April 2015  


Welcome New Members!

Jill Kougl - Hilton Austin Airport

Angela Scimea - Omni Austin Hotel Downtown

Chris Tubb



MEmbership Drive in June!


Sign up as a new member in the month of June and receive a 20% Discount as a New Members - visit and use the following code: AUSTINNACE15B. (please note that if you were a previous member, your membership must have expired for at least one year to qualify. Renewing membership do not qualify.)

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Meet Your Members

April Member Spotlight: Katie Billingsley of Complete Weddings + Events

What made you want to be in the events industry and NACE?

I have a major love of music and my original goal was to be a part of the entertainment industry. I received my Masters in Entertainment Management in 2011 and began an internship at a local event/PR company in Honolulu, HI. From there I discovered that I enjoyed planning events and organizing things for people. Once I moved to Austin, I lucked out with finding Complete Weddings + Events through a random online search. It has been the perfect fit for me. As for NACE, I wanted to get involved to build relationships and connections with others. NACE has helped introduce me to so many colleagues in the industry. 

What is a new or common trend you are seeing in events these days in your industry?

Videography can play a big part in a couple’s big day. We’ve recently acquired the technology to provide aerial footage in our videography package and people are really excited about it. We have booked multiple occasions coming up and are so excited to share it with our customers.

Tell us something fun and unique about yourself that we may not know:

Totally random, I like to color. When I have really stressful days, I pull out my Alice in Wonderland coloring book and I color. It is totally relaxing. 


May Member Spotlight: Jyll Vertuno, CPCE of Congregation Agudas Achim:

What made you want to be in the events industry and NACE?

Why catering? Why not? I come from a long line of bar owners, disco workers, butchers, and caterers. Beside have you ever met a Jewish woman who doesn't enjoy feeding people?  I love the fast paced, emotional, deliciousness that is the events business.

NACE: As soon as I started working at my first Austin hotel, my mentor showed me how important networking was, to show up often and consistently. Once I switched to the catering side, my predecessor (Michele Edison) was a member of NACE so I decided to check it out. Immediately, I knew it was the place for me, where I could learn and grow in my industry.

 What is a new or common trend you are seeing in events these days in your industry?

People are more "foodie" and knowledgeable then ever. They come with ideas and it's my job to translate those ideas into a banquet function for the masses.  No Pinterest fails allowed!

 Tell us something fun and unique about yourself that we may not know:

I lived in Queens, New York my first 14 years of life. One day I hope to take sailing lessons or learn to play the piano that is sitting in my dining room.


June Member Spotlight: Katie Hahn of The Traveling Photo Booth:

What made you want to be in the events industry and NACE?

I've always loved when people gather together in celebration of something, ever since I single handedly organized my Junior Prom in High School (granted it was only 150 people, but  I studied Event Coordination in college, but soon realized I needed something more unique in my life than tea candles floating in mason jars every Saturday. I am so happy I found The Traveling Photo Booth - no rental is EVER the same, and I am also ecstatic to be a part of NACE, which Sara Dodd made me really want to be more involved with!!!

What is a new or common trend you are seeing in events these days in your industry?

Everyone is going crazy over our ability to customize their entire rental with us! From how the photos are printed at the event, to how the photo strips look when they are digitally uploaded to the interwebs. We show the client plenty of design and personalization options that this 'ME' generation craves so much.

Tell us something fun and unique about yourself that we may not know.

I am obsessed with anything horror related - my dream job would be to open a frightening outdoor interactive campout experience that runs year around, I'd call it 'Hahn-ted Acres'!!

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Cause of the Quarter

Our cause of the quarter for May-July is Fresh Chefs Society. Fresh Chefs Society empowers youth transitioning out of foster care with the skills necessary to take charge of their eating lifestyle and to provide knowledge of the culinary arts through meaningful educational experiences with community cooks, chefs, and restaurants. 

Educational experiences include: 

Fresh Chefs Society coordinates a series of educational seminars for youth transitioning out of foster care in various settings in the community, such as in food centers, restaurants, markets and private homes. The seminars include lessons in basic cooking skills, preparing meals on a limited budget, introduction to local food sources and the connection between food and culture.

Guest Chef
The Guest Chef program invites chefs to lead an interactive cooking demonstration with the youth at their transitional living facilities. Chefs will not only introduce and model basic cooking skills, but they will also have the opportunity to share and discuss why they have chosen the culinary arts as their profession.

NACE Austin will not be holding a meeting in the month of July, however we will still be supporting our current Cause of the Quarter: Fresh Chef Society. Follow this link and click on "Register Now" to donate any open amount.


