. 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry | Successful Meetings

25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry

Successful Meetings' annual list of impact players

25 most influential meetings industry

Once again, we present our annual list 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 the industry.


INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS 

Paul Van Deventer, President and CEO of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) 

When Van Deventer joined MPI in April 2013 as president and chief executive officer, he inherited an organization in disarray. More than one year later, MPI has a distinct plan to improve the professionalism of the industry and raise the profile of meetings as a legitimate business tool.

Under Van Deventer, the bi-monthly "MPI Business Barometer" has been transformed into a quarterly research report called "Meetings Outlook," which is available for free to non-MPI members, making it more accessible to both the broader meeting and event community and beyond. Another initiative he spearheaded to increase the profile of the industry was the development of an educational commercial and a public television segment.

On the education front, Van Deventer has overseen the purchase of the Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate (HMCC), which teaches critical information on compliance regulations, laws, and techniques for managing healthcare meetings. He also approved the reimagining of MPI's venerable CMM Certification Program through a partnership with the Global Business Travel Association. Though controversial among some planners who already have the designation, the move will raise the profile of the CMM and increase the pool of those who can earn the certification around the globe.


Martha Sheridan, President and CEO of the Providence/Warwick CVB and Chair of Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI)

Martha Sheridan 1
Sheridan is not only one of the few women to head a CVB, but one of the very few to be elected to lead the board for DMAI. So far on her watch, the organization has completed a research study called "Generation Next," which predicts what the destination marketing organization (DMO) of tomorrow will look like. Under Sheridan, DMAI has launched a new database of core performance metrics that will help DMOs benchmark themselves against the rest of the industry. Called Destination Arena, the new database currently features nine months of data from more than 100 DMOs in 13 countries. By the end of 2014, DMAI hopes the database will have tripled in size.

The organization is also partnering with MPI on a new study exploring the role of digital channels in meeting planners' decision-making process. All of these initiatives put DMAI in a position to help DMOs stay relevant and better serve the meetings industry.


Shawna Suckow, Founder and President of Senior Planners Industry Network (SPIN)
 
Shawna Suckow 2014
Suckow has run SPIN for six years now, and she continues to use the organization as a platform to offer a variety of forums for meeting planners at the highest level. Her most recent innovation is The Hive Network, a private community that connects veteran suppliers with meeting planners for education and networking.

Unlike SPIN, which organizes education and events "by senior-level planners, for senior-level planners," The Hive Network is open to suppliers at all levels of industry experience. The HIVE Network offers suppliers a Customer-Certified Sales Expert designation comprised of a series of web-based sessions taught by members of SPIN. Adding suppliers to the SPIN mix is a savvy move that will raise the level of the dialogue between planners and suppliers at the highest level. And that can only benefit the industry as a whole.


Karen Kotowski, CEO of the Convention Industry Council (CIC)

It's been a busy year for the head of the CIC, beginning with the February release of an updated "Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy" study, showing that 1.83 million meetings were held in the U.S., attended by 225 million delegates and contributing more that $115 billion to the GDP. Kotowski has also signed off on the CIC's latest initiative: creating a working group to take a hard look at the issue of room-block poaching.

The CIC's Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) formed the new working group to develop resources to help planners better manage and protect room blocks. The first step in that endeavor has been to conduct a survey to assess the scope and impact of poaching activity that planners have either personally experienced or witnessed.

In step two, supplier partners will provide information to help develop tools and resources to combat the issue. Given the size of the meetings industry, the results of these efforts have the potential to save organizations millions of dollars in attrition fees. It will be interesting to watch as the program develops.


Roel Frissen, Vice Chairman of MPI International and Co-Founder of EventModelGeneration (EMG) 
Roel Frissen
The Netherlands-based Frissen first made a splash as the managing director of Parthen Group, a company that provides registration software, meeting supplies, registration services, and venue finding. In that role, he steered his company in the direction of environmentally friendly practices such as sourcing sustainable products (like event badges and lanyards), and the use of carbon offsets. He also played a key role in the formation of the First European Chapter of the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) and he is the vice chairman of MPI. But it is his work in EMG that has earned him inclusion on the list this year. Together with his business partner Ruud Janssen, Frissen is exploring ways to merge the disciplines of business modeling, meeting design, meeting architecture, service design, content design, and event ROI into a logical whole that can turn those models into practical tools for crafting innovative and sustainably successful events.



