‘Quick Ten’ With Director of Meeting & Program Operations, Tim Barrett, CMP

Soon to celebrate his one-year anniversary on the Destination South Meetings + Events team, TIM BARRETT, CMP recently took some time to chat and answer ten questions that we were most curious about. From personal to professional experiences, Tim knows first-hand what goes into having a successful career in the meetings and events industry.  As Destination South’s Director of Meeting & Program Operations Tim brings expertise, fresh perspective and loads of personality to his role on our team. Like his theatrical background, Tim’s ‘Top Ten’ answers are filled with entertaining stories that we know you’re going to enjoy!

DSOUTH:  We hear it’s been busy in the Destination South office. Thanks for taking some time to connect for a ‘Quick Ten’ interview. Let’s start with where you started – where were you born and where do you call home today?
TIM:  I was born in Habersham County where I grew up and lived through college. For most of my formative years, I called the Mud Creek area of the county home. We are on southern side of the county closest to Alto and just minutes away from Cornelia, Georgia, home of the Big Red Apple! Today, I am happy to call Midtown Atlanta home. I love the walkability and opportunities that surround me.

DSOUTH:  What education journey led you to your current career in the events industry?
TIM:  I literally “fell” into this field. Looking for a career change, I was interested in exploring my love of food, cooking, and hospitality. Knowing that it didn’t make sense to enroll in culinary school without ever working in an industrial kitchen, I took a job as a banquet server with the idea that I could pick up some kitchen shifts. Little did I know that cooking for 10 is very different than cooking for 100 and more. Once, I was walking to our cooler to store product and met a freshly mopped floor. Let’s just say, my head and the corner of a stainless-steel kitchen table got introduced and no amount of cool, melted butter that rained down could sweeten this meeting. But, hey, I was good “front of the house” so concentrated on that area, learned from mentors and grew in more client-facing roles. I still am upset, though, that the ambulance didn’t use their siren to transport me to the hospital!

DSOUTH:  We notice that you have the letters CMP after your name. What’s the importance of that designation?
TIM:  I take much pride in those three letters. The CMP designation signifies that I have met the criteria needed to be a Certified Meeting Professional. The CMP designation is administered by the Events Industry Council and is recognized as the “badge of excellence” in the meeting, convention, exhibition, and event industry. You must meet qualifications such as experience, education, and industry-related involvement in order to take the exam. We must re-certify every five years by showing our continuing quest for education and commitment to our industry. Today, I’m one of more than 11,000 professionals worldwide with the designation.

DSOUTH:  Before becoming Director of Meeting & Program Operations at Destination South were you always in the events or hospitality industry?
TIM:  My first instinct is to say: Was I? In reality, though, my previous “lives” feed into my day-to-day. As far back as kindergarten, I wanted to be a radio DJ. After going for that first job, I was told I was too young and encouraged to try theatre as a training ground. So I did, ultimately earning a full scholarship to study theatre in college and working professionally while also being on air and working programming and promotions for radio stations. Both relate to my day-to-day now as we have the opportunity to use our medium to bring about emotion and experiences to our clients and guests.

DSOUTH:  What do you like best about being a part of the meetings and events community and working at Destination South?
TIM:  Some of my fondest memories and best friends can all be traced back to this industry. We are an innovative, passionate, mobile, and fun group and it’s amazing to have such a reach worldwide. In any situation, I may find myself or any destination I may feel lost in, I can always count on a less than six degrees of separation to connect me to a colleague or a support. I’m coming up on my one-year anniversary with Destination South and look forward to receiving my new car! Hope I didn’t misunderstand that when I leapt at the opportunity to join this team. I like best the collaboration. We aren’t order-takers. Instead, we are strategic partners with our clients and our vendor partners to deliver amazing experiences.

DSOUTH:  What is the one piece of advice you would share with an events professional beginning their career in this industry?
TIM:  Be a sponge. Soak up the knowledge from the professionals and surround yourself with creativity.

DSOUTH:  What has been the most memorable client relationship of your career? What has been the most memorable event you’ve worked on?
TIM:  My most memorable client relationships follow a pattern. There is the courtship phase that leads to a level of trust between us. Most often, the events end in emotion – an award, a union, a milestone – and typically, a toast between us. The most memorable event I’ve worked on involved former President George W. Bush. The level of security and logistical challenges – even five years out of office – was an amazing feat.

DSOUTH:  When not working what are some of your favorite things to do and places to travel?
TIM:  I love reading and have recently subscribed to Texture which offers you hundreds of magazines digitally. I also have a TV addiction with my favorite shows being of the reality variety: all the cooking competition shows, America’s Got Talent, Survivor, Amazing Race. Regarding travel, I visited Paris last fall and it was as magical as everyone says. I am desperate to go again. Domestically, I love DC and the opportunities to experience the American experience! I am fond of the Blue Ridge Mountains and everything Nashville.

DSOUTH:  We hear that you are Dolly Parton’s biggest fan – tell us about that!
TIM: I don’t know when my fandom started. I can say the respect comes from her creative output. She was writing progressive songs in the 60s about women’s rights that have stood the test of time. Dolly is a smart businesswoman, too. She denied Elvis Presley the rights to record “I Will Always Love You” and gladly cashes the check every time someone plays the Whitney Houston version. She is philanthropic, too. She’s known as the “book lady” with her Imagination Library that sends an age-appropriate book to more than one million children every month and responded to the Great Smoky Mountains fire by establishing the My People Fund that has contributed close to $9 million dollars in direct assistance to the wildfire victims. I actually had my very first night on the radio during high school and I played Dolly’s “Why’d You Come In Here Looking Like That.” It was prom night, too, so I was in a tux!

DSOUTH:  Is there anything that people would be surprised to learn about you or that you’d like to share with our readers?
TIM:  Aside from the fact that Brad Pitt and I are not related? I am a cookbook collector with around 200 in my collection and consider myself an adventurous eater and have had tried many “delicacies.” We can’t forget to mention my dog, Zoro. He’s 10 now and makes me a better person every day!
Also, I’d love to share that I am honored to give back to the industry as the president-elect for Meeting Professionals International’s Georgia Chapter. Officially assuming leadership in July of 2018, I’m thrilled to continue building on the successes of this volunteer chapter. This organization has opened so many doors for me I look forward to continuing that commitment to our members and the future stars of our industry.