January E Focus Print



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President's Message

Hello Chapter Members,

Happy New Years, Happy College Football Championships and Hello new ideas, goals and dreams! Our city has been more alive than ever and it has been incredible seeing so many of our members busy and involved with the College Football Championship. So many members have made getting more involved in MPI as part of their New Year’s resolution and have heard from several soon to be new members that are excited to join the MPI Tampa Bay Area community as well. It is going to be a great year!

To start off our incredible year our first networking event will be a MPI After 5 at Amalie Arena on January 19th which will include an Ugly Sweater Contest! Let’s be honest in the Tampa Bay Area we typically do not get to enjoy this trendy party like other states since it is so hot and while January tends to be our coldest month the Amalie Arena is the coldest venue in town and is the perfect opportunity to have the Ultimate Ugly Sweater Contest! There will be awards for the Ugliest Sweater, Best Holiday Sweater and The Ultimate Ugly Sweater. So get to crafting or if you are not crafty order one online (they are probably on sale too!). Make sure to register for the After 5 and while you are there check out our other upcoming events. There is a SOS After 5 networking event at Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex on February 7th, Education Program at the newly opened Bryan Glazer JCC on February 8th featuring Colleen Cussick and a MPI After 5 at TAPS Restaurant Bar & Lounge on February 16th.

The World Education Congress is open for registration and is sure to be amazing being held in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand. For those that have not attended this remarkable conference it is designed to teach meeting and event professionals to think outside the ballroom. More than 2,000 global meeting and event professionals attend every year to learn how to stop planning meetings and start designing transformative experiences that deliver return on investment dividends to all stakeholders and participants. WEC is produced by Meeting Professionals International and is June 19th-22nd.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone soon in the New Year and looking forward to sharing our successes together. Enjoy all the opportunities available to you and reach out to your fellow member peers to help you attain the best possibilities.  When you sit and think oh I will start on that tomorrow just remember “A year from now you will wish you had started today.”- Karen Lamb.



Ashley Valentine, CMP

MPITBA Chapter President

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Membership News

Albert Snow,  Visit Central Florida



Member of the Month

Rob Ferguson

Kinsman Hotel Associates


 How many years have you been in the Meetings/Event business? I have been in the Tampa Bay/ Sarasota Area for 27 years

 During that time, what would you say has been your best experience? Working at the Radisson Bay Harbor Inn for 5 years. We had the greatest client parties on the pool deck with Myers Rum as a sponsor, Capt Bob’s Yacht for Bay Cruises, and great music from Tampa’s best DeeJay! 

 When did you first join MPI? I was a member in the mid 1990s and have been back with SOS for 2 years

 What committees/volunteer opportunities have you been involved in during your membership?  I have been involved with virtually all aspects of launching the SOS Chapter since inception with Aimee Blinker and Shelby Connett, our most valuable CVB representatives and specifically membership

 What's the most important/valued thing you’ve gained from your membership? Working with suppliers and planners directly to achieve a common goal builds relationships with a much stronger foundation than just the supplier/hotelier sales call. The resources are incredible!

 Please tell us any interesting fact about you that you’d like us to know- I am proudly a member of the ST Paul’s Choir on Dale Mabry and Fletcher. My wife and I moved to Parrish Florida 6 years ago but we still commute on Wednesdays and Sundays to be a part of this 60 person group. I am honored that they allow me to participate as a bass since 2000. 

Congrats Rob & Thank You!!!



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Calendar of Events


Tampa Bay Area Post Holiday
After 5



Thursday, January 19, 2017


Amalie Arena - Lexus Lounge

401 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602


With a wide array of venues spread throughout the United States, it can be difficult to find one that distinguishes itself from the others. That is not the case with the renovated Amalie Arena, Florida’s premier entertainment venue and home of the 2004 Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning and five-time Arena Football champion Tampa Bay Storm.


Boasting unique features like lightning-throwing Tesla coils, the 11,000 square-foot Bud Light Party Deck with incredible views of the city and a massive five-manual, 105-rank digital pipe organ, Amalie Arena consistently ranks among the very best venues in the United States. The best part? This is only the beginning.  The Lexus Lounge renovations cost around $2 million, rounding out a $25 million arena upgrade in the last year. The new construction added 700 square feet and a new bar area to the ice level Club.”


