Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday SM Webcast “Including the Rainbow - Planning the LGBT-Friendly Event” featuring LGBT MPA board member Jim Clapes

Jim Clapes, Conference and Event Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance and board member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Meeting Professional's Association (LGBT MPA) will be sharing his experience planning LGBT inclusive events for non-profit and mainstream business sectors. He’ll be part of the Q&A at the end of the webcast.

Including the Rainbow — Planning the LGBT-Friendly Event
The LGBT event is a growing niche in the meetings industry. Destinations around the country are developing programs and marketing strategies to reach and serve this market. Most meetings do not specifically focus on LGBT issues but almost all meetings include attendees who are a part of the LGBT community. How should this fact be reflected in the content of mainstream meetings and events? This webcast will present best practices for building itineraries, creating content, promoting, and executing meetings and events that create a spirit of inclusion for all attendees. The webinar will be followed by a Q&A for the webcast attendees.

Webinar Details:
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 2-3 pm ET.
Sponsored by greater FORT LAUDERDALE and Successful Meetings

More about Jim Clapes
Jim has thirteen years of experience in meeting and event management. As Conference & Events Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Jim runs the International Drug Policy Reform Conference, staff retreats and other meetings. Previously with U.S. Green Building Council he spearheaded the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo. As Events Director for the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., Jim planned the organization’s two annual flagship events.

Jim is a founding board member of the LGBT MPA. He’s committed to the professional advancement of the next generation of meeting professionals. Jim has a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of California, Santa Cruz. 


The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Meeting Professional's Association is an organization serving the meeting professional community to provide the ideal network for the advancement and growth of our members in the industry. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

LGBT Meeting Professionals Association Announces Advisory Board

Executives Commit to Providing Solid Base for New Association

The LGBT Meeting Professionals Association (LGBTMPA) has announced the creation of its advisory board. The board of experienced professionals met in Las Vegas and committed to the organization’s goals including the first annual conference; developing the organization’s education and certificate programs and launching the first bi-directional mentoring initiative in the meeting planners profession.

The Bi-directional Mentoring Initiative is the direct result of the organization’s early meetings. New Millennial and GenX meeting planners requested mentoring from experienced professionals and the experienced meeting planners (boomers) are looking for their expertise in social media and mobile marketing techniques.

“The association’s major goal is professional development for all of its members,” said David Jefferys, Executive Director of LGBTMPA. “Top executives in this industry control large budgets and staffs and plan meetings and conferences worldwide. Like any industry these top professionals have a tremendous amount of experience, knowledge and networks to share.”

“This group of professionals is ready to participate,” added Jefferys. “The Advisory Board has agreed to an on-demand mentoring program and the members of this new organization have already started to sponsor networking events at upcoming conferences.”

First Networking Event: 
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Learn more about LGBTMPA during the LGBT Reception at the Professional Convention Management Association sponsored by Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau. The meeting is being held at the Austin House (310 E. Third St., Austin, TX) from 5:30 to 6:30 pm.

The LGBTAMPA Advisory Board: 
David Jefferys, Executive Director, LGBTMPA
Seth Eaker, Development and Outreach, LGBTMPA
Jeff Canham, Partner, Prestige Global Meeting Source
Jim Clapes, Conference & Events Manager, Drug Policy Alliance
James Delmar, National Accounts Manager, PHLCVB
Greg Deshields, Executive Director, PHL Diversity
Cory Fransway, Director Strategic Accounts, Experient
Jim McMichael, Diversity and Cultural Manager, Las Vegas CVA
Gary Murakami, Director Global Sales, MGM Resorts International
Tom Roth, President, Community Marketing Inc.
Matt Skallerud, President, Pink Banana Media

Membership for LGBT professionals is free. To join the organization visit our site

More about LGBTMPA
The LGBTA Meeting Professionals (LGBTMPA) is the first association for this industry group. Statistically, there are an estimated 100,000 meeting professionals currently practicing in the United States. LGTPMPA predicts 8,000 to 12,000 of this LGBT professionals working in the field.

The LBGMPA was founded in August 2016 by Dave Jefferys, president and CEO of the Altus Agency, a Philadelphia-based marketing enterprise firm specializing in LGBT travel and other members of the current advisory board.

