Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s (CWT) meetings and events (M&E) division has appointed Sam Lay as its senior director for Asia Pacific. Based in Singapore, Lay will lead a team of specialists across key markets in the region.
He will also be responsible for expanding CWT M&E’s business by creating engaging events for clients while helping them maximise their return on investment on M&E spend.
“Business cultures and requirements [in Asia Pacific] can vary widely from one country to the next, and so you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to M&E here,” said Lay.
“My primary focus will be making sure that our team understands our clients’ needs and objectives in each market, and coming up with solutions to match what they’re looking for.
A key area that Lay will look into is ensuring that CWT creates highly participative, digital and data-driven M&E experiences for clients.
“There has been a very noticeable shift from people just ‘attending’ an event to active participation,” he said.
On top of that, the company will be using intelligent data to help customers with strategic decisions about events, and measuring their return on investment or return on objectives more effectively.
This means building awareness about Strategic Meetings Management (SMM), a relatively new concept in the region. Within an industry that still views events and SMM as two separate concepts, Lay hopes to alter clients’ mindsets.
“We are seeing a greater level of union between the two, enabled by data sitting at the centre of everything we do,” he said.
Besides that, Lay will promote CWT’s integrated solution for small meetings among local and multinational companies in the region.
“A large multinational in the pharmaceutical sector, for example, may hold between 8,000 and 10,000 meetings every year,” he explained.
“The vast majority of these are considered ‘small meetings’, typically with between five to 50 participants. Often, companies may have little visibility over the number of small meetings they host and over the expenditure associated with these meetings. We now have a solution to help them effectively track and manage this spend.”
Finally, Lay will build CWT’s capabilities in creative events and incentive travel, both of which are promising opportunities in the market.