by Successful Meetings staff | July 01, 2014

Kevin Iwamoto, Vice President of Industry Strategy for Lanyon 

A longtime thought leader in the field of Strategic Meetings Management (SMM), Iwamoto is doubling down this year, supporting the MPI Foundation's SMM next generation initiative while evangelizing the value of SMM in parts of the world where it has not yet been embraced, notably the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) and Asia-Pacific regions.

Following the March spinoff of Active Network's Business Solutions Group and its merger into Lanyon, his new company is using its combined technology and expertise to prove the value of SMM, providing clients' top executives with a far clearer view of their overall SMM spend and turning that big data into a tangible "Total Cost of Attendee" figure. It also helps meeting planners and travel buyers see the full value of their transient travel and meeting spending, which provides far greater leverage with suppliers. Which is to say: he's once again helping push the industry in the direction it needs to go.

Reggie Aggarwal, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Cvent 
Reggie Aggarwal
This has been a momentous year for Cvent, which went public in August 2013, bringing $135 million into the company's coffers and completing the journey from its founding in 1999 as an upstart tech firm to the leader in cloud-based venue sourcing and enterprise event management. With revenue up 33 percent and the number of meetings managed up 48 percent  -- to 205,000 -- in 2013, the company has been attracting large and high-profile clients across a wide range of industries, including Hewlett-Packard, Kaiser Permanente, Deloitte, and Raytheon. Cvent is also increasing its educational offerings this year, co-locating a new Association Meetings Summit with the three-year-old Corporate Meetings Summit, as well as April's new Group Business Forum.

Jennifer Hsieh, Vice President of Insight, Strategy and Innovation for Marriott

As the Millennial generation begins to reshape the workforce and society as a whole, hoteliers are just one part of the meetings industry finding that the old rules no longer apply. Determined to stay ahead of the curve, Marriott turned to Hsieh to oversee its new Innovation Lab, with the goal of creating fresh and innovative ways of differentiating the company's hotel brands with a generation of customers born in the Internet Age and no longer satisfied with the old cookie-cutter approach to hotel rooms and amenities. Hsieh's work covers everything from enhancing in-room technology and furniture to appeal to Millennials, to designing public spaces for the business traveler who wants to meet and collaborate informally with colleagues.

Dan Berger, Chairman and CEO of Social Tables 

As technology finally starts to fulfill the promise of easing and automating the organization and management of everything from small executive gatherings to citywide conferences, people like Berger are showing why cloud-based technology will soon be deeply embedded in the DNA of successful meeting planners. A deceptively simple product, Social Tables makes the process of setting up and managing banquets easy. With features that range from drag-and-drop table maps that show wait staff the location of VIPs and people with food allergies, to an intuitive 3-D feature that lets planners and clients virtually walk through a room's setup and visualize everything from speaker sight lines to how different chair style impact décor, it's no wonder Berger's firm is growing 20 percent month-over-month and has attracted customers like Harvard Business School, Genentech, and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts.


Sallie Coventry, Portfolio Director of Reed Exhibitions

Newly appointed to her position, Coventry is presiding over a rapidly and aggressively growing portfolio of incentive, business travel, and meetings industry hosted-buyer trade shows. With the addition of its two newest shows -- IBTM India, which will hold its second annual show in September in Chennai; and this year's inaugural IBTM Africa in late April and early May -- Reed has expanded its portfolio of MICE industry trade shows to a pair of important and underserved markets. With these two additions, Coventry's shows now cover pretty much the whole world.

She also demonstrates a keen ability to make bold moves, such as the one made last month when she announced that AIBTM, after three lackluster showings, was changing its name to IBTM America and switching its format from a traditional trade show to an invitation-only, one-on-one appointment show. That kind of flexibility will ensure that Reed continues to bring together buyers and sellers on a global basis.

Ray Bloom, Chairman and Founder of IMEX Group

Overseeing the most successful American meeting industry trade show, IMEX America, as well as IMEX in Frankfurt, Bloom -- chairman and founder of the IMEX Group, is working to keep the IMEX offerings fresh and carefully tailored to the needs of event planners. Bloom has fostered the development of the IMEX Politicians Forum, which concluded in Frankfurt in May with a historic meeting and subsequent statement between the UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization), WTTC (World Travel & Tourism Council) and JMIC (Joint Meetings Industry Council) to collaborate on three areas of common interest.