A new era in Tampa Bay has arrived and it’s time you be a part of it. Our owners are committed to providing fans with a world-class experience at every game, concert and event.



And don't forget to come out and prepare to win the "Ultimate Ugly Sweater Contest"! Prizes will be awarded in 3 categories...

1) Ugliest Sweater

2) Best Holiday Sweater

3) The Ultimate Ugly Sweater




 SAVE THE DATE for the 
February After 5 at TAPS Restaurant Bar & Grill-
February 16th, 2017. Register Here 


 February  Education Program

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Location: Bryan Glazer JCC
522 N. Howard Avenue
Tampa, FL 33606

Lights, Cameras, Microphones!

Budgeting Realities for Your Live Event Production

Featured Speaker: 
Colleen Cussick, ON Services – A/V Specialists
Every meeting and live event has basic A/V needs that must be met successfully. The speaker must be elevated (stage), heard (audio), seen (lighting), and displayed (video). Add in specialized sessions, evening events, and scenic elements to the basics and suddenly you find yourself needing a LARGE budget for the proper equipment. Learn the fundamental elements of production needs and how to realistically budget for them, including the components you're forgetting to include! Knowing essential component price tags will help in negotiations between planners and venue A/V companies, helping to establish working relationships. Clients save money; planners look like heroes, and EVERYONE WINS!

Learning Objectives: 
1) Participants will learn pricing for common components like wireless mics, projectors (per 1,000 lumens), lecterns and staging, audio speakers, and labor. 2) Participants will learn about the common forgotten components that need to be included in A/V budgets, such as poly-tac, power, permit fees, rider requirements, and even RF Wranglers. 3) Participants will learn what planners and A/V vendors need to discuss to alleviate confusion or apprehension about verbiage used.

1.0 clock hours of Continuing Education (CE) - CIC Domain G: Meeting or Event Design

MPITBA has aligned this program with the above Convention Industry Council (CIC) Domain; this is for self-reporting purposes and has not been pre-approved with CIC.


About the Speaker:

Colleen Cussick started in the “music biz” at the ripe age of 16, booking bands at local venues so kids her age could experience music without having to wait until they reached legal age to get into clubs or paying expensive concert tickets. During college, she was University of Arizona's director of concerts, working with national acts that came to campus, and booking bands to play at venues and clubs around Tucson. She interned with Island Records, promoting an up-and-coming band named U2 around campus and the local clubs, as well as other bands that college radio loved to play.

 After graduating, Colleen continued to work with national concert promoters, advancing promotional needs, running the production office on show days, and growing her knowledge and connections. Colleen moved to Nashville on the advice of many friends in the touring business, working as a production assistant touring the country with Tim McGraw and LeAnn Rimes. 

Seeking stability, Colleen ran a stagehand company, advanced A/V for a Nashville company, and is now with ON Services – A/V Specialists providing her expert knowledge of event production to clients with attention to detail and a positive approach they expect and deserve.


8:30-10:30 a.m. Board meeting
10:30-11:00 a.m. New member orientation 
11:00-1:30 p.m. Education program
1:45-2:45 p.m. Education committee meeting 


 Networking Opportunity! 

Are you looking for a way to get the most out of your networking opportunity? Sign up to be a table host when registering (available as an add on). For just $15, you'll lead the table discussion, be acknowledged as a host, and provide marketing materials and giveaways to your tablemates! 

Thank you to our sponsors:





  SOS Networking Event 

Tuesday February 7th, 2017


Please join us for the South of the Skyway After 5 networking event at
Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex

Host Location: 


Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex

5309 29th St. E.

Ellenton, FL 34222


The Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex features two NHL size ice rinks, a 13,500 sq/ft indoor soccer/football field, a fitness center, conference rooms, bar, concessions area, birthday party rooms, Cross Fit, Ballet Studio, and Precision Edge Hockey Pro Shop.


Appetizers and two complimentary drinks (beer and wine) will be provided. Cash bar will also be available.

