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Conference offers planners a no-cost way to sharpen skills

Riverview Park, courtesy Shreveport-Bossier CTB

The Small Market Meetings Conference, Oct. 4-6 in Shreveport, La., takes three important areas — education, networking and site inspection — and delivers them to professional meeting planners in a package that is essentially free.

“When we decided to host a conference, we had several goals,” said Joseph G. Cappuzzello, president and CEO of the Small Market Meetings Conference. “We wanted to provide solid education sessions and ample opportunities for meeting professionals to network with one another and with representatives for meeting destinations.

“We also wanted to showcase one of the dynamic smaller cities that Small Market Meetings covers. And, because we realize that many meeting planners are operating on tight budgets, especially for travel to educational conferences, we wanted to make our conference low to no-cost. We’ve accomplished all of those goals with our conference in Shreveport.”

The conference refunds the conference registration fee ($195) and travel costs (up to $400) for each meeting planner who attends the conference and its marketplace.

Each meeting planner’s stay at the Hilton Shreveport Convention Center (two nights) as well as conference meals and events are also complimentary. As a bonus, each conference attendee will receive a VIP guest pass to the Red River Revel festival, Shreveport’s top annual event, which is being held at the same time as  the conference.

Not only will meeting planners have the chance to hear from their peer Lesley Kyle about her use of social networking to increase meeting attendance, they’ll hear about new meeting venues during the marketplace and see the sites in Shreveport,  including its new convention center and attached Hilton Hotel.

Those who want to see more of the area can attend complimentary post-conference tours, organized and led by the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau (see story, p. 1).
Two other education sessions tackle topical issues. McNeel Keenan, who addressed 50 meeting industry conferences last year, will dispel myths about using online requests for proposals. He is a senior sales executive for Cvent, which provides registration, meetings management, site selection, venue sourcing and Web survey solutions for meeting planners.

In her seminar “Xtreme Aging,” Vicki Rosebrook, executive director of the nonprofit Macklin Intergenerational Institute, will look at ways meeting planners need to adapt to meet the needs of the baby-boom meeting attendee.  For more information about the conference, visit

Also: Spicing up meetings is Shreveport’s speciality