Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

October 12 2015

PCMA SE Member Spotlight - October 2015

Chris Colbert
Q&A with Bonnie Wallsh, MA, CMP, CMM
Chief Strategist of Bonnie Wallsh Associates, LLC
Meeting Management Consultants, Educators, Speakers, and Trainers

Contact Bonnie

How many years have you been in the hospitality industry? For 37 years.
How long have you been a PCMA member?  Seven years.
What is your current job title and name of your organization? I am the Chief Strategist at Bonnie Wallsh Associates, LLC, as well as a Meeting Management Consultant, Speaker, Facilitator, and Educator.
What do you see as your greatest strengths? Passion, thirst for knowledge, intelligence, professional expertise, integrity, tenacity, personal and professional relationships, customer service, empathy, thoughtfulness, loyalty, sense of humor, and flexibility.
Obviously, you are currently in the hospitality industry. Has this always been your chosen profession or were you in another career(s) prior to this one?  I was an elementary school teacher and high school social studies teacher in New York City before being laid off in budget cuts. I also worked as a travel agent. I was invited to go on a week-long cruise for $9.56 (port tax). I paid for my husband to join me and he won $100.00 playing blackjack that he gave  
me to start my meeting planning business. I had no meeting planning or business experience but I had the determination and perseverance to succeed in my own business.
Please share your most favorite online app(s) or website(s) that you use for enjoyment personally or professionally. Facebook, Lyft, Waze, Maps, CNN, Airbnb, Netflix, YouTube, Pandora
What were some of the popular “fads” you experienced during your life?
Hula hoops, pet rocks, short shorts, bell bottom pants, tie dyed clothing, mini-skirts, go-go boots, anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, peace signs, the Beatles, disco, the Twist, Afros, and fallout shelters.
PCMA provides many opportunities for education, networking and volunteering; which of these has had the most benefit for you? I have benefitted from education, networking, and volunteering and I am very proud to have been named Volunteer of the Year by the Southeast chapter. My prime reason for joining PCMA was because of the high quality of the educational programs and the willingness to take risks in programming at the annual conference.
If someone gave you $10,000 and told you that you could NOT give it to any of your friends, family members or use it for yourself, what would you do with it? I would donate the money to Fellowship Center in Knoxville, TN, part of Hospitality House. My husband became ill while we were vacationing in Gatlinburg, TN and he was rushed to Fort Sanders Hospital in Knoxville where he spent 5 months in the ICU. What do you do as a meeting planner in a strange city? …Take a familiarization tour of the city. Tracy from the Knoxville CVB introduced me to her aunt, who was the director, who provided me with an apartment in the Fellowship Center, at no charge, with laundry and pantry facilities and several lunches each week provided by volunteers. After my husband passed away, all donations were directed to the Fellowship Center. Most people have heard about Ronald McDonald House but are not familiar with this invaluable resource for out-of-town families who have a relative in the hospital. There are hospitality houses throughout the USA.

Good to know: Meetings Focus named Bonnie Wallsh as one of their Meeting Trendsetters for 2015, and one of 22 luminaries who push our profession forward.
Thank you Bonnie for your many contributions to the Hospitality Industry!