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Debra Marshall

Recent Posts

Engaging Your Attendees

Posted by Debra Marshall on Fri, Sep 19, 2014

Long gone are the days when sitting in front of a PowerPoint presentation listening to the droning on of an “industry expert” were enough to satisfy attendees at educational events.   To be successful, today’s events need to uniquely balance the needs and expectations of a variety of generations.

Participation, whether before, during or after the event satisfies the needs of Generation Y who are APEC_111211_RicNoyle_188looking for a “real experience”.   How are you engaging them in co-creation? How are you making their attendance worth their while?


Topics: Conference Attendees

Rock Star Speaker Coordinators

Posted by Debra Marshall on Thu, Oct 3, 2013


Topics: Speaker Coordination, Conference Management

Team building and ice breakers

Posted by Debra Marshall on Thu, Apr 25, 2013

You’ve probably never had to sit through a daylong meeting where you suffered “death through PowerPoint”.   I’m sure that all of the meetings that you have attended or planned have had riveting content and stimulating interaction between attendees. TB Unfortunately I haven’t been so lucky.  So when I was asked to plan a two day team meeting for a rambunctious group of sales people I took out my thinking cap and tried to come up with an inexpensive and creative way to bring some life back into the process. 

Taking my queue from the popular NBC television game show “Minute to Win It” I borrowed a few of their games of skill to pepper into the long days of training. 


Topics: Conference Management, Team Building

Don’t just answer the questions, question the answers

Posted by Debra Marshall on Thu, Apr 11, 2013



Topics: Conference Management

Who are you making feel special on Valentine’s Day?

Posted by Debra Marshall on Thu, Feb 14, 2013

Valentine’s Day is one day a year when flowers, candy and romantic cards fly off of the retail shelves.  Restaurant reservations are at a premium and romantic destinations become the hottest ticket in town.  Men and women of all ages look for the perfect way to let their sweetheart know that they are their “special someone”.   describe the image

Our office is no different. We all are eagerly anticipating what Valentine’s Day will bring for us, whether we’re still looking for our special someone or have been with them for many years.  When I asked around the office what people wanted for Valentine’s Day I received as many different answers as there are personalities. Some just wanted to spend time with their significant other at a romantic dinner or enjoying a shared activity like skiing or the movies. Some wanted flowers or jewelry, some wanted special time for themselves. One person even wanted a baby goat but she would settle for a puppy.


Topics: holiday

It's a FEE for ALL!

Posted by Debra Marshall on Thu, Feb 7, 2013

We all know that the airlines are notorious for tacking on fees for everything from carryon luggage to wearing a blue shirt on a Thursday.  It’s all over the news that in lug feesaddition to the increase in fare prices we are also being nickel and dimed by all of their additional surcharges.  But did you know airlines are not the only villains in the covert surcharge war?  In fact they weren’t even the ones who initiated the practice.  The practice was initiated by the hotel industry in the late 1990’s when resort fees came into vogue.  Although the practice was initiated in the lodging industry, and has to varying degrees crept into other industries, the airline industry collects significantly more in revenue from the practice.

Unschooled travelers beware       


Topics: Travel/Destinations

Four Ways Outsourcing can be a Benefit to Employees

Posted by Debra Marshall on Thu, Nov 29, 2012

Now before you start calling me all kinds of nasty names because I am encouraging “outsourcing” hear me out.  First of all I am not suggesting "off shoring". outsourcingI know businesses use the argument that the cost of doing business outside of the US is lower so it makes more economic sense blah, blah, blah!  Maybe it does, I’m not qualified to make that call either way and that’s not the direction I’m going in.   I am a red blooded, hard working American who wants to see more people happy about their jobs and banking a pay check not looking for work.

The case I’m making is for the over worked, stressed out employees who have been asked to do more and more with less and less.  Many of them are at their breaking point but too afraid to leave the security of a bad job for no job at all.  Low morale, being over worked and feeling unappreciated are leading complaints among many employees.  It can negatively affect overall company performance.  What’s a business to do?  How about considering outsourcing?   Here are four key benefits of a successful outsourcing partnership.

  • Cost - In addition to salary, benefits and overhead costs for a full time employee it also costs time and resources for training.  Being already stretched thin you probably don’t have extra resources available.  Outsourcing offers the benefit of only paying for staffing when it is needed and utilizes already trained - ready to start - resources.  This allows you to deploy your current staff to critical business operations.  
  • Specialization - Does your current staff have the knowledge and skills necessary to execute all of the specialized functions you need?  If not, how will you compensate? You don’t have the time or resources to train someone internally.  Asking someone to take on a responsibility they are not trained to handle sets them up for failure. Utilizing a vendor with specialized skills relieves that pressure and gets you the expertise you need.
  • Focus – Can you afford to have your current staff distracted from their primary responsibilities? What risk does the error of getting it wrong pose to your bottom line? Having staff focus on too many things guarantees that the quality of everything will suffer.
  • Technology – Technology is the name of the game.  You want to keep up. You need to keep up but it can be expensive.  What if you want or need to utilize a new technology but can’t afford to invest upfront?  Partnering with a third party who is able to make that investment is a great way to “try before you buy” and it can be a financial win for both of you.

Meeting Planners: Top 10 items to pack

Posted by Debra Marshall on Thu, Jul 19, 2012

Experienced meeting planners know the reality of long days, short nights and the myriad of the unexpected.  It’s all part of the job.  Most of us have found ways to help ensure that we have the essentials to surviving any conference. Here are some of our favorite creature comforts and conference must haves that help us get through.

meeting planner travel tips


Topics: Travel/Destinations