GAMPI, the Georgia Association of Meeting Professionals International recently interviewed Destination South’s Cynthia Alford and Taylor Rhodes for their Member Showcase.  Did you know: 

Cynthia is a former GaMPI president! A 29-year veteran of the meeting and events industry, she is the leading force for Destination South – our Managing Director. She has built Destination South to not only be an influencer of meetings and events for the Southeast, but for around the globe. A world traveler who is always eager to learn. Cynthia she has yet to meet a client or program that doesn’t teach her something new! And the most recent addition to the Destination South team is Taylor Rhodes, Sales Manager. From Grayson, GA, Taylor received her Bachelors of Arts in Mass Communications with a concentration in Advertising from Georgia College.

Read the interview below that’s an excerpt from the original, published on the GaMPI blog.


How has Atlanta changed in your lifetime?

Cynthia:  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was leading the Civil Rights movement and the Polaris lounge’s futuristic flying-saucer shape atop the Hyatt Regency was most prominent in the Atlanta skyline.

Taylor:  Growing up, residents were flocking from Atlanta to the suburbs, and now the trend is reversed.  With all the new restaurants, venues, and shopping, Atlanta is now more appealing for city living.


What’s your GaMPI connection:

Cynthia:  Many years ago, GaMPI produced an annual event called “Harvest Gala.” It was the talk of the town and all of our industry icons and cool, hip industry professionals attended. I initially got involved in GaMPI just so I could attend Harvest Gala!

Taylor:  I first joined GaMPI when I was with A Divine Event Catering to meet more industry professionals. I am honored to still be a part of such a great organization and representing another amazing Atlanta-based company.


How did you get started in the industry?

Cynthia:  Quite by accident, I won a beauty pageant called Miss Georgia Holiday. Before graduating from the University of Georgia and starting my job search, I wanted to gain additional experience interviewing under pressure. So, I accepted an invitation to compete in the Miss Georgia Holiday which was judged 50% on the interview portion. I had never been in a pageant before. I borrowed my evening gown from a sorority sister, and my swimsuit was marked down on clearance. Low and behold I won and ended up traveling across Georgia with the Director of Tourism, Hanna Ledford. I fell in love with our industry through that experience.

Taylor:  I first started my career in catering as receptionist, and worked my way up into sales as an Account Manager. I always knew I had to do something fast-paced that provided the opportunity to interact with people. It was the perfect fit and I am grateful for all the on-site event experience I acquired through teamwork and servicing a broad range of clients and unique events.


Rookie Mistake:

Cynthia:  Allowing a client to strong arm me into running a convention shuttle in such a severe ice storm that even MARTA buses weren’t running. I’ll never again put our guests, drivers and staff in danger to make a client happy.

Taylor:  Not asking enough of the right questions. Assuming a client will be fine with a small change and then having that small change become a HUGE issue.


Advice you will never forget:

Cynthia: Worry is like sitting in a rocking chair. It will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.

Taylor: Work hard in silence and let success be your noise.


Carry-on bag:

Cynthia:  I miss the days when my carry-on bag included a bottle of my favorite wine.  Now, instead, it’s stuffed full with a pashmina and socks (I’m always cold), my laptop, Kindle, tablet, smart phone (loaded with over 5,000 songs) and my headphones.

Taylor:  I love carry-on bags. I have absolutely no patience to check a bag. They are my one and only option. I put my whole life in there – all under three ounces. Unless I am staying more than four days then that obviously requires way more shoes and outfit options. Let’s be real.


Communication style:

Cynthia:  I recall, like it was yesterday, the smell of mimeograph machines, carbon copies, life before faxes and big cell phones. I even still have the same cell phone number.

Taylor:  I remember the dial-up connection and my computer making that “skaweeeereureeweeeert” sound. My mom would yell, “TAYLOR LEIGH get off the internet. I need to use the phone!”


Three-ring Binder or Tablet?

Cynthia:  One would think, due to my age, I would say three-ring binder and Taylor would say tablet, but with us, it’s the other way around. Tablet for me, all the way!

Taylor:  Three-ring binder for the win. I’m definitely old school. Also, there is no better feeling than having every single piece of paper you need in that binder and literally checking something off your to-do list.


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Cynthia:  Being told NO without a #$@&%*! good reason. (And, I just learned that the aforementioned is universal to represent an expletive.)

Taylor:  When people say “Oh you’re so young…” Perhaps I should start responding back with, “Oh you’re so mature.”

Cynthia:  No, no, Taylor… that’s not a good idea. I’d get confused and think you’re calling ME old.

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