Interviews With Planners - Mia Monroe, CSEP, CGMP, CMP
Mia Monroe is an award-winning certified special event, meeting and government meeting professional, speaker, author of trade articles and the conference and event manager for NASA Johnson Space Center’s Human Health and Institutional Management contract for Florida-based AllPoints, LLC.
In 2015, Mia was named as a “40 Under 40“ Meeting Industry Leader by Connect Magazine and featured on the cover of the magazine and throughout the publication’s career issue. Mia was also named a Meeting Planner to Watch in 2016 by ConventionSouth Magazine and featured in its December 2015 issue. With over 16 years of professional experience in the events and hospitality industry, Mia earned a Masters of Tourism Administration from George Washington University and a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management from Winston-Salem state University. She actively serves on the Corporate Board of the Hugh O’Brien Youth Leadership (HOBY) Texas Gulf Coast Chapter, the Houston Chapter of the George Washington University Alumni Association and is a member of Society for Government Meeting Professionals.
Her speaking engagements include The Special Event Tradeshow and Conference, COMCAST NewsMakers, Fox 26 News, and many others. Ms. Monroe received the International Special Events Society (ISES) ESPRIT award for best team effort planning a non-profit event with a budget under $50,000, has been recognized by the NASA Human Research Program with a special commendation for her efforts in producing its annual conference, was recognized by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) for her efforts in producing its 33rd annual meeting, and was named Employee of the Quarter by All Points for the first quarter of 2015.
Although reared as a musician, event management became a passion that allowed Mia to marry both her analytic left and sometimes over-stimulated right brain to effectively function in the organized chaos of meeting and event management.
What is the best advice you have ever received as a planner?
1. Always feed and/or take care of your AV/production crew. If you take care of them, they will REALLY take care of you.
2. Always keep your sense of humor. Have fun with it. There are days when it can really be tough, but if you can laugh with your team during the rough parts, you’ll be fine.
3. Don’t freak out. There’s always a solution. It may not always be the best or ideal solution for everyone, but there is one. You just have to find it.
What is the most unique location you have ever planned an event at? What was great, what was challenging?
A movie theater and a 35,000 square feet mansion. The movie theater was actually pretty easy. They were so accommodating, I just shared my vision and they made it come true.
The mansion on the other hand, was pretty tricky. Although there was a lot of square footage, only about half of that was usable. Everything in the home was a work of art or a true artifact. It was tough to determine placement of the premium sponsor tables vs. the mid-level sponsors. The event featured 12 celebrity chefs, so each of them had to be placed in key areas as well! 35,000 square feet gets really small when you have to strategically place 10 sponsor tables, 12 celebrity chefs, and leave room for service, 3 bars, entertainment and auction. Oh…and the 400 guests! The biggest challenge was parking. We were entertaining 400 guests and there was no way the neighborhood could accommodate 200-300 vehicles. So, we got creative- starting with the valet company. It was imperative we used a company that worked events in that neighborhood. They knew the tricks and the logistics of handling an event of that size. Some of the neighbors were guests of the event and they allowed the valet company to park some vehicles at their homes. We also partnered with a nearby resort and country club to use their outlaying lot. The valet company shuttled their team to and from that lot to retrieve cars. It worked fabulously!
What advice would you give to someone entering the business today?
Please don’t think that this is a glamorous job. Sure, there are perks. However, you usually don’t get to enjoy those perks because you are focused on ensuring your client and their guests are happy. You become an accountant, a CEO, a caterer, a bartender, an AV tech, an IT tech, a stage director, a psychologist, a cop, and a few other things all in the span of a few days. You have to be able to maintain your calm and clarity in the midst of it all. If you aren’t built to manage high-stress situations, don’t get in to this role. I’m exaggerating, but not really. I LOVE IT!
What do you see as the most challenging aspect of being a planner, and how do you overcome that challenge?
For me personally, its been managing the expectations of clients and event stakeholders. The corporate and non-profit environment is quite different than government in regards to policy, budget and restrictions, but expectations are still the same- especially for the attendee. Being transparent with clients has been the key for me in terms of managing their expectations. Being savvy and resourceful with local services like CVBs has been key for me in managing and fulfilling expectations of attendees.
How do you think our industry will evolve in the next five years?
Technology is king! I think the industry will continue to evolve as event management platforms and services become more turnkey. Larger corporate events will probably see quite a bit more automation at registration and tools like RFID kiosks will replace the handhelds scanner to capture attendee analytics. I think attendee engagement technology will continue to evolve as well. It will become archaic to NOT have a meeting or conference app.
What makes you successful as a planner?
I absolutely love to learn and love learning from my colleagues. Its cliché, but I find it true for many of us. This industry is constantly changing, constantly evolving, constantly growing. If I want to continue to be successful, I must do the same.
In your opinion, what is the best and worst industry trend of the year?
I love digital mapping projection! I think that is the absolute coolest thing- especially for product launches, promos, etc. I can’t wait to have a budget that can accommodate use of that technology!
The worst trend I think is the onslaught of event management platforms and technology- most specifically, event apps. The best in the industry are still evolving, so its tough to see some of the smaller companies coming in to take on a complex development without capturing all the dynamics of what planners and attendees need.
What is the best industry book that has helped you as a planner?
Special Events: Creating and Sustaining a New World for Celebration, (7th Edition) by Joe Goldblatt; It was literally my textbook in grad school and I’ve referred to it repeatedly throughout the years.
CONNECT WITH MIA
Mia Monroe, CSEP, CGMP, CMP
Conference and Event Manager
Phone Number: 281 483.2937
Affiliations and Memberships: SGMP Houston Gulf Coast Chapter, George Washington University Alumni Association, Corporate Board, HOBY Texas Gulf Coast
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