Meeting Architect Podcast

The role of a meeting planner has evolved over the last decade. There are reasons why it continues to make the Top Ten Most Stressful Job list each year: because it has a complex set of skills and responsibilities.

This podcast is for those in the business events industry.

Whether you are planning a meeting, conference, convention or corporate retreat, the base of each business event requires a strong foundation. As a meeting architect, today’s planner is required to be knowledgeable in an ever-evolving industry.

Each week we will discuss the challenges, lessons learned, successes and how we build the very best experiences.

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Meeting Architect Podcast
Meeting Architect Podcast

Listen to the Latest Podcasts:

Welcome to the Meeting Architect Podcast
Episode 31: The Building Blocks of Experience with Liz Akey, Executive Director & President of EMA Marketing.

On this episode of the Meeting Architect Podcast (MAP), Brenda is joined by Liz Akey, Executive Director & President of EMA Marketing.

Brenda and Liz have a great conversation uncovering the steps that Liz took and the experience she built to get to where she is today.

Discussed in this episode:

  • The different industry verticals that Liz has worked in
  • Marketing, travel and public relations
  • SITE Society for Incentive Travel Excellence
  • Entrepreneurship is calling! 
  • Supporting boutique, independent brands and destination marketing companies.
  • Educationals vs FAMs from a hotelier’s perspective
  • The difference between city centre, urban and resort destinations

Key Learning:  There are a number of areas and verticals one can work in. However, in this industry ROI for all stakeholders is essential.  

Connect with Liz: EMA Marketing
LinkedIn: Liz Akey

Episode 30: Bringing Balance Into Your Day with Anne Stubbs, President & CEO of Yoga In My Backyard.

On this episode of The Meeting Architect Podcast (MAP), Brenda is joined by Anne Stubbs, the small business owner of Yoga In My Backyard. Anne is a Yoga & Meditation Teacher and Fitness Instructor.

Brenda and Anne talk about the value and benefits of Yoga, Meditation and other mind-body disciplines for lowering levels of stress and bringing more balance into your life.

Discussed in this episode:

  • Benefits of a regular practice 
  • Taking a breath
  • Being present
  • Balance in the modern world
  • Intentional rejuvenation 
  • Healing tools
  • Begin and end your day with a pause

Key Learning:  Creating a practice that allows you to step back from the fast pace of your day-to-day responsibilities, thus permitting you to check-in with your mind and body, helping you bring more balance into your life. 

Connect with Anne:

Episode 29: Managing Expectations for Successful Events with Catherine Priestman, President & CEO of CP Business Solutions.

On this episode of The Meeting Architect Podcast (MAP), Brenda is joined by Catherine Priestman, President & CEO of CP Business Solutions.

Brenda and Catherine have a great discussion about how managing expectations at multiple levels is key to successful events. 
Discussed in this episode:

  • CP Business Solutions 3 Pillars
  • Managing client expectations 
  • Going over and above
  • The importance of having support
  • Working with the venue team
  • Catherine’s learning experiences

Key Learning: When you manage expectations you’re not just managing the tangible items you deliver, it is also your job to take care of the people you are working with.

Episode 28: Human Trafficking & the Hospitality Industry with Sandy Biback, CMP Emeritus, CMM & Founder of Meeting Professionals Against Human Trafficking (MPAHT).

On this episode of the Meeting Architect Podcast, Brenda is joined by Sandy Biback, CMP Emeritus, CMM and Founder of Meeting Professionals Against Human Trafficking (MPAHT).

Brenda and Sandy have a heartfelt conversation about how Sandy started this passion project to help bring this dark topic to light.

Discussed in this episode:

  • Trafficking myths
  • How can meeting professionals help?

                 1. Become aware of the issue
                 2. Educate yourself  
                 3. The Photo App that helps identify hotel rooms

  • The training the hotels are undertaking
  • Future goals for MPAHT
  • “If you see something, say something.”

Key Learning: With an issue as pervasive as Human Trafficking, we all need to work together to find a way to contribute to a solution. If you see something, say something.

Episode 27: Having a Vision and Sharing It with Rhonda Scharf, CSP, Hall of Fame (HoF) – On The Right Track Training and Consulting.

On this episode of the Meeting Architect Podcast, Brenda is joined by Rhonda Scharf, CSP, Hall of Fame (HoF) – On The Right Track Training and Consulting. Brenda and Rhonda dig into the strategic planning for a conference and how the team of people come together. 

Discussed in this episode:

  • Rhonda’s specialty of ‘People Power’
  • Having a vision and sharing that vision
  • Different perspectives from being a delegate to being behind the scenes 
  • How to have difficult conversations
  • Roles and responsibilities on a team 
  • Creating expectations 
  • Don’t forget the gratitude

Key Learning: As a leader, you must share your vision so the team members are motivated, they understand how they fit into the bigger picture and they feel that you trust them to do a great job.

