Continuity Housing is delighted to announce that Casey Judd has joined our team as a Global Account Executive, handling both account management and onsite logistics responsibilities. Casey began his career with the city of Logan, UT as the Special Events Manager organizing all major community events and sports. After graduating from Utah State University with a B.S. in Parks and Recreation Management and a Minor in Management and Human Resources, he began working for Utah State University as a Conference/Event Planner. During his career at USU he organized conferences all across the country and worked with a very diverse group of clients and organizations.
Casey joined ConferenceDirect in February 2011 following his stint at USU. ConferenceDirect is an industry leader in strategic meetings management with over $500 million in annual hotel bookings. As you know, Continuity Housing has a strategic alliance with ConferenceDirect and when we met Casey we knew he’d be a great addition to our team.
Casey has over 9 years of conference and event management experience. He also has specialized expertise in the areas of conference communication technology and accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing, abstract management and academic based conferences.
As a Global Project Manager at ConferenceDirect, Casey is responsible for helping clients with strategic sourcing and contract negotiations. He also provides conference management services including specialties such as room block audits, invoice reconciliation, destination management, onsite client transportation logistics, food and beverage management, audio visual coordination and negotiation, registration and all other onsite meeting logistics . . . pretty much anything that arises for a group of travelers whether it’s an exclusive board retreat or a convention for X number of attendees. And of course when challenges arise at the destination, which they almost always do, Casey handles those situations with his signature calm and efficiency. Sometimes to the point where his clients don’t even realize there was a challenge in the first place!
A good example of how onsite managing pays off for the client is evident in the many times Casey has negotiated customized menus with hotels by requiring bulk purchase of consumables as opposed to the more standard per-unit pricing. Says Casey, “In one case a couple of years ago, we saved the client $20,000 over the span of a 2-day conference with about 700 attendees.”
But potential savings during such an event go far beyond what’s normally overpaid for food and beverages. “Also to drive higher savings, I’ll require competing bids for services the hotel usually already provides because in-house A/V, for instance, will always be more expensive. I’ll go find four other companies and show the in-house group that I can get a better deal and get them to come down in pricing. I’ll typically bid most services that will be needed to ensure we’re getting the best quality service and the best deal for the client whether it’s A/V, trade show display companies, ASL interpreting and captioning services, etc.”
As you know, Continuity Housing is the one that connects the dots, putting our own spin on strategic meetings management expertise and delivering it to the business continuity community, saving our clients valuable time and money.
Casey has managed more than 50 group events throughout Utah as well as in Dallas, Atlanta, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Phoenix and New Orleans.
With such experience comes the occasional interesting situation and one such example played out while Casey was onsite as a client-side concierge in March of last year for a national conference of about 1,000 people. “There was a group that was opposed to some of the exhibitors and sessions at the conference and they decided to show up and protest at the meeting. We had followed them via social media and knew that there would be a formal protest with signs at the main entry way of the hotel. We let them protest for a little bit of time and then had them escorted out which was all handled very well.
“But later that night we got a surprise when about 20 of them returned and tried to get past registration and get into the conference area. We had to block the stairway with staff until the police got there but we also needed to avoid any interaction that might have generated beneficial press for them and/or negative press for the client. The protestors weren’t violent, but were looking to cause a scene and catch our staff making a mistake and give them something they could use against us — they had several video cameras on us as this was happening. The goal is to always handle a unique situation in the most appropriate and quiet way that will have the least amount of impact on the clients and I feel we were able to do that in this instance. It made for a good learning experience that helped me prepare for possible similar scenarios in the future.”
Exactly the discretion we expect our employees and contractors will utilize when put to the test. He can think on his feet as well.
“As an onsite event manager,” he continues, “there’s usually an unexpected change onsite which requires you jump in and improvise. Whether it’s an impromptu board meeting or a presenter changes their setup last minute or whatever it may be. It’s fairly common and you deal with it. You structure your staff and contracted service providers to fill the roles and services needed for things to run perfectly, but you’re also ready for those unexpected surprises onsite and ready to jump in and fill any needs no matter whose role it is – setting up AV, breaking down tables or directing traffic when the fire alarm goes off – you’re ready for whatever you have to do to make it happen. It’s challenging but extremely rewarding to manage the unexpected. There are always changes onsite and that’s where we show our value when we can come up with Plan B really quickly.”
In summary he adds that, “The hard stuff isn’t quite as hard because we do it all the time.”
Casey is active in the hospitality industry association Meeting Professionals International and starting in May will be the Vice President of Membership for the Utah Chapter. Casey and his wife Haley recently moved just across the border to Idaho to enjoy even more wide open spaces. They have three boys ages 3, 6 and 8 and are enjoying Idaho outdoor living to the fullest by hiking and fishing in many of the 14 immediately located lakes and being outside in general. Casey also volunteer coaches youth sports and is active in youth mentorship.
We look forward to working with Casey as he continues to help Continuity Housing clients across the U.S.!