THIRD PARTIES

James Montague, CEO of Plannernet

James Montague
As CEO of Plannernet, a global third-party planner network, Montague leads a team of nearly 2,000 planners globally, with about 500 of them located in 110 countries outside of North America. It was under Montague's leadership that the company made an aggressive international expansion, allowing for meetings in countries such as India, China, and Korea. Montague was also a founding member of the International Medical Meeting Planners Association (which just transferred its Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate to MPI, and disbanded), and he played a key role in the initial development of the Certified Medical Meeting Manager program -- currently the Healthcare designation in the Certified Meeting Planner program.

Cecilia Tee, Regional Vice President of HelmsBriscoe

When she joined HelmsBriscoe in 2012 as regional vice president, Tee became the company's first Asia associate in a strategic leadership position. Based in Hong Kong, Tee was actively recruited by HelmsBriscoe to head up its new Asia offices and to expand its reach within the region. In her current role, she is responsible for enhancing the global hotel partnerships in the region, educating and promoting the HelmsBriscoe global value proposition, and increasing its regional market share. She is also responsible for recruiting and training a network of associates in parts of Asia. In her more than 20-year career, Tee has spearheaded key account management, and developed MICE management strategies and GDS education in China, Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan.


INDUSTRY ADVOCATES 

Pat Schaumann, Director of Professional Development, Healthcare Sector, for MPI 

As the founder of the International Medical Meeting Professionals Association and director of the MPI Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate (HMCC), Schaumann anticipated the future confusion around the Sunshine Act -- and she set out to help solve it. Schaumann is the author of Breaking the Code to Healthcare Compliance, a health policy resource book for meeting professionals, physicians, and manufacturers that addresses the impact of the National Physician Payment Transparency Program: Open Payments (formally the Physician Payments Sunshine Act) on the industry. Schaumann is the first recipient of the International Destination Management Professional of the Year award by ADME International and was most recently named "One of the 25 Most Influential Women in Business" by the St. Louis Business Journal.

Nan Marchand Beauvois, Senior Director for the National Council Relations of the U.S. Travel Association 

Beauvois is a busy woman: As senior director of national council relations for the U.S. Travel Association (since 2011), she is responsible for the oversight and management of the administrative, functional, and governance requirements of the National Council of State Tourism Director, the National Council of Attractions, the Destination Council, and the MMBC. Of her role in the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, industry experts say she is the key driver behind the campaign, getting everything organized behind the scenes to push the initiative forward. "She is really the key organizer who raised her hand on behalf of The U.S. Travel Association to be the organizer behind the Meetings Mean Business coalition," says Michael Dominguez, senior vice president of corporate hotel sales for MGM Resorts International.


DESTINATION/PROPERTY PROFESSIONALS

Christie Hicks, SVP of Starwood Sales Organization


Hicks is guiding her team of more than 450 senior global sales associates to revolutionize the way Starwood does meeting (as well as transient and leisure) sales. Her team recently launched a new customer loyalty index, meetings apps, and online meetings. They also introduced a new module to the StarwoodPro educational program, aimed at teaching travel professionals how to upsell in order to boost loyalty and profits for their organizations. Add to that a new Google Glass app that allows Starwood Preferred Guests and planners to immerse themselves in the company's 1,200 properties, and Hicks is embracing technology at a level few hoteliers are.


Jonathan Tisch, Chairman of Loews Hotels & Resorts 
Jonathan Tisch
A major advocate for group travel in general, Tisch has guided the Loews brand to continue making big, bold moves that are fast expanding the options available to meeting planners. He is currently overseeing the build of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort in Orlando -- the largest hotel in the world outside of China -- as well as the acquisition of four new hotels. Add in dozens of renovations and expansions (such as the $100 million-renovation of flagship Loews Regency in New York City), and Tisch is overseeing the spend of almost $1 billion to ensure his brand is giving planners what they want.  


