NEC Session Proves Life Changing

Jennifer Middleton is a SGMP member since 2014 and a supplier at The Candlewood Suites, Huntsville - Research Park. Here, she talks about her journey at NEC and how it literally, changed her life.
I have been a member of SGMP since 2014, and the value for me has been exponential. The leadership qualities that I've developed, the relationships that I've built and the training I've received have set me up as an expert in my industry for government meetings and events. My SGMP membership has been a phenomenal investment for my company. I've won contracts for The Candlewood Suites I can directly attribute to what I've learned at SGMP's National Education Conference (NEC) and other SGMP events with the SGMP Rocket City Alabama chapter.

I've been very fortunate to be a leader in my local SGMP chapter and it has enabled me to develop relationships with other planners and suppliers in the government sector. I have become a referral source for planners, and I have a pool of experts that I can go to for answers and advice. That is imperative, as I am responsible for sales and marketing at the Candlewood Suites IHG Extended Stay Hotel in Huntsville. We house people who are coming to the area for training, relocation or special projects and need a place to stay for weeks or months at a time. We are also a Department of Defense Preferred Hotel and have been since we joined the pilot program in 2016. You definitely want to have that strong relationship when you are the home-away-from-home for DoD travelers in your area.

While attending 2017 NEC, I attended a life-changing session on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how it relates to logistics and booking venues for meetings. It opened my eyes to be a better planner for everyone and the session inspired me to go to my company and ask them to install accessible doors at my hotel. Not only did they approve that upgrade for my hotel, but also our Birmingham location, which is closer to the local Veterans Hospital.  Now, both of our hotels have doors because IHG Hotels are committed to delivering “True Hospitality for Everyone,” especially veterans, and our service men and women. 

Every year that I attend SGMP National Education Conference I come away with new ideas, new contacts, new friendships, and a renewed energy to be the best I can be at delivering the best logistics and service to my guests.  I want colleagues and peers in the government meeting field to be knowledgeable about what is available and possible to host successful government meetings, especially in Huntsville, Alabama – a huge area for government meetings and travel! If we all work together, it will help our entire community and make Huntsville, Alabama a go-to place for SGMP members' government meetings and conferences.