The world looked on with horror Monday, April 15, as two bombs built in pressure cookers exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring 264 others. Cities around the world, from New York to London, stepped up security, fearing copycat attacks. Boston’s Hynes Convention Center (shown here) was immediately evacuated and closed, and two meetings there, one moving out and one moving in, were forced to put those activities on hold. The latter, the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association Annual Meeting, with about 2,000 attendees, went on as planned that Wednesday through Friday, the day that the city essentially shut down due to the manhunt for suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Business travelers spent the first quarter of the year wondering what the effects of “sequestration”—across-the-board spending cuts in various government departments—would be, after Congress’s decision to push the deadline to March 1. Then they spent the next month dealing with travel slowdowns ranging from flight delays to longer airport security lines. Staffing shortages at U.S. Customs continue to plague visitors from overseas.
This was followed by the federal government shutdown on October 1 for 16 days due to Congress’s inability to agree on a budget. The shutdown not only hurt the economy to the tune of $152 million per day, but it put government meeting planners out of work and led to widespread meeting cancellations. It was resolved on October 16, but Congress only funded the government through January 15, 2014.
This year saw big changes at some of the industry’s leading associations. At Site, Allison Summers departed in June for a position as executive director at Zonta International. She was replaced a month later by Kevin M. Hinton (shown here), immediate past chairman of Meeting Professionals International, who had been president of Associated Luxury Hotels International. In September, industry vet Jim Schultenover left Krisam Group to replace Hinton at ALHI.
At Meeting Professionals International, Paul Van Deventer took the helm as president and CEO, leaving his role as vice president in the Health & Wellness Division at Walgreens.
At the Green Meeting Industry Council, Executive Director Tamara Kennedy-Hill left in June to become community relations director at Travel Portland, the Portland, Ore., convention and visitors bureau. She is being replaced by Mariela McIlwraith, executive director of the GMIC Sustainable Meetings Foundation and president of Vancouver-based consultancy Meeting Change.
And at the Incentive Marketing Association, Carla (Rea) DeFlorio, CAE, is the new executive director, following in the footsteps of longtime head Karen Renk, who is retiring.
The International Congress and Convention Association, launched in 1963, has been celebrating its 50th year with a special anniversary Web site; a new publication, “A Modern History of International Association Meetings,” tracing the past half-century of international association meetings and their roles as drivers of societal change and of progress; and a Twitter hashtag, #ICCA50, to which members have been posting all year long.
The Incentive Research Foundation also celebrated a milestone, toasting its 20th anniversary at its Annual Invitational, held May 7–11 in Cancun. The IRF has stepped up its research, releasing 30 surveys in the past three years alone. And though some of the IRF’s earliest surveys are still the most popular in terms of number of downloads, the focus of its projects has shifted toward industry innovation.
Two of the industry’s popular leaders, Patrick Delaney and Padraic Gilligan, announced in July that they were leaving Ovation Global DMC at the end of the year. “Our intention is to stay together within the meetings and events industry and to offer our experience and expertise to a variety of clients in the areas of strategy, training, and marketing,” they said in an e-mail to their industry network. Their company, Ovation Group Ireland, was acquired by MCI in 2007; today, Ovation Global DMC provides services to associations, corporations, and agencies at more than 100 locations on four continents.
The Cvent success story continued with the company’s initial public offering August 9. Cvent has grown from six people in the Washington, D.C., area 14 years ago to 1,300 employees worldwide today. Capital from the IPO “will allow us to build more products, deliver more value, and do more faster,” said Chuck Goorah, co-founder and executive vice president, sales and marketing. Those will include going “deeper and faster on mobile apps,” he said, as well as expanding technology to cover the entire meeting lifecycle: sourcing, marketing, and management.
As SMM evolves, so do its vendors, including The American Express Meetings & Events and Maritz Travel Co. alliance Maxvantage, which was dissolved in the spring. “SMM has evolved since the alliance was established in 2009 to serve clients who were largely focused on end-to-end SMM,” said Issa Jouaneh, vice president and general manager of American Express Meetings & Events.
Then, in October, Active Network Inc. (shown here, the Active team at the GBTA convention in August), announced that its Active StarCite SMM technology and Active Conference event marketing technology would be combined into a product called Smart Events Cloud, including tools for everything from sourcing and spend management to attendee registration. It is expected to roll out between November 2013 and July 2014.
In July, Detroit became the largest city ever to file for bankruptcy. Meet Detroit President and CEO Larry Alexander reassured meeting clients that the city was still “open for business,” pointing out that private investment in the city will continue to the tune of $11 billion. The Cobo Center has also had major upgrades, including the addition of a new 40,000-square-foot-ballroom, which opened in September, and the 367-room Pontchartrain Hotel across from the center was also just renovated.
A few weeks before, in early June, San Diego came just hours away from closing down for meetings, when the San Diego Tourism Authority announced that it would close its doors after Mayor Bob Filner refused to release the funds it needed to operate. An 11th hour agreement averted the shutdown.
The year started out with the first two Digital Event Strategist (DES) certifications being awarded to meeting professionals by the Virtual Edge Institute. JoAnn Klinedinst, DES, vice president of professional development for Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and Rick Naylor, DES, president and CEO of Accucom Corporate Communications in Toronto, shown here, passed their final exams at the Professional Convention Management Association’s conference in Orlando in January.
For the first time in 30 years, the Convention Industry Council’s Hall of Leaders were honored at IMEX America. The gala event took place Sunday, October 13, at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, welcoming five more people into the esteemed fold of industry leaders: Jorge Castex, honorary president, COCAL, and senior advisor, MCI Argentina; Eduardo Chaillo, CMP, CMM, Global Meetings and Tourism Specialists (shown here, at right, with Joanne Joham, regional director, North America, International
Congress and Convention Association, and Arnaldo Nardone, president,
ICCA); Peggy Daidakis, executive director, Baltimore Convention Center; Liz Erikson, executive director, meetings & incentives, Fairmont Raffles Swissôtel; and Stephen Powell, senior vice president, worldwide sales, Intercontinental Hotels Group.