Our very own Cathy Clifton has done it again. She’s not only the first meeting professional to win AZMPI’s Planner of the Year award twice, she was also featured alongside one of Socious’s meeting managers, Erica Allen, in AZ Business Magazine’s September/October issue.
Now, Cathy is once again highlighted as the first meetings expert to be interviewed new article series, IMEX Conversations.
Produced by one of the largest worldwide exhibitions for incentive travel, meetings, and events, IMEX Group, IMEX Conversations is a series of interviews and articles that provides an in-depth look at the meeting industry and its business professionals.
Cathy has been featured by IMEX several times, yet she is the first to provide a video interview about her position as a leader in planning and managing local and international events.
Cathy is the Senior Director of Global Meetings and Events for Socious. She works primarily with the Higher Education User Group (HEUG), a Socious client with over 30,000 members. This year alone, Cathy and the Socious event team are planning 13 HEUG events, including six international meetings and conferences, along with several other smaller events. Over 6,500 attendees are expected.
For over 20 years, Cathy has been a Meeting Professionals International (MPI) member and has served a variety of roles within the chapter, including holding the title of chapter president in Arizona. Cathy considers herself an expert meeting and event professional with a focus in associations, but she is always ready to conquer new challenges.
Meetings Industry Technology
During her IMEX Conversation interview Cathy discussed some of the challenges and innovation she’s seen within the last 22 years, especially when it comes to advancements in technology.
She states, “I feel like I have the world at my fingertips, now more so than 10, 20 years ago, especially with the type of meetings we can do.” Technology is making her life easier by giving her the ability to hold meetings in different locations, these are the same techniques IMEX is using for their conversation series.
Long-Term Vendors, Large Events, and Costs
With a focus on associations and user groups, Cathy and her team have long-term vendors who provide audio and visual components as well as long-term exhibition vendors who they work with yearly. That makes planning large-scale events easier.
Cathy plans the HEUG’s National Conference, called Alliance. This “beast” of an event lasts three and a half days with over 500 sessions. Cathy and her HEUG team put forth extra effort to make their vendors feel like family and a part of the planning process. She’s always open to hearing new ideas and concepts from vendors and partners.
In the IMEX Conversation videos, Cathy says that cost is one of the first factors looked at when planning event events and building vendor relationships. Cathy needs to be aware of what her attendees can afford, as well as make sure she is getting a good price. When it comes to suppliers, Cathy is honest and doesn’t play games.
She makes her request for proposals (RFP) very thorough and says that the “cheapest doesn’t always win.” It’s all about the best offer and finding the request that has the whole package. Being honest and having open communication with your vendors with help you build stronger contacts and plan a better event.
Expert Advice for Meeting Professionals
With years of experience, Cathy has some advice for getting started in the industry. “Don’t be afraid,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to share your ideas, but also take a step back and say, okay these people have been doing this for 22 years, they’ve been doing something right, but what can I add to the process to make it better?”
We would like to thank Cathy for her 22 years in the industry and congratulate her for her outstanding performance and accomplishments with Socious, HEUG and MPI.
Check out Cathy’s full interview on IMEX’s blog, and stay up to date with the latest discussions by following #IMEXconversations on Twitter.