March 2018 Print

MiSGMP e-Reel


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President's Pen

President’s Pen – March 2018

Traverse City Tourism and our Traverse City suppliers and partners went all out to provide us with a truly amazing experience at our 2018 AEC – a delicious reception at Park Place, a fabulous dinner at Hotel Indigo, assorted spirits during the pub crawl, outstanding meals and service at Great Wolf Lodge, and, of course, the 80s prom night – it was, like, totally awesome! Thank you to all who have posted pictures (…and thank you for being discreet about what you posted!).

Many contribute to the success of AEC. Thank you to Chris Ward and the AEC committee for selecting outstanding education sessions, the MiSGMP board for their dedication and work on behalf of the chapter, to our sponsors and exhibitors for their continued support, and to all who attended for carving time out of very busy schedules to participate in professional development, networking, and a bit of much needed and well-deserved fun!

MiSGMP has wonderful education sessions scheduled during the coming months, as well as the first-ever MiSGMP Knowledge Quest June 20th in Frankenmuth. Check the MiSGMP website and your email inbox for details.

One of my new favorite quotes is from Jen Mac’s session, Lead by Building Great Relationships – If you don’t empower others to stand on their own two feet, they will stand on yours!

Happy Spring,


Laurie A. Nickson, CMP

MiSGMP President

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Welcome New Members!

In March, we welcomed three new members:

Mitchell Lindstrom, MPHI

Angela Morgan, Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center

Lisa Hobaugh, Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center

The Superheros Circle is coming to an end on April 30th.  Remember if you refer someone, they need to put your name down in the referral box on the membership application.  The top planner and supplier will win a complimentary National Education Conference registration.  Michigan has 7 members on the leaderboard as having referred someone!  An Arizona member is currently in first place with 7 recruiters.

The Membership Committee has grown; but we would love to welcome new members.  Please contact your Membership Chair, Anissa Damon, to join our committee. 

Tammy Novak, Board Liaison

Anissa Damon, Committee Chair

Jocelyn Davis

Brenda Haight

Shelley Long

Charnitamy Alexander

Duke Rosendahl

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Election Results

The Michigan Chapter of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals is looking for leaders! Nominations are being accepted for all eight elected positions on the 2018-2020 Michigan Chapter Board of Directors.  The incoming chapter board shall be sworn in during the chapter meeting/event nearest to, but before, the July 1st start date of their term of office from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2020. If you wish to be considered as a candidate, or wish to nominate someone else, the nomination form and information on the nominations & elections process may be found

The nominations period will remain open until 5:00pm local time on March 30.  

The chapter’s Nominations & Elections Committee is responsible for arranging and overseeing the chapter elections process.

Should you have any additional questions, contact Debbie Kopkau, the committee chair, at or at 517-327-2587.          

Any chapter member in good standing for at least six months (in the category noted below) prior to nomination shall qualify for nomination to and election on the chapter board of directors:

President                                               (Government Planner or Contract Planner)

First Vice President                               (Government Planner or Contract Planner)

Second Vice President                          (Supplier or Associate Supplier) 

Secretary                                               (Government Planner or Contract Planner)

Treasurer                                              (Supplier, Associate Supplier, or Contract Planner)

Directors (3)              (1) Government Planner; (1) Supplier or Associate Supplier;

                                  (1) Government Planner, Contract Planner, Supplier, or Associate Supplier

Key nominations & elections process deadlines this year are the following: 

  • Chapter nominations must close by 3/30/18
  • Chapter membership online voting opens on  4/19/18
  • Chapter membership online voting closes at 5:00pm eastern time on 4/27/18
  • Chapter election results are announced to entire chapter by 5/3/18
  • New chapter board members must be installed by 6/30/18
  • Code of Ethics form (signed by all new chapter board members) must be received at SGMP by 6/30/18

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MiSGMP 2018 Annual Education Conference

Session Recaps

Road Maps to Successful Meetings:  Contracts, Legal Liabilities and Negotiations

Summarized by: Diane Dick

Presenter:  Jonathan T. Howe, Esq., President, Howe & Hutton, Ltd. 

Signing contracts in this day and age are much different than the contracts of old.  With all the mergers and acquisitions of large hotels and corporations, things have changed dramatically.  Also supply and demand plays a large role in how contracts are written.  As you review your contract, remember every event is unique, and that one “contract” does not fit all.  Know your rights and responsibilities, and be flexible if you can.  Develop a partnership with the venue and share in the risk and in the reward.  There is no such thing as a “win/win”.  A good way to help you get what you want is to make a list of your needs, your wants and your interests.  This will help you prioritize what it is you actually need to get from the venue.