Contact Information:
David Jefferys, Executive Director
LGBT Meeting Professionals Association

Monday, November 28, 2016

LGBTMPA Interviews Matt Skallerud of Pink Banana Media

LGBTMPA takes a moment to chat with Matt Skallerud, President of Pink Banana Media.  As Pink Banana Media's focus is on helping clients target their specific LGBT demographic online, LGBTMPA had contracted with Pink Banana Media to help bring initial awareness to its launch, as well as help it to develop a social media presence online.

LGBTMPA: So what were some of your initial first steps in assisting the LGBTMPA with its social media presence?

MJS: Nearly all of our clients start by having a presence on Facebook as their first step in creating their social media presence online.  Facebook has made it incredibly easy to create, as well as build out in terms of photos, description and links.  The problem is that its so easy that everyone does it... that, combined with the fact that Facebook has made business page postings nearly non-existent in a person's News Feed means that unless you're doing hyper-targeted, paid advertising with Facebook, it's hard to stand out and get your message noticed.

We did some research and found that the meeting and event planners were strong on LinkedIn.  So we helped them to create both a LinkedIn group and a LinkedIn company page.  We also ensured they had @LGBTMPA covered on Twitter as well.  As things progress and we get some good photos and short-form videos from upcoming events, we'll focus on an Instagram and YouTube as next logical steps.

LGBTMPA: You mentioned hyper-targeted, paid advertising on Facebook. Can you elaborate?

MJS:  Yes!  So while Facebook makes organic (free) business posts difficult to find, it has made a paid, sponsored post stand out nicely in the News Feed.  The trick is to make sure you are targeting your EXACT demographic.  We've had clients come to us and say "I've tried Facebook advertising, but it didn't work... I reached thousands of gays & lesbians and had virtually no performance whatsoever!"  So my first question is "who did you target?"  It turns out 9 times out of 10, it was simply an LGBT audience, and that's just not going to work!  You need to be more specific and targeted than that.

Once upon a time, that strategy probably made sense when our choices were just LGBT media versus traditional media.  With the growth of online targeting, advertisers were ecstatic that they had new opportunities to target a more focused niche audience within the LGBT community, such as travel, health or sports.  But with Facebook's hyper-targeting capabilities, an advertiser can now reach much more effectively their "exact" target demographic, sometimes in multiple ways which can be A/B tested to see which strategies are the most effective.

For the LGBTMPA, we were successfully able to target an LGBT audience that had shown an interest in, or worked in, the hospitality industry, with a focus on event and meeting planning.  So right from the very start, we were able to build up a strong foundation on Facebook of individuals who had a specific interest in the meeting and event planning world, with an LGBT angle.

LGBTMPA:  So what else has worked for promoting the LGBTMPA online?

MJS:  We've also had some strong success in monitoring any and all articles related to the meeting and event planning world, but with an LGBT perspective.  We take these articles and broadcast them through the LGBTMPA network, thereby putting the association at the center of these conversations and positioning the LGBTMPA as a thought leader in the LGBT Meeting Professionals world.  By including articles and content specific to the LGBTMPA as well, including these interviews and this blog, help the LGBTMPA to build up its credibility and online membership base over time.  We make sure to include relevant hashtags related both to the article being posted, as well as meeting and event planning in general, such as #meetingplanners and #eventplanners.

Over time, the LGBTMPA's social media presence grows, and all of this activity becomes indexed in Google, Yahoo and Bing search, helping to ensure that no matter where someone is looking for information related to the world of LGBT meeting and event planners, the LGBTMPA will be there as the most relevant source for information, news and content for this community.

Monday, November 21, 2016

LGBTMPA Interviews Gary Murakami

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?" -Martin Luther King, Jr.

LGBTMPA takes a moment to chat with Gary Murakami, CMP, CMM, Director of Global Sales for MGM Resorts International to get his insights and thoughts on the importance of professional involvement in industry associations and specifically, LGBTMPA. Gary is currently on the Board of Directors for Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and a member of the Convention Industry Council APEX Standards Committee. He is also actively involved in LGBT organizations including serving as Chair of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) Foundation Board of Directors and Chair for the Out & Equal San Francisco Bay Area Affiliate.

LGBTMPA: Why did you get involved with LGBTMPA and how do you think this association can contribute to the industry?

