For Jean-Paul de Lavison, CMP, innovation has been a way of life.
A member of the meetings/events industry for 36 years, Jean-Paul founded JPdL in 1982, in Montreal. He launched the company as a rare hybrid, featuring professionals in both destination management and conference organizing.
From those beginnings, JPdL has, in the intervening three decades, become one of North America’s leading event-planning companies.
What sort of innovations has JPdL launched? Let us count the ways.
Long before it was trendy to do so, the company pioneered green meetings and, more importantly, helped pave the way for these practices to be adopted by the industry at large. For instance, JPdL was an active member of the advisory board that worked for two years to establish a formal certification in “environmental responsibility in meeting management” with the Quebec Standards Organization.
In addition, JPdL was a member of the APEX Green Meetings and Events Practices Panel, which sought to develop a North American standard in conjunction with US-EPA for ASTM international, one of the world’s largest voluntary standards development organizations.
Stemming from that philosophy, the company offers a complete ‘greening’ service for clients to help them integrate sustainability into their events. As part of that, JPdL offers a green on-site task force, comprised of staff or volunteers to monitor and assist participants in taking advantage of the eco-friendly resources on-site.
Jean-Paul has been ground-breaking in other areas. In 1994, he created the innovative Breakfast in Bed marketing program, during MPI’s convention in Montreal, as a way to introduce attendees to the city. Attendees sign up and are treated to room-service breakfast, along with marketing materials on the city. Breakfast in Bed was such a hit, that it has been a regular feature at MPI conventions and has been offered by PCMA and others.
Jean-Paul is technologically savvy. In response to meeting planners’ growing demands for technology, he spearheaded efforts to place JPdL at the forefront of mobile event apps. Consequently, the company offers the industry-leading EventPilot suite that includes a product for every budget and event type. Today, JPdL is providing mobile apps for events both in Canada and in European countries such as the Netherlands.
Noticing a niche for on-site secretarial services at conferences, Jean-Paul launched JPdL Business Centres. All told, his relentless innovation has created a business that has grown to include six Canadian offices.
Q: Technology. Do you control it or does it control you?
A: Both! When we take on new technologies, the learning curve can initially be challenging and we must overcome the first steps before fully mastering and exploiting these great tools. With the countless innovations out there, we can only opt for a limited number at a time. Therefore, our strategy is to be selective, master the tools we have chosen, and stick with them for as long as we feel the tools are relevant to our clients’ needs. When that is no longer the case, we start looking at alternatives and move on!
Q: The Competition. How do you measure up?
A: We probably have a more rigid sense of what we will or won’t do, and we continuously strike the balance between our clients’ goals and our values. It can sometimes be a delicate balance, but we’ve successfully honoured our clients, while never compromising our guiding principles. Our crew has been working as a team for a good while, so we tend to know what we want to do versus what is not part of our ethics and values.
The Industry Innovator Award recognizes an individual planner or supplier who has implemented a service or product that has increased productivity and/or modernized our industry.