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manager, travel and event planning
Nestlé Business Services North America, Englewood, Colo.

PAST Nancy Teresa started working at Nestlé 16 years ago as a ticketing agent for a travel company. Four years later, she officially joined the company—and the meetings industry—when she took a full-time job as an event planner. In 2006, she took on leadership of the meeting and events planning team for Nestlé Business Services North America, and in 2008, her responsibilities expanded to include travel services for Nestlé’s six operating companies in North America.

FORWARD THINKING As a result of the team’s success, it was becoming a challenge to meet the demand for services without increasing staff. Nancy developed an alternate solution that will empower the meeting host and ensure competitive pricing without adding head count: the Nestlé Small Meeting Solution. NSMS will allow the meeting host to work directly with a hotel for reserving sleeping rooms only, using a prenegotiated contract for rates and concessions.

SUCCESS STORY Before 2006, Nestlé meetings were planned from start to finish by in-house contractors. Nancy changed things dramatically, creating a virtual department and partnering with StarCite, a Philadelphia–based meeting technology company. She now oversees a team of eight StarCite employees dedicated to her account—five planners, one registration manager, and two people focused on sourcing. The department offers a full SMMP, including preferred-vendor management, risk mitigation, and reporting, as well as services like strategic sourcing, logistics management, and registration. “We have developed custom reports, played a major role in securing executive sponsorship, and increased the internal clients that use our services year over year,” she says.

ADVICE Before she reorganized, meeting sponsors were used to having one contact, but now they get calls from a sourcing manager, planner, and registration manager. This allows specialists to bring their expertise to the table, but going from an on-site team to a virtual team can be difficult to manage. The key is customer service, Nancy says. “If you have the right people, providing the right focus on service, your meeting hosts will not even realize they are working with someone in a remote location.”

GIVING BACK Nancy is diligent about registering for meeting points programs offered by hotel chains and uses them to give back to the community. “The last time we did this, points were used to support Nestlé’s Adopt-a-School program. We used the points to buy items—iPods, cameras, gift cards—that were then donated to the school auction and helped them with their fundraising efforts.” —Sue Hatch