GM: The involvement and network of a meetings and events association specific to the LGBT community and its allies will provide a critical opportunity to assist in an individual's professional development, as well as to enhance one's network. LGBTMPA can articulate the unique needs and concerns for the LGBT professional in addition to advocate and deliver feedback to issues that can affect the hospitality industry. I am particularly enthusiastic to see the continued development of LGBTMPA as the association continues to grow and to evolve. The association can further demonstrate the significant purchasing power and impact of LGBT meeting professionals in addition to those conventions and meetings that serve the LGBT community and businesses. LGBTMPA can serve as the voice of the LGBT meeting professional and assist in advancing the overall professionalism and education/learning opportunities.

LGBTMPA: How has your involvement in meetings and events industry organizations changed you or have had an impact on your career?

GM: I remain passionate and inspired by our industry each and every day by its ability to connect and to change lives. The industry overall is a significant driver and contributor to the world economy and shapes and stimulates ideas, creativity, and business. As someone that has been involved with numerous other industry organizations including Meeting Professionals International (MPI), Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), I foresee that an organization like LGBTMPA can work collaboratively alongside these associations and others to further grow and develop the overall industry with a focus on the specific needs and issues of the LGBT meeting professional community. Through my involvement in various organizations, I have had an incredible opportunity to grow my career through education and to increase my professional network.

To stay informed, join LGBTMPA at

Monday, November 7, 2016

LGBTMPA Interviews James Delmar

Today, many destinations across the country have the ability to confirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) groups and meetings. The most successful destinations are able to leverage their assets and relationships to win and win big. We sat down with James Delmar, National Accounts Manager of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau to get his thoughts. Over the last 36 months, James has been able to confirm approximately $20M in economic impact for future years into the Philadelphia marketplace.

JD: While many destinations these days deem themselves as LGBTQ friendly, truly successful destinations go the extra step by working to accommodate a wide range of groups and their respective budgets. They do so by ensuring that their hospitality partners, including convention centers, hotels, restaurants, and attractions, understand the positive economic impact that an LGBTQ gathering - or any other large gathering for that matter - can have to their bottom line. The job of the CVB rep is to tell the customer's revenue story to the hospitality partners in terms that make the biggest impact.

For example, when working through the process of confirming the Creating Change Conference, the nation's largest gathering of LGBTQ advocates, for January 19-22, 2017, the challenge was making the hotel aware of all of the economic factors around why this business made sense to book, especially when the customers hotel room rate budget was well below the hotels room rate targets.

Step 1 in the process is gathering history from the customer along with the history from within the marketplace. Being forthright with the customer concerning the hotel's expectation and letting the customer know that you are working on their behalf allows the customer to understand market conditions while ensuring you are honoring your relationship with the hotel.

Step 2 is taking all the data and presenting that to the hotel on behalf of the customer. Being able to show how the Creating Change Conference's historic data supports the rate and concession requests along with showing how the market performed over the last few years for a specific week Creating Change is looking to meet was key in helping both parties understand what is necessary to meet both parties ultimate goal...a successful meeting at the right hotel in the right destination at the right price.

At this point, both parties have a baseline from which to negotiate the finer points of the agreement. Each group is different and each way to approach a booking will be different. Being able to assess the situation and work as a liaison between the customer and the hospitality community has been the key to Philadelphia's success.

To stay up to date, become an LGBT Meeting Professionals Association member at

Monday, October 24, 2016

Southern Comfort Transgender Conference 2016

Greater Fort Lauderdale welcomed the 26th Annual Southern Comfort Conference to its sunny shores in 2016, and will host the conference, one of the largest gatherings of the transgender community in the world, next year.

The Greater Fort Lauderdale is the only CVB in the U.S. with a designated LGBTQ department and in 2014, commissioned the first-ever survey of transgender travelers in North America with the goal of identifying the travel motivations, needs and priorities of the market.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry for 2016

Richard Gray, LGBTQ managing director of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau (GFLCVB); vice chair of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) - After a career in investment banking and a second career as a hotelier, Richard Gray joined the GFLCVB, which goes by "Visit Sunny," in 2012, becoming the first full-time CVB sales and marketing executive whose sole responsibility is the LGBT market. It was a good fit for the man who helped created Visit Sunny's first-in-the-U.S. LGBT marketing initiative in 1996, subsequently becoming the CVB's volunteer LGBT liaison and helping build this segment of its business. Gray's budget, which started at $35,000 two decades ago, now exceeds $1 million, and helps attract some 1.3 million LGBT travelers, who spend approximately $1.5 billion in the area -- including, last year the 1,000 attendees at the 25th Southern Comfort Conference, one of the largest transgender conferences in the country.