By Dee Karawadra
The Southeast Acquirers Association's annual meeting is slated for March 23 to 27, 2008. This show is dear to my heart, not just because I am the organization's "rookie" board member, but also because it is where I truly got my feet wet in this industry.
Attending my first SEAA show enabled me to make connections that have guided me over the past several years.
I am especially excited about this year's show because it is being held in one of my favorite cities in the South, New Orleans - or as we Southerners say it, Nawlins. This is an ideal place for a convention this year because attendees will be able to enjoy the conference and the city's rich culture, as well as contribute to rebuilding the city, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
SEAA board member John McCormick said, "Before Hurricane Katrina, the SEAA board had received a number of suggestions from participants to take the show to New Orleans. When it was time to celebrate our fifth annual seminar, we thought New Orleans was the perfect destination.
"Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina hit within 60 days of our scheduled event. We were forced to move that seminar to Fort Lauderdale, but the entire board agreed that we needed to show our support for New Orleans and take the show back at the earliest possible time."
This year, the SEAA board is offering people in our industry an opportunity to give a little time to New Orleans. SEAA has arranged a volunteer session after the show to help in the rebuilding effort. You can sign up to volunteer when registering.
SEAA has a stellar lineup chosen to enlighten and entertain ISOs, merchant level salespeople and all other industry professionals. Many of today's hot topics will be covered. All were suggested and selected by the SEAA Advisory Board, which is made up of industry veterans.
Following is the tentative schedule:
New Orleans is a vibrant place. The city offers great jazz music, nightlife, casinos and a drink called the Hurricane. The taste of Cajun food is unique, as is the city itself.
A number of famous restaurants serve up authentic New Orleans cuisine. Must-try items are gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish, muffulettas and the famous late night/early morning snack, beignets.
FastTransact stated on GS Online's MLS Forum, "Every day is the best day to be" at the SEAA meeting in New Orleans. "It's a great time to network, make new relationships and participate in educational events. ... Then there are the after-hour opportunities."
And according to MLS Forum member sdsorensen, who lives in New Orleans, "the French Quarter and surrounding areas are safe, clean, and well-lit."
MLS Forum member Slick Streetman said it best, "Watching the eastern horizon starting to light up at sunrise from the Cafe Du Monde is quite a memorable sight. ... The reds, oranges [and] yellows slithering through the ripples of the Mississippi River, the aroma of French roast coffee 'n chicory wafting mingling with the humid morning air ... locals, out-of-towners and foreigners blending into a oneness of soul and perspective."
The SEAA show has been highly successful in past years. Networking opportunities abound; you can actually get to know the vendors who have been courting you.
It is hard to choose your partners over the phone. This will allow you to make face to face judgment calls.
"Several Board members have made trips to New Orleans to evaluate both the Sheraton as a host site and New Orleans as a host city to ensure that we will have a successful 2008 Seminar," McCormick said.
"Following our trips, we are more excited than ever to be returning to New Orleans and very thankful to the vendors and sponsors who have shown their support."
Anticipation is building as show time approaches. Whatever draws you to New Orleans - the food, the culture, the music or the SEAA annual show - you are sure to be the winner. I look forward to seeing ya'll in Nawlins!
Dee Karawadra is the founder, Chief Executive Officer and President of Impact PaySystem, based in Memphis, Tenn. He and his team have a wealth of knowledge on the merchant services industry, with a niche in the petroleum market. Dee's experience on the street as an agent has guided him in laying a foundation for an agent program that is both straightforward and lucrative for his agents. Contact him at 877-251-0778 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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