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SMMC Speakers and Sponsors Keep Things Fun

Delegates at the Small Market Meetings Conference in Little Rock were warned not to expect a cut-and-dried keynote address on the event’s opening night. And motivational speaker Dee Dee Murcer Moffett didn’t disappoint. Her high-energy presentation focused on the need for people to “S.N.A.P.” out of it. S.N.A.P., stood for “See New Achievable Possibilities.”

“Who wants to try something they’ve never done before? Who wants to take a risk?” asked Moffett. She urged people to have no regrets, to get “out of the box” and embrace possibilities. “Try saying yes when you would typically say no,” she suggested.

As an example, Moffett discussed being terrified to skydive, but trying it and loving it, and doing it again and again. “When you do these things, you feel alive, empowered and confident,” she said. “You’re telling yourself you can handle life’s adversities, you’re strong, and that mistakes and failures are not that bad.”

In another session, hospitality attorney Sam Erkonen gave delegates a quick rundown on industry issues. He said business travel is booming, but in some cases, it’s harder to find meeting space. Some metro markets are stronger than others, and hotel brand consolidation continues. Erkonen predicted that two-thirds of all hotel deals struck in the past five years will be underwater unless rates increase. Hotel owners are more involved than in the past and aren’t afraid to file lawsuits. Hotels are pushing revenue growth and “nickel and diming” is back.

Erkonen offered a negotiating tactic: Be nice. “People misunderstand niceness for weakness. Niceness is strength,” he said. “You might think you need to be hard-nosed in negotiations — wrong.” However, he also urged caution. “Listen to your gut. It will tell you when you’re getting uncomfortable.”

Tech expert James Spellos from Meetings U urged meeting planners to do tech inspections at the hotels they’re considering. He suggested investigating speed in the meeting room, guest rooms and public areas. Spellos said you don’t want your CEO to lose a connection right in the middle of the presentation.

“You must understand speed; that’s bandwidth,” he said. “Know the number of requests a facility can accommodate in a given room; that’s the IP. And know how many different devices your group is coming in with; that’s density. Once you know all this, you’ll look intelligent in negotiations.”

Greg Nahmens of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, urged planners to check his agency’s website,, to search motorcoach operators’ insurance coverage and safety and maintenance records before booking them for meetings transportation.