2012 Republican National Convention Brings Opportunities, Surprises for MPITBA Members
When Lori Randall and partner Jessica Meiczinger, co-owners of Tampa-based meeting and events company Simply Devine Events first heard that the Republican National Convention was coming to Tampa in 2012, they were excited about the opportunities it could hold for their two-person firm, but also a little wary.
“We thought you might need to know somebody and have an insider connection to get their business,” Randall recalls. “It is, after all, a political world, and we didn’t know anybody or have any insider connections.”
But the pair decided to forge ahead and work the system that the RNC Host Committee laid out for local planners and suppliers who wanted to do business at the convention. They attended an initiation RNC information session at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa a year before the convention, learned the rules, filled out the applications, and hoped for the best.
And in Randall’s judgment, the best did happen for Simply Devine Events as a result of their efforts.
“It was a great thing for us,” she said “We did several pieces of business at the RNC and we considered it a professionally fulfilling experience for sure.”
Simply Devine Events did planning work including setting up audio visual services and arranging for food for three large (500 attendee) panel discussion forums for the Republican International Institute. Randall said her company got that business by being listed in a local planner/supplier guide put out by the RNC as a result of its initial Tampa Bay area workshops for companies seeking RNC business.
Additionally, she said, Simply Devine Events got another piece of business with a George Washington University Alumni group at the convention. “They simply did a Google search of local planning companies and found us,” she recalls.
Randall said that the surprise to herself and her partner about the convention was that even in the “big time” convention business, changes are made at the last minute.
“We found ourselves signing a lot of contract addendums because schedules shifted at the last minute,” she recalls, “but that was a good thing for us, because they were adding elements to what they wanted from us.”
Tacy Briggs-Troncoso, president of Mamma Razzi Foto, also worked the established RNC business apparatus, but found that a good portion of the business her company did during the RNC resulted from local, MPI chapter member connections.
“We did 15 photo shoots during the RNC, which is a huge amount of business for us during a five-day period. And we got a considerable number of those through signing up initially through the RNC small business network, but of that 15, we got half a dozen of the photo shoots through connections with other MPI member companies doing business with the RNC,” she said.
The big surprise to Tacy was the long hours the RNC participants put in. “They start with breakfast meetings, and continue into the evening, with parties that may last until 2 a.m,” she said. “We did photo shoots at parties that did not start until 11 p.m. But hey, it was good business for us, and you can do anything for a four or five-day period.”
Jill Manthey (our chapter president) and her husband Troy, co-owners of Starship Yacht, Inc., elected not to work within the RNC business structure, choosing instead to stay independent of it for added flexibility.
Because Starship Yacht is a fixture in the tourism infrastructure in the Tampa Bay area, the company decided to count on reputation and local professional connections to garner business during the RNC.
“And we had one other big factor going for us—location,” she said.
The mooring and boarding area for Starship’s two yachts is just outside the RNC security zone that was established for the convention. “Our parking area was where the shuttle busses for the convention picked up and dropped off, so we were very close to the heart of what was going on,” she said.
In all Starship Yacht did 15 private charter cruises for RNC groups during the convention, keep its 150-passenger and its 600-passenger vessels busy from 9 in the morning until 1a.m.
“It was a great outcome for our company,” she said.