by: Mary Cline, PCMA SE Membership Volunteer & Chris Colbert, Director of Membership
The PCMA Southeast Chapter is proud to spotlight one of our 500+ members from across the continent and Puerto Rico in each newsletter.
You could be next…
This month, the Spotlight is on Leslie Wilson, CMP, Event Planner & Communications Coordinator with the Kentucky Automobile Dealers Association (KADA).
How many years have you been in the events/hospitality industry?
I have been in the industry 13 years!
How long have you been a PCMA member?
I joined PCMA in 2005..
What is your current job title, name of your organization and how long have you been in this position?
I am currently the Event Planner & Communications Coordinator with the Kentucky Automobile Dealers Association (KADA), where I joined the organization in December 2016.
What aspect(s) of your PCMA membership benefit you the most?
PCMA is such a great resource! One of the greatest benefits for me is the educational content, webinars, and Convene. PCMA is always on the cutting-edge of the trends in the industry.
Why did you choose your profession?
To be honest, the profession chose me. Before I actually started in the industry, I had a previous position where a portion of my job was to organize flowers and ribbon cuttings for restaurant grand openings, and attend grand openings of a national veterinary clinic where I was the onsite coordinator. I think both opportunities gave me basic skills and understanding of event planning, which lead me to my first actual event planning job, with an Association Management company, and where I fell in love and found my passion with the profession.
What is your passion outside of the “industry?”
Outside of event planning, this time of year I love to cheer on the University of Kentucky Wildcats Football team; spend time with my friends, husband and our dog and cat; and relaxing while needlepointing and watching TV.
What is your signature tip for a great event?
First impressions at an event mean everything! Starting with the registration area, I try to make it as inviting, clean, neat and well organized, as possible. This also goes a step further into welcoming the attendees to the event with a big smile or as they leave an event I like to say good bye and have a great night. I feel just these small personal touches go a long way to make in making a good impression on the attendee and make for a successful event.
What was your most memorable event experience?
My most memorable event was working with a group celebrating their 60th anniversary with a formal farewell dinner. Their “normal” farewell dinner was just a basic dinner with no pizazz! I was able to add flare and keep it all a surprise for the attendees. So, when the doors opened to the room, I was able to see their faces light up and their eyes dance around the room, and see the beautiful floral centerpieces, linens, the color up lighting around the room, greenery and an ice sculpture with the group’s logo as a band played softly in the background. I knew all those special small touches had paid off. That was just one of the most amazing feelings an event planner can have.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from a past or current mentor?
When I started in the event planning world, my mentor really showed me the importance of being very detailed from the beginning stages with the RFP, event logistics and on-site coordination. Through the years I have never forgotten this, and am reminded when a venue or ancillary services contacts me and says, “Wow you have all the details laid out. I am going to enjoy working with you.” You know all of the time you have put in before ever sending out the first thing was well worth it. It also makes for a great working relationship with my vendors.
If you retired from events/hospitality today, what would be your next career and why?
I really do have a passion for event planning, but if I could retire right now and not have to have full-time employment, my next career would be to expand my part time direct sales business. That would allow me to have extra time to spend on my other passions, such as growing a garden, scrapbooking, needlepoint, purchasing an RV with my husband and traveling the country with our pets, Callaway and Duchess.