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ESPA conference attendance on the rise

The Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA), an organization dedicated to providing education and networking to service managers working in hotels, convention centers and convention and visitors bureaus, kicked-off its 25th anniversary year by achieving the highest attendance for its Annual Conference in the last four years. Held in Orlando earlier this month, the conference also began the term of Robert Desautels, CMP, as ESPA’s new president. Desautels is also the senior manager of convention services for Visit Indy, the official tourism promoter for Indianapolis, Ind.

Bob Desautels, president ESPA

Bob Desautels, president ESPA

Attendance from ESPA’s 2013 Conference reached 268, showing a return to pre-recession attendance trends. Themed “Perfecting the Art of Event Service,” conference topics covered the gamut of issues facing customer service managers including technology, multi-generations, ethics, disaster preparedness, pre-cons and site visits, housing, certified meeting professional (CMP) prep and corporate social responsibility. The conference concluded with a meeting planner session which gave members the opportunity to hear directly from planners on pressing questions. In addition, a Black and White Beach Ball celebrating ESPA’s 25th anniversary was held at the Swan and Dolphin Resort, home to the 2013 Annual Conference.

“Achieving this milestone is truly a testament to ESPA’s innate ability to up the ante every year in terms of educational content and speakers,” said Desautels. “We continue to enhance our membership offerings and structure, which has led to a 20 percent growth in membership in the last year. The association has accomplished a great deal in the past year and I look forward to working with the Board to further strengthen and grow the organization in the year ahead.” 

Desautels has worked for Visit Indy for the past 28 years in various roles including membership manager, tourism sales and publications. Having served as senior manager of convention services for 22 years, he provides his clients, meeting planners and executives with a variety of services that aid in the overall planning process.

In addition to naming a new president, ESPA also announced the following changes to its Executive Committee: Julie Pingston, CMP, Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), will serve as president-elect while former president, David Dvorak, CMP, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, will move into the position of past president. Denise Suttle, CMP, Albuquerque CVB will serve as first vice president and Madonna Carr, CMP, Meet Minneapolis, will serve as second vice president. Paul Ruby, CMP, Sheraton Dallas Hotel, will move from his position of ESPA director to the position of secretary/treasurer.

The following ESPA members were elected to serve on the Board of Directors:
•    Jamie Huckleberry, David L. Lawrence Convention Center/SMG
•    Joan Kremer, CMP, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
•    Carla Quercioli, Northern Kentucky CVB
•    Gary Stauffer, Freeman
•    David Raymond, CMP, Westin Charlotte

The following ESPA members will continue to serve on the Board of Directors:
•    Amy Cabe, Visit Spokane
•    Kathy Denkenberger, Saratoga CVB
•    Lois McLaughlin, Nashville Convention Center
•    Marcy Roitman-Boothe, Grapevine CVB
•    Barbara Stone, Fort Worth CVB
•    Advisory Director (Ex-Officio), Vanessa Kane, CMP, CMM, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States

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