David Peckinpaugh, president of Maritz Global Events talks about experiential events

Redefining the concept of "experience" at events, Maritz Travel and Experient have taken an intangible value and turned it into a science with clear objectives. Attendees too are viewed through rose-tinted glasses and treated as "guests" in meetings and events. The company's people-centered approach has seen it through decades of growth, culminating in the recent re-naming of Maritz Travel and Experient as Maritz Global Events.

"By changing our name, it positions us for continued long-term success as we continue to evolve and expand our global business both organically and inorganically. It is also a commitment to our clients and their guests that we will serve them whatever their needs are regardless of location," shares David Peckinpaugh, president of Maritz Global Events. He also shared that this new brand structure - a parent and two industry leading divisions - will provide future clarity as new companies are assimilated into its existing brands.

In an arena where the general label of events management has evolved to take on more sophisticated and dynamic interpretations, the major players have distinctive portfolios that set them apart from one another. Peckinpaugh emphasises that the company is essentially an experience design company with a focus on the events industry. "We are people-focused and science-based, designing and delivering exceptional event experiences for our clients and their guests. Maritz Travel targets the corporate event sector and Experient focuses on the association, tradeshow and government sectors, as well as other markets," he says.

Proof of the pudding lies in the figures for last year: Maritz Travel managed, sourced or contracted more than six million rooms, booked more than 11,500 meetings and events, served nearly three million travellers and generated more than US$2 billion in industry spend volume.

Prior to joining Maritz Travel in June 2011, Peckinpaugh took on leading roles as president & CEO of San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, and as CMO of Conferon Global Services (now Experient Inc) in addition to various sales and marketing roles in hotels and resorts.

Meetings & Conventions Asia finds out from Peckinpaugh what significant developments are in store for Maritz Global Events and his thoughts on industry trends and demands.

What are the top 3 destinations that are the most sought after for your significant markets?

That is a tough question to answer as we have huge demand for what I would deem legacy markets and of course there are new and emerging markets as well. In addition, my answer would differ if talking just about incentive destinations or meeting and conference destinations. However, all of North American and Europe fit the bill for the first category and I think it is safe to say that Asia Pacific and South America offer exciting new and emerging destinations.

The Global Meetings Network - how has that grown and expanded in Asia?

Our network was initially built with APAC as a key region. We immediately added several key partners to our network and they remain as members. Each is growing and expanding with our mutual business and thriving not only with business between Maritz Global Events and the partner but also via partner-to-partner opportunities.

What are your market expansion plans in Asia?

Asia continues to be a hot region for all types of business. We are extremely satisfied with the partners we have in the network and we will continue to grow our relationship as our business expands. We certainly may be looking for acquisition opportunities in mainland China as well as Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia.

In terms of incentive travel, do you see an upswing in interest in Asian cities? What are the patterns that you have identified for the year?

We have seen a nice steady growth in demand for Asian destinations. We don't expect that to change at all in the next 3-5 years. All-inclusive properties continue to grow in appeal as well and we see more additions to that segment coming in the next few years. Key factors such as air lift, airline pricing and the value of the dollar continue to impact destination selection. 

With meeting planners demanding experiential events rather than traditional formats, how does Maritz and experient distinguish itself in the market?

We are confident that our approach to experience design is unmatched in the industry. Our methodology is unique because it is people-centered and science-based. We not only have our own Maritz Institute as the scientific foundation of our work, but also Jim Gilmore, co-author of the book the Experience Economy, as part of our thought leadership team. Led by Greg Bogue, our experience design work is getting acclaim from across the industry as we work with leading clients, hotel chains and industry organizations to drive their event design efforts forward.

What defines an experiential event?

Well first I think we need to define experience... to do that we like to look to Jim Gilmore, co-author of "The Experience Economy." Jim defines experience this way:

"An experience is a memorable event that engages a guest in an inherently personal way, but unlike a service that is rendered on demand, an experience unfolds over time."

So based on Jim's definition, we agree that it's memorable, it's inherently personal and it unfolds over time.

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