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Behind the Scenes By Michelle Russell


‘Something Called Event Planning’


It is a one-of-a-kind job. And a one-of-a-kind industry. D


uring a dental check-up this week, I asked my dentist how his daughter, a recent college


graduate, was doing. He told me that she was waitressing and doing “some- thing called event planning”—which she was crazy about, but it wasn’t exactly what he’d call a career move. I launched intomyspiel about what a great


job meeting planning can be and why I love this industry. (It’s a little routine I’ve perfected for uninitiated family, friends, and acquaintances over the nine years I’ve worked for Convene.) Mydentist had attended his share of confer- ences, but he was surprised. Like so many other people, he’d never really thought about the back end of those meetings requiring professionals who practice a discipline. ExecutiveEditor ChrisDurso and I have been


doing a lot of explaining about this industry recently in the course of interviewing people for two neweditorial positions atConvene.Afew candidates didn’t needmuch background infor- mation:Some had lent a hand in planning a con- ference for the organizations they’d previously worked for, or attended a convention themselves. And one interviewee told us that hermother had been ameeting planner for an insurance com- pany.Growing up, she said, she’d traveled to a number of conventionswith her, and seen first- hand howexciting and challenging her jobwas. Meeting professionals shared some of those


challenges in our latest survey (p. 81). But there was more of an emphasis on what they like about their work. Not surprisingly, they cited the opportunity to meet people and travel— which go hand in hand—most frequently. That pretty much topsmylist of job perks as well. And on a few fam trips, I’ve been fortunate


6 pcmaconvene April 2012


to have the chance to bring along a member of myfamily to experience a new destination, in the process giving them a taste of what the meet- ings and hospitality industry is all about. When Disney Resorts recently sent me a fam-


trip invitation to Aulani, its new resort in Hawaii, I mentioned it in passing tomydad. “You’re lucky,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii.” Disney’s invitation generously included a guest, so I asked him if he wanted to join me. He jumped at the chance. I cashed in some frequent-flyer miles, and in late February, mydad, who’s a spry 80, spent 11 hours flying with me across the country and over the Pacific. (See ConveneOnSite, p. 24.) Myfather had traveled


a fair amount during his career in the engineering field, but if I’ve come to somewhat take for granted the difference between traveling on business and being hosted on a fam tour, this trip withmydad set me straight. He was bowled over by the elegant meals on the beach, the beauty of the resort itself, the genuine warmth and hospitality of our hosts, and the friendliness of our fellow participants. “I can see why you love your job, kid,” he said to me on our first day at Aulani. “These people are all so interesting, and this place—wow.” Of course, I will no longer get much sympa-


thy frommydad aboutmyhectic travel sched- ule. He’s convinced thatmytime spent on the road is just one Aulani trip after another. 





PLANNERS AS WRITERS AND DESIGNERS:When Senior Editor Barbara Palmer attended a medical meeting planning session at Convening Leaders this past January, she took note of the fact that many planners said that writing grants was taking up alot more of their time—and that they


could use some help with that process. Our cover story (p. 40) is adirect response to that need.





FAM EQUALS FAMILY: My dad and I enjoy a moment with acor- porate meeting plan- ner and fellow Aulani fam participant on our glass-bottomed boat excursion.


Michelle Russell Editor in Chief mrussell@pcma.org


www.pcma.org


MICHELLE RUSSELL PHOTOGRAPHED BY DENNIS CHALKIN


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