Episode 26: The First Five Years in a Meeting Architect’s Career – Ashley Craven, CMP, Manager of Conferences, Events & Corporate Partnerships with the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists.

On this episode of the Meeting Architect Podcast, Brenda is joined by Ashley Craven, CMP, Manager of Conferences, Events & Corporate Partnerships with the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists.

Brenda and Ashley have a great conversation about the first five years in a Meeting Architect’s career and how to determine which direction to go.

Discussed in this episode:

  • How Ashley found her way to Event Management
  • Transferable skills
  • Ashley’s past experience 
  • The Meeting Architect lifestyle
  • Ideas and execution
  • The next five years

Key Learning: Acquire formal education, actively seek volunteering opportunities where you can learn and be involved, and search for a mentor to help guide you. 

Episode 25: What a Hotel Looks at When Reviewing Business – Marilyn Power, Director of Sales & Marketing, Delta Ottawa.

On this episode of the Meeting Architect Podcast, Brenda is joined by Marilyn Power, Director of Sales & Marketing, Delta Ottawa.

Brenda and Marilyn talk about the importance of each vertical within the sales and marketing department and how they come together when evaluating a business opportunity. 

Discussed in this episode:

  • What does a Director of Sales & Marketing do?
  • How a hotel evaluates new business opportunities 
  • Bedroom block and arrival patterns
  • Food & Beverage 
  • Concessions: What is reasonable?
  • Negotiating: Understanding the value of your group 
  • Marketing and Advertising 
  • Leadership

Key Learning: Knowing the value and opportunity for potential business from both perspectives: Hotel vs Meeting Architect

Episode 24: Desmond Lomas, CMP – The Value of Volunteering

On this episode, Brenda is joined by Desmond Lomas, CMP. Desmond is the Director of Global Accounts with The Howes Group. Brenda and Desmond have a great discussion about the value of volunteering and how giving is also a great way of receiving. 

Discussed in this episode:

  • Importance of volunteering
  • How it makes you smarter
  • How others will learn from you
  • Build relationships and networks
  • How giving back makes you happier
  • The importance of EQ (Emotional Quotient)
  • Upcoming role with MPI (Meeting Professionals International)

Key Learning: Volunteering helps you to build strong relationships, learn and expand your skills while giving to others.

Episode 23: Tyra Hilliard, PhD, ESQ, CMP – Force Majeure

On this episode, Brenda is joined by Tyra Hilliard, PhD, ESQ, CMP. 

Tyra is unique as a lawyer because she has a strong foundation in the hospitality industry. Brenda and Tyra discuss Force Majeure.

Discussed in this episode:

  • Acts of God & Acts of Man
  • Fair and balanced
  • Illegal, impossible and impracticable 
  • The importance of dates
  • Being prepared and protected

Key Learning: Be aware and clear regarding the clauses and definitions so you know your risks. 

Episode 22: Jacky Meracle, MBA, CMP – Manager, Chapter and Member Services at PCMA – Professional Education: Take a Risk to Elevate Learning

On this episode, Brenda is joined by Jacky Meracle, MBA, CMP – Manager, Chapter & Member Services at PCMA (Professional Conventions Management Association).

Discussed In this episode:

  • Passion & Purpose
  • Canadian members of PCMA
  • Cornerstone of education
  • Importance of innovation
  • Driving global economic & social change
  • Disruption
  • What members want
  • Upcoming events

Key Learning: Building and elevating business leaders through education. 

Episode 21: Samantha Laprade, C.F.R.E. Marketing Director, Gryphon Fundraising and Radio Host of “An Hour To Give” on 1310 News.

On this episode, Brenda is joined by Samantha Laprade, C.F.R.E. Marketing Director, Gryphon Fundraising and Radio Host of “An Hour To Give” on 1310 News. Sam is a consultant and matchmaker between giver and receiver, working with many organizations to ensure they are reaching their philanthropic goals in a meaningful and intentional way.

Discussed in this episode:

  • 30 years of experience in philanthropy
  • Communication and alignment 
  • Measuring the metrics and impact
  • Volunteer, donation & sponsorship 
  • Time, talent & treasure 
  • Go small with big impact
  • Conference sponsorship

Key Learning: Being of service with your time, talent and treasure as well as building relationships with donors and sponsors. 

Episode 20: The MPI Event Team – Live From Montreal Discuss The Seven Senses.

