May 2017 Print

President's Report

Happy Spring!!

Our May meeting features a very special speaker, Mr. David Adler of Biz Bash. David is a highly respected event professional who will give great insight on the upcoming trends in the events industry. This meeting will be on Thursday, May 11th at the beautiful Orpheum Theater where you will also get a glimpse of the new Speak Easy space at the theater. This is a don’t miss event!! Go to to register and check out the other upcoming meetings and mixers!

Another don’t miss opportunity is the May membership drive! This special drive is good for the entire month of May! A new member joining in May will receive 14 months for the price of 12 and a discount code to waive the $50 application fee! We will also have a special contest for new members who join in May. Watch your inbox for more information about joining ILEA! An ILEA membership offers great opportunities to grow your business and expand your network as an event professional. If you have any questions about the value of an ILEA membership, feel free to contact me at (504) 906-1455 or via email at

I hope to see you at an upcoming meeting or mixer!

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ILEA Monthly Events - Future





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ILEA Monthly Events - Past

Last month we joined forces with MPI Gulf States and New Orleans NACE to have a collaboration of ALL of the event professionals in our area. Here are some of our members at the meeting! Big thanks to Audubon Zoo for hosting us! 




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May is finally here to usher in the start of our Summer Membership Drive! Membership has been bouncing off the walls excited in anticipation of having a FULL month to welcome to our New Orleans Chapter new ILEA Members. In the past drives we have only had 10 days in which the $50 application fee is waived but International smiled upon us with allowing the drive to continue, as well as the benefits of, for the whole month. As we all know, our events industry is ever changing! As the event professionals, we have to equip ourselves with the tools to keep growing each and every day! Through ILEA’s educational programs, networking opportunities, and over 51 International Chapter’s Directory’s at your fingertips the possibilities are ENDLESS both professionally and personally. We look forward to meeting you all, and sharing what ILEA means to us! BRING ON MAY!!


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Member Shout Out

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ILEA Insider

I joined ILEA (then ISES) in 1993 after being very involved with the annual The Special Event (TSE) meetings and trade show. At one particular ISES meeting I calmly spoke up on a somewhat contentious issue and was invited to run for the International Board of Directors as an At Large member, since there was no New Orleans ISES chapter at that time. I was elected to the international board by the general membership and served on several international committees including Ethics, MARCOM and Membership. When several officers encouraged me to run for an officer’s role in the organization, I spent several weeks discussing that prospect with my wife and my employees because of the demands placed on officers for a five year period moving from Secretary to Treasurer, Vice-President, President and then Past President. In the end, I agreed to run, was elected and eventually served as International President in 2002-03.
Serving as International President was an eye-opening, demanding and rewarding experience. I immediately led the campaign to reduce the International Board from 27 members down to a workable 11 members, and reluctantly demanded that our association management company Smith-Bucklin replace the existing Executive Director who was not performing at a professional level. The result of that effort was the eventual assignment of Kevin Hacke as our Executive Director who served with distinction for 14 years. My term as an officer had several challenges as two fellow officers, Bob Blaesing and Clifford Wallace, died unexpectedly while in office which caused significant responsibilities to be reassigned. On top of that, both of my sons suffered broken legs and surgeries (one day apart, one playing soccer the other skateboarding) early in my presidential year which temporarily curtailed an extensive traveling schedule.
The Leadership Training I received in ILEA was phenomenal. It made me a better leader, a better husband and father, a better business owner and church member. Interacting with members from all corners of the world also had a huge impact on my life. The ethics, manners, expectations and activities of individual members and of ILEA chapters across our world are different, and it was a great learning experience that ILEA provided to me.
My encouragement to all of my fellow ILEA New Orleans members can be stated in two words: GET INVOLVED. Doors will fly open and your horizon will be broadened as you join a local committee, then run for an officer position then get involved with this fabulous international organization at the international level. You will make lifelong friendships, and perhaps business relationships, with a diverse and fascinating group of people who share your passion for the events industry. I can honestly say that there is not one major city in the USA and Canada where I don’t have friends that I met through ILEA; and the same can be said for such places as Australia, England, Germany, South Africa and several other countries. So, please…get involved. You will not regret it!
David Spear

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Trending Hospitality

Chatbots, Voice Activation and AI – What to Expect for Events

©2017 Corbin Ball & Co.

A classic scene from Star Trek IV: Scotty, the chief engineer transported back to 1986, was attempting to communicate with a computer of the day. He did this by bringing the computer mouse to his mouth and speaking into it “Hello Computer” as if it were a microphone. As funny as it seemed at the time, computers and mobile device are finally catching up to where voice commands envisioned in Star Trek are working their way into computers, mobile devices and in the home through Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri and Google Home gadgets.

