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When the Planning Gets Tough, the Tough Get Planning

Marjaneh Majarwitz, CMP, was a life saver for her clients when Hurricane Ian blasted through Fort Myers, Fla., last fall.

MeetingsNet’s Changemakers list recognizes outstanding meeting professionals for their efforts to move their organizations and the industry forward in unique and positive ways. Find the full 2023 Changemakers list here.

Marjaneh Majarwitz, CMP


MarjaNet Inc.

For helping a meeting client reach its goals after a hurricane wrecked the host destination 30 days out

To the executive director of the North American Invasive Species Management Association, Marjaneh Majarwitz, CMP, is something of a hero. The group had worked with her to plan a much-needed international conference in November 2022, the first time the community would be together since before the Covid pandemic. The location was Fort Myers, Fla., but unfortunately Hurricane Ian had other plans for the region.

After the storm’s October 2022 devastation became clear, the 90 session presenters, three keynote speakers, and 400 attendees were suddenly on hold. “In-person conferences are critical to the work we do as it provides a place and space to collaborate, find community, and create camaraderie in our field. I didn’t have a backup plan,” said Christie Trifone Millhouse, NAISMA executive director. Fortunately, Majarwitz did. “In a week she had three options for a conference relocation. These were not bottom-of-the-barrel deals due to our dire need; they were contracts with outstanding room rates, rebates, and negotiated add-ons. She was fierce in her negotiations and advocated for our organization.”

To be sure, every meeting organizer faces challenges along the road to a great event, but momentous adversity like a natural disaster is where pros really get to shine. With just a month to do it, NAISMA had shifted its conference from Ft. Myers to Kissimmee. “This would not have happened without Marjaneh,” Millhouse says. “She went beyond the call of duty and truly saved our event and helped to rejuvenate NAISMA.”

Getting the Job Done

Planning since 2009 following a career in project management, Majarwitz admits she “checks messages constantly,” and no matter the situation, she maintains a can-do attitude. “If something needs to be done, I just get it done,” she says.

“I’m a people person,” she says. “I believe you have to keep that human touch because it’s part of hospitality. … It means so much more to get to know whom you’re working with. You get to see the impact of your work. It’s not just providing rates, contracts, and hotel information, but also establishing a connection about the meeting’s ideal outcome.”

She’s built relationships with suppliers too. “All expectations are defined up front in order to avoid any confusion,” Majarwitz says. “Collaborations are required with both clients and suppliers. We are all part of the same team and have the same goal to achieve: a successful event.”

As a changemaker, you need to be an advocate for your clients and hotel partners, Majarwitz says. “The program is important to their success and if they’re successful, I’m successful.”

The best way to stand out, she says is “by showing your clients and the other stakeholders that goals are met and you exceeded expectations. Provide multiple solutions because one solution doesn’t fit all.”

She adds this advice: “Build relationships based on mutual respect, integrity, and honesty.  And keep learning! It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the industry or you are a veteran meeting planner; it’s never too late to learn from others.” 

View the full list of 2023 Changemakers

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