Meeting News - March 1, 2010 - (Page 8)

Newsmaker Experient Taps Industry Veteran Price As President, CEO Twinsburg, Ohio-based meetings management firm Experient in February appointed former Freeman executive vice president and COO Jeff Price as president and CEO, replacing George Benson, who served in the position on an interim basis since June 2008, when Ed Shartar stepped down after a four-year tenure. Benson remains on the company’s board of directors. Price, who began in the job upon his appointment, spoke with MeetingNews associate editor Seth Harris about some of his priorities for leveraging last year’s expansion of the sales network and how this recession differed from past tough times for the industry. MeetingNews: What are your priorities for your first months as head of Experient? Jeff Price: To get to meet with larger customers as time permits and as travel schedules permit to let them know that I am here. Many of them I know already. I’ve been in the industry for 30 years, so it’s an easy thing for me to meet with people. I want to get back out in the field and talk to some of the folks that Experient has lost as customers over the last couple of years to make sure that they understand fully what it is that we can bring to the table in terms of products and services and that we are there for them, and hopefully we’ll win back some of 8 MeetingNews March 1, 2010 that business. In this particular space, there is a lot of turnover because it’s just the nature of our system. I’m hopeful and am anticipating some success there. MN: In 2009, Experient expanded its sales network and established an office in Canada. Are there any plans to make any additional changes? Price: I don’t think you are going to find me making any key strategic changes to the sales force. The heavy lifting that was done before I got here was well thought out and well executed. Certainly, I am going to be applying some tactical focus on our initiatives in sales. My focus is very much on driving revenues and finding new business, but at the same time not forgetting about our customers and driving even higher levels of customer service. MN: What does Experient’s customer base look like today? Price: We go after three basic groups of customers within the two businesses that are Experient. The first is registration, housing and lead Experient CEO Jeff Price retrieval. The other business unit is event management. Within each of those units are three different types of customers. We have event organizers, corporate and government. MN: You’ve been in this industry for decades, including posi- tions at Cygnus Expositions, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Cahners Exposition Group and Wyndham Travel Management. What is different for the meetings industry with the most recent economic downturn than in previous such periods? Price: Our industry is certainly no longer impervious to dramatic and painful shrinkage, as we used to think it was. I started back in the 1970s, and I’ve gone through at least three or four technical recessions. 2001 was the first time that we officially saw negative growth for our industry. Prior to that, we just saw declines in growth. This time around, in 2009, we got hammered. That has been hard for a lot of businesspeople to deal with because they never had to deal with that kind of thing before. 2001 was painful, but depending on who you were and what industry you served, it could have been not so painful or you might have gone through it without any issues. Not in ’09. We all felt it. ❍ Meeting Post Study: Health Care Conventions Outperforming Other Meetings Although they’ve not been immune to the economic downturn, health care conventions have performed better during the recession than other meetings industry sectors, according to new research that was presented at the 2010 Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors Association Healthcare Convention Marketing Summit, held in January in Philadelphia. The research—presented by Bill Trombetta, professor of pharmaceutical marketing at St. Joseph’s Uni- versity, and Skip Cox, president and CEO of Exhibit Surveys Inc.—found that while other industries have seen an overall decline of 15.6 percent in convention attendance since 2008, health care conventions have seen a decline of just 5.6 percent. According to Trombetta and Cox, health care conventions will continue to perform relatively well compared to other meetings, likely experiencing a slight attendance decline during the first two quarters of 2010, flat attendance figures or slight increases in 2011, and moderate attendance growth of 2 percent to 3 percent in 2012. —Matt Alderton

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meeting News - March 1, 2010

Meeting News - March 1, 2010
Meetings Spotlight
Event Profile
Meeting People
Travel Dashboard
Construction Cites
MeetingNews Research
Citywide Meetings
Dateline: Florida
Mid-America Regional
Dateline: Tennessee

Meeting News - March 1, 2010