NYIAD Wedding and Event Planning Instructor Sandra Serrant has been an Events Professional for over a decade. She has planned, coordinated and executed a variety of events ranging from multi-day national conferences and fundraisers to large weddings, galas and other social events.
She has worked with such organizations as the National Football League and American Diabetes Association; and has also served as the Head of Events for renowned international Chef Jose Andres, as well as planned events for Wolfgang Puck Catering. In addition to her many national events here in the U.S, she continues to plan events abroad. Check out Sandra’s latest blog post about the events industry. Enjoy!
World Education Congress (WEC) is not just another conference. It is not just another thing to add to your already packed calendar. It is simply one of the best conferences out there for someone like you, who wants to learn more and wants to get more entrenched in the industry (note- although I’m a Member of MPI who does this conference, I am not being paid for this blog entry). Anyway, I try to attend WEC as often as possible. And trust me, it’s not just to play the gigantic ginja tower or to enjoy the various receptions hosted by cities around the country (and Canada), it’s also to reunite with fellow Planners and Vendors, make new business contacts/ friends, network, learn about new event technology (love!) and of course, get inspired by industry leaders like one of my favorites, Dianne Devitt, and Christine Duffy president of Carnival Cruise Line, whom (thanks Judith Dill of KSL Resorts) I was lucky enough to score tickets to the private Presidents Dinner where she was honored. I learned so much from Christine who spent several years as President and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association, the trade association representing the more than $35 billion global cruise industry! Got to love the hospitality industry, right? Where else would I have gotten the opportunity to learn from someone like that?
Conferences like this also give you the great opportunity to explore a city you might be unfamiliar with, from an Event Professional prospective. WEC was held in Atlantic City this year. AC is a city struggling to gain back its old glory, and it’s Tourism Board (DO AC) are doing an amazing job of re-introducing the event industry to the many, many things it has to offer. I mean who knew that you could host a gorgeous beach party for hundreds of attendees near the Steel pier on the AC boardwalk? For the Opening Night Celebration, colorful blankets were displayed creating various sitting nooks for groups to enjoy the unobstructed view of the water, lights were strewn above our heads adding to the beautiful skyline, AC branded flips flops were given to all Attendees to change into (I kept my wedges on for as long as I could because…well, I’m a heels girl), and great music kept us dancing till it was too dark to see where the beach ended and the water began. Oh, and I can’t forget the 8ft tall sand sculpture so perfectly constructed that I did the corny thing of taking millions of pictures of it. And alas, a live performance by the band ‘Train’ at the late party Monday night. All of this, while networking, expanding my industry knowledge and making new friends. Now, don’t get me wrong, although the nights were spent socializing and networking, my daytime calendar was jam-packed with educational sessions, from the Faculty Conclave to learning how to manage the legal risks of social media for your events- and also learning so many new things. Like…who knew that offering cuddling sessions with therapy puppies would be such an amazing addition for conference attendees?! Honestly, I wanted to steal the puppy in the picture above…but I couldn’t find a way to smuggle her past the line of people waiting to cuddle with her. Next time my friend, next time.
As an Event/Wedding Planning Student, now is the time to start attending these conferences, network with the professionals and maybe….if you’re lucky…snag a job with one of them.
Here are some upcoming conferences considering attending:
- Experiential Event Series-Toronto International Film Festival- Sept. 8-11 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- IMEX America 2016, Oct 18-20, Last Vegas, NV
- ILEA Live 2016 (International Live Events Association, formerly Int’l Special Event Society) Aug 11-13, Austin, TX
- 2017 EMEC (European Meetings & Events Conference) - March 5-7, Granada, Spain
- WEC 2017 – June 19-22, Last Vegas, NV