Name: Warren Isenhour
Organization: Isenhour International
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Birthplace: Gastonia, North Carolina
• B.S., Appalachian State University
• M.S., Middle Tennessee State University
• Owner, Isenhour International (since 2013)
• Program director, Metro Nashville Public Health Department (2008-2013)
• Event director, Arthur Wylie Enterprises (2006-2008)
• Assistant communications director, Tennessee Democratic Party (2005-2007)
For Warren Isenhour, president of Nashville-based meeting planner Isenhour International, it was his studies in college in sports and recreation management that became the cornerstone of his successful business.
“My background working in that field uses the same kind of coordinating as meeting planning,” Isenhour said. “I find a lot of the traits for those jobs are similar: a lot of organizing, dealing with large volumes of people and events. It’s sort of the same kind of coordinating of logistics and dealing with hotels and venues.”
In 2004, Isenhour volunteered to organize his college fraternity’s annual conference, and his knack for planning landed him in a position in local government where he organized and planned community events. By 2013, he had enough experience that he decided to go into business for himself. Isenhour International is a full-service event management firm that handles every facet of a meeting, convention, retreat or conference for groups ranging from nonprofits to large corporate clients.
“We have a pretty wide range of clients within the SMERF market, multicultural, educational, government, association groups, religious groups and some gospel or musical groups ,” Isenhour said. “We do quite a bit with destination events in the Caribbean or Mexico, and sports groups — we’re organizing a marathon group in Munich, Germany, next year. We have a lot of different footprints.”
From the point of contact, one thing that sets Isenhour International apart is that each of its events is highly individualized based on the client’s needs.
“It’s not a checklist someone fills out,” he said. “It’s really more about the relationship — having a conversation and getting to know the client and what their needs are. You get all the particulars because a 300-person group could need a pretty wide range of things. We try to really understand the group to learn about how we can best service them.”
Isenhour can’t stress enough the importance of cultivating client relationships. Having a good sense of what a client needs for an event allows the client to focus on the content of the event rather than worry about details such as catering or audiovisual equipment. Isenhour and his staff like to go on-site to help keep an event’s flow going and make sure everything is running smoothly. And he loves seeing how events unfold for a client based on what his company has set up for them.
“I’m big on the relationship and a partnership with a client — anyone can get a quote on a block of hotel rooms, but we want clients to stay with us for 30 or 40 years because we know how to do their events again and again,” he said. “You may get a rate for the hotel, but I may be able to get something different because I know the GM — those relationships are important so I save the client the burden of doing the legwork.”
Isenhour appreciates the variety that comes with event planning and that no two days are exactly alike. But more than anything, he loves to see when attendees are enjoying the event they’re attending because of something unique that Isenhour International has helped to create.
Tips from Warren Isenhour
• Relationships, relationships, relationships: That’s what this industry is all about. Create and cultivate them continually.
• Engage in professional organizations that benefit your growth. As an independent planner, I advocate for organizations like the Association of Independent Meeting Planners that protect our interests and provide resources for planners. Join organizations like this, MPI, SITE, etc.
• Expand your knowledge base. Constantly learning about the industry, new destinations and what is occurring across the landscape will make your services more valuable to your clients and customers.