Dean Jones, CMP, is the director of conferences and events with the Religious Conference Management Association (RCMA), in Indianapolis. The RCMA recently held a conference in Omaha.
What does your job entail?
As the director of conferences and events, I’m responsible for all of the association’s events, training, site selection, logistics and oversight of our event certification program.
What type of meeting did you hold in Omaha?
The RCMA's annual conference, Emerge. Our audience is comprised of faith-based event planners. Our event is designed to expose them to best practices, education, networking and to showcase a possible location for their own events.
Was anyone particularly helpful in executing your event?
Our annual conference is hosted by the city, so Visit Omaha, the CenturyLink Center, Levy Catering, Henry Doorly Zoo, Hilton Omaha, Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District and J&S Audio Visual were all instrumental in making our event a great success.
What did your attendees seem to enjoy the most about Omaha?
They made numerous comments about coming to a location they’d never seen before. Over 60 percent of our attendees had never stepped foot in Omaha, so it was a great opportunity to explore the city, enjoy great food at the Old Market, attend events in both hotels and the convention center, as well as participate in numerous tour options we offered to explore area attractions.
Are there any group-friendly attractions/experiences you would recommend for groups meeting there?
We held our opening reception in the evening at the Henry Doorly Zoo. It was a unique experience for us, one that our attendees are still talking about. One component that we always incorporate into our programming is a community service project. Visit Omaha was very helpful in setting up projects with the Open Door Mission, Salvation Army and Ronald McDonald House.
Our participants loved the experience and the chance to give back to a great community.
Did your group participate in a teambuilding event?
We sponsor a couple of teambuilding programs, including a Step Challenge, which utilizes an app to track the steps of participating attendees. It encourages movement and exercise, and there are prizes for those who reach pre-determined milestones. Plus, when our entire audience reached a million steps collectively, we made a cash donation to a local charity.
We also host an online scavenger hunt. We incorporate clues based on the location and history of the host city. It encouraged participants to explore on their own, work as teams and learn a great deal about Omaha. Plus, teams have a chance to win nice prizes!
How does Omaha compare to other cities where you have hosted meetings?
Every city is so unique, and when it comes to hosting events, a planner needs certain things—space, hotel rooms and local support. Omaha excels in all of those aspects.
Visit Omaha has a great team of professionals that are eager to help coordinate, locate and manage a lot of different details that planners need.
Omaha is centrally located in the U.S., budget-friendly and offers quality venues for any size event.
Would you return/recommend Omaha to other meeting planners?
Absolutely! I hope our event rotation allows us to return to Omaha for some future event.
I know a lot of our planner attendees were impressed by their time and experience in Omaha and they are actively working with Visit Omaha to book future business.
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