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PCMA Southeast Chapter 2-Day Education Meeting

July 20, 2023 @ 1:00 pmJuly 21, 2023 @ 1:00 pm EDT

Join PCMA Southeast Chapter in Orlando for a dynamic education and networking event. Whether you are based in Florida or traveling from one of the six other states in the southeast chapter, experience a vacation-like environment and connect with several meeting professionals and students seeking best practices for the business of meetings today. Content and trending topics for the event include navigating the impacts of legislation on site selection, negotiating meeting contracts in the current economy and managing uncertainty, and changing audience behaviors and trends in food, beverage, and audiovisual. Enjoy all central Florida has to offer and the hospitality of the Doubletree by Hilton at SeaWorld!

Register and you will automatically be entered for the United Airlines drawing for round trip airfare for two (terms & conditions apply):

Registration Category
Member $185.00
Member Exhibitor (includes Registration) $395.00
Non-Member $199.00
Non-Member Exhibitor (includes reg) $439.00
Faculty/Student $109.00



Doubletree by Hilton at SeaWorld
A group rate of $129.00 per night is available until June 28th for PCMA SE Attendees



Thursday, July 20

1:00pm-5:00pm         Registration/Networking with vendors + Headshot station sponsored by Christies Photographic Solutions

2:00pm-3:15pm        Opening Session: Trend Talks, hear from industry experts on the latest trends in A/V, Sustainability, F&B and more.

Hali Cooper, CMP – VP of Strategic Accounts w/Encore

Eric Blanc – Deputy Director of the Orange County Convention Center

Tracy Vessillo – President of Puff n Stuff Catering

Michael Farrell – President & Co-Founder at Redstory


3:15pm-3:45pm        Break w/ vendors

3:45pm-5:00pm        Education Session: Contracts: New, Novel and Nagging Issues in Today’s Market with Tyra Warner, PhD, Esq, CMP

5:00pm-7:00pm        Networking Reception


Friday, July 21

8:00am                        Breakfast Buffet opens

8:30am                        Welcome back

Volunteer of the Quarter, Sponsored by Nashville Music City

Trend Talk – Stacey Nisihikawa, United Airlines + drawing


9:00am-10:00am      Panel Discussion: Navigating the impacts of discriminatory legislation on site selection

Beth Surmont, CMP-Fellow, Social Offset

Brenda Dempsey, Nashville Music City

Ronny Coombs, American Society of Nephrology

Stan Rubins, Senior Corporate Counsel for Visit Orlando

10:00am-10:30am    Break w/Vendors

10:30am-12:00pm    Closing Session: Thriving in Uncertainty with Beth Surmont, CMP-Fellow


*4.5 clock hours will be submitted to the EIC


Education Session Descriptions

Contracts: New, Novel, and Nagging Issues in Today’s Market with Tyra Warner, PhD, Esq, CMP

Contracts reflect the marketplace in which they are being negotiated.  Even with years of experience, it pays to brush up on new issues that arise due to current events, changes in practice, or shifts in the market.  To fail to do so puts a party at a negotiation disadvantage.  Likewise, there are novel issues that arise from time to time, usually in response to an unusual occurrence that causes a ripple effect across the industry.  Finally, it is important not to lose sight of nagging issues that can have important financial or risk management implications, such as force majeure, performance clauses, and indemnification.

  • Determine how to address inflation issues in the contract relative to rooms, F&B, and deposit schedules.
        • Analyze performance clauses and force majeure language to ensure it is as fair and balanced as possible.
        • Create language to address discriminatory legislation or action by partners, state or local governments.



Trend Talks:

Hali Cooper, CMP – Vice President of Strategic Accounts, Encore

Hali Cooper, CMP, serves as Vice President of Strategic Accounts with Encore.  Hali consults one-on-one with hotel Ownership, Management and Brand customers to design their portfolio strategies.

A lifelong career in hospitality has provided Hali with numerous exciting opportunities.  She has enjoyed working for Hilton, Hyatt and IHG properties.  Hali also has served as an association management professional and was named one of the “Top Meeting Planners to Watch” in both 2000 & 2014. Recently, she was nominated as one of the “Smart Women in Meetings” by Smart Meetings magazine.


Tracy Vessillo – President,  Puff ‘n Stuff Catering

Tracy spent his first years with Compass Group as an Executive Chef for Flik International providing service to many prestigious firms in New York City. His well rounded culinary background is what gave Tracy the platform to grow from Executive Chef to Foodservice Director to District Manager in a short period of time. From here, he was given the rewarding task of leading operations for disaster relief services when many folks were left without food and shelter as a result of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. With a successful outcome, Tracy was given the role of Vice President for Outtakes, Compass’ retail business solution. Growing that business $80M in two short years, Tracy was then given the responsibility of all retail development and operations, representing $500M for Compass Group.

Compass then asked Tracy to take over their Eurest, B&I division in the Gulf States. As a regional vice president, Tracy grew that revenue from $53M to $98M in 3 short years. In May of 2017, he moved to Los Angeles to take over as president of Wolfgang Puck Catering. Tracy put $50M in the new business pipeline for Wolfgang just before Covid hit. Since then, $35M of the $50M has been closed on. The diverse and successful path of Tracy’s career gives him the pleasure of taking on a president’s role with Puff n’ Stuff Catering where he is ready to continue his positive influence on revenue growth, team building and overall leadership.


