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Lehman Brothers' Felice Axelrod

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Felice Axelrod is vice president of protocol at Lehman Brothers, where she is responsible for a variety of events, including training and development programs, client events and international meetings. She planned about 40 events in 2001. She is also the president of the Council of Protocol Executives (COPE), a group of experienced corporate event and meeting planners.

BiZBash: What are the biggest challenges facing event planners right now?

Axelrod: Looking relevant, being cost-effective and maximizing events to achieve your company's goals.

How is your job changing?

Everyone is thinking smarter. I always believed that appropriateness makes the most sense when considering an event. This is so true now. The excesses of the 90's will be eliminated and common sense will prevail.

How are corporate meetings changing? What are you doing to get more bang for your buck?

For economic reasons I am finding that there is less travel to events; more are being held in New York so fewer people have to travel as most are based in New York. Also, it allows more attendees to stay closer to their offices as well as to their families.

Using the same venue for several programs as well as consolidating meetings enables hosts to save time and money. Contracts are being more carefully scrutinized and security issues are being discussed and incorporated into all events.

Are corporations using videoconferencing and other technological aides instead of face-to-face meetings?

Videoconferencing is cost effective, saves time and money. Of course, we will all be using it much more in the future. Even speaker phones are being used more now for everyday meetings.

What are you hearing from COPE members? What are their biggest concerns right now?

Job security is a big concern. As companies and nonprofits retrench, for a variety of reasons, many in our field have felt the negative consequences. Many have had budgets and staff reduced but are still producing events, hoping to achieve similar results. But New Yorkers are tough, and New York event planners are even tougher. We will continue to produce the most spectacular events, even given the challenges of today.

--Chad Kaydo

Posted 01.29.02

Editor's Note: The Council of Protocol Executives is holding Eventpower 2002, an all-day seminar for event planners on Friday, February 8, at the new Ritz-Carlton in Battery Park. You can read more about the event, or contact COPE for more information.
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