pals, CMP CAE - Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Naples
Kristin Biada - The Ritz-Carlton
Priscilla Bosco - McDermott Will & Emery LLP
Julianne Miles, HMCC - Pennington Ventures
Eddie Rodriguez - CHG Healthcare Services
Joanne Umbarger, CMP - NCCI Holdings, Inc.
Miles J. Volin, CMP
Kelly M. Griffin - Fogo de Chao Churrascaria Miami Beach
Vanessa Londono - Pullman Miami Airport Hotel
Cassidy Puttick Martinez - Sagamore - The Art Hotel
Mark Tascione - Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Ines D. Vrielynck - Hilton Key Largo Resorts


Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa

MPI SFL welcomes a new resort on Hutchinson Island to the Meeting & Events Community. 

Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa in Jensen Beach is the Treasure Coast of Florida's new premier resort for family vacations, meetings, corporate retreats, oceanfront weddings, and spa getaways. Enjoy 184-rooms of oceanfront accommodations with coastal-inspired decor and luxury amenities steps from the sand on Florida's East Coast. The first new resort to be built on Hutchinson Island in almost two decades, the new resort will feature an oceanfront restaurant, two pools, a jacuzzi, a signature spa, 8,000 square feet of oceanfront meeting space, and a spectacular beachfront location perfect for soaking up the sun, cooling off in the surf, and sinking your toes in the sand.

Opening in Spring 2017, The Hutchinson Shores Resort is a welcome addition to the area. With more than 8,000 square feet of meeting space and a prime oceanfront setting, the resort is an exciting new addition for meeting planners here in South Florida.

Learn more about Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa at

Sponsored by Hutchinson Shores. 

Sonoma County Tourism

Want to learn more about Advertising with MPI SFL? Contact

Have you checked out our latest blog? Don't miss out! 

Click here to view the latest post.

Back to top


Are you ready to take your seat at the executive table?

Earning your Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM) shows the world that you are a strategic thinker ready to assume a leadership role in this industry.

This intensive, three-part executive educational program packs the highlights of a world-class MBA program into a long weekend (3.5 days), followed by eight hours of advanced-level online coursework and a final project focused on solving a real-world business problem.

According to a recent MPI member survey, the average salary of a meeting professional with a CMM is $107,877 for planners and $114,868 for suppliers. That’s roughly $20,000/year more than members with a CMP and nearly $30,000/year more than members with no credentials.

Once you’ve earned your CMM, you may use the designation indefinitely; there is no renewal requirement. Because the CMM coursework is equivalent to 25 clock hours of CMP-IS-approved education – the same amount required to attain or renew the CMP designation – many meeting professionals elect to complete their CMM coursework first, then use those hours to earn or renew their CMP status.

For more information about obtaining your CMM Certification, please visit

Back to top