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Meeting Leaders: Loretta Grissom

Executive Profile

Name: Loretta Grissom


Meeting and Event Planner Associate, Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists

Owner, The Experience Agency

Location: Atlanta

Birthplace: Atlanta

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business, Southern New Hampshire University

Career History:

The Experience Agency: owner (2015-present)

The Main Street Academy: data manager (2019-2021)

Atlanta Botanical Garden: catering sales coordinator (2021-2023)

Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists: meeting and events operations associate (2023-present)

Loretta Grissom loves to share her life story with those who ask. While she now owns and operates her own event-planning agency, the Experience Agency, and is the meeting and event planner for the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, the road to get there had a lot of twists and turns along the way.

“I’m so happy when people ask me about my story, because my story is nontraditional,” Grissom said. “I’ve definitely had a journey, and if anyone learns anything from that, it’s that it’s not always a straight path.”

After leaving high school, Grissom attended Spelman College but felt unready. She left school, started working and had her daughter, who is now 21. Grissom started her career in hospitality as so many do — working in restaurants. She worked in front-of-house positions, then moved over to the hotel side of the industry, training front desk staff for Starwood Hotels. She joined the sales team at JHM Hotels as the sales manager, then over the next decade she worked through many other important hospitality jobs: night auditor at Crestline Hotels; manager of guest experience, area guest service manager, and director of front office at Remington Hotels; and Oracle OPERA implementation specialist for a hotel software company. Finally, she landed at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, where she managed special events and catering.

“I’ve just always been passionate about hospitality but more so service,” she said. “If you’ve worked in hospitality, you know that it is 24 hour a day, 365, well, actually a 366 day of the year job!”

In 2015, Grissom knew she could create her own event planning business using all the tools she had developed over her years of working in hotels, and the Experience Agency was born.

“I wanted to find something where I was able to use my passion for the hospitality industry in my role but that would give me a better work-life balance.” she said.

In 2017, Grissom decided to return to college and finish her degree.

“I went to Atlanta Technical College and studied hotel, restaurant and tourism management,” she said. “I received my associate of applied science and was awarded graduate of the year. I was a regional gold winner for the Technical Colleges of Georgia. I started my bachelor’s degree in 2020 at Southern New Hampshire University for business, with a concentration in organizational psychology. I graduated with my bachelor’s in 2021, the same year my daughter graduated high school.”

The Experience Agency works with many types of events within the SMERF market, whether that’s planning corporate meetings, family reunions, group religious retreats or even groups of friends wanting to plan a getaway trip. Grissom has also been the meeting and event planner for the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists for the past year, planning some 20 meetings at various locations around the country.

“People don’t really care about how much you know, they care about how you made them feel,” she said. “You always want to give an attendee a reason to come back because of something you did. A role that you played can be the reason.”

Tips from Loretta Grissom

To survive in this industry, you have to be “hooked on hospitality and serious about service!” That’s my motto and I’m sticking to it.

• Expect something to go wrong; it will. Regroup, tackle it and melt down later.

You are the best you who will ever do your job; so show up and be great every day!