When developing an RFP for your group, make sure to include as much information about your group as possible, specifications, requirements, etc.  Once you have received and thoroughly read the contract, make sure you either accept the offer or make a counter offer.  Then any counter offer must be accepted.  Make sure the contract includes the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How for the event.  Please also make sure the person with the proper authority is the one signing the contract.

Beware of forms, ambiguity, unclear terms and small print.  Small print is small because you might not read it.  If you don’t know what it means – ASK!  More is not always better, as in cancellation clauses.  Be specific when saying something.  Instead of saying “in 48 hours” – say “May 5th at 5:00 p.m. EST.  The use of pictures is also a good way to clarify things.  If you want the room set in crescent rounds of 6 – you can put in a picture for clarity.  Make sure you ask clarifying questions.  (As an example – if you need an elevator that can hold something that weighs 3,000 pounds, don’t just ask if they have a “freight elevator” – make sure to clarify it can handle what you need it to.

Never sign a contract that states they can reassign space to you.  Don’t let anyone do anything to you without your permission.  Clauses to be cautious of are Unilateral Action, Incorporation by Reference, Illusory Promises, It’s Only a Tentative, Rate Protections and Commissions and Rebates.  If you want a 24-Hour Hold – make sure it is clear.  Also, make sure you know if your food and beverage minimum is inclusive of fees and tax or exclusive of fees and tax. 

The information I received from this session a good reminder to be sure you know what you are getting and what you are giving.  READ the entire contract and if you don’t understand, ask what it is they mean by a certain phrase or statement.  Know your rights to cancel and your cancellation fee.  Make sure you are a good and fair representative of your organization as well as a good and fair organization the venue would like to continue working with.

Road Rage in the Office and Speed Traps, Pot Holes and Idiots, Eliminate Everyday Roadblocks to your Success.

Summarized by: Chris Lincoln

Jay Gubrud discussed causes of conflict in the workplace and personal relationships.  There are benefits of healthy conflict, such as:

  •          Don’t attack the other person
  •          Acknowledge the other perspective
  •          Be honest about what you promise
  •          Keep the bridge open

Ways to prevent conflict are to make the following statements or comments to someone who may make you angry:

  •          Why would you ask me that?
  •          Tell me more
  •          Why would you do that?
  •          Why would you say that?

Lessons learned: Use empathy, not blame, It’s ok to be wrong if you find your rightness, replace “always and never” with “frequently, often, rarely, and sometimes”, say “in my opinion, I believe, I feel”.

If you say “I’m struggling” you will more that often get help.

Diversity & Harassment Prevention Training for Leaders

Summarized by: Carly Palmer

Kimberly A. Benjamin, President, HR Strategies Plus LLC

Discussion of diversity usually consists of words like race, ethnic background, culture, and religion. While all of these words relate to diversity, we rarely ever think of other factors that make us as human beings different from each other in our work place. Kimberly Benjamin put this into a great perspective during AEC by discussing the differences in age gap and how that can affect your personality and thinking style based on what different age bracket category you fall into.  It was interesting to hear participants discuss how they were completely opposite of the characteristics generally described in their age bracket. This was such a different perspective that I had not thought of or realized; how these differences can impact the work culture or learning styles of each individual. Kimberly’s expectation was for everyone to leave with an action plan of what they can do better in the work-life integration and found my action plan to be to always assume the best in people, even when they are very different from you. No two people are the exact same; we should all choose to embrace our differences in working toward a common goal.

Contract Clauses You Should Pay Attention to But Probably Don’t

Summarized by: Anne Wilson

Legal terms. Fine Print. Details you sometimes skim over. 

Jonathan T. Howe, the President and a Senior and Founding Partner of Howe & Hutton, Ltd., shared why it is important for you to read and review your hotel contracts in his session entitled Contract Clauses You Should Pay Attention to But Probably Don’t.

Boilerplate is an important part of the contact. 

Start with the basics, know who you are dealing with as a hotel partner and also your responsibility as an authorized signer of the contract.  Make sure you thoroughly read each portion of the contract.  Is it clear? Where does the responsibility rest? Include key elements into your request for proposal to include in the contract.  Understanding the attrition clause and fully understanding the implications. Understanding the ramifications of cancellation clauses for both parties.

You can put into your contact what you want into it.

Be sure to see if there is a sleeper provision in the middle of the contact.