Michael Dominguez, SVP of Sales for MGM Resorts International; Chairman of MPI


While heading the sales team for one of the biggest hospitality brands in the world, Dominguez also works tirelessly promoting the meetings industry. As current chairman of MPI, he is guiding the organization as it has introduced new tools such as "Meetings Outlook" reports and acquired the Healthcare Meeting Compliance certificate program. He is leading the fight against room poaching as co-chair of APEX's Industry Piracy Taskforce, and working to help grow business for the hospitality industry as a member of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International Foundation Board of Directors. He's also keeping plenty busy at MGM, launching the industry's first Meetings Wellness Program and the new "Ultimate Recipe Showdown" at 12 major meeting markets throughout the country.


Paul Somogyi, Sales Director of Middle Market, Government, and Affinity Segments for Marriott International

As government meetings face ever-greater scrutiny, Somogyi is working to ensure the travel industry has a seat at the table, literally. As the only hotelier to serve as a member of the General Services Administration's (GSA) new Governmentwide Travel Advisory Committee, he is ensuring the industry's voice is heard as the GSA reviews federal travel policies to ensure accountability and transparency. Somogyi's work with the committee offers an example of how hoteliers can take a proactive approach to the tightening budgets and greater restrictions being placed on government gatherings.


Sebastien Tondeur, CEO of MCI Group 

Tondeur has worked to make MCI Group a model of forward-looking event management, providing clients with a full suite of strategic services, from brand enhancement to content services. The group has a presence in 29 countries throughout Europe, IMEA, and Asia-Pacific, and the recent acquisition of 3Events Agency has added the growing Turkish market to its portfolio. Tondeur helps advance the professionalism of the industry more broadly through his work running the future leaders forum in conjunction with MPI and IMEX. Under his guidance, MCI has also put a spotlight on environmental responsibility, last summer launching an online sustainability report, managing a number of high-profile energy and sustainability events, and earning the IMEX-GMIC Green Meeting Award for 2014. SM Questions or comments? Email [email protected]


TECHNOLOGY 

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.


INDUSTRY TRADE SHOWS 

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.


PLANNERS

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.


TECHNOLOGY 

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.


INDUSTRY TRADE SHOWS 

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.


PLANNERS

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.


THIRD PARTIES

James Montague, CEO of Plannernet

James Montague
As CEO of Plannernet, a global third-party planner network, Montague leads a team of nearly 2,000 planners globally, with about 500 of them located in 110 countries outside of North America. It was under Montague's leadership that the company made an aggressive international expansion, allowing for meetings in countries such as India, China, and Korea. Montague was also a founding member of the International Medical Meeting Planners Association (which just transferred its Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate to MPI, and disbanded), and he played a key role in the initial development of the Certified Medical Meeting Manager program -- currently the Healthcare designation in the Certified Meeting Planner program.

Cecilia Tee, Regional Vice President of HelmsBriscoe

When she joined HelmsBriscoe in 2012 as regional vice president, Tee became the company's first Asia associate in a strategic leadership position. Based in Hong Kong, Tee was actively recruited by HelmsBriscoe to head up its new Asia offices and to expand its reach within the region. In her current role, she is responsible for enhancing the global hotel partnerships in the region, educating and promoting the HelmsBriscoe global value proposition, and increasing its regional market share. She is also responsible for recruiting and training a network of associates in parts of Asia. In her more than 20-year career, Tee has spearheaded key account management, and developed MICE management strategies and GDS education in China, Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan.


INDUSTRY ADVOCATES 

Pat Schaumann, Director of Professional Development, Healthcare Sector, for MPI 

As the founder of the International Medical Meeting Professionals Association and director of the MPI Healthcare Meeting Compliance Certificate (HMCC), Schaumann anticipated the future confusion around the Sunshine Act -- and she set out to help solve it. Schaumann is the author of Breaking the Code to Healthcare Compliance, a health policy resource book for meeting professionals, physicians, and manufacturers that addresses the impact of the National Physician Payment Transparency Program: Open Payments (formally the Physician Payments Sunshine Act) on the industry. Schaumann is the first recipient of the International Destination Management Professional of the Year award by ADME International and was most recently named "One of the 25 Most Influential Women in Business" by the St. Louis Business Journal.

