Who are the best and brightest planners working in Florida?
In researching our Planners of the Year issue, we set out to
find the people who are setting new standards in their
field. The pros who made a difference in 2005 are those whom
other event professionals look to for ideas. How do we know?
We asked dozens of planners, producers, caterers, and other
professionals: who is setting new standards in the industry?
We found that not only are the planners we picked skilled at
managing the logistics of moving hundreds, if not thousands,
of attendees in and out
of a given city and providing adequate facilities while
dealing with the torrential weather, but they also keep
guests entertained, interested, and happy as well. Whether
they’re planning regional sales meetings or launching new
products for a Fortune 500 corporation, the people we chose
are known for their inventiveness and their unique ability
to pull off events with style. Our list includes corporate,
independent, political, and nonprofit planners from across
the state. Their events range from huge spectaculars to
intimate festivities. They are the ones who are getting
attention from their peers and keeping their clients
satisfied. How do they stay inspired? It’s a question we
asked…and they answered.
By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Events as Adventures
KEEPING HER CORPORATE CLIENTS and guests guessing at events
is one of the tactics planner Mona Meretsky employs
to make her corporate meetings seem like adventures. When
she designed a three-day three-day program for Detroit
Diesel that took 300 company associates and executives
to various locations in Washington, D.C., this year,
Meretsky folded in elements of intrigue and mystery.
“I love to surprise the guests,” Meretsky says. “Oftentimes
they don’t even know where they are going or what to
One of the highlights of the Washington affair was the
dinner she organized at the city’s International Spy
Museum. She enlisted handwriting analysts and polygraph
technicians to engage the guests. There were actors roaming
the museum in subtle costumes and not-so-subtle fake
accents. Former CIA operative Robert Baer was guest
speaker. Dinner was served at tables that had high-powered
binoculars and secret coded radio units as centerpieces.
With more than 32 years in the industry, there are a few
logistical problems that Meretsky can’t work out, like
moving a convention to a military cargo plane. More than 40
events keep her busy year-round.
Meretsky emphasizes bringing a fresh approach to events, no
matter the occasion. Her ingenuity and meticulous attention
to detail have earned her a good reputation (and several
awards) throughout her career. (“The event planning)
business is no longer a cottage industry.” She says. “It’s
a multibillion dollar industry. You have to charge a
professional fee, surround yourself with great team members,
and keep things fresh and different.”