North America Article Library

Global DMC Partners (GDP), the leading global network of independently-owned destination management companies (DMCs) and creative event experts, proudly announces the appointment of Catherine Chaulet as President and CEO. With her new title and expanded role, Chaulet will further champion the hospitality industry and its critical influence on the global economy. She will continue to speak on global trends and educate the industry on important topics, ranging from over- to under-tourism, hospitality’s impact on local economies, group booking trends and top meeting and incentive destinations. In the year ahead, she will travel extensively, connecting with DMC partners and clients while building upon the company’s strong foundation in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) category.

Chaulet’s promotion to CEO became effective at the end of 2019 and was an obvious next step due to her strong leadership skills, which drove the company’s exponential growth and success. As President over the past six years, she has built and led the strategy, success and growth of GDP, which now boasts a global footprint of more than 65 DMCs worldwide and is the leading global network of DMCs. Under her leadership, the company has collected many awards and accolades. In 2019 alone, GDP received the CWT Suppliers of the Year Award, Smart Meetings’ Smart Stars Award, and a spot on Special Event’s Top DMCs List. Chaulet was named to Smart Meetings’ Smart Women in Meetings as well as BizBash’s Top 1,000 People in Events.

Regarding her new CEO position, Chaulet responded, “I am particularly proud to be working with anexceptionally talented team that is focused on implementing the best solutions and strongest value to our clients. The future looks extremely bright as we further identify and unlock growth opportunities with our global network of DMCs. 

Prior to Global DMC Partners, Chaulet worked for Fidelity Investments where she managed two of their subsidiaries and brought them to worldwide success. As a dynamic and seasoned leader with a proven track record of building successful global companies, she dramatically increased Fidelity’s global footprint through the subsidiaries’ alliances with over 250 affiliates worldwide. Chaulet doubled revenue and profitability by aligning operational efficiencies and pricing structures to better suit client demand. She created a culture of excellence throughout the entire organization by setting high standards, forming collaborative teams and motivating employees, partners and affiliates to perform at their best. Under her leadership, both Fidelity subsidiaries became number one worldwide in their respective industries.

Chaulet is also a French Trade Advisor (Conseillers au Commerce Exterieur, CCE) and a board member of the Boston chapter. Selected for their competence and their international experience, CCEs are appointed by the French Minister for Foreign Trade to share their experience of dealing with the opportunities and risks of the world’s markets. Present in 146 countries, CCEs form an active network of over 4,000 members around the world.


The  LGBT Meeting Professionals Association (LGBT MPA)  announces new member benefits including the first LGBT Supplier Diversity Resource Guide and a new member portal with educational content, mentoring, and professional development opportunities. The new benefits also include a Members Guide and Forum are designed to build community and advance inclusivity of the meeting planning industry.
The MPA Supplier Diversity Guide is the first comprehensive resource listing vendors that meet the LGBT MPA’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) standards. The guide is available online at the organization’s website.
“We know some meeting planners don’t control where their meetings are held. This alone can make it difficult to meet diversity expectations,” said David Jefferys, Executive Director. “Our new Supplier Diversity Resource Guide provides information so meeting planners can choose to support vendors that meet LGBT MPA D&I standards and allow them to plan meetings that comply with their organization’s inclusivity goals.”
The LGBT MPA’s new member portal is a business resource as well as an active professional development source. In addition to the LGBT MPA Supplier Diversity Resource Guide, members can post RFPs and job listings.
“We are very proud of our new member professional benefits and we are equally proud of the addition of our business-focused benefits,” said Jim Clapes, LGBT MPA Board Chairman and Conference & Events Manager for the Drug Policy Alliance. “We believe that the LGBT MPA Supplier Diversity Resource Guide will allow members to allocate dollars to vendors who support inclusivity. Because, in the end we are all business professionals and diversity is good for business.”
The LGBT Meeting Professionals Association (LGBT MPA) is the first and only association for this industry group. Statistically, there are an estimated 100,000 meeting professionals currently practicing in the United States. LGBT MPA predicts in the US that 8,000 to 12,000 of these professionals working in the field are members of the LGBT community. Globally the current estimate is 18,000 to 23,000.

Shop to Showfloor: Bringing the “Service” to General Service Contractors

(Pictured above: the American Exposition Services team)

by Cynthya Porter

The world of general service contractors (GSCs) may seem eclipsed by Freeman and GES, the industry’s undisputed titans, but the reality is that there are hundreds of smaller GSC companies out there vying for variously-sized pieces of the tradeshow and event pie. And the truth is that there is plenty to go around, with more than 30,000 events happening annually by most counts, from tiny conferences to behemoth affairs across the country. In fact, most of those gatherings wouldn’t even raise a blip on the GES or Freeman radar, making all the other GSC players on the field absolutely essential.