This year’s Consumer Electronic Show was chock full of Alexa and Google Home-enabled including voice-activated light switches, thermostats, AC outlets, cars, and much more. You can ask Alexa to do hundreds of things including play songs by your favorite artist, set a timer for 10 minutes or to wake you up at 7am. You can ask to tell you a joke or how high is Mt. Everest. We have finally reached a time were “she” understands and responds via voice in an accurate and natural manner. It has just been announced that Alexa will be accessible even through their app on iPhones!

It turns out that this voice interface is easy and natural and, in many cases, more convenient than typing in a search engine, or activating an app, or even getting up to turn on or off a switch.

Why is this happening?

There are a number of factors making this so:

  1.     Advances in computer (artificial) intelligence (AI): The ability for computers to understand and respond to range of words and syntax from a variety of people with different accents or via text for a wide range of simple verbal commands has finally become a reality. The accuracy rate has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years and is now ready for prime time.  
  2.     Ubiquitous internet connectivity via mobile devices: We can now access AI through our devices wherever we go in our home, in our cars, at work and at events. AI typically works with cloud-based “super computers.”  Any smart device that hears our voice or receives a text can now respond to our commands.
  3.     We want it now: Everyone is carrying around at smart phone in their pocket or purse. We are used to having information at our fingertips but we are becoming tired of downloading and interacting with apps. A voice interface or a simple text chatbot is often times faster and easier in many cases.

How will this impact events and venues?

We are beginning to see movement in hotels for the voice interface to improve the quest experience. Wynn Hotel Las Vegas, for example, plans to install Amazon’s Alexa speakers in more than 4,700 guest rooms allowing guest to use voice to control lights, room temperature, drapery and the television with more features to come. These “hotel room assistants” are relatively inexpensive and easy to install and will likely become common place in high-end hotels. This will likely expand to concierge applications and even travel bookings in the future.

Other hotels are using AI text-based chatbots. The Cosmopolitan Hotel, offers Rose, a chatbot concierge with somewhat of an attitude. Upon check in, guests are given a card that reads: “I am the answer to the question that you never asked.” and “Know my secrets. Text me,” The card contains Rose’s phone number which you can text for a variety of services. Towels? Pizza? Restaurant recommendations? Rosie will text you back and provide the services.

Voice interface adoption, however, will take a bit longer for events, although there are elements that are emerging:

  •          Text chatbots are coming in mobile event apps: Companies such as and are designed for events. This requires artificial intelligence and text-based recognition to make this happen. requires no app download and can work on a text message basis only. As the technology advances, a next logical step to go to voice activation.
  •          Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly moving into the event space: A number of event apps are starting to use AI within their products: is using AI to match attendees for networking using a Tinder-like interface.

Voice command activation and text chatbots using AI are moving into society at a rapid pace. We are seeing elements of this moving to hotels and events. It will be just a matter of time to where we will be using simple and natural voice commands to assist and guide us through our event and trade show journeys. 

Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP is a speaker and independent third-party consultant focusing on meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity He can be contacted at his extensive web site Corbin Ball & Co. - Meetings Technology Headquarters ( and followed at


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Hello Everyone!

We have received some exciting news from International that I would like to share with you all.

The International Board has done some reorganizing and beginning on July 1, 2017, there will be a brand new region of ILEA. The new region will be the Southwest Region which will include the following chapters: Arizona, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Nashville, New Orleans and San Antonio! The addition of this new region means that there is a brand new Regional Vice President position available.

If you would like more information about how to apply for this new RVP position, please contact Matt Hessler at for the application.

It would be great if the first Southwest Region RVP came from the New Orleans chapter!


Kelly Schellang
President, ILEA New Orleans 

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Calendar of Events

Don't miss out on our next events!

- May 11th - David Adler with Biz Bash at The Orpheum Theatre!

- July 13th - Angela Watson with Gulf Coast Tent at Gulf Coast Tent!

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Board of Directors

Immediate Past President - Whitney Hymel

President - Kelly Schellang, 

VP of Programs and Education - Stephanie Jones,

VP of Membership - Amanda Milano,

VP of Communications - Victoria Lehew,

Director of Education - Libby Kemp,

Director of Programs - Kim Sayatovic,

Director of Communications - Caitlin Alvarez,

Director of Membership - Angela Mahaffey Watson,

Director at Large - George Kutchler,

Director at Large - Jeff Rizzo, 

Director at Large Historian - Cara Blackledge,


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