This is a letter of recommendation to hire Ms. Dana Saal as a meeting planning consultant.
We first worked together in 2005 when we planned helped the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association (ISVMA) Annual Convention, an event that had seen registrations stagnate up to that point. That year’s convention was so successful that we reached a registration record and had to place overflow exhibitors in the hotel lobby. Dana helped the ISVMA convention in several ways—we had better promotion, better entertainment, and better keynote speakers; plus we were much more organized. The success in 2005 continued in subsequent years, requiring ISVMA to use larger venues.
My second partnership with Dana was in 2012 when I was a board member of the Association of Veterinary Technician Educators (AVTE), an international association with a biennial convention. AVTE had outgrown the capacity of our volunteer leadership and with the 2013 convention in sight I knew just who we should go to for help, Dana Saal.
AVTE hired Ms. Saal. Our contract with her was all spelled out. Everyone understood the expectations of the other. There were no surprises. I’d even say she gave us more than we paid for. She had contacts all over the country who helped us narrow down the venue, negotiate room prices, and get us a deal on food & beverage.
Dana had many wonderful ideas that kept participants active and entertained while they engaged exhibitors and provided unique, Denver-specific experiences. With the success in Denver, both financially and with participant satisfaction, the AVTE naturally hired her for our 2015 convention. I was to be the AVTE President at that convention, and I had to top the Denver convention. I could not do it without Ms. Saal.
In 2015 the AVTE convention was held in Niagara Falls, Canada. Ms. Saal seamlessly handled the challenges of planning internationally, on top of repeating everything she provided at our last convention. Our numbers grew, our exhibitors and sponsorship grew. As President, I only had to review some contracts and approve some options. Ms. Saal made it easy for me, and made “my” convention a success, making me look good.
There’s the thing, Ms. Saal defers the recognition so that everyone else takes the credit and looks good. She has so many good ideas, but never dictates what should be done. Ms. Saal made sure that she incorporated whatever the association desired. We could not have done it without her.
Bottom line, big or small, I can’t imagine that there is a better choice for a meeting planning consultant than Dana Saal.
R. Scott Keller
Past president, Association of Veterinary Technician Educators
Past president, Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association
ISVMA Annual Convention, 2005, 2006
AVTE Biennial Symposium, 2013, 2015