But how is one to choose between them, or even understand what sorts of things set them apart? The answer is simple, several small- to mid-sized contractors say, and here’s a hint: It isn’t price. “What kind of relationship will you have with your partner in this project and what will your exhibitor experience be?” says Mark Staples (pictured right), president of American Exposition Services in Sacramento, Calif. “Realize that price isn’t everything. I believe a lot of the smaller, independent contractors set themselves apart based on their service model. Once they acquire business, they tend to gain the loyalty of their clients through relationship and value served.”

Patrick Fitzpatrick, chief operation officer at SER Exposition Services, couldn’t agree more. “A good choice is less about price and more about service,” he says. “If we get a show from a competitor, we know something may have happened there because this tends to be a very relationship-based industry.”

Those relationships don’t begin and end with show organizers—they actually start much higher up the chain with venues. “We get a lot of referrals from buildings and sales people. Half of the work is getting on the short list for venues and so we spend a lot of time with facilities building relationships,” Fitzpatrick says. And he doesn’t mean by inviting them to coffee dates; he’s talking about things like keeping insurance up to date, enforcing employee drug testing and anti-harassment training, and following their rules all the time. “You can’t screw anybody over ever,” he says. “You get to make an honest mistake once, and that’s it.”

Richard P Curran_EXPO CCI

The relationships built with other GSCs is just as important, says Richard Curran (pictured), CEO and president of Florida-based Expo Convention Contractors. “I have been involved with the Exhibition Services & Contractors Association (ESCA) for almost 20 years now,” he says. “I have harvested relationships that have been crucial to our success through this organization.” Because his firm produces shows across the U.S., Curran says forming partnerships with GSCs that are local in new or less familiar destinations is key to having perfect events. “Being able to rely on a local expert, no matter how big or small the GSC, is very important to the success of the show you are producing,” he explains.

Staples echoes those sentiments, calling ESCA a cornerstone to the company’s networking opportunities. “ESCA has provided such a great opportunity to socialize and network with other GSCs, so it’s not hard to find subcontract support should we need it,” he says. “We’ve built a rapport and support system across the country that gives us the opportunity to compete, even if it’s out of our regional market. It certainly gives the little guys a fighting chance to increase their brand on a national level.”

Everyone in the GSC universe knows that not all shows are right for all contractors, Fitzpatrick says, and GSCs will routinely flip show referrals downward or upward on the GSC echelon based on those relationships with peers. And though they are often quite competitive in the field with what Fitzpatrick calls “hard noses and sharp elbows,” the reality is that GSCs often help each other by borrowing and trading equipment, subcontracting shows to other providers, and even sharing information about experiences to help other GSCs make decisions about clients who are out playing the field.

Yes, Fitzpatrick confirmed, many of the GSCs in the market know each other, and if a show organizer has been “around the block” a few times with different GSCs, some will pick up the phone to ask a former provider why. Sometimes an organizer is a hard price shopper who goes out for bids every couple of years, and other times they have proven themselves more challenging than usual to work with. Whatever the case, a GSC needs to know whether submitting a request for proposal is good for the company, and oftentimes, peer GSCs will share their experience. Sometimes, Fitzpatrick says, the hard price shoppers will get a hard pass from contractors because the relationship is so much more important. “You have to pick based on service,” he says, “Otherwise, it’s a race to the bottom. You have to be value conscious, but at some point, you can’t keep going down that road.”

Better questions than price, says Staples, are questions about previous shows, the quality of equipment being used, and how they are regarded in the industry. Proud of their reputation as a sought-after subcontractor, he notes that referrals from other GSCs, large and small, can be a good indication of a firm’s trustworthiness as a GSC.

Also, Fitzpatrick adds, look for the longevity of clients, range of services and experience dealing with exhibitors of all sizes, from the largest and most established to the smallest and newest. “A GSC should be able to run the whole gamut,” he says, “from CAD drawings to working with the building’s fire marshal; things a GSC familiar with a facility knows.”

Curran agrees, saying organizers should explore the innovation a GSC offers and their willingness to push the envelope on capabilities. “I think it’s important for an organizer to qualify a GSC by their ability to perform in their strong markets,” he says. “When I have the opportunity to get a customer into my offices, they see that we are able to offer everything that our larger competitors do.”

Being smaller, the men say, actually can make a GSC far more nimble and accessible than large counterparts, with very little red tape and a phone line that always leads to a real person, even the CEO. Another thing that sets them apart, they say, is that a great many small GSCs are family run, which establishes a legacy that company leaders have a deep investment in protecting. “We are family owned and operated and about to celebrate our 25th anniversary,” Curran says. “Our success is in the retention of our people. Having the consistency of account managers year after year gives repeat clients a sense of ease.”

