ConferenceDirect is your ONE source for global meeting solutions.
We help clients save time and money by securing the best hotel accommodations, meeting space, conference venues, and hospitality services available… at the most favorable terms possible. For more than 15 years, we’ve been passionate about achieving better results for our clients.
Stephen Ing, Vice President / Team Director, joined ConferenceDirect in October 2009 after a very successful 19 years of on-property hospitality industry experience. During his tenure with Hilton, Marriot, Starwood and Fairmont hotels he has held various leadership roles in both sales and operations. Prior to joining ConferenceDirect Stephen was the Director of Sales and Marketing and responsible for a large Sales and Catering team at the iconic Westin Bayshore, Vancouver.
Under the Starwood banner Stephen’s career evolved and he held the positions including Sales Manager, Director Group Sales, Director Sales and Marketing, and Global Account Director, Starwood Hotels Worldwide Inc. He has achieved numerous sales recognition awards including the 2005 Sales Incentive Award, was a Starwood two-time Platinum Award winner and was named 2010 International Top producer for Hilton Worldwide.
Stephen is an active member of CSAE and MPI and currently lives in the beautiful north shore of Vancouver with his wife Nicola and their two sons, Owen and Andrew.
Connect with him at Stephen.Ing@ConferenceDirect.com
Leanne Calderwood, Vice President, Global Accounts, joined ConferenceDirect in 2019, although she has been working in site selection for 12 years prior to joining the vibrant CD team. Prior to site selection, Leanne served as both a corporate and association meeting planner out of Calgary, AB.
Leanne truly believes we are all in the “connection business”. She loves connecting #eventprofs and #meetingprofs to resources that help them be more strategic in their work, who in turn connect their people through meetings and events. She also loves connecting with #meetingpartners, and her blog at www.leannecalderwood.com was created for her hotel sales partners. Leanne loves the business side of social media and can be found on LinkedIn and YouTube quite often both sharing her platforms and learning about our industry.
Leanne lives and breathes #meetings and #events every day. As both an MPI and PCMA member, Leanne finds ways to give back through volunteering and industry conferences. A former MPI Chapter president, Leanne now serves on Meetings Mean Business’ Canada’s GMID committee. She also spends a ridiculous amount of time managing her son’s hockey teams (#NolieTheGoalie).
Raised in Alberta, Leanne now makes her home in beautiful Kelowna, BC with her husband and two active sons. When she's not nagging her business partner Stephen, she can be found gardening, running/snowshoeing, or watching her sons play their myriad of sports.
Connect with her at Leanne.Calderwood@ConferenceDirect.com
Allison Gavin, Global Account Executive, joined ConferenceDirect in 2014; having prided herself on being a highly self-motivated and result-oriented Business Development Professional she brings with her over 15 years of experience in Hospitality Consultative Sales and Account Management. She possesses a passion for building business relationships and effectively contributing to big picture goals with clients.
Driven to exceed targets with highly creative customer experience-driven tactics and resourceful collaborative problem solving skills, Allison welcomes the challenge to make a key contribution to her client’s overall business success with a solution-driven outlook, focused flexibility and objectivity.
She works across several market segments including Local and International Associations, Corporate, Incentive, Sports teams, Religious groups, Education, First Nations and Government.
From 2013-2015, Allison served as the President of the British Columbia Chapter of MPI, where from 2008-2013 she has also served in other capacities on the Board including VP Finance. She received the 2010 and 2012 Presidents Award from the MPI British Columbia Chapter for outstanding commitment to service and the Chapter. Additional awards include 10 years of platinum level sales, 8 annual goal achievements finishing in the top 20% of Sales Account Directors worldwide with Starwood Hotels as well as being the Top Sales producer in North America in 2012.
While not busy sourcing and negotiating hotel contracts on behalf of her clients, Allison can be found on in the water, on the bike and on the road training for Triathlons or spending time with her energetic 5 year old, Ethen.
