Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 26 2016

Southern Hospitality

Cheri D. Jones, CMP, Vista Productions, Inc.


Northwest Arkansas (NWA) has merged two networking groups during the past two years and formed the NWA Travel and Meeting Professional Networking Group. We are over 100 strong. We meet quarterly and it gives those of us who can’t attend national and regional PCMA or MPI meetings an alternative opportunity to network, talk about trends, share “wins,” and learn. 

Second quarter, David Kinney, PCMA Heartland Chapter President, spoke to our group about the benefits of becoming a PCMA member, as well as what is happening in our Chapter. Thanks to the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau for allowing him to attend and for sponsoring his travel. David got to experience what Southern Hospitality is all about. The meeting, lunch and guestroom were sponsored by Embassy Suites of Northwest Arkansas.

Third quarter, Teresa Hellman, CMP, Senior National Account Manager for Experient Sales Network, graciously accepted our invitation to speak about industry trends and RFP’s. Tyson Foods, Inc. sponsored the venue and lunch for a group of 65. Teresa’s room was sponsored by Holiday Inn Springdale. Teresa acknowledged Michael Dominquez, Chief Sales Officer at MGM Resorts, for his statistics, and Experient – A Maritz Global Event Company

Specifically, Teresa shared with us that the group demand for rooms was the highest it has ever been in 2015 and that both transient and group ADR have been on the rise due to that demand.

So many people in the audience particularly enjoyed the discussion on RFP’s. One of the key takeaways was that both hoteliers and planners alike need to be reminded how important historical information and details are when writing and also responding to an RFP. Teresa also recommended that as planners even though technology allows us to easily click a few buttons to add more and more venues to our RFP request, planners should be very strategic as to which venues they include. Incorporating the CVB’s into the RFP process is also very beneficial to all parties.

According to Teresa, the main points when writing your RFP are to know the following:

  • what factors determine success for your specific meeting
  • how much you spend with all hotel groups each year
  • the budgeted room rate
  • total F&B (and share the inclusive budget with the C.S. Manager and Chef)
  • AV equipment needs and spend

Thank you to the Heartland Chapter of PCMA for supporting our networking group. Education is what it is all about and I love having that be part of our NWA Travel and Meeting Professional Networking Group quarterly meetings.

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