One + October 2010 - (Page 29)

FOCUS Cindy D’Aoust was an incentive marketer for Maritz when she earned a promotion to the firm’s travel side. “Looking back, I was completely unqualified,” she says. “I had little travel experience and didn’t even know what a working agenda was. Luckily, my organizational and marketing skills worked well with the expertise of other team members. The first year almost killed me, but at the end of it, I was hooked on the travel industry.” Some 20 years later, D’Aoust is now vice president of strategic meetings management for Maxvantage, an alliance between Maritz and American Express. During her tenure with the company, she has learned to balance her creativity and design skills with the logistics of crossteam management. Her tenure has afforded her a unique opportunity to watch the meeting industry mature through several global recessions and natural and man-caused disasters. The industry’s next big challenges: managing the global marketplace and optimizing the use of virtual and online meeting technologies (which she insists is not an either/or proposition). “The growth of virtual strategies, online communities and Web technologies are driving behavioral change,” D’Aoust says. “Our industry must embrace this change and develop offerings and strategies that serve to integrate and take advantage of the virtual world. Virtual simply represents another outlet and THE FAR EAST The Asian meeting industry continues to explode, particularly in population-dense China and India. Nearly half (46 percent) of business travelers in Asia Pacific claim the economic environment has had no impact on their business travel plans, according to an Online Consumer Survey on Travel and Tourism by CNN International. And bucking trends in other regions, 40 percent of these travelers fly business or first class. In China, the average number of attendees per event jumped from 135 to 200 this year, according to a study released at trade show CIBTM. > As for international business overall, 62 percent of industry professionals think conditions are better than a year ago, according to the August 2010 Business Barometer, which reveals that execs in the U.S. are slightly more optimistic (63 percent) than their EU peers (59 percent). The study by the MPI Foundation and American Express also shows that a majority of industry professionals (70 percent) think the future looks bright—up 1 percent from June. As of the August report, conditions were 3.1 percent better than in 2009. BETTER BUSINESS enhancement for our industry.” And, as part of an ongoing trend, meeting professionals will also face the juxtaposition of cost savings and ROI. “Companies face a paradox,” she says. “They have focused on reducing costs for several years and cannot continue to improve financial performance through cost reduction alone. To remain healthy they must grow, and meetings are recognized as a growth driver. However, due to a lack of accepted value measurement across the industry, clients often struggle to consistently communicate the value meetings bring to their organizations.” The challenge lies in the way meetings evolved. D’Aoust says a strong global economy and planner creativity allowed industry professionals to focus on attendee experience rather than meeting objective. They assumed high attendee satisfaction scores translated to business results. “The industry must find a consistent way to measure and communicate value,” she says. “What gets measured gets funded. Programs that offer robust measurement are more likely to receive increased funding. We have the data and tools to do this. We’re making that a reality for many of our customers. It simply must become a common practice throughout the industry.” —J.S. 29

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of One + October 2010

One + October 2010
Energy of Many
Design Thinking
Signs of the Times
Top Spots
Kill Your Résumé
Exceed Expectations
Live in Person
Snack Attack
Skin Deep
Playing God?
Untangling the Value of Social Media
Local Favor
Personality Order
Datascape Architect
Thriving Exhibits
Your Community
Making a Difference
Until We Meet Again

One + October 2010