November 30, 2016

Every industry needs major players to stay healthy and growing. Without the main beams to keep the roof from collapsing, it's impossible for the house to keep standing. The four individuals on this list all man a beam that helps keep the industry strong and stable.

 Tom Mahoney, chairman and CEO of ITA Group
 The leader of an important firm in the events, incentive, and recognition industry, Mahoney is seeing rapid growth at the wholly employee-owned ITA Group, which added 77 new positions this year. He has also overseen the creation of new platforms that rethink how the company provides recognition and engagement programs. "Disruption gives you an opportunity to hit the refresh button and demonstrate the value that you're bringing to your customers," says Mahoney. "In our industry, the way we legitimize our business and our industry is to demonstrate that the things that we do truly do matter and have a positive impact."

RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENT: The company has added four new engagement solutions in the last 12 months, all of which emphasize accurately measuring the impact of clients' programs in order to create more successful solutions.

Kurt L. Paben, CIS, president of channel and employee loyalty, U.S., at Aimia, Inc.
 Paben has served as the SITE Foundation president for the past two years. During this time, large strides were made toward building awareness and making the business case for incentive travel through industry-leading research and education. "The need for incentive expertise becomes greater to make every dollar count, enhance the experience, and create a personalized program for each participant," he says.

RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENT: Paben has spoken on multiple continents about incentives and motivation. He describes how understanding the unique perspectives of 90 different countries has been both humbling and compelling, inspiring him to direct his focus toward greater global understanding in this industry.

David Peckinpaugh, president of Maritz Global Events 
 During a diverse career, Peckinpaugh has held top positions in almost every discipline in the incentive travel industry, from hotels and CVBs to sales and marketing and business strategy. In his current role, he provides strategic leadership for two of the largest organizations in the event industry, Maritz Travel and Experient. Beyond that, he is a tireless advocate for incentives and meetings. Most notable among his many advocacy roles is his leadership within the U.S. Travel Association for which he has been a member of the board and executive committee for more than five years and his role as co-chair of the Meetings Mean Business Coalition for the first three years of its existence. "There is a shift coming from a seller's to a buyer's market," he says. "The timing of that for the industry will be fascinating, as it occurs as we experience the impact of consolidation [due to the] Marriott-Starwood and Accor-FRHI as well as Vista, Lanyon, and Cvent combinations."

RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENT: This year Peckinpaugh is especially proud of the new brand -- Maritz Global Events -- launched as the parent company of Maritz Travel and Experient. "This new brand better positions the company in the meetings, events, and incentive industry and has poised it for exceptional long-term growth on a global scale."

Larry Schoenecker, president and COO of BI Worldwide
 Schoenecker heads up one of the largest multinational incentive houses in the world. BIW services Global 2000 corporations in over 140 countries, and the number is only going to increase as year-to-year global expansion and revenue growth has been a hallmark of the company. "You have to do everything well these days," he says. "In the sales incentive space there needs to be less focus on rewarding just the top-producing people and greater emphasis on getting more revenue from everyone in a sales organization."

RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENT: Schoenecker is most proud of his highly engaged team that is committed to achieving goals while still having fun.

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