It's a good time to be Terri Breining. Her company, Concepts Worldwide Inc., just celebrated its 20th year in business, and she is in the middle of her second year as chairwoman of the Convention Industry Council's Accepted Practices Exchange Commission. On top of that, EIBTM recently honored her as International Personality of the Year, and she just co-wrote a book. With her busy schedule, CMI was fortunate to track her down for an interview.

Corporate Meetings & Incentives: How do you account for all the recognition that you've been receiving?

Breining: I've been doing a lot of volunteer work. Sometimes it gets noticed, and that has a snowball effect, and I'll get some acknowledgement for some other volunteer work. It's almost embarrassing. But it's also really wonderful, and it makes my mother really proud!

CMI: Talk about your involvement with the Accepted Practices Exchange Commission.

Breining: I really caught the passion when I joined the commission in 2000 and saw that APEX was more than just nine people talking about coming up with best practices … that it was really something viable. It's difficult to call anything a profession unless it has a standard way of operating. Now we have consistency in how we work and communicate, and it really does contribute to the evolution of the industry in a meaningful way.

CMI: You were Meeting Professionals International's chairwoman in 2003-2004. How did that affect you professionally, as well as in your business?

Breining: It was really quite extraordinary. I owned a small company, and people in my position usually don't get these kinds of opportunities, so it also gave Concepts Worldwide credibility and recognition throughout the planning industry.

CMI: How did the ROI book (Return on Investment in Meetings & Events, co-written with Jack J. Phillips, PhD, and Patricia Pulliam Phillips, PhD) come about?

Breining: I was invited to participate in the first ROI certification program that Jack did. And we were then asked to teach that ROI methodology in three-hour segments to different MPI chapters. We were serving as evangelists for ROI!

For so many years, evaluating a meeting's success depended on whether the attendees were satisfied and happy. That's a good question to ask, but it's not the only question. What Jack brought was a methodology that continues to add credibility to the industry. So when Jack decided he wanted to write a book on ROI specifically for the meetings industry, he wanted someone with an inside perspective, and he asked me to be a co-author. Really, Jack wrote the book, and I did some editing that was specific to the meetings industry.

CMI: What has it been like to run your own business?

Breining: To own your own business in this industry you have to want it really, really bad. I didn't pay myself a regular salary for the first five years. [Now] I make a comfortable living, and we pay competitive salaries, but it took a lot of time to get there.

One of the turning points in my business life was something my father said to me when I was a single mother, struggling to start a business and wondering if I should just quit and get a real job. He said, “Don't forget that what you are doing is a real job and that it will be providing jobs for other people some day.”

Some of us, I think, have this defective gene that prevents us from working for other people. We have that entrepreneurial drive, and we just have to play it out.

CMI: How do you relax?

Breining: I have a wonderful husband … one of the kindest and most patient people I know. He's always been my primary cheerleader, and he keeps me balanced. I have two children and three grandkids. They know I travel a lot because I bring them stuff, but they don't care about the business, and that provides me with great balance. I practice yoga, and that also provides balance. And I'm a Padres season-ticket holder, so I'm excited right now because baseball season has started!

Meetingsnet.com

  • Wynn Resorts Ltd. has announced plans for an upscale convention center and two hotel towers behind its Wynn and Encore properties and between the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo & Convention Center.

  • In May, the Department of Transportation doubled its maximum compensation to bumped passengers, allowing payments as high as $800, depending on the price of the ticket and the length of the delay.

  • U.S. Border Patrol agents may search travelers' laptops without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, according to a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

  • July 25 is the application deadline for the Society of Incentive & Travel Executives' Crystal Awards, recognizing outstanding incentive events in a variety of categories.

  • Trials begin this month for Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program to expedite screening for low-risk U.S. travelers entering the country from international destinations. The program is similar to the TSA's Registered Traveler program.

  • La Quinta Inns and Suites has partnered with Worktopia and now offers customers real-time meeting-space booking. Buyers can check availability and book simple meetings through La Quinta's and Worktopia's Web sites.

Drill Down

PERCENTAGE OF COMPANIES WITH INCENTIVE PROGRAMS THAT INCLUDE REWARDS FOR NONSALES EMPLOYEES:
44%

Source: Corporate Meetings & Incentives' 2008 Incentive Trends Survey