Official Newsletter of The Association for Convention Operations Management

October 2009

Networking Zone: The cool place to “meet” up with
fellow members
• Save the Date — ACOM November Idea Network
• 2009 Member Get A Member Campaign


Conference Corner: The name says it all
Must-See Sessions
• Add PCMA to your ACOM Registration

What CSMs Are Talking About: The latest buzz from a fellow CSM
• A Shout-Out for the CTA Program

Benefitting You: Did you know that ACOM offers...
• CSM of the Year (in conjunction with Successful Meetings Magazine)
• Executive Excellence Award
• Meeting Professional of the Year
• The Donald S. Freeman Jr. ACOM Conference Scholarship

Tips of the Trade: Helpful tools for the services profession
• Off the Cuff The Pygmalion Effect

Recent Releases: ACOM in the News
• ACOM Beats the Convention Services Drum!

What's New: New happenings in ACOM
Send in your best holiday recipes!

Please send article suggestions to Katie Guasco, Baton Rouge Area CVB, At-A-Glance Editor. Remember - authoring articles offers CMP points!

Networking Zone
The cool place to “meet” up with fellow members

Save the Date — ACOM November Idea Network

Date: November 19
1:00pm ET
Track 1: Discussion on Housing and Registration
Track 2: Discussion on Food and Beverage

Full description coming soon — check the ACOM Website for updates and registration information.

• 2009 Member Get A Member Campaign

Give back to your industry! The benefits are plenty, including a chance to win a great prize!

Deadline quickly approaching — October 31, 2009

Currently in the lead:
Maritza Rudisill, Disneyland Resort

In the running for a close second:

Amy Cabe, Spokane CVB
Susan Stipanovic, City of Myrtle Beach
Denise Suttle, Albuquerque CVB
Teri Wiley, Virginia Beach Resort Hotel & Conference Center

Get yourself in the running today...see details below to find out how!

Get your colleagues to join ACOM today and you will be entered in a drawing for a $250 American Express Gift Card.

It's quite simple are the Rules of the Game:
- Recruit a minimum of 2 new members.
- Renewals do not qualify unless they have been a non-active members for 3 years or more.
- In the event of a tie, there will be a drawing to determine the winner.
- Your name must appear on the application under "Name of Person Who Referred You."

Share with your colleagues the benefits of an ACOM membership:
- Networking opportunities with other services professionals
- Access to educational programs for new and senior convention services managers (Annual Conference)
- Local Luncheons and informal monthly educational session programming (Webinar and Idea Network)
- Career development
- Points for your CMP
- Give back to your industry

Feel free to contact ACOM Headquarters at 609-799-3712 with questions or for more information. Don't forget to visit our website at

Back to Top

Conference Corner
The name says it all

Must-See Sessions

ACOM is one step closer to its Annual Conference — Deep in the Heart of Service in Dallas, Texas. The Conference Agenda is now posted to the ACOM Conference Website. The Conference Committee has put together an impactful program — full of topics that will get you thinking and learning.

Must-see sessions at the Annual Conference:
Sign of the Times Part I: Sharing Strategies
(Saturday, January 9)

How can we prepare today for our ever changing tomorrow? How to deal with the overwhelming changes we are all facing including decreased budgets, loss of staffing, and employee morale. Sharing strategies on how to provide and maintain good service consistently in various industry climates, including incorporating new trends like the use of Social Media. How can we effectively do more with less?

Sign of the Times Part II: Meeting Planner Perspective (Sunday, January 10)
Get the inside scoop from meeting planners as they discuss the issues they face from day to day. Learn to work within your client’s budget and expectations. How are they working to build attendance, reduce attrition risk, and develop creative, yet lean, budgets? Our planner panel will share insights on how their methods are changing and how CSMs can help them execute top-notch meetings and events in these challenging times.

Generational & Cultural Partnerships – Two part session (Sunday, January 10)
Presented by: Izzy Gesell, Izzy G & Company
Anyone who has had the opportunity to attend one of Izzy’s sessions knows how impactful and engaging his sessions are.  We have the wonderful opportunity to have him join us this year for this 2-part series. Our country’s vast cultural workforce is comprised of four generations that span up to 60 years. This may present obstacles in communication and relationships. Learn key practices in taking a tactical approach during the event planning process when faced with both generational differences and cultural diversity.

Part 1 — Key Take Aways
Formulate a plan to promote inter-generational dialogue
Identify personal perceptions that interfere with cross -generational understanding

Part 2 — Key Take Away
Discuss the impact generational differences have on effectiveness and productivity

To view the full program, please visit the ACOM Conference Website.

Register Today!