On this episode, Brenda is joined by this year’s three Co-Chairs of the MPI ‘The EVENT’ in Montreal: Sarah Levitin from Lush Cosmetics, Alice Parnis from AV Canada and Jennifer Labrosse from Tourism Montreal.  

They discuss the process of building the 2019 event from concept, to reality and now as it draws to a close at the time of this interview.
Also in this episode:

  • Appealing to the senses, vestibular and proprioception.
  • Bringing the vision to life.
  • How to find the perfect keynote speaker.
  • Bringing the experience back to work.

Key Learning: Being able to recognize the separate pieces that create an amazing experience for attendees. 

CONGRATULATIONS!!!  On June 16, 2019, the cofounders of the MPI ‘The Event’:  Ryan Young, Brookstreet Hotel; Tim Whalen, Fallsview Casino Resort; Marie France Watson, CED, Past President of MPI Montreal – were presented with the MPI Rise Award in Toronto at WEC 2019.  So well deserved!  Thank you for your dedication to creating new learning opportunities for all of us in this amazing industry!

Episode 19: Creating an Impact Through Innovation with Candace Schierling – Director of National Sales, Tourism Saskatoon.

On this episode, Brenda is joined by Candace Schierling – Director of National Sales, Tourism Saskatoon.

Brenda and Candace discuss the neuroscience of communication – for meeting architects this means learning to position the message for everyone in the audience

They also have a great conversation on innovation. Candace shares about a recent project that was very innovative and talks about how that idea started and where it took them. 

They also discuss:

  • Looking for what has not been done
  • Not letting a risk hold you back
  • VIPlane
  • Making an impact
  • Knowing your strengths and collaborating
  • Learning and sticky points
  • GMID

Key Learning: Create an impact with innovative ideas and collaborating to reach big goals and build relationships.

Episode 18: Cancellation and Attrition – Balancing the Risk with Tyra Hilliard, PhD, ESQ, CMP.

On this episode, Brenda is joined by Tyra Hilliard, PhD, ESQ, CMP. 

Tyra has unique experience which gives her exceptional insight as a lawyer in the hospitality industry. She has been a meeting planner, has worked within hotels and was also an association executive before she decided to attend law school and now teaches the next generation of hospitality professionals. 

In this episode, Brenda and Tyra discuss the important things to consider to ensure your contracts are balanced, fair and logical.

Also discussed are:

  • Fundamentals of the performance clauses
  • Clauses for rooms, spaces, and food & beverage
  • Dealing with underperformance
  • Loss of profit
  • Loss of revenue
  • What is fair?
  • Monitoring and tracking

Key Learning: Both parties should be assuming the risk. Attrition and cancellation clauses are about compensating the other party when one party has failed to perform or has underperformed.

Episode 17: Lost in Translation with Jeanna André-Murdie

On this episode, Jeanna André-Murdie, Global Sales Director for The Howes Group shares her Top 5 Tips for making sure your requests are not lost in translation.

Ensure your request for proposal is in hotel language regarding:

  • Setup requirements
  • Guest rooms
  • Billing
  • Catering
  • Extras

Key Learning: Be clear, direct and upfront with what your needs for your next event are. 

Episode 16: Jennifer Beatty, Managing Director, Resiada.

On this episode Brenda is joined by Jennifer Beatty, Managing Director – Resiada. She is also the Chair of the Canadian Council for MPI Foundation and sits on the Global Board of Trustees.

Brenda and Jennifer discussed her journey with Meeting Professionals International organization, the power of networking, the value of volunteering and how MPI focuses on the three pillars of career development, scholarships and research. 

They also discuss:

  • New formats for professional development.
  • Being an “accidental” planner.
  • The new Event Canvas.

Key Learning: The importance and positive ‘ripples’ that building a network gives you during your career within the events and meetings industry.

Episode 15: Carley Schelck – Partner & CEO of The Urban Element

In this episode, Brenda is joined by Carley Schelck – Partner & CEO of The Urban Element, a venue that elevates food literacy and de-mystifies the process of preparing food. 

Brenda and Carley discuss the importance of food & beverage when planning events. The emerging trend of Chefs who connect with their guests, re-establishing and strengthening the connection we have to our food and how it influences the experience.

Key Learning: How food and beverage is a catalyst for bringing people together and is a cornerstone to the infrastructure of an event.

Episode 14: Jeanna André-Murdie, Director, Global Accounts – The Howes Group. 

On this episode, Brenda is joined by Jeanna André-Murdie, Director, Global Accounts – The Howes Group.

Brenda and Jeanna talk about the importance of inclusive meetings, defining “inclusive”, ensuring inclusivity through your RFP and how food plays a major role. 

Key Learning: Inclusivity pre, during and post conference.

