The 27th Annual Convention Services Manager of the Year Award

The Setup Artist

Susan Savino, meetings and events planner for the Pearl River, NY-based Association for Cooperative Operation Research and Development, was having a problem with the exhibition portion of her organization's annual conference at The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin. There were so many booths that when attendees entered the hall they were greeted by a black wall of pipe and drape. It was two hours before the opening of the trade show floor and her exhibitors were howling that they were not getting any exposure. That's when Dawn Dawson stepped in. "Dawn called the facility manager to rearrange a row of booths right in front of the entrance to make a large center aisle, which made the exhibitors happy," says Savino.

The end result of Dawson's thinking was to give Savino a template for setting up her exhibit floor that she can use for future shows. "Our show is returning to the Dolphin next year and I incorporated Dawn's setup into my floor plan before I began selling space," she says. "Dawn made a bad situation turn golden."

The Team Player

During a recent conference in Philadelphia, the Baltimore, MD-based NAACP enjoyed a cruise to nowhere as one of its activities. Unfortunately the day's sessions had run long and the group got a very late start shoving off. On board the ship, Ana Aponte-Curtis, director of event planning for the organization, was getting some mixed signals when she phoned the transportation company to inform it that the pickup would be later than originally planned. Luckily, Danielle Triplett was also on board. "Danielle got on the phone, reached the supervisor of the company, and made sure that the buses would be there for our attendees," says Aponte-Curtis. "Danielle not only represents her city well, but also became a member of our planning team."

Sharland L. Norris, exhibits manager for the NAACP, agrees. "Danielle is the best CSM I have worked with," says Norris. "If we needed an extra hand, she stepped in. She was just like another member of our staff and her presence was felt greatly."

The Fireman

Last year Craig Lyons, director of marketing for the Presentation Media Corporation in Jessup, MD, staged an event at the Baltimore Convention Center (BCC) for a client who waited until the 11th hour to make decisions on contractors and changed meeting room setups and schedules at the last minute. Luckily, Greg Ruby was Lyons' CSM. "Greg handled all the changes in a timely manner," says Lyons. "He also anticipated the needs of our outside vendors and had them in place before the requests were made."

William J. Herman, partner/COO of the Olney, MD-based Agile Events, held one show at the BCC in which the decorator omitted a column from the floor plan, causing a huge problem for some of the exhibitors. Herman expected to have to pay thousands of dollars to address the problem. "But then Greg took charge of the situation," recalls Herman. "He negotiated with the exhibitors, contractors, and the facility management and solved the problem with a minimal additional cost to our client."