Staples says that is the key behind his family-run business as well. “I believe legacy operations and family-run businesses tend to be more cohesive in their core staffing,” he says. “We protect what our parents or other family members have sacrificed and built by hiring trustworthy professionals around us. We surround ourselves with ‘like family’ members.” Hiring well, he says, is the best gift a manager can give to a dynasty. “I’m a believer that the relationship you have with your client is almost as important as the quality of work you provide,” he says. “If I hire well, treat them respectfully and fairly, and train them correctly, they will, in turn, have a desire to be engaged with their clients.”

Even with the best reputation and the greatest staff, there are challenges in the industry for the smaller players on the field. Show consolidations might force out a contractor, and GSCs buying up their smaller competitors can alter the landscape significantly when mid-tier GSCs are suddenly competing with the pricing of mega-suppliers.

The reality is that the largest firms will always have the cheapest prices due to sheer economy of scale, the men say, but that is precisely why the smaller firms have to step up so high on the service they provide. Part of the stepping up, Fitzpatrick says, may be that small GSCs have to champion creating the cost certainty that organizers and exhibitors so desperately want by retrofitting the pricing models for services and drayage. With a few examples in the marketplace now, all eyes are on the outcomes, he says, to gauge whether the new pricing models are successful.

And probably, Fitzpatrick says, smaller GSCs can keep themselves competitive on the bigger stage by being better players with fewer sharper elbows around their same-sized peers. “We compete and even get angry at each other sometimes,” he says, “but at the end of the day we work together as much as we compete.”

After all, he says, it’s not about market share, it’s about profitability, client happiness, and creating amazing spaces for face-to-face marketing. “We all want to make the best experiences that are remembered for the right reasons,” Fitzpatrick says. “We all just want to take concrete boxes and turn them into showcases.”


Don Ross has profoundly impacted the meeting and events industry over his three decades with Caesars Entertainment, but his passion for service extends beyond conferences and catering. Given his commitment to equality and fair treatment in the community, the Anti-Defamation League honored Ross, Caesars Entertainment Vice President of Meeting Operations in Las Vegas, with the "Americanism Award" during the "Imagine a World Without Hate Gala," Nov. 21.
The ADL established the "Americanism Award" to honor individuals who illustrate and exemplify the ideals and traditions of the U.S. and the ADL. It recognizes leaders in business, community affairs and charitable endeavors who distinguish themselves in their dedication to preserving liberty and advancing the causes of human rights, dignity and equal opportunity.
"I believe that support for the work that ADL is doing is even more critical to protect our schools, places of worship, and communities," Ross said. "I am deeply humbled by this award and will continue to uphold the ADL's pledge to combat hate and foster respect across the globe." 
Ross has been the recipient of many awards and honors, including the Dom Pérignon Award of Excellence, the Valen Award of Distinction - UNLV Hotel School, Industry Executive of the Year, the Spirit Award from the Las Vegas Hospitality Association, as well as special recognition from Green Chimneys School and Opportunity Village for community service. 
"Congratulations to Don Ross, for being recognized with the 'Americanism Award,' presented by the Anti-Defamation League," said Michael Massari, Chief Sales Officer, Caesars Entertainment. "I am proud to have Don on our team and applaud his involvement and dedication to the Las Vegas community."
The ADL is a leading anti-hate organization that was founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry. Today, the ADL is a global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, with the ultimate goal being a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination, or hate.

Edmonton Economic Development is pleased to announce the appointment of Emma Pietroleonardo as General Manager of the Edmonton Convention Centre and Olaf Miede as the General Manager of the Edmonton EXPO Centre, effective October 21.

“After a competitive recruitment and selection process, we are excited to welcome both Emma and Olaf to the EEDC family as the general managers of our two venues,” said Arlindo Gomes, Vice President, Venue Management, EEDC. “Both Emma and Olaf’s experience, leadership, community engagement and operating performance will support our venue teams as we continue to drive economic and social prosperity in our region.”

“It is a privilege to join a passionate team of professionals who have worked hard to position the Edmonton Convention Centre among North America’s top performing public assembly venues,” said Emma Pietroleonardo, General Manager, Edmonton Convention Centre. “I look forward to building upon the Centre’s reputation for service excellence, culinary expertise and dedication to sustainability.”

“It’s an exciting time to join this dynamic venue as we continue to lead the way in driving operational efficiencies and delivering exceptional experiences for our clients and guests,” said Olaf Miede, General Manager, Edmonton EXPO Centre. “I am honoured to contribute to an established team of public stewards who welcome and serve millions of guests each year.”

Emma comes to the Edmonton Convention Centre with extensive operational and leadership experience in the venue and hospitality industries. She has previously held leadership roles with the Royal Hotel Group, providing oversight of six full-service hotels across Alberta and Saskatchewan. Olaf’s career in the hospitality and venues industries spans more than 20 years and includes operational and leadership positions within hospitality properties across Western Canada. Prior to joining the Edmonton EXPO Centre, Olaf served as General Manager of Hotels on Whyte.