by Administrator | August 31, 2012

When Jim Feldman introduced himself to our Successful Meetings University (SMU) Caribbean & Islands group as the author of Shift Happens!, ( we all chuckled a bit at the allusion to another common phrase, minus the letter “f.” 




Keynote speaker Jim Feldman, © Deanna Ting 2012


In his keynote speech, Jim encouraged the audience—a group of 17 meeting planners and 29 suppliers—to change their perspectives in order to maximize their ROI. 


“To survive, we must innovate. You have to be willing to change,” he stressed. Shifts, or changes, if you will, are going to happen, and the only way to succeed is to learn to embrace them, he said.


We certainly saw that at work firsthand during our very own SMU. When rain threatened to dampen the elaborate outdoor dinner that the Wyndham Rio Mar had planned for our group, the hotel’s quick-thinking team managed to successfully embrace that shift, despite a few obstacles. It could have been a planner and hotel’s worst nightmare, but the staff managed to work around it, successfully.  




A glimpse, through the windows, of where we were supposed to dine at the Wyndham Rio Mar, had it not been for the tropical rainstorm, © Deanna Ting 2012


The hotel quickly rearranged one of their ballrooms, which was configured into multiple meeting rooms, and moved all of the food stations — including an entire roasted pig, lechon asado, a Puerto Rican specialty — and decorations indoors. The night ended with a festive, heart-pumping display of traditional Puerto Rican dancing and music that had nearly everyone up on their feet.


This being my very first SMU event, I was impressed. That night was a simple reminder to us all that, rain or shine, perseverance and quick thinking go a long way. 


SMU also reminded me just what a small world it really is. During the event, I met Dean White, chairman emeritus, summit and pre- and post-tour organizer for the World Flower Council. On the last night, after speaking with Dean, I found out that he used to be a regular at my grandfather’s restaurant, Mar’s Garden, in, of all places, Wichita, KS, back in the 1950s and 60s. I never got to meet my grandfather — he died before I was born — but getting to know him just a tiny bit through Dean’s memories was truly special. 




Meeting Dean White (left) and learning about my grandfather through him was a personal highlight of SMU Caribbean for me, © Deanna Ting 2012


— Deanna Ting