by Loren G. Edelstein | March 15, 2017
Northstar Meetings Group will welcome 65 independent meeting professionals and 75 industry suppliers to The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., next week for the fourth annual Independent Planner Education Conference (IPEC). This event provides a unique networking and learning opportunity for independent meeting professionals. Timely educational programming, all approved for CMP credits, will feature the following sessions:
• A pre-event workshop for planners only, "Is Your Price Right? A Hands-On Workshop for Independent Planners," will be led by Flavia St. Clair, principal at Hospitality Insights and president of PCM & Associates in Toronto. Participants will be presented with sample RFPs to price out, as if they were bidding for the business. Results will be entered anonymously via an audience-response system, revealing the price ranges and averages for each scenario.
• Leadership expert Ava Diamond will present "Extreme Engagement: How to Create Immersive Experiences for Maximum Impact." This enlightening and fast-paced session will provide creative strategies for delivering high-impact experiences that maximize attendee learning.
• "Building Your Personal Brand" will be presented by Kevin Iwamoto, senior consultant of GoldSpring Consulting. Author of the new book, Your Personal Brand: Your Power Tool to Build Career Integrity, Iwamoto will lead a career workshop session offering valuable guidance on creating and maintaining a successful personal brand throughout your career.
• Anyone can source hotels, but how do you interact and engage your clients and suppliers for the optimal result? The session "Raise the Roof on Your Sourcing Game!," presented by Brad Langley, vice president, third-party market, for eTouches, will share key tips and tricks to enable independent meeting planners to aggressively compete with the "big boys" to win over business. 
• The gloves come off in "Pet Peeves Exposed: What Really Irks Planners." Planners and suppliers think and act so differently, sometimes it's like they're from completely separate cultures and speaking their own languages. Shawna Suckow, CMP, founder of the Senior Planners Industry Network, will lead an insightful peek behind the curtain on each side, facilitating a candid discussion about the most irksome issues as submitted from audience members via an anonymous poll.
At the heart of the event are one-to-one appointments between the planners in attendance, who are responsible for a diverse mix of programs, and suppliers from 75 destinations, including hoteliers and meeting-industry service providers from the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico. Over the course of the three-day event, nearly 1,400 such meetings will take place.
This is an event where key relationships are made and business is booked. As a result of participating, planners, who must have open RFPs to qualify as hosted buyers, will walk away with new plans for upcoming events.  
Tess Vismale, CMP, DES, of iSocialExecution Inc., noted in advance of the event, which she has attended before, "I applaud Northstar Meetings Group for caring enough about independent planners that they designed a meeting just for us. We are critical to the industry and have different needs than the other niche planner demographics."

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