No matter what type of club you manage or your current position within that club, I would highly recommend you do everything in your power to be a part of next year’s conference. The education you get and the connections you make with the other managers can make a significant gain in regards to your career.
What an experience! The Club Managers Association of America National Conference & Trade Show was a week I will never forget. I think the major points I took away from New Orleans were:
- Building even closer relationships with the other club managers within Texas;
- Being able to mentor the college students throughout the week;
- Gaining valuable information on various topics that we as club managers deal with on a daily and consistent basis; and
- Being able to see CMAA as a “Big Picture.”
This was the first time I attended conference. With that said, I remember stepping off the plane and thinking, “Well, here we go…” not really knowing what to expect. I kept a journal documenting all the things I did and all the people I was able to meet during the event. I attended every education session I possibly could, which I think was eleven, and every networking event that was offered. In the downtime I was able to check in with my club, enjoy the city of New Orleans and dine with other managers at unrelated CMAA Sponsored events. Overall, it was completely overwhelming and exhausting and I absolutely cannot wait to do it all over again! Even better, I am now that much closer to obtaining my Certified Club Manager certification.
I was able to spend days with fellow managers. Whether we were at a nice restaurant, the casino across the street or simply in the hotel lobby, I was able to connect with them on both a professional and personal level. Working in a mid level manager position now, it is my goal to move forward with my career and, even more than that, also be able to find a club manager to work for that supports and understands, the value of CMAA. Of course I already knew and had a relationship with most of the people that I interacted with, but now we have those memories that we can share for the rest of our lives. In addition, from my point of view, that time I was able to spend with each of them outside of a club setting was completely priceless.
I am currently serving as the club manager liaison for the University of North Texas, my Alma Mater. I am proud to say that we were able to send nine students from this school’s student chapter. I really enjoyed the chance to mentor the students throughout the week. I have spoken to many of them after the conference and they told me that one of their highlights was being able to have lunch with me and listen to my advice for soon to be college graduates all seeking a career within club management. It is interesting to think how that when I am with the other managers I am a smaller fish in a huge pond, but when I am with the college students I am a big fish in a small pond, so to speak. I guess the lesson there is always understand who your audience is and be able to deliver what they are asking from you.
Of course the main reason I attended the event was the opportunity to gain as much valuable information on various topics that we as club managers are faced with on a daily and consistent basis as I possibly could. One of the most difficult things for me was to choose a topic from a list of five or so that were all being presented at the same time. Looking back, I was pretty pleased with my decisions. There was only one class that I wish I could have a “do over,” but with that said, I still learned a thing or two in that class.
I think CMAA did an outstanding job finding speakers and covering a wide variety of club related issues and elements. I think my favorite session was presented on the final day by Mr. Mike Holtzman. He spoke about ways to increase your revenues as well as catering sales and also how to lower your food and labor cost. Working as the Director of Catering at my club, this was very interesting. About seven years ago, I attended a CMI Workshop at a state meeting and had the privilege of hearing Mr. Holtzman speak. After all this time I can still remember, and still use, some of the main points he spoke about.
Finally, I was able to actually see CMAA as a “Big Picture” organization. Up until now, all I could tell you about CMAA came from my chapter. Of course many of the other managers had been to conference before and I heard all sorts of stories, but in my opinion you do not really know what it is all about until you physically attend the event yourself. I was also able to see the national board in action. They are very dedicated to continue to make CMAA the success it is today. With a bit of luck one day I will be able to serve on my state board and after that the sky is the limit.
Now that I know the ropes, I cannot wait to attend my next conference. On the plane ride home to Texas, I made a list of the things I would change the next time around. The list was not that long, but with that information I think I will be able to make even more of what I can professionally while still being able to enjoy the social side of it.
No matter what type of club you manage or your current position within that club, I would highly recommend you do everything in your power to be a part of next year’s conference. Simply put: The education you get and the connections you make with the other managers can make a significant gain in regards to your career. I look forward to seeing you again soon in San Diego for 2013!