Eric Blanc, CMP –  Deputy Director, Orange County Convention Center

Eric Blanc, Sr., CMP is the Orange County Convention Center’s (OCCC) Deputy Director of Sales, Marketing, Event Management and Exhibitor Services. With more than 25 years of experience in event management and convention center sales, Blanc oversees the strategic planning and selling of the OCCC.

Blanc was the Director of Sales, Marketing, and Convention Services at the Tampa Convention Center, where he spent 15 years of his career. He held various positions during his time there including Event Services Supervisor and Senior Events Coordinator.

Blanc’s background spans across various top organizations in the industry including The Freeman Companies and GES Expositions, where he was a National Sales Manager for both companies. Blanc graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business – Marketing and holds a certificate from the IAAM Public Assembly Facility Management School at Oglebay


Michael Farrell – President & Co-Founder at Redstory

Michael Farrell’s history in live events and entertainment began over 35 years ago. As a major label recording and touring artist and Graduate of the Middle Tennessee State University Recording Industry Management Program, Michael fully understands the difference between a live event and an immersive, branded experience.

In support of his role as President & Co-Founder at Redstory, Michael fosters strategic customer relationships to develop deep knowledge and understanding of client requirements, needs, and budgets while demonstrating the organizations product and service offerings. Michael’s detailed leadership across cross-functional teams provides external and internal project stakeholders’ ongoing support, transformational advice and account oversight.




Navigating the impacts of legislation on site selection with panelists:

Beth Surmont, CMP-Fellow, Social Offset

Brenda Dempsey, Nashville Music City

Ronny Coombs, American Society of Nephrology

Stan Rubins, Senior Corporate Counsel for Visit Orlando

There are many factors at play when selecting a site or destination for a group meeting.  Travel advisories and boycotts due to discriminatory legislation in some locales are impacting meeting planning and destinations in unique ways. This panel of experts will discuss ways to investigate impacts, current policies, and opportunities to incorporate social offsets to help you navigate decisions for future events.


Thriving in Uncertainty with Beth Surmont, CMP-Fellow

If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that we can’t control what is going to happen, but we can control our response to it. Exponential changes in technology combined with accelerated trends, economic factors, and mixed with shifts in behaviors all make for a complicated and unstable environment. The playbooks we’ve used no longer work as well; and the expectations of our audiences, our partners, and our organizations are higher than ever. Those who are waiting for things to go back to how they were will be left behind. The successful ones will learn how to look at the world differently, measure risk in new ways, and create flexible systems, leaving them prepared to face whatever may come.

Beth Surmont, Vice President of Event Strategy & Design for 360 Live Media, will share perspective on new event trends, changing audience behaviors, and how you can best prepare your team to manage uncertainty and position your organization for success.



The PCMA Southeast Chapter supports youth education through literacy. As a part of our community service initiative in Orlando, FL the PCMASE chapter will be donating books to the New Image Youth Center, an after school and summer program for at-risk students in the Parramore neighborhood in Orlando, FL. We ask that you bring 1-2 new or lightly used books for a K-12th grade reading level for donation. We suggest considering one of the 874 book titles that were banned in 2022 or one of the 11 most banned books of the 2022-2023 school year.


Recent Messaging on Travel Advisories:

Visit Orlando

Orlando has always been and will continue to be a diverse, welcoming and inclusive community.   As the top travel destination in the country and longstanding leader in the travel industry, our community has a history of welcoming all to our destination.  

Travel and tourism positively impacts our community and plays a valuable role in ongoing engagement and dialogue. Visit Orlando will continue to encourage travel to our destination to drive progress and support hard-working small businesses. 


Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings

“Orange County is open for business. Our residents represent a broad diaspora of cultures, which makes us stronger as a society.  Please be assured our community values diversity and embraces inclusion. Hate is never welcome here. We look forward to working with the NAACP to reassure them and others that Orange County is a caring, compassionate and welcoming community.”

A joint statement was made Monday, May 22nd by prominent black travel groups in regard to the travel advisory.

Black travel and tourism advocacy groups, however, say the advisory will hurt the people it’s supposed to help. By deterring travel, Black travel and tourism businesses and underserved communities will lose out on visitors and spending, said Future of Black TourismBlacks in Travel & Tourism and the Black Travel Alliance in a joint statement on Monday.

“We believe there is a better way to make a statement to [Florida Governor Ron DeSantis] beyond a travel advisory petitioning African Americans and people of color to stay away from Florida,” the groups said. “Small Black businesses and marginalized communities certainly should not be the sacrificial lamb.”

Our most diverse groups make up the heart and soul of our hospitality industry, we want to ensure we as Orlando can continue to promote our cities uniquely diverse communities to those who share those same values.



July 20, 2023 @ 1:00 pm
July 21, 2023 @ 1:00 pm
Event Categories:
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Double Tree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld
10100 International Drive
Orlando, FL
View Venue Website

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