 50/50 Raffle: Cash only!  $1 for 1 Ticket.  $5 for 6 Tickets.  $10 for 12 Tickets.


Thanks to our Sponsors:



MPI South of the Skyway – Satellite Group Mission

This group was organized to encourage the engagement of current MPI Tampa Chapter members as well as reaching out to perspective members south of the Skyway. Our goal is to bring awareness to all the benefits of MPI Membership and showcasing area meeting venues. 





Just $99 for MPI members/$149 for non-members!

Elevating Events with Meetings Academy, featuring:
-A full day of education with a minimum of three CMP Continuing Education Credits
-Hosted Buyer Program Opportunity 
-An Interactive CSR activity
-High Level Speakers including Keynote
-Countless Opportunities for Networking
-A Hands-on Experience of Clearwater Beach’s newest hotel featuring 22,000 square feet of meeting space, including over 10,000 square feet ballroom



Interested in our Hosted Buyer Program? View our website for more details.

 Schedule at a Glance:
Hosted Buyer Program
General Registration & Networking                                        
Welcome & Keynote Speaker 
Morning Educational Breakout Sessions
Networking Lunch              
Afternoon Educational Breakout Sessions
Roundtable Discussions

 Keynote Speaker, Michael O’Donnell

Michael O’Donnell will elevate our experience at Meetings Academy through his life experiences. Michael has produced high-powered results in industries across the board. With his remarkable successes and his equally remarkable ability to share his inspiration and wisdom, Michael inspires, motivates, educates, and makes lasting positive changes in his audiences.

His experiences include:

  •          World-class mountaineer and explorer
  •          Personal guide for Erik Weihenmayer, first blind man to reach summit of Mt. Everest
  •          Personal life mastery coach
  •          Acclaimed team builder and corporate coach
  •          Author of: Leading on the Sharp End


 Save the Soap!

Ever wondered what you can do with all the travel sized soaps and toiletries we all collect through our travels? We have your answer! Start collecting today because our CSR Project at Meetings Academy we’re going to provide these items to a local charity, exact charity TBD. We appreciate your support to Save the Soap!


Thank you to our Venue Sponsor:

 Thank you to our Sponsors!





Please save the following dates


for our upcoming MPITBA Education Programs in 2017!


Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
Wednesday, November 8, 2017

  Please check our Chapter website here often for further event details.






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Sponsorship & Partnership Opportunities

Get your company name out there while connecting with your fellow MPI Tampa Bay Area members! Sponsor an event or advertise on our website!  

We have a number of opportunities that will fit any budget and objective. Just reach out to Stephanie Montini, Director of Sponsorship at steph.montini@gmail.com. Follow this link to our Cash Sponsorship and Advertising Packet:




New Table Host Opportunity for Educational Luncheons! 

Are you looking for a way to get the most out of your networking opportunity? Sign up to be a Table Host when registering for Educational Luncheons! For a minimal fee, you will get: 

  • Company name displayed at host table
  •  Lead the "getting to know you" table discussion
  •  Acknowledgement at event as a host
  •  Ability to set out marketing materials and giveaways


Table Hosts get the MOST! Questions, please contact Amanda Clark, Table Host Chair at: amandaclark.mpi@gmail.com


Special thank you to our MPITBA Education Committee Meeting Venue Sponsor for the 2016-2017 Year! We are so grateful for our strategic partners like you!



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Committee and Other News




By Kristina Mitchell, Sales Manager 
Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel


MPI gives away scholarships to members for select industry conferences. You can apply for scholarships for IMEX and MPIWEC. For more information and applications, check it out here: http://www.mpiweb.org/foundation/grants-and-scholarships

You can purchase industry tools, books and study materials and more on the MPI Global Website. Check it out here:http://www.mpiweb.org/Store



Our vision and mission as a member-centric organization are focused on building those personal and business connections for you, connecting you to knowledge and ideas, relationships, and marketplaces. It’s about supporting each other, and helping each other to BUY MPI. 

The Connections Campaign is a celebration of those successful connections! We have LOTS of fun and exciting prizes coming to 2017. Be ready to win some and submit those connections today. Submit here

Questions/Comments? Contact Michelle Cobb at michelle@sensory5.com



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