Episode 13: Victoria Clarke, Executive Director – Discover St John. 

On this episode Brenda and Victoria have a great conversation about:

  • The nuances of marketing for different events and organizations.
  • Getting above the noise in digital marketing.
  • Using best practices in technology to determine your ROI.
  • Tracking the delegate experience.

Key Learning: Measuring the economic impact of bringing delegates into a city.

Episode 12: Desmond Lomas, Global Sales Director, The Howes Group

On this episode Desmond shares his Top 5 Strategies for How to Avoid Attrition.

  • Tracking your room pick-up and pace.
  • Attrition clauses in your contract.
  • Mitigate attrition when the hotel can re-sell dropped rooms.
  • Review your marketing.
  • Communicate with the hotel.
Episode 11: Joanne Charlebois, CEO of Speech-Language & Audiology Canada

On this episode Joanne and I discussed how she got started in the industry and where she is today in her leadership role. We also spent some time discussing her experience of hosting international conferences within the not for profit world and how to apply metrics to measure their success. 

Throughout our conversation Joanne provided valuable suggestions on how best to serve the national and international member’s needs at meetings and conferences from her over 30+ years working in the non for profit sector. 

Episode 10: Christopher Carpenter – Regional Director of Sales for Canada, Midwest USA and Texas for the Edwardian Hotels London.

As a Canadian who’s employer is in London, England – Christopher brings his unique perspective to our listeners by explaining the differences and similarities of working on each side of the ocean. Trained in Switzerland, his love of the hospitality industry emanates as he describes his current role and responsibilities.

Episode 9: Erica Stewart, Manager of Events and Development, Canadian Bureau for International Education.

As a next gen meeting architect, Erica explains the shift from the word planner to where the new roles and responsibilities are transitioning to.

In her recent conferences, she tells us how she has infused more fun and face to face time for her delegates.

Episode 8: Aysun Lynch, Business Development Manager – MICE U.S. & International, Banff & Lake Louise Tourism.

Our time together explored the origins of the term Meeting Architect.  Aysun is considered an early adopter in bringing this term to Western Canada and perhaps even nationally.

Determining meeting objectives and measuring the metrics to define what a successful meeting entails is where Aysun places her focus.

We touched on the importance of having organizational leaders know the value a meeting architect contributes to the outcomes.

Episode 7: Nathalie Brault, Senior Sales Manager, Fairmont Queen Elizabeth.

On this episode Brenda is joined by Nathalie Brault, Senior Sales Manager – Fairmont Queen Elizabeth.

Brenda and Nathalie discuss:

  • Some of the unique aspects of the transformations made to the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. 
  • Innovative meeting spaces and ideas on how to use the hotel’s resources for your next event to create a unique experience. 
  • The demands on hotels and how to meet the unique needs of those wishing to book their events, meetings or conferences, no matter the size of the group. 
  • The need for the human factor in working together in the industry. 
Episode 6: Karen Norris, CMP, Conference Manager and Meeting Architect for the Canadian Association of General Surgeons.

Brenda and Karen discuss the shift from meeting planner to meeting architect and the tremendous change the industry has undergone in the last ten years.

Brenda and Karen also discuss:

  • Creating experiences that influence change
  • Crisis management 
  • The un-conference
  • The education experience and importance of how adults learn
  • Having Passion   
Episode 5: Shaddy Shibley, Director of Sales, Westin Ottawa

On this episode Brenda is joined by Shaddy Shibley, Director of Sales, Westin Ottawa. Shaddy shares how his father inspired his choice of pursuing a career in hospitality and his movement into various spaces of the industry. Shaddy also shares a valuable tool he calls his Rates, Dates and Space formula. 

Episode 4: Jeanna André-Murdie, Global Sales Director, The Howes Group

On this episode Brenda is joined by Jeanna André-Murdie, Global Sales Director for The Howes Group. Jeanna shares her strategy for negotiating concessions for her clients and adding value to their programs. Brenda and Jeanna also discuss important current trends in the meeting and conference industry and what he sees coming up in the future.    

Episode 3: Desmond Lomas, Global Sales Director, The Howes Group

Brenda and Desmond discuss his experience as the Director of Sales and Marketing at one of Ottawa’s leading downtown meeting and business travel hotels and how he applies that experience to now being an advocate for his clients. They also discuss important current trends in the meeting and conference industry and what he sees coming up in the future.  

Episode 2: Ross Meredith, General manager, Westin Ottawa

Brenda and Ross discuss how Ross got his start in the hospitality industry, the skills he developed along the way and what he sees coming in the future. Rosss also shares great insight on the three stakeholders that makes up the conference partnership and how important it is to have a balance for all parties to equally share returns and contributions. 

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