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Experience Conference



The Experience Conference and Expo is the only major industry conference that serves everyone in the catering and events industry. At Experience, attendees find education in every moment that they are on site, from the meals they are served to high-ranking breakout sessions and award winning national keynote speakers. And that is still not to mention the networking with industry leaders and celebrities. Experience is consistently ranked as a high value and those who have attended recommend the conference to others and come back again and again. 


Experience includes the Design Experience, a one of a kind interactive demonstration of the latest trends and design tips. And the Culinary Experience is a multi-sensory experience that lets participants enjoy culinary treasures at their seat as they are being prepared on stage. In between, national speakers from the Food Network, Hard Rock International, and even the White House share their industry secrets. So plan to come to Experience 2015 in Scottsdale! Here’s a quick video to show you what it’s all about.



Blanca Cerda, Michele Edison, Bri Mouton, CPCE, and Alfred Engstrand!


Words of wisdom from past Experience attendees:

Experience! 2013 Conference by Laura Page, CERP

There are always ways to improve upon, enhance or re recognize the importance of good customer service skills.  I learned that, me, being better organized = a better experience for my clients.  It’s all about relationship building (vs. using the word “Vendor” use the word “Business Partner”), good time management and effective communication.  Get to know your client and be timely responding to customer inquiries.  Find out what is intrinsic to your client and don’t be afraid to propose the “dream”  to them, don’t ever assume your client can’t afford it.  Your challenge may be how to make it happen within their budget because you can’t give it away.

There were also good tips on PR and promoting your company.  Your website is the 1st face of you.  It’s good to have FAQ’s on there (answers to frequently asked questions such as what the process is to book you, any minimums, what territory you service, deposits required , etc. – address anything that gets asked over and over again) or possibly even feature a live chat section.  Testimonials can be helpful, your website should be emotional to relay the experience of doing business with you.  Which strikes an interesting question as you review your own company’s information , “Would you do Business with You”?  This was actually a session title and topic at conference - really gets you thinking doesn’t it…

Experience! 2013 Conference by Brianne Mouton, CPCE

Attending my fifth conference, it is always exciting to see what the host city has planned, hear and see what new trends are emerging and collaborate with industry partners across our sister chapters and Chicago did not let me down! Any party is not hot without some theme intertwined throughout the event: from our opening reception "The Devil in a White City" to walking into the Emerald City for opening breakfast and keynote one could find all sorts of ideas to bring home (check out our chapter facebook page for some great pictures of the event).

One breakout in particular that I want to highlight was called "Setting the Table to Better Serve Same-Sex Couples" presented by Kathryn Hamm of It was interesting to listen to the speaker and that by working and being open to new traditions and options that couples are adopting/doing that it will actually help us all be better at planning weddings for all types of couples,  not just same sex marriages. Below are a few of my take-a-ways.

1. Education Yourself: follow experts, watch headlines, attend conferences. Couples are looking for professionals, they want someone to help them bring their dream/vision to light, yet couples are lot more savvy these days. Be knowledgeable about the rights in the state you work in and the legal side of things (or at least know someone you can send couples too).

2. Should you choose to work with same-sex couples, update your website and marketing to include words such as "couples", "fiance" or "partners" and not specifically "bride" or "groom". All about first impression and your image/brand.

3. Expand Your Network: Make sure you talk with your business partners as well to see how they feel about working with same-sex couples. It is not about being right or wrong but having a team that is willing to serve the couple on their special day. Another item that was pointed out was to even take it a step further and talk to your employees about the event you are planning to work on (can't control peoples opinions and don't want your staff walking out minutes before an event starts).

4. Couples these days are straying from the traditions of our parents and grandparents and are even creating new ones. We are seeing a lot of "brides-men" and "groom-women" in bridal parties and one can't always assume that in a picture with a bride, her bridesmaids and then a man in a tux , that the man is the groom, rather a part of the bridal party or that a group of men with a women in a tux jacket and black shirt is a same sex marriage. Sometimes it is not even about the couple that is getting married but rather about a family member or close friend that will be attending with their partner and it is imporant to the couple that they feel welcomed.

5. Don't Assume, Ask and Innovate, be knowledgeable about military weddings traditions, be mindful of the CHOSEN & BILOGICAL family members of your couple, be a leader!

The LGBT community is a group that still ranges from those who have lived closested lives to those who have not, those who have supportive family members and those who do what if thinking differently about reaching and serving same-sex couples hels you better serve ALL couples?

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Eat the Heat


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