Roni Feldman + Associates Inc.
In 1979, Roni worked for a Toronto-based DMC. After discovering there was no certification requirement for tour guides operating in the city, Roni created a training program of best practices, policies and procedures for field staff and tour guides. Only those who passed the training program were allowed to work for the company.
When the Goods & Services Tax (GST) was introduced, meetings and conventions were not exempt. So Roni, along with other industry members, took up the cause. Through their efforts, the GST rules were changed to allow organizations outside Canada (that had 25-per-cent or fewer attendees living in Canada) to claim the full 7-per-cent rebate on direct meeting expenses for conferences held in this country. The positive effect on the domestic industry, especially for meetings arriving from the U.S., was profound.
Roni has also influenced how companies exhibit at trade shows. Some years ago, during CMITS (the forerunner to IncentiveWorks), Marriott asked Roni to devise a concept for their booth. Brilliantly, she came up with Meeting Planners are Globetrotters, a basketball-themed exhibit, the first interactive, themed, booth activity to give prospective clients an experience, while providing sales reps ample opportunity to promote their hotels and services. Subsequently, for her clients such as Marriott and Hilton, their CMITS booth themes were closely guarded secrets (and greatly anticipated; Hilton’s themed ‘Hiltonopoly’ exhibit is legendary). Roni was credited with taking CMITS to the next level.
She has given back to the industry in other ways. In 1994, she was asked to serve as a member of the task force set up by the Ontario Tourism Education Council to establish and validate standards for the special events industry across Canada. Among her many association activities, Roni has mentored students at PCMA’s annual conventions and has been a long-time member of PCMA’s Canada East Chapter board of directors. She sits on CanSPEP’s board as vice-president, education.
Moreover, Roni continues to be in demand nationally and internationally as an instructor and workshop leader. She has been involved with CMP study groups and has been a guest speaker at such conferences as IncentiveWorks, MPI World Education Conference and CSAE, among many others.
All of this is in addition to running Roni Feldman & Associates Inc., the company she founded in 1995 and into which she channels her years of experience into event management, marketing, training and education.
Q: Value: What do you bring to the table?
A: I am the only Canadian who has both CMP [Certified Meeting Professional] and DMCP [Destination Management Certified Professional] certifications, in addition to experience and background in theatre and film, as well as professional experience as a producer. This range of knowledge is unique in our industry and ensures that the myriad of program elements all fit together like a puzzle.
Q: Passion. Do you still have it?
A: If you ask any of my clients or the vendor partners with whom I have worked for many years, the answer would be ‘yes.’ After 33 years, each new program is a new journey for me and it has always been about the journey, not just the finished product. My life has been immensely enriched by the people I have met, the experiences and travel I have been so lucky to have had, and the knowledge that I have gained along the way.
The Industry veteran Award recognizes a planner or supplier who has, during a long career, distinguished themselves by demonstrating leadership and innovation in all facets of their own job and the industry as a whole.