The 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry for 2016

Our annual list of impact players in the industry

top 25 people in meetings industry 2016

Once again we present our yearly roster of luminaries, chosen because they have either contributed to the business of meetings, made it easier for meeting professionals to do their jobs, helped raise awareness of the industry, or, through their actions, have had a significant impact on meeting professionals. Our list of Most Influential in the Incentive Industry will appear in the November/December issue of Incentive magazine.


• Chris Kelly, president and co-founder of Convene

• Dan Berger, 
  founder, CEO of Social Tables

 Robert Khoo, former president of operations and business development for Penny Arcade and show director of PAX

• Danielle Bishop
, president of HB Hospitality

Read about how these individuals are changing the game for meeting planners.


• Michael Dominguez, senior vice president and chief sales officer of MGM Resorts International; co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC)

• Matthias Schultze, managing director of the German Convention Bureau

• Nan Marchand Beauvois, vice president, National Councils & General Manager, ESTO, U.S. Travel Association

• Julie Larson, former project manager of meetings and events for McDonald's

• Tom Noonan
, president and CEO of the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau; former president/CEO of Visit Baltimore

• George Aguel
, president and CEO, Visit Orlando

Why are these people advocates for meetings? Find out here.


 The Marriott and Starwood sales teams, led by Alison Taylor, senior vice president of global sales for Starwood Hotels & Resorts; and Brian King, global sales officer and global brand officer of Marriott Signature Brands
• Mike McIlwain, president and CEO of PSAV

• Keegan Hooks, senior director of events for SAP Marketing

• Isabel Bardinet, CEO of the European Cardiology Society

• Richard Harper
, executive vice president of HelmsBriscoe; co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition (MMBC)

We all strategize, but these individuals are implementing strategies that impact everyone's plans. Better read about them


• Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI)

• Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group

• Anja Loetscher
, director of the Geneva Convention Bureau, as well as a DMAI board member

• Janet Sperstad, CMP, program director for the meeting and event management degree program at Madison Area Technical College; chair of the Convention Industry Council's CMP governance committee

• William Reed, senior director of meetings for the American Society of Hematology (ASH); current chair of PCMA
• Brian Stevens
, CEO of ConferenceDirect; incoming chair of the Global Board of Meeting Professionals International

There are lots of places to get education in the meetings industry today. And these people are responsible for much of the best that is out there.


• Julie Coker Graham, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau

• Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo,
 chief convention bureau officer of the South Africa National Convention Bureau

• Richard Gray
, LGBTQ managing director of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau (GFLCVB); vice chair of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA)

There's much work to be done when it comes to growing the meetings industry and making it as inclusive as possible. Here's how these influencers are doing that.

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This article appears in the July 2016 issue of Successful Meetings.