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At The Special Event 2006, scheduled for Jan. 10-13 at the Dallas Convention Center, top-notch education sessions delivered by some of the industry's most talented professionals will address the latest tips, trends and issues in special events. The 2006 program offers more than 100 sessions, covering topics ranging from food to floral, lighting to logistics in eight professional tracks: design, wedding, sales and marketing, rental, business and professional development, event management, food services and ISES certification.

Debuting this year is a session that early-bird conference arrivals — whether it's their first or 20th time at The Special Event — are invited to attend: “Networking with the Newcomers,” presented by “Empress of Schmooze” Audrey Gordon of Audrey Gordon Parties and Debra Fine, author of “The Fine Art of Small Talk,” scheduled for Jan. 9. The session covers ways to make the most of any social situation and how to take advantage of networking opportunities at trade shows and conferences.


Want to learn the secrets of longevity in special events? In the Business and Professional Development Track, longtime event pros Andrea Michaels of Extraordinary Events, Joann Roth-Oseary of Someone's in the Kitchen, Janet Elkins of EventWorks and Cheryl Fish, formerly of MGM Mirage Events, will present “Vintage Divas Tell All,” a revealing look at how they got to the top of the industry and stayed there. The presenters will discuss such topics as how they got their start, how they compete with newcomers and where they find the fresh ideas that keep them going strong.

Tami Forero, owner of Creative Occasions, will explore “The Corporate Event Revolution: How to Convince CEOs that Events Are Where the Money Is.” The session, which includes recent case studies and discussions on setting realistic expectations and using in-house corporate teams effectively, will give attendees the tools necessary to show corporate executives that spending money on events can result in big returns on investment.


In the Food Services Track, “Food is Art,” presented by Susan Lacz Niemann, principal at Ridgewells Catering, explores the importance of combining flavor and style to develop the most creative food design and service for events. Niemann will delve into the latest trends, including the newest ingredients and presentation styles heating up the catering scene.

Veteran caterers will glean new information from “Catering Consulting for Advanced Caterers,” presented by Claire Jolley Stroope, president of ProVision Resources. The session, designed with caterers who target the corporate market, will examine topics such as how to fine-tune proposals, manage client expectations, ensure repeat business and position your company as a partner, not a vendor, in the eyes of the corporations you work with.


The Design Track offers a range of session topics relating to event design, such as “Creating the ‘Wow’ with Flowers,” presented by Keith White, AIFD, A and K Productions, and Debbie Cueto, AIFD. The duo will discuss the benefits of hiring professional floral designers to transform events using blossoms, how to involve many designers to create different looks at the same event, and the process behind designing event decor with a focus on floral.

In the “Pimp My Party” session, Ira Mitchell-Steiman, creative director of ME Productions, and David Halsey, president of Cocoon Home and Garden, will do their own version of the MTV show “Pimp My Ride.” The duo's interactive presentation — audience participation will be encouraged — includes real-time transformations of so-so event decor into eye-catching, “tricked out” designs.


The Rental Track offers sessions designed to help both party rental professionals and the event planners who turn to them for equipment meet their business goals. In “How to Make Your Rental Guy Your Best Friend for Life,” Joann Roth-Oseary shares her secrets for developing relationships with rental companies. Session deliverables include tips to get rental companies to provide the tools and resources that help planners stay ahead of the competition.

“Party Rental Staff: A Global Solution” addresses the challenges of finding experienced staff during busy party rental seasons. Presenter Peter Van Zeyl, business development manager at Harts Party Hire, will show attendees how to tap into the pool of seasonal party rental employees, including sales staff, tent installers and drivers. Ways to find opportunities to create more work for staff during slow periods also will be explored.


Just starting out in the wedding industry or making the change from another field? Lois Pearce, president of Beautiful Occasions, presents “I Want to be a Wedding Planner! What Do I Do?” The session will cover the basics of becoming an independent wedding planner/consultant, including understanding the role of wedding planners and their relationship to clients and vendors, how to set up a business and the best ways to promote your services.

For those already familiar with the wedding industry, Barbara Wallace, CSEP, owner of Barbara Wallace Weddings, presents “You Don't Have to Be a Superhero to Foil a Wedding Disaster, But it Helps to Have a Cape On, Just in Case.” Wallace will lead a discussion on how to prepare for the challenges that pop up at weddings, and ways to use your vendor team to help solve problems as they arise.


The Event Management Track is designed to help attendees tackle the process of staging successful events. For those looking for an international perspective, “Exchanging Global Best Practices” examines the operational procedures used to manage events worldwide. The session features a lively panel of international event pros including Sally Webb of The Special Event Co., Richard Groves of Create Food and Party Design, Harith Wickrema of Harith Productions and Romaine Pereira of International Corporate Events, who will share innovations from event markets around the world. They will also address the benefits of exploring cultural differences in event planning and how to adapt global concepts for local events.


Want to boost business or get the word out about a new company? The Sales and Marketing track offers informative sessions on the best ways to do both. Greg Jenkins, partner at Bravo Productions, will present “Selling and Staging Events: Working with Generation X & Y,” a session for event professionals looking to capture the Generation X market while still appealing to the lucrative Generation Y market. Jenkins will discuss the differences between the two groups, how to target each group with specific messages, and the key components to keep in mind when staging events for each one.


If earning your Certified Special Events Professional certification is on your to-do list, the ISES track has all the details covered. Sessions include overviews of the benefits of CSEP certification, the ins and outs of the certification process, and tips for doing well on the CSEP exam. Also offered are preparatory courses in topics covered on the exam, such as putting together a portfolio, marketing and administration.

For more information and a complete rundown of the education program at The Special Event 2006, call 800/927-5007 or 203/358-3751, or visit

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