Out on a Limb: Alumni Entrepreneurs
Eileen Soisson ’93 R P M
Founder and Director, The Meeting Institute After years of working in the commercial recreation and hospitality industry, Eileen Soisson had too often heard such excuses for why frontline staff needn’t provide highquality service to guests. When she also began hearing these excuses from the directors of recreation agencies she knew it was a widespread, cultural issue. So in 2004, she founded The Meeting Institute, a company based in Myrtle Beach, S.C., that aims to help recreation agencies provide a better standard of service and leadership through effective training and programs. “Our goal is to help agencies create their own in-house training programs that teach staff members how to provide the best possible service to customers,” said Soisson. “We are all about creating training programs that staff members WANT to attend, and as a result, we see a culture change within agencies. We see personal accountability toward doing better in the workplace.” In particular, The Meeting Institute offers educational seminars and workshops, professional training programs, customer service and secret shopping programs, consulting and facilitating services, and personal development programs.
Prior to founding The Meeting Institute, Soisson worked as a manager of recreation departments for various resorts and hotels including Marriott, Starwood, Bass Hotels, and others. She also worked with the American Hospitality Academy (AHA) for over ten years. There, as director of training and development, she managed over 2,500 interns from all over the world as they fulfilled their recreation and hospitality internships. She also oversaw supervisor and management training programs. “The experience I gained in designing customer service training programs gave me the confidence to start my own business,” she said. A member of the College of Health and Human Development’s Alumni Society Board of Directors for eight years, Soisson credits Penn State for launching her career. “As a recreation, park, and tourism management major, we had to complete a final internship,” she said. “My internship was in Orlando, Fla., running activities programs for resort guests from all over the world. This internship ultimately led to my work with AHA. Had it not been for that internship placement with AHA, my world would be so different today.” More information about The Meeting Institute is on the web at: themeetinginstitute.com.
Photo Credit: College of Health and Human Development
“We’re just a community center!”