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The Business of Meetings

Dec 21, 2021

We have the great pleasure of speaking to another rock star in our industry today! Terry Matthews-Lombardo is an experienced professional in the meetings and events industry. She plans meetings all over the world and recently wrote a book called Meetings Mayhem, in which she shares real-life stories to teach planners how to cope when projects go wrong.  

In this episode, Terry tells her story. She talks about MPI (Meeting Professionals International), what you will gain from volunteering, and the benefits of having a second act. She also discusses what went into writing her book, shares some funny stories from the book, and offers some excellent advice for people starting a new business.

We hope you enjoy listening to our delightful conversation with Terry Matthews-Lombardo today! 

Terry Matthews-Lombardo’s bio

Terry Matthews-Lombardo has spent her professional life in one aspect or another of hospitality management. In the beginning, it was just her smile and that newly-minted college degree in hotel management that got her hired at WDW, working the front desk at the Contemporary Resort Hotel at a time when it was the largest facility in the South East. After checking in (plus or minus) two zillion guests, and having only one attempt to launch a suitcase over the counter aimed at her head after being told – with a smile – “I’m sorry, there is no room reservation with your name on it, and we have no more availability this year. . .”, she and her smile successfully moved on to other industry positions. Those included being the Chief Flight Attendant and Trip Director for an international charter airline where she traveled the world, a Certified Meeting Professional that still kept her on the move globally while contracting and managing over 100+ yearly meetings, and taking a management position in Special Events on Team One at Universal Studios FL as they announced to the world they were arriving in town and meant business. Today, still working successfully as an Independent Planner and Trip Director, Terry has also added writer, author, and speaker to her bio and feels that there’s a good story to be told from every trip and event in which she’s involved, along with lessons in life management. Sometimes it will be a direct flight path and other times a detour, but that’s what will make this an interesting ride together.

Terry’s story

Terry has a degree in Hotel and Hospitality Management. Before she ever heard of meeting and event planners, she always imagined she would become the General Manager of a hotel. 

Her first job was at the front desk of Walt Disney World, at the Contemporary Resort Hotel in Orlando, Florida. After some time, she moved on to working on conventions.

The PGA Merchandise Show

Terry was working in conventions at the Contemporary Resort Hotel when the PGA Merchandise Show started taking place there. Initially, the show had only some table-top displays around the perimeter of the ballroom. Subsequently, it grew to become a city-wide show that uses the entire Convention Center.

Branching out

Terry loved the hotel side and thought she would spend her entire career working there. However, after several years at Disney, she decided to branch out because she felt that Disney was too large an employer. Even though it was a wonderful place to start her career and get training from Corporate America, she felt like she was just a name and a number.

A leap of faith

Terry got the opportunity to be an international flight attendant for a private charter. So she left Disney, took a leap of faith, and joined the private charter even though it was a brand-new startup charter airline. It took her all over the world, and she had some wonderful experiences!

Her first job as a meeting planner 

After that, she got her first meeting planning job with an Orlando-based association. From there, her career started to take off.


Around that time, Terry also joined MPI. That had a huge impact on her life. MPI was instrumental in changing the global mindset around professional meeting planning and getting businesses around the world to understand that meeting planning is a viable profession and industry.  

Why should you volunteer?

It is fun to volunteer, and when you do, you get back ten times more than you put in! Volunteering allows you to expand your network and connect with more suppliers, industries, and planners who can help you. You can never have too many people in your professional network!

Ten years

Terry thought about writing her book for at least ten years before she got down to doing it. She is a meeting planner, mother, homeowner, and dog mom, so she had to figure out how to add another element to her over-challenged, full, and busy life. 

A new industry

Writing was a new industry for Terry. She started writing a monthly blog to make her presence known. She also solicited magazines to get assignments to write articles for industry magazines. 

Collecting stories

When she got serious about collecting stories about five years ago, Terry started taking notes and getting permission from people to write their stories. Once she created an outline in mind, writing the book was a fairly easy task.

The biggest takeaway

The biggest takeaway from Terry’s book is that no matter what happens behind the scenes, you have to put on a show once the curtain goes up.

Some funny stories

There are some funny stories in Terry’s book. One of them is about a well-endowed man who got part of his body caught up in the roping on a catamaran during an incentive program in Mexico. Another is about a hotel convention planner who was told to hire a stripper to get up on the stage and interrupt a professional speaker while doing his presentation. That did not go down well with the all-female audience!

Preparing for unforeseen problems 

As a planner, Terry has grown more from the challenges she has experienced than from her successes. She has included some learning lessons at the end of most of the chapters in her book. 

A second act

Terry encourages everyone in the industry to create a second act to divert them, and stop them from getting too consumed with what they are doing in their careers. 

Terry’s second act is focusing on her alter ego as a writer, and doing presentations to guide others to find another passion in their career journey. 

Business advice

If you start a new business, Terry recommends focusing on what you can provide for your clients in addition to what you want your business to be. Be willing to “stand in the hole” and do whatever it takes to assist your clients with realizing their vision.

Connect with Eric

On LinkedIn

On Facebook

On Instagram

On Website

Connect with Terry Matthews-Lombardo

On her Website

On the telephone: (407) 492-4004

Email Terry at

 On LinkedIn

Terry’s World Travels

Terry’s book, Meetings Mayhem, is available at all book stores 

Other Book Mentioned:

The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman