Get to know Eldon Gale, Director, Meeting and Event Management, Nationwide, in
What is your current job description?
I am the director of Nationwide’s meeting and event management group, a team of 12 with responsibilities for the three major distribution channels of the company. We plan primarily incentives and large-scale meetings. I have overall responsibility for the attendee experience and the department best practices and procedures. I’m supported by a tremendous team of talented and experienced planners and staff, and count myself lucky to work with them.
Why did you decide to accept a position on the
I felt like I had been watching from the sidelines for too long and that it was time I stepped up and did my part. I kept seeing the same faithful people their time. I admired these people for their contributions and realized that I had been taking their service for granted and needed to start giving.
What do you see as priorities for the association this year?
As part of the communications committee, my priorities naturally lay there. I believe that quality educational opportunities are paramount to FICP’s success and sustainability. It’s a balance between meeting the needs of current members while reaching out to expand membership. As an association we have many resources that are not used to their full potential. You’ll see a renewed focus on some of these in the months ahead. I am excited to be a part of enhancing and promoting the FICP experience.
What is the greatest challenge for meeting planners in the next year?
If my team’s workload is any indication, meetings and incentives are back with a vengeance. The challenge I see is that we have become comfortable and we have quite enjoyed the excellent rates and wide-open availability of the past two years. I’ve seen that change very quickly. Space is harder to find and rates are climbing. Planners are going to have their work cut out for them making meetings work on existing budgets. We need to think strategically and as long-term as possible and make the most of the opportunity that remains.
What is one great piece of advice you’ve received in your career?
It’s pretty simple but it underscores everything I do: “It’s not about you.” I firmly believe that you have to have the right attitude and mindset to do this job. In fact, I hire based on personality more than I do on skill set. You have to have an attitude to serve in order to be a success in this industry. I have learned so much from our hospitality partners on what good customer service means and strive to live that way whether it’s planning a meeting for the top brass at my company or a holiday luncheon for my team. Focus on other people and you will be a success. Focus on yourself and success may come, but it won’t stay.