Everyone in the insurance meetings industry knows Doris Dallow, who has brought her inquiring mind and melodious laugh to nearly every Financial & Insurance Conference Planners conference since 1988. Doris joined the fledgling Krisam Group in 1978 as a salesperson in the hotel marketing firm’s New York office. At that time, Krisam represented about 28 hotels. Flash forward to June 2010 and the company is celebrating its 35th anniversary with a portfolio of 240 properties and a partner company, destination management consortium Global Events Partners, which it launched in 1999.

Unlike hospitality industry professionals who jump from employer to employer, Doris stayed with Krisam for the rest of her career, running the Chicago office, becoming a vice president, and maintaining her specialization in the insurance meetings market. She announced her semi-retirement this spring.

I can think of no one who knows better how to survive and thrive in changing times, so I recently asked Doris for her perspective on the state of the industry. Her thoughts:

The site-selection process is slower. When Doris began her career, she dealt directly with the insurance execs who made the site decisions. Today, she works with people in the meetings, procurement, or marketing departments who ultimately lead to the decision-maker, but the process is less straightforward.

Today’s lengthy, complex hotel contracts? They used to be simple letters of agreement.

Rates no longer rule. “Today’s sophisticated planner looks at the whole package, including food and beverage, concessions, and fees,” she says.

Brands no longer rule. “Planners care more about value and experience,” she says.

Hoteliers are more willing than ever to consider concessions. “I’ve seen a lot of economic cycles, but nothing like this before,” says Doris.

Doris credits Krisam as a company that has responded to her life needs both in terms of moving up and scaling back. Within this supportive environment, she was able to hone the problem-solving skills for which she has become known. “Whenever there’s a question about a hotel,” says one longtime client, “I just call Doris.”

We wish Doris well on the next phase of her journey.