Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Swinburn

John Swinburn

Executive Director, Mystery Shopping Providers Association

John Swinburn is Executive Director of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), a position he has held for eleven years. In this role, he has developed a keen understanding of the crucial importance to a company's image, and to its bottom line, of regularly measuring and successfully managing the customer experience. Several of the association's member companies specialize in hospitality industry customer experience measurement and management, giving him the opportunity to learn about industry-specific issues related to hotels' customer experience. That access, coupled with a career in association management spanning more than thirty years—many of which have been spent in various components of the hospitality industry—has given him a unique perspective on the ways in which both organizations and individuals perceive and respond to hotel brands. During his tenure with MSPA, Mr. Swinburn was instrumental in launching an annual industry operating ratio survey, the results of which member companies can use as benchmarks for their own financial and operational performance. "I am a firm believer in the concept that 'what gets measured gets done' and it just makes sense that the mystery shopping industry, which is all about measurement, should have its own internal measures to ensure good performance," he says. Mr. Swinburn was involved in the process which transformed MSPA from what had been a primarily North American association into a global organization with four distinct and largely autonomous geographic regions serving the North American, European, Asia-Pacific, and Latin American markets. Prior to forming his own association management company, Challenge Management, Inc. (which includes MSPA as a client), he served as executive director of what is now the International Association of Venue Managers and as senior vice president and chief operating officer of what is now the International Association of Exhibitions and Events. Earlier in his career, while employed by two Chicago-based association management companies, he served as executive director of several trade associations and professional societies. Mr. Swinburn graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor of arts degree. He took graduate level courses at Sam Houston State University.

Mr. Swinburn can be contacted at 972-406-1104 or info@mysteryshop.org

Coming up in September 2019...

Hotel Group Meetings: Uncommon Destinations

The last few years have been good to the Hotel Group Meetings industry and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. Planners are brimming with confidence due to an expanding economy and increased job creation, which typically results in a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are trying to outdo themselves to satisfy the high expectations of their clients. One notable trend is to integrate unusual settings into the meeting experience, hosting groups at local zoos, aquariums, museums, event centers, or other outdoor facilities. The goal is to embrace uncommon destinations, rather than a typical hotel conference room, so that meetings can be memorable, unique and stimulating. This is also part of another trend which is to support all things local - from hosting events at landmark city venues; to catering through local restaurants, food trucks and microbreweries; to hosting off-site excursions like agri-tours, athletic events or scenic 5k routes. However, though the setting might be spectacular, there are still some bedrock components that must be provided to ensure a successful meeting. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is still one of the most requested services. Planners have to make sure that a comprehensive communication infrastructure is in place so clients can easily connect - and stay connected - to the network throughout the entire meeting experience. Also, technology tools can be used to streamline the booking, registration, and check-in process, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) materials can be utilized to ensure seamless access to conference events. There are also numerous software tools that encourage audience participation, as well as integrating polls, Q&A, surveys and games into speakers' presentations. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.