Partners and Regional Leads

  • Jon Sivertson

    Jon Sivertson - CEO

    Jon joined GainingEdge as CEO in October, 2019. Bringing over 20 years of experience to our team, Jon previously worked for four years in Hong Kong, first as Capital Projects & Infrastructure group leader for PwC and then in infrastructure consulting for KPMG. Prior to that, he worked with PwC in Canada, New Zealand and Singapore where he served for 7 years with PwC’s infrastructure group and was instrumental in it achieving its current status as a Centre of Excellence for the PwC network in SE Asia, Hong Kong and China.

    He is a specialist in Public-Private Partnerships (PPP projects) including finance as well as project advisory. In all cases, his work involved managing consulting teams, mostly in relation to infrastructure projects and he has in-depth experience consulting both governments and private sector developers.

    Jon has a Bachelor of Economics degree from the University of Victoria and an MBA from the University of Alberta, Canada.

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    Jon Sivertson



  • Gary Grimmer

    Gary Grimmer - Executive Chairman

    Gary has over 30 years’ experience in the convention industry. In 2004 he founded GainingEdge, a global consulting company that offers advisory services to destinations, convention & visitor bureaus, convention venues and associations. It also provides convention and incentive sales representation services in all of the world’s key markets. The company’s services are end-to-end, with specialist expertise and global networks that cover both the supply and demand sides of the market. GainingEdge also manages the BestCities Global Alliance which comprises of 12 of the world’s leading destinations. Gary has consulted at the local and national level on over 100 projects in all parts of the world.
    Previously Gary was the CEO of Convention and Visitor Bureaus in Melbourne (Australia), Albuquerque (New Mexico, USA) and Portland (Oregon, USA). He also served as Vice President for the Boston (Massachusetts, USA) bureau.

    Gary was one of the lead consultants on Destination Next, a global study for Destinations International (DI) which defined the future of destination marketing. He is a former Chairman of the Board of DI and was one of the first six inductees into the inaugural Dl Hall of Fame in 2014. He also received the Asia Pacific IMEX Academy Award in 2007.

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    Gary Grimmer

    Executive Chairman


  • Mike Williams

    Mike Williams - Senior Partner & Consultant

    Mike is a destination and convention and visitor bureau specialist with 30 years’ experience in the tourism and business events industry. Since joining Gaining Edge in 2007 he has been a lead consultant on destination and convention bureau development for clients in Australia, Africa, China, Japan, Macao, Malaysia, Qatar, Rwanda, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, United Kingdom & USA. Mike was the lead consultant for establishment and capability strengthening for the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau. This project included the collaboration with a university and research company to undertake an economic impact study and exhibition industry opportunity study. Mike was also deeply involved in bureau development programmes in Japan, Macao and Thailand. He has also been providing consultancy support for convention centre developments around the globe, including a number within the Asia Pacific region. In addition, Mike oversees GainingEdge's in-market sales representation.

    Mike served as General Manager Sales & Marketing for the Melbourne Convention & Visitors Bureau. During his tenure, he was involved in the National Business Events economic impact study and Melbourne Delegate Expenditure survey in collaboration with a university and research company. He also worked in senior marketing roles with Tourism Australia helping establish their presence in the Asia market and overseeing travel trade development in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Mike was instrumental in the development of AIME, the largest MICE trade show in the Asia Pacific and the world’s first BestCities Global Alliance which includes Singapore as a partner. Mike is also a past Victorian State Chair and National President of Meetings and Events of Australia (MEA).

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    Mike Williams

    Senior Partner & Consultant


  • Rod Kamleshwaran

    Rod Kamleshwaran - COO & Partner

    Rod leads GainingEdge’s Convention & Exhibition Centre advisory team. His areas of expertise are development and asset management of venues & hotels with a focus on mixed use developments.

    He assists public & private sector clients with masterplanning, design, market & commercial advice, operator procurement and asset management. He has advised projects with a completion value over US$ 30 billion. Having advised almost 40 venues on 5 continents Rod brings a unique global perspective. This includes Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Italy, Norway, Cyprus, Serbia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Jordan, Israel and Mexico.

    Rod was at PwC and IHG® before joining GainingEdge. As a regional CFO at IHG® he was asset manager for owned/leased hotels and venues and gained experience from development to operations. At PwC he provided market and commercial advice on hospitality assets. Rod is an MBA, Bachelor of Commerce, and Chartered Accountant.

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    Rod Kamleshwaran

    COO & Partner


  • Paul Vallee

    Paul Vallee - Executive Consultant - Americas

    Paul has more than 30 years in destination sales, marketing and services. He has extensive experience consulting on strategic and destination master planning, organization development, and industry capacity building. His assignments include providing advisory support in Canada, the U.S., Denmark, Brazil, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Panama, and Thailand. He was Managing Director of the BestCities Global Alliance from 2015-2019.

    Paul has served on the boards of Destination International, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, the 2010 Winter Olympic Bid Marketing Committee, and the Vancouver Convention Centre Expansion Task Force. He has been an invited speaker in Asia, Europe, North America and South America. He has also been a faculty member in international destination marketing at Capilano University.

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    Paul Vallee

    Executive Consultant - Americas


  • Bruce Redor

    Bruce Redor - Partner - Europe

    Based in Paris, Bruce Redor is an Anglo-American who has seen his international career develop over a 25-year period in a variety of sectors within the hospitality and services industries.

    Bruce has a Master's degree from U.C. Berkeley and came to France as Director of Marketing at the American Hospital of Paris. He then joined the CEGOS Consulting Group in Paris, leading projects in strategic planning and marketing for multi-