Coffee With...Leigh Harry

Simon joins Dittman Incentive Marketing
Keith Simon has been hired as a sales executive for New Brunswick, N.J.-based incentive/performance-improvement company Dittman Incentive Marketing. Previously, Simon tailored incentives at Ramsey, N.J.-based M. Rothman & Co., a distributor of consumer electronics.

Ozaeta forms independent planning company
Barbara Ozaeta formed a new meeting planning company in August called MVP Meetings. Based in Carlsbad, Calif., Ozaeta formerly was director of global group sales for Newport Beach, Calif., Meeting Sites Resource, another site selection and meeting planning firm.

Julie Brandon is the new area director of sales and marketing for two Hilton properties in Boston the 385-room Hilton Boston Back Bay and the 599-room Hilton Boston Logan Airport. She also oversees sales efforts for all Boston-area Hilton and Doubletree hotels.
Marcia Bullock has joined the Jamaica Tourist Board as regional director of groups and conventions, with responsibility for the meetings, incentives, conventions and events market. She is based in Coral Gables, Fla.
Christine Carchia has been named national sales manager, trade show market, for the San Jose (Calif.) Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Tim McGuinness has been appointed vice president of sales and convention center expansion at NYC & Company, New York City’s tourism marketing organization. 
Terri Reid has been hired as director of sales and marketing at the 400-room St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa in Dana Point, Calif.
Amy VanderWal was named national sales manager at the 640-suite Pointe South Mountain Resort in Phoenix.
Mark Vaughan has been appointed director of sales and marketing at the 727-room Marco Island (Fla.) Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa.

Leigh Harry"Australia is perceived as a dream destination. A lot of air miles are being used so that attendees can make the trip out here."

Leigh Harry is chief executive of the Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre in Melbourne, Australia, which is poised for a major expansion set to finish in July 2008. Previously, Harry served as vice president of the International Congress & Convention Association and deputy chairman of the Melbourne Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Where does your business come from? We get mainly international associations. Some are from the United States and Europe, but Asia now is the dominant source. We plan on focusing our efforts there, especially in China. Chinese events still remain in China, but I believe that will change. It is a huge market, and I believe our enlarged convention center will capitalize on that country’s global business expansion.

Are Americans coming to Australia for events? Yes, Australia still is perceived as a dream destination, one also very popular with spouses. We’ve noticed a lot of air miles are being used so that attendees can make the trip out here.

Do you compete with other Australian cities? Yes, mainly Brisbane and Sydney, but we are not interested in just shifting existing business around the country. Attracting Southeast Asia is the goal.

What is the main difference between Australian and U.S. convention centers? Centers in the United States tend to be more aimed at trade shows, while in Australia there also is an emphasis on unique performance spaces, places where the arts can flourish.