Krista Fleming, CMM, owner
KF Events

One gamble that I took and am so grateful for was going out on my own as an independent meeting professional. I started KF Events LLC in 2003 (now based out of Edmonds, Washington), and it has been a wonderful experience to be a small-business owner and work within the hospitality industry. KF Events now manages six to nine large conferences a year and has a team of six working on the events. We are a full-service meeting management company that offers services from site selection to on-site management. We work with venues, vendors, marketing, online registration, exhibit/sponsor sales, curriculum management, VIP housing, event website and more. The challenge of working on events keeps the work exciting and the continued changes within the industry, especially incorporating the latest technology and current trends for adult education, keep us always improving and refining the events. We view ourselves as a strategic business partner with our clients, helping them deliver the best possible experience for their audiences

Kate Absten, director
Georgio’s Catering

My biggest gamble was leaving a career as a planner in the Seattle area, where I managed over a million in annual sales. I joined my colleague Marnie Hayes (formerly of the Vault Catering) in introducing Georgio’s Catering—a corporate event and catering company—in January 2016. We have a full book already established and are planning into 2017. I’ve labeled myself as a high-capacity person, however, happiness, even in something you love, can be lost if you’re unbalanced. God blessed me in this wild turn of events by presenting me with the opportunity to rewrite my story and direct Georgio’s. I now work full-time from home as a single mom and event planner, enjoying the Seattle business buzz with my darling 9-month-old daughter, Angela Kate, right by my side.

Monica Newby, catering director/owner
A Grand Affaire Catering

In my 18 years in business I’ve taken many big gambles. The first was starting my business in 1998. I started as an event manager at The Fairview Club. Within a month, I became a sales manager, then a couple of months later, the sales director. Within six months, my boss came to me and said she wanted to sell and asked if I would take over the wedding venue. This entailed starting my own catering business. I partnered with a friend who was a chef, and we took over the venue together. Less than two years later, my partner wanted to split, and I continued on my own, reforming A Grand Affaire Catering. Since I’m not a chef, this was a big gamble, but as a foodie, I knew a lot about menu creation and what people wanted. And as a certified financial planner, I knew a lot about the numbers of running a business. So I forged on and hired some great chefs to run the kitchen for me.

Another big gamble, which didn’t necessarily pay off, was opening a new event venue in Tacoma in 2007. Talk about bad timing with the onset of the recession! We tried to negotiate with the landlord, but ended up having to walk away from our lease (much to my credit rating’s dismay). We regrouped, downsized and moved back to Seattle, where most of our clients reside. This proved to be a big lifesaver, and we’ve completely recovered from the losses of the recession. If anything, my friends say, my tenacity is what has kept me in business for almost 18 years now. Never give up!

If you attended the Emerald City Applause Awards on March 22, you were treated to a wonderful tribute to the meetings industry by the outrageously talented Melissa Jurcan, president of ILEA Seattle. If you didn’t, don’t worries—here are Melissa’s inspiring, entertaining and spot-on words of wisdom:
 
I am excited to have the opportunity for our chapter to bring our industry together tonight.
 
 
Guest safety has always been a top concern for meeting planners, but now, in addition to planning for “natural disasters” or “force majeure,” they have even more considerations, such as terrorist threats/activities, environmental impact, data security and privacy and guests’ overall well-being. Here are some things to consider when planning your next convention or conference.
 
First Things First