Thinking Outside the Box to Meet Planner’s Needs

Q&A with Lindsay Barber, Director, Meetings, Marketing & Special Projects at the National Agriculture Aviation Association 

Lindsay Barber, Director, Meetings, Marketing & Special Projects with the National Agriculture Aviation Association highlights her experience planning a meeting in Savannah and working with the destination experts at Visit Savannah. Hear how the team at Visit Savannah helped to solve a unique challenge of their event.

Tell us, what does your job entail?

Lindsay: I manage all logistics for our annual convention (1,400 to 1,800 attendees). I also manage our logistics for our board meetings (85-110 attendees) and assist with association responsibilities including marketing, writing, membership responsibilities and other special projects.

Tell us your favorite meeting planner hack?

Lindsay: Eat that Frog!! I read this terrific book by Brian Tracy which urges you to complete your most challenging task (or a task you’re not looking forward to) first thing in the morning . If I don’t get it done first thing, I waste time thinking about it, which adds stress to my day and uses up energy that shouldn’t be wasted; I get it done right away and move on with the day! It sets me up for success.

Also, I am a firm believer in prioritizing, even when twenty tasks are a priority. I look at my to-do list each morning (generally before email and social media) and determine the tasks that I need to accomplish that day. There is always a to-do list, but I’ve learned to focus on a few things each day instead of everything.

What are some of the distinctive destination offerings of Savannah that helped to make your meeting great? 

Lindsay: Weather! Our annual convention takes place in early December. Therefore, the weather is generally always great in Savannah, which our attendees love coming from across the U.S., Canada and some other international countries.

Our attendees love the southern charm of the city. The locals, wait staff, hotel staff, etc. are incredibly accommodating and thoughtful. People in Savannah truly care how your day is when they ask, “how are you today?” The size of the city works well for us. We are the big fish in the little pond when our convention is hosted in Savannah, and that fits well for our industry.

How would you describe the relationship you have with the CVB? What would you compare it to?

Lindsay: A CVB is like a problem solver. We specifically look for cities where we can land an aircraft and easily transport the aircraft to the convention center for our exhibit hall. An airport is not always the answer to landing our aircraft and a CVB that will think outside the box, usually comes up with unique solutions.

Visit Savannah realized we could land our aircraft at an abandoned racetrack behind the Westin, located directly next to the convention center. We land the aircraft in the old pit area, hooked them up to pick-up trucks and pulled them to the large convention center doors that the city installed after seeing the success of our first convention in their city. Thanks to the CVB and Westin for assisting with this solution, we now book our convention every few years in Savannah.

What did your attendees say about your overall experience in Savannah?

Lindsay: As I mentioned, our attendees love the weather and southern charm of the city. Our attendees love the fun in the city, including terrific restaurants, fun bars (including the pedaling bars), history, tours and who doesn’t love the to-go cups!?

Did you use a unique venue for a gathering or event while in Savannah?

Lindsay: No, we use the hotels and convention center. Our Support Committee hosted an event on the Savannah Riverboat, which many of them enjoyed.

What do you see as innovative or trending in the future of the meeting’s industry? 

Lindsay: Wellness breaks! As we continue to see research that sitting is the new smoking and it’s very unhealthy to sit all day, I think we’ll begin seeing more events incorporating some sort of activity or wellness break into their meetings, whether it is early morning yoga before sessions begin or snack breaks that involve healthy smoothies or veggies.

It’s difficult as a meeting planner to incorporate wellness items into our convention because we have so much education to fit into a short amount of time. However, I think it’s important for attendees to have a couple of breaks to re-energize and feel refreshed, as well as network with each other.

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