And with AIBTM changing its format, IMEX America becomes more important than ever.


David Peckinpaugh, President of Maritz Travel Company; Co-Chair of Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC)

David Peckinpaugh
As president of Maritz Travel Company for the past three years, Peckinpaugh has overseen the company's expansion by increasing its global and experiential design capabilities, notably by acquiring Experient two years ago. This year, the company increased its global focus by adding three global general managers to its team and continued to incorporate science into workplace engagement with the Maritz Institute. As co-chair of the MMBC, he has worked to ensure the industry is operating by the same playbook. This has included the launch this year of an online industry toolkit as well as a free MMBC app that speaks to the economic value of meetings.

Liz King, President of Liz King Events 

This year, King, a social media-connected event planner and award-winning blogger, created PlannerCrawl, an event planner meetup where attendees visit three venues in three hours this year. "We've had about 150 independent and corporate event planners at the events that are hosted bi-monthly," says King. Another King creation, #techsytalk LIVE, is a content-rich interactive learning experience that focuses on educating event planners on technology and how it relates to the industry. Last August she transformed #techsytalk LIVE to a full-day conference providing education on mobile apps, radio frequency identification (RFID), Google Glass, and much more. This year's day-long event technology conference will be held on Aug. 19 at Convene, 32 Old Slip in New York City.

Floyd Widener, SVP Global for CWT Meetings & Events 
Floyd Widener
An increasingly important force in the industry, CWT Meetings & Events was recently granted permission by Chinese authorities to create a division to handle both meetings and travel management for Chinese clients, rather than through a local contractor -- a first for a U.S. firm, it says. Under Widener's guidance, CWT Meetings & Events has also set out to deliver the first global supply chain for meetings and events. "Throughout the last year, CWT Meetings & Events has been continuing to strengthen our capacity for delivering in all four pillars of our business: strategic meetings management (SMM), group travel and meetings logistics, events, and venue sourcing," says Widener. CWT recently refreshed the company brand across its website and collateral material and will soon be rolling out a new social media strategy. "We wanted something eye-catching which also highlights our years of knowledge and experience," he adds. Parent company Carlson clearly thinks CWT Meetings & Events is on the right track -- it just bought out JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s 45 percent ownership of the event company.

Karin Milliman, director, Meeting & Event Services (MES) for PwC 
Karin Milliman
 Milliman is a senior corporate meetings professional who has transformed PwC's strategic meetings management program, which now encompasses hybrid, virtual, and face-to-face domestic and global meetings. The PwC MES team uses an innovative hybrid resource model encompassing both internal PwC staff and external onshore resources. PwC continually evaluates its virtual and face-to-face meeting programs to align them with the goals and objectives of its Strategic Meetings Management Program, culture, and financial objectives.
2014 has been a year of significant change for the team in virtual, hybrid and face-to-face meetings. PwC's virtual meeting program is mature and quite strong, however, as technology continues to evolve, internal meeting customers' expectations increase exponentially and they continue to "push the limits" of what technology can do.  This in turn requires the team to deliver larger, more complex events with the same flawless execution. For example, the team delivered a global, open access webcast to approximately 5,300 live viewers that was translated into 6 languages, with over 140 viewing parties hosted in PwC offices and client sites around the world. PwC's culture is one that embraces the remote and mobile worker and as such PwC has experienced an increase in hybrid events.  Hybrid meetings enable the face-to-face experience for those who can and choose to participate in person yet also accommodate the remote or mobile worker who can't attend in person.  For the MES team this means expanding their knowledge to gain understanding of both virtual and face-to-face meetings, regardless of their specialty, to best meet the needs of their meeting customers. A renewed and closer alignment with PwC's procurement department was also a key focus for 2014. Together, MES and Procurement created a hotel strategy that best fits PwC's requirements, challenges the supply base to create greater synergies between meetings and transient spend, then works with internal meeting customers and stakeholders to implement that strategy.

Belinda Doery, Regional Strategy Manager of American Express Meetings and Events 

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Doery handles the design, implementation, and oversight of strategic meetings management programs in the Asia-Pacific region for American Express Meetings and Events. Doery is an expert at developing successful strategies for the optimal management of meetings, and is a prime example of the next generation of international meeting planners. It's no surprise that she was recently recognized as a global leader in the industry, winning the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) Regional and Global "3 under 33" award for industry innovation and progress.