• Add PCMA to your ACOM Annual Meeting Registration

Want to know what challenges your planners will face in the future and how this can impact you? Attend PCMA’s Annual Meeting! If you are registered for the ACOM Annual Conference , you can add on registration for the 2010 PCMA Annual Meeting at the PCMA member rate or one day for $99. Attend sessions like: The State of The Travel and Meetings Industry, Advanced Solutions for International Meetings, Learning New Tricks: Corporate and Association Approaches to Meetings, Labor Intensive: Forming Partnerships that Work, and more! 

You must be registered for the ACOM Annual Conference to receive the discount to PCMA. For the full PCMA meeting, visit and register with registration access code: A131515 for ACOM Members, A131316 for Non-members OR add a day of PCMA to your ACOM registration for $99 including attendance to the January 10th Welcome Reception and Monday education programming with continental breakfast, refreshment breaks and luncheon.

*Please note that the day of the PCMA registration is non-refundable if cancelled.

Back to Top

What CSMs Are Talking About
The latest buzz from a fellow CSM

A Shout-Out for the CTA Program
Submitted by: ACOM Member, Devon Sloan, Director of Events, Hilton Tucson El Conquistador

Have you ever worked really hard on a convention only to have a person in your facility or city say or do something inappropriate which turns the post convention meeting into a less than positive experience? If the answer is unfortunately yes, then I’ve got a great solution for you!

The Certified Tourism Ambassador program, which was introduced to us in January in New Orleans, is that solution. The program was introduced to Tucson about two years ago, and what a difference I’m seeing in our customer evaluation scores. The information gleaned from the reading materials and class (only 4 hours!) is amazing. I’ve talked with people in Tucson who have lived here all their lives who learned LOTS about our area, and most importantly, how to share that information with our guests. No longer is the answer to a guest query, “I don’t know” or “I can’t do that.” Hundreds of people in our area have taken this class, and their companies and our guests are the beneficiaries. 

The program is nationwide already in cities like Anaheim, Baltimore, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Fayetteville, Kansas City, Phoenix, Lexington, Milwaukee, Door County, and Spokane. More cities are in the works, and yours can be one of them.  Please check out the website and find out how your city or facility can help make sure our visitors have a great experience while they are in our areas. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed! 

I facilitate some of the classes in Tucson because I really believe in the program, so if you’d like to know more, please feel free to give me a call at 520-544-1125 or email me at I look forward to hearing from you.

Here’s to a great fall!

Back to Top

Benefitting You
Did you know that ACOM offers...

CSM of the Year (in conjunction with Successful Meetings Magazine)
Executive Excellence Award
Meeting Professional of the Year
The Donald S. Freeman Jr. ACOM Conference Scholarship

ACOM offers a variety of opportunities to recognize those who shine — from the junior up-and-comers to seasoned executives. Read on to find out how you can participate in these great recognition programs.

CSM of the Year
Deadline is November 3

Successful Meetings' Convention Services Manager of the Year award winners have demonstrated to the most demanding critics in the business — meeting planners — their ability to provide the highest level of service. 

Planners — here is your opportunity to reward those individuals who have done an outstanding job of servicing your meetings! Nominees are evaluated on their planners' comments on their service mentality, how they were an effective meeting partner, and if they went above and beyond.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2009 CSM of the Year — click here to nominate a deserving professional today! Or — let your planner know about this important honor!

Executive Excellence Award
Deadline is November 25

Each year, ACOM recognizes an Executive for his or her commitment and dedication to the industry and to supporting members of their services team with continuing education, excellence, as well as involvement in ACOM.

Criteria and Guidelines
- Nominee supports staff participation in ACOM.
- Nominee must be an executive of an organization which has an ACOM member. Executive is defined as a VP or higher at a CVB; a member of the executive committee or GM at a hotel; or a VP, GM or Executive Director at a Convention Center.
- Nominee personally and consistently supports quality assurance in organization's convention services operations.
- Nominee supports staff development, growth and continuing education.

Click here to nominate a deserving professional today!

Meeting Professional of the Year
Deadline is November 25

This award was designed to recognize the hard-working meeting professional who exhibits personal and professional characteristics that create an environment that focuses on team work, as well as shows support for the Convention Services Profession.

CSMs, this is your chance to recognize a planner that represents the best of the best! Convention Services Managers know better than anyone when a planner is prepared, shows professionalism and is a great leader when producing an event or meeting.

Criteria and Guidelines
- Worked with nominator during the past year
- Held meeting planner position during the past year
- Shows superior leadership management qualities before, during and after the meeting
- Recognizes the importance and supports the role of the CSM in the meeting planning process

Click here to nominate a deserving planner today!

The Donald S. Freeman Jr. ACOM Conference Scholarship
Deadline is November 13

In an effort to support students studying in the hospitality management field, ACOM hosts an annual scholarship program wherein a student is selected to attend the Annual Conference to help contribute to on-site meeting management tasks and to gain exposure to meetings industry education and networking. Click here to read more about this scholarship opportunity.

