Stephen Porter is a Director, National Conferences and Technology at Audio Visual One. He obtained his degree from American University, where he majored in Mass Media (Broadcast Journalism) and minored in Hospitality.
For ten years prior to working directly in the events industry, Stephen worked in radio broadcasting. It was when he was in between radio broadcasting jobs that he got asked to work on a conference doing production and decided to stick with it. Twenty-two years later, he’s still working in audio/visual, production and still enjoying it.
When asked about his primary responsibilities, Stephen said, “To do what’s necessary at the time.” As the client’s first point of contact, he needs to translate their needs and requirements and put them into action. He oversees the whole operation and needs to be hands-on, which requires him to travel to his client’s events. Stephen estimates that 70% of his clients are associations and 30% are corporations.
Stephen’s favorite part is the one-on-one time he shares with his clients. Having the opportunity to work directly with the planners lets him discover their planning process and expectations. Allowing him to be prepared for everything when they arrive. “(I like to) Hit the ground running!”
That being said logistics is the first thing he likes to get out of the way. It’s all important to a successful event, but not nearly as interesting. “I like to deal with the actual event, instead of the shipping, contracts, negotiations, etc.”
So, what’s the biggest challenge? This is something I think everyone in every position and industry can relate to…the Economy and more notably the government! Government related travel concerns for conferences have spiked in the last few years. Creating a domino effect…effecting conference attendance and the business practices of all involved. Stephen believes its key, and I think we’d all agree to pay attention and be active in voicing our opinion of the government’s current legislation on this issue.
How can we as meeting professionals stay up on this current issue and others? Through PCMA. “It’s [PCMA] Fantastic!” They are constantly keeping us up to date on what’s new and coming. Discussion groups are also plentiful and quite helpful. Boston was the first Convene Stephen has attended and he said, “Convene is the best conference I’ve been too!” It pays to be involved.
What’s Stephen’s one piece of advice? “Get your CMP right away. It shows you’re dedicated and will open the doors for you.” Having your CMP is equivalent to a degree in this industry.
If you have questions or comments for Stephen, please comment below.