Leadership, teamwork and marketing -- and a healthy dose of Cajun cooking -- are the themes of the Regional Tourism Conference today and Saturday in Kenai.
The annual conference of the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council opens with a reception tonight at 7:30 at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, next door to Kenai Central High School on the Kenai Spur Highway.
In line with the Cajun theme, Faron Owen, KPTMC executive director and Louisiana native, has flown in 10 pounds of alligator hors d'oeuvres. There also will be a stuffed alligator head, which he plans to auction at the banquet Saturday night.
At Saturday's luncheon in the Kenai Senior Center, the keynote speaker is Jay Rifenbary, professional speaker, trainer, consultant and author of "No Excuse! -- I'm Doing It," a new philosophy for overcoming obstacles and achieving excellence.
"He's a fun and dynamic speaker," Owen said. "He has a THESAURUS program. Each letter stands for something."
The T is for "Totally forgive," the H for "Have self-esteem," and the E for "Elevate your attitude and enthusiasm." One U is for "Understand people."
"By doing these, you're obviously going to succeed in business, but you're also going to succeed in life," Owen said.
Conference registration and a New Orleans breakfast begin Saturday at 7:30 a.m. at the Kenai Senior Center. The educational sessions begin at 9:15 a.m. at the senior center, the Challenger Learning Center and the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center. KPTMC will provide transportation between sites.
"We tried to create programs to help mom-and-pop businesses improve their marketing in the coming year," Owen said.
The session at the senior center focuses on closing sales.
"We're going to talk about types of marketing, goals of marketing, what are you accomplishing with the ads you're using and, once they call, how do you close the sale?" he said.
"We're going to deal with a variety of things. We'll talk about a three-pronged attack -- features, advantages and why they should use you, and finding out what they want so you can overcome objections.
"By asking lots of questions and doing lots of listening, as opposed to lots of talking, you often have more success."
Other options are a mission at the Challenger Learning Center and a Rifenbary session on leadership at the visitors center.
The Challenger mission will teach teamwork, he said.
"In an hour, you must intercept a comet. You'll have a crisis, and you must work together to solve it," he said. "Solve it or die."
Participants return to the senior center at 10:15 a.m. The educational sessions repeat at 11:15 a.m., so it is possible to attend two of the three.
The luncheon features seafood gumbo, jambalaya and Rifenbary's talk.
Afternoon events are at the senior center. An afternoon social and product showcase begins at 2 p.m. Rifenbary continues his address at 2:30 p.m. The KPTMC annual review and membership meeting starts at 4 p.m.
The banquet and auction are at 6:30 p.m. at the senior center. Owen will unveil The Weekender, KPTMC's newest in-state publication.
The dinner includes crawfish, blue crab and shrimp, potatoes, corn, salad and Mardi Gras king cake. The auction includes Alaska, New York, Arizona, California, Florida, Arkansas and Caribbean travel packages and Alaska art.
Owen said he expects about 75 people to attend the educational sessions and more than 200 to attend the banquet and auction.
People can register Saturday at the senior center at 8 a.m. or a little before.
"If you want to come, just show up," Owen said.
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