Member Services Department
What are the job elements you focus on the most (your primary responsibilities)?
I manage the logistics for a variety of APTA meetings and conferences. That is, I work with the conference hotel and oversee setups including reservations, beverage service, audio-visual requirements, and contracting. I’m onsite for all major APTA meetings—Bus & Paratransit, Rail, and the Annual Meeting—and some of the smaller ones.
At the major meetings, every member of the meetings staff has a distinct role. For example, I’m doing the logistics for the Bus Conference and Heather Rachels is in charge of registration. For a smaller meeting, I might spend most of my time in registration during the first day, then check room arrangements and beverage setups on the subsequent days.
We also have some responsibility for the Products and Services Showcases at the major meetings: taking booth reservations, making sure the exhibitors have the support they need.
As a meeting planner, I learned early in my career to be ready for unexpected surprises, to think quickly, and to be flexible to changing conditions. At the Light Rail Conference last November in Salt Lake City, it began snowing really heavily for most of the three-day meeting. We got a foot or so of snow by the time it stopped, and flights were being canceled and delayed at the airport. We had about 350 people attending that conference, and I began working with several hotel employees and our members to make sure that we could arrange for hotel reservations for anyone who needed to stay an additional night because their flight was canceled. To my knowledge no one was turned away if they had a reservation.
Do you have direct contact with APTA members? If so, please talk about recent times you’ve helped out a member.
Absolutely, every day. We take the calls that come in asking questions about various meetings. Callers might want to know the basics of where and when the meeting will be held, how to register, how to book hotel rooms, the overall schedule, what the meeting itself is about, and what sort of public transit professionals will attend. I see a lot of familiar faces at the meetings where I work.
What initiatives, projects, or programs have you worked on at APTA that you have taken particular pride in completing?
Personally, I try to be as paperless as possible in preparing for a meeting. In the old days, members of the meetings staff would travel with a huge binder with all the necessary materials, specs, banquet event orders. I try to do as much of that electronically as possible, so I can keep track of everything on my iPad.
I just finished working on the Fare Collection/TransITech conference. I was pleased with this year’s conference because it was even better attended than last year. I was able to do that meeting from A to Z and didn’t have to worry about any surprises.
How did you “land” at APTA? How long have you worked here?
I had been working for a consulting firm for 10 years and was looking for an opportunity to return to working in an association environment. I’ve worked for APTA for just over a year and I’ve enjoyed getting to know the industry and my co-workers.
Have you held other jobs in the public transportation industry (besides working at APTA)?
I haven’t worked in public transportation before, but I’ve spent my entire career in the meetings industry. I worked with 15-20 different accounts at the consulting firm: mostly associations, but also a few federal contracts and corporate clients. That company provided a variety of meeting planning services, contracting, and logistics.
What professional affiliations do you have?
I am a member of the Professional Convention Management Association and a CMP (Certified Meeting Professional).
Could you tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I have a tattoo on my right arm of my favorite soccer team, Tottenham Hotspur. Earlier this month, I went to London just for the weekend to see them play.
Make sure you see Marcus Eng’s video, now that you've read this!