Connect with her at Allison.Gavin@ConferenceDirect.com
Carla Olivier, Global Account Executive, joined ConferenceDirect in 2017 after spending over 29+ years in the hotel industry in various sales management roles. These included Global Sales Director for the Sheraton brand, Director of Sales at a small boutique hotel in Toronto, Account Executive at both city and airport hotels and an iconic resort in Northern Ontario and very recently as Assistant Director of Sales for one of Toronto’s five-star hotels. She has worked across several market segments including Corporate, Association, Government, Sports, Incentives and Religious groups.
Carla brings to ConferenceDirect a passion for excellent customer service and a genuine desire to ensure that all of her clients’ needs are met and executed flawlessly. Over the years, she has developed and nurtured both client and supplier relationships that continue to today. She understands every detail of hospitality related contracts and can help protect her clients against potentially costly and often overlooked details of those complex agreements. Knowing the hospitality industry as well as she does, Carla can offer great assistance in planning for successful events so that her clients can focus on the big picture. She has held memberships in Meeting Professionals International (MPI), Society of Incentive Travel Executives (SITE), Financial & Insurance Conference Planners (FICP) and the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE). Further, she has held executive positions in MPI and SITE.
Carla lives in the Greater Toronto Area with her two miniature Dachshunds Benji and Morgan and regularly has play dates with her five-year-old grandson Kai and now, Kayden who was born on September 22, 2017. Some of her interests include experimenting with gourmet cooking, baking for family and friends and entertaining.
Connect with her at Carla.Olivier@ConferenceDirect.com.
Jessica Brett, Global Project Manager, is an experienced Meetings & Conference Manager, adept in site selection/contract negotiations, housing, registration and mobile apps. She comes from a strong corporate background from working as an Events and Internal Communications Specialist for a finance and insurance company for 10 years. Since joining ConferenceDirect in 2017, Jessica has worked with both Corporate clients and Associations. Her positive outlook and can-do attitude have brought her much success in the meetings industry.
Some of the programs Jessica has worked on in both Canada and the US include 200 + attendee sales conferences, a 1000 attendee education conference, 50 + attendee training meetings, incentive trips, and 500 – 800 attendee trade-shows. Conference Management for these events included all meeting logistics such as agendas, multiple breakout sessions, managing exhibitors and booths, food and beverage planning, offsite activity organization, transportation and more.
When not working and caring for her two boys, Jessica gives back to her community by volunteering for Autism Speaks Walk Vancouver. She is also an avid health and fitness enthusiast and enjoys motivating others to reach their health and fitness goals.
Connect with her at Jessica.Brett@ConferenceDirect.com
Kevin Oake, Global Account Executive, brings 25 years of progressive success in the luxury convention hotel segment to his role as Global Account Executive at ConferenceDirect.
A consummate people person, Kevin strives to exceed his customer and supplier expectation with the belief that successful meetings demand positive engagement from all layers of the process with the ultimate goal of exceeding delegate satisfaction.
With more than 10 years of Executive Committee level management Kevin has a solid understanding of market segments, operational departments along with hotel yield and Revenue Management practices and strategies which serve as excellent benefits for both client and supplier when negotiating hotel agreements for meetings and conventions.
A father of 2 young adult children, when not at work, Kevin has a bit more time to enjoy a number of personal and group activities that can either be adrenaline pumping, mentally stimulating or simply therapeutic. On his motorcycle, engaging in sports, reading or listening to a book or tackling a home improvement project.
Connect with him at Kevin.Oake@ConferenceDirect.com
Poppy Guloien, Global Account Executive, was raised in White Rock, BC and has worked in the customer service industry from a very early age. She began her hotel career at the Westin Casuarina Resort in the Cayman Islands. Initially, her responsibilities at this property ranged from managing the destination wedding market and local events to managing the group billing department.
