of the YEAR

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
Industry veteran Mona Meretsky
loves surprises

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 expect.”

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.

Still, 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.”


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