by Lisa Grimaldi | December 01, 2004

Christine DuffyChristine Duffy (right) was named president and CEO of Fenton, Mo.-based Maritz Travel, one of the largest incentive firms in the industry, in October. Previously, she was president of Maritz McGettigan, the Philadelphia-based meetings firm Maritz acquired in 2001. M&C spoke with Duffy last month about her plans and perceptions.

M&C: What are the biggest  issues your incentive clients are facing right now?
Duffy: The big challenge is to  effectively manage costs. Are they managing their spend, minimizing risk and managing consistently and appropriately across the organization? How do they ensure programs have quality and results?

M&C: What are Maritz’s challenges right now?
Duffy: To ensure our people are focused on helping clients at the enterprise level. They need to work with procurement, implement best practices and realize that behind each event is a stakeholder whose entire focus is on that event.

M&C: What are some of your goals for Maritz?
Duffy: I would like to leverage the strength of this organization. Maritz Inc. has seven companies [Maritz Incentives; Maritz Interactions; Maritz Learning, which develops training; Maritz Loyalty, which works with credit card companies; Maritz Research; Maritz Rewards, for nontravel programs, and Maritz Travel]. There’s a lot of synergy between the different areas that our clients can benefit from. We also have an agenda for growth into new markets, like tech and financial.

M&C: What trends will we see in 2005?
Duffy: Shorter lead times are still a reality. And there is much more scrutiny about who gets invited to events. I think there’s a more conservative selection of destinations right now; companies must manage perceptions about incentive programs, especially when they are downsizing.