Poppy’s instinctive attention to detail catapulted her into executive management as the Director of Catering and Convention Services and Sales, where she oversaw a team of Conference Managers and was instrumental in procuring, developing and actualizing many high-end conferences and incentive programs for the resort. In addition, she partnered with the Cayman Department of Tourism to produce exciting events such as the Cayman Jazz Festival and Cayman Knockout.
After her return from the Caribbean, Poppy continued to hone her sales and customer service skills across north America in the parking industry. Here, she gained a different, first hand perspective on conferences by attending them regularly. She later moved to Calgary where she worked as a Business Development and Marketing Manager in the oil and gas sector. There, Poppy has become an active member of the Calgary community and is still involved in a multitude of charitable and not for profit groups including the Calgary Women in Energy where she is proud to chair the organizational committee for their annual charity golf tournament.
Poppy also enjoys doing volunteer work with the Soup Sisters and Kidsport Calgary. Although her roles have varied, they have always maintained the common thread of exceptional customer service and business negotiation. Now, Poppy's journey has come full circle to her true passion and love of hotels, meetings and special events with ConferenceDirect.
Connect with her at Poppy.Guloien@conferenceDirect.com
Traci James, CMP, Global Account Executive & Project Manager, joined ConferenceDirect in 2015 with over 25 years of hospitality, meetings and event management experience. Prior to joining ConferenceDirect, she operated and managed a successful destination management company (DMC) in Western Canada that specialized in innovative incentive travel programming and creative events. Traci initiated the business model, corporate culture and developed strategic global partnerships with industry partners and corporate clients. She was responsible for business development and was the key sales driver for the organization.
In her current role with ConferenceDirect, Traci has extensive experience working with non-profit, association, corporate and incentive accounts. Her clients appreciate her positive professional approach, creative flare and attention to detail.
In 2001, Traci achieved her Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation and has contributed to her ongoing professional development, over the years, with involvement in various industry associations; FICP, ADME, MPI, SITE, PCMA and previous DMC advisory board positions.
Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Traci graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Recreation Administration with a major in Tourism from the University of Alberta.
Traci lives just outside Vancouver in the seaside town of White Rock/South Surrey with her husband Mark and daughter Miami (born Feb 2009). She enjoys volunteering for her daughter’s school fundraising gala committee, traveling and a variety of activities ranging from hot yoga, diving, boating, and running along the seawall.
Connect with her at Traci.James@ConferenceDirect.com
Vivek Punwani, Global Account Administrator, joined ConferenceDirect in August of 2016. He has eight years of client facing customer service, and five years of hospitality & hotel sales experience. He is an open-minded, social, industry dedicated, and hard-working individual, with a goal to provide you with the freedom of choice that enables you to host the most successful events you can.
Throughout his hospitality experience he has developed an integral sense of interpersonal, and verbal and written communication skills. Further, the ability to juggle several competing priorities, projects, and work-styles. Additionally, international work experience provides him with some unique perspectives that he can bring to the table.
He currently holds an Honours Diploma in Marketing & Tourism, and while he works with ConferenceDirect, is also pursuing two Bachelor’s Degrees. One in Tourism Management, and the other in Leisure Management with a Minor in Events Management.
Vivek has been involved with several associations including, Professional Convention Management Association (TRU Chapter), Meeting Professionals International (BC Chapter, and BCIT Chapter), the Global Emerging Leaders Community, and the American Marketing Association.
He is currently based in Vancouver, BC, and when he isn’t working, can be found studying, volunteering, reading, traveling, or spending time with friends.
Connect with him at Vivek.Punwani@ConferenceDirect.com
Experience You Can Trust
Your event or meeting is far too important to leave anything to chance. When you work with ConferenceDirect, you’ll enjoy the peace of mind that comes from partnering with highly seasoned industry professionals.
We deliver measurable results for our clients, impacting attendee satisfaction, employee morale, brand perception, strategic alignment, and bottom line results. Don’t just take our word for it, read some of our client testimonials.
ConferenceDirect Associates are seasoned negotiators, understand every detail of hospitality and event-related contracts, and help protect our clients against potentially costly and often overlooked details.