Attendees privacy is a very big deal.  Be sure you are using data and protecting privacy appropriately.  If you are utilizing meeting planning Apps for smart phone, be aware of the data collection and privacy issues.

If you run into trouble, there are various ways to resolve a dispute between hotel/facility and the planners/organization: Mediation, Arbitration and Litigation.  Jon explained the differences between the three and some cost structures, time commitment and how each process works.

Jon also answered questions from the audience and many MISGMP members chatted him up at the social events on Wednesday night hitting him up for free legal advice and getting to know him.

Jonathan is the President and a Senior and Founding Partner of Howe & Hutton, Ltd. He has written hundreds of articles and papers, and has spoken to organizations all over the world. He is recognized as one of the true leaders of the not-for-profit organization bar as well as the hospitality and meetings, travel, incentive, hotel, and trade show industries, and for trial and appellate advocacy. Jon was named Association Forum of Chicagoland's Associate Member of the year for outstanding service to the association community. Jon is also General Counsel to Meeting Professionals International, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Association Committee of 100, The Sports & Fitness Industry Association, and International Special Events Society, and the special advisor to the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Meetings and Travel.

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Upcoming Events


April 18, 2018

New Innovative Technologies for Better and Smart Meetings

Presenter: Jason Radmacher, MBA, and CEO, TBD Solutions

Innovative web services have made meeting and conference planning easier than ever before. Learn how new technologies can make life as a meeting professional less stressful. Explore ways to implement innovative technologies that not only help planners and suppliers, but provide better experiences for attendees.

Core Competency: Technology

Radisson Plaza Hotel at Kalamazoo Center, 100 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

This meeting is sponsored by:



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Get involved. Build your network!

MiSGMP Committees

Committees are comprised of members of the Board of Directors and the Chapter membership. Each committee develops a plan that outlines the committee’s objectives and the steps for achieving those objectives. Committees meet as needed to complete tasks.

Advertising/Sponsorship Committee
Responsible for website and email advertising, soliciting sponsorships for special events and marketing the chapter brand.
Board Liaison: Stacy Yerby (313) 303-1909
Board Liaison: Heidi Schmitt (616) 233-3557


Annual Education Conference Committee
Responsible for the planning and implementation of the Chapter’s Annual Education Conference.
Board Liaison: Chris Ward  (517) 374-6848

Communications Committee
Responsible for monitoring all publications and communications of the Chapter, including but not limited to email, website and social media.
Board Liaison: Karalee McKinstry (989) 460-1704
Website: Karalee McKinstry (989) 460-1704

Community Service Committee
Responsible for planning and implementation of Chapter’s charitable activities.
Committee Chair: Amanda Toy  (517) 377-1405
Board Liaison: Heidi Schmitt (616) 233-3557

Education Committee
Responsible for soliciting proposals for regular monthly meeting sites and speakers. Also responsible for determining, establishing and promoting the educational programs of the Chapter.
Board Liaison: Annette Pepper  (517) 374-6848

GMS Certificate Committee
Responsible for overseeing the implementation of the GMS Certificate Program.
Committee Chair: Tracy Sproul (517) 346-6339
Board Liaison: Debbie Kopkau  (517) 327-2587

Honors and Awards Committee
Responsible for the development and implementation of an awards program giving recognition to Chapter members who have significantly contributed to the objectives of the Chapter and to the Society.
Board Liaison: Diane Dick  (517) 327-9261

Marketing Subcommittee
Responsible for promoting the Chapter and the Society to interested parties as well as connections with partner organizations.
Board Liaison: Stacy Yerby  (313) 202-1909

Membership Committee 
Responsible for the recruitment and retention of Chapter Society members.
Committee Chair: Amanda Peppo (248) 453-8711
Board Liaison: Tammy Novak (517) 887-9444

Nominations and Elections Committee
Responsible for identifying members interested in running for Chapter Board positions. The committee’s function is directed by the National Board’s process for elections. The Immediate Past President chairs this committee. Meets every two years.
Board Liaison: Debbie Kopkau  (517) 327-2587

Registration Committee
Responsible for completing registrations for all members and guests at monthly meetings.
Board Liaison: Diane Dick  (517) 327-9261

Scholarship Committee
Responsible for distributing, accepting and awarding of Chapter scholarships, including AEC and NEC.
Board Liaison: Stacy Yerby  (313) 202-1909

Special Events Committee
Responsible for Chapter functions that do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Education Committee, i.e. annual banquet and auction, installation of officers, road rally, and other fund raising events.
Board Liaison: Laurie Nickson  (517) 351-4183

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