Back to Top

Tips of the Trade
Helpful tools for the services profession

Off the Cuff — The Pygmalion Effect
By: Rick Johnson, CEO Strategist

The wrong attitude can create a Self Fulfilling Prophecy. It’s called the Pygmalion Effect. You must believe in yourself. You must believe in your own ability, the ability of your team. You must have the will to succeed even though times are tough. You must openly demonstrate the desire to succeed. Look inwardly at your own thoughts. Thoughts are powerful as they shape your attitude and your attitude shapes your beliefs which control your actions. Hard work is a direct expression of your beliefs. Effective leaders fall back on the five basic principles of success.

1. Commitment with a passion — Leaders must demonstrate a commitment for success that leaves no doubt in the minds of their employees.

2. Realization that “You don’t have to have all the answers.” Seeking input from employees and openly discussing ideas and strategies is the best way to demonstrate a confidence in the team you have and the employees that will execute your vision.

3. Empowerment and Delegation

Delegation is the handing of a task over to another person, usually a subordinate. It is the assignment of authority and responsibility to another person to carry out specific activities. Delegation, if properly done, is not abdication. The opposite of effective delegation is micromanagement, where a manager provides too much input, direction and review of 'delegated' work.

Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social or economic strength of individuals. It often involves the empowered developing confidence in their own capabilities. It allows a subordinate to make decisions, i.e. it is a shift of decision-making authority from one organizational level to a lower one. In the sphere of management and organizational theory, "empowerment" often refers loosely to processes for giving subordinates (or workers generally) greater discretion and resources: distributing control in order to better serve both customers and the interests of the company.

4. Employees are the most precious asset — This means you must walk the walk and invest in employee development and employee training even more during tough economic times. Employees are the profit and success creators of every organization.

5. Communicate intentionally and effectively following these ten tips.

Manage by Walking Around — Get out and meet your people, talk to them, show an interest in them and in the job they are doing for you. This includes everyone from the forklift driver to your Vice President of sales. Everyone likes to know they are appreciated.

Eliminate unproductive — unnecessary lengthy meetings. I know a CEO that refuses to allow chairs in the conference room. All meetings are held standing up. I don’t believe there is a company that exists that can’t do a better job making their meetings more productive.  

Written communication should be precise and clear. Don’t write like you are a journalist for USA Today. Avoid excessive and lengthy diatribes that become confusing.

Create flexibility in your organization structure. Rigid organization charts that are too restrictive can get in the way of getting the job done. Job functions and descriptions must have clarity but don’t make them so restrictive and detailed that cross functional interaction, support and cooperation is limited.

Open your ears and your heart. Learn to listen more effectively. That means becoming disciplined at not interrupting. You might be amazed at what employees will tell you if you just listen. You might be amazed at what employees can do for you and the company if you just let them.

Constructive feedback can be helpful. Don’t criticize the messenger. Frank opinions can be helpful if we allow our ego to get out of the way. There is no such thing as constructive criticism. Never criticize.

Put a filter between your brain and your lips. A passing comment that seems frivolous to you could devastate your entire staff and you may never hear about it. Think before you react spontaneously. Don’t say what you think they want to hear and remember; even the simplest or dumbest complaint to you is serious to the one expressing it. Be sensitive to the environment, the values and the culture of the person or persons you are communicating with.

Don’t build a kingdom on the backs of your employees. If economic times dictate cutbacks, layoffs and expense control. Start at the top. Share the pain. Look at corporate overhead, perks and fringe benefits of management and the executive staff. Consider a pay cut at the executive level.

Keep your hand on the pulse of your business environment. Make sure you are well informed on the external and the internal environment of your business. Network with industry colleagues. Benchmark friendly competitors or businesses outside your region. Stay close to the communication channel of your vendors.

Make sure you have a definitive focus on employee training and development. This must always carry a priority. Make sure your orientation program for new employees is continuously updated. The first sixty days is critical to retention. 

Back to Top

Recent Releases
ACOM in the News

ACOM Beats the Convention Services Drum!        

Initiatives such as the Meetings Mean Business campaign continue to be important as the travel and meetings industry experiences difficult times due to current economic conditions.

ACOM has spearheaded its own response to the recession in the form of a "Letter to the Industry" to illustrate the important role of convention services and its impact on the quality of meetings. We were pleased to see this in print in USAE on September 29th.

Back to Top

What's New
New happenings in ACOM

Send in your best holiday recipes!

Do you have a favorite holiday entrée or a must-try holiday dessert?

To kick off the holiday season, ACOM wants to compile your best holiday recipes and share them with fellow ACOM Members.

We will be compiling the recipes in four categories — appetizers / hors d’eouvres, entrees, sides and desserts. Send your recipes to Denise Suttle by November 21st and then make sure you check-out the December ACOMmodate for all of the great recipes.

Back to Top

Contact Us:
191 Clarksville Road
Princeton Junction, NJ 08550
Tel: 609-799-3712