Nan Marchand Beauvois, Senior Director for the National Council Relations of the U.S. Travel Association 

Beauvois is a busy woman: As senior director of national council relations for the U.S. Travel Association (since 2011), she is responsible for the oversight and management of the administrative, functional, and governance requirements of the National Council of State Tourism Director, the National Council of Attractions, the Destination Council, and the MMBC. Of her role in the Meetings Mean Business Coalition, industry experts say she is the key driver behind the campaign, getting everything organized behind the scenes to push the initiative forward. "She is really the key organizer who raised her hand on behalf of The U.S. Travel Association to be the organizer behind the Meetings Mean Business coalition," says Michael Dominguez, senior vice president of corporate hotel sales for MGM Resorts International.


DESTINATION/PROPERTY PROFESSIONALS

Christie Hicks, SVP of Starwood Sales Organization


Hicks is guiding her team of more than 450 senior global sales associates to revolutionize the way Starwood does meeting (as well as transient and leisure) sales. Her team recently launched a new customer loyalty index, meetings apps, and online meetings. They also introduced a new module to the StarwoodPro educational program, aimed at teaching travel professionals how to upsell in order to boost loyalty and profits for their organizations. Add to that a new Google Glass app that allows Starwood Preferred Guests and planners to immerse themselves in the company's 1,200 properties, and Hicks is embracing technology at a level few hoteliers are.


Jonathan Tisch, Chairman of Loews Hotels & Resorts 
Jonathan Tisch
A major advocate for group travel in general, Tisch has guided the Loews brand to continue making big, bold moves that are fast expanding the options available to meeting planners. He is currently overseeing the build of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort in Orlando -- the largest hotel in the world outside of China -- as well as the acquisition of four new hotels. Add in dozens of renovations and expansions (such as the $100 million-renovation of flagship Loews Regency in New York City), and Tisch is overseeing the spend of almost $1 billion to ensure his brand is giving planners what they want.  


Michael Dominguez, SVP of Sales for MGM Resorts International; Chairman of MPI


While heading the sales team for one of the biggest hospitality brands in the world, Dominguez also works tirelessly promoting the meetings industry. As current chairman of MPI, he is guiding the organization as it has introduced new tools such as "Meetings Outlook" reports and acquired the Healthcare Meeting Compliance certificate program. He is leading the fight against room poaching as co-chair of APEX's Industry Piracy Taskforce, and working to help grow business for the hospitality industry as a member of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International Foundation Board of Directors. He's also keeping plenty busy at MGM, launching the industry's first Meetings Wellness Program and the new "Ultimate Recipe Showdown" at 12 major meeting markets throughout the country.


Paul Somogyi, Sales Director of Middle Market, Government, and Affinity Segments for Marriott International

As government meetings face ever-greater scrutiny, Somogyi is working to ensure the travel industry has a seat at the table, literally. As the only hotelier to serve as a member of the General Services Administration's (GSA) new Governmentwide Travel Advisory Committee, he is ensuring the industry's voice is heard as the GSA reviews federal travel policies to ensure accountability and transparency. Somogyi's work with the committee offers an example of how hoteliers can take a proactive approach to the tightening budgets and greater restrictions being placed on government gatherings.


Sebastien Tondeur, CEO of MCI Group 

Tondeur has worked to make MCI Group a model of forward-looking event management, providing clients with a full suite of strategic services, from brand enhancement to content services. The group has a presence in 29 countries throughout Europe, IMEA, and Asia-Pacific, and the recent acquisition of 3Events Agency has added the growing Turkish market to its portfolio. Tondeur helps advance the professionalism of the industry more broadly through his work running the future leaders forum in conjunction with MPI and IMEX. Under his guidance, MCI has also put a spotlight on environmental responsibility, last summer launching an online sustainability report, managing a number of high-profile energy and sustainability events, and earning the IMEX-GMIC Green Meeting Award for 2014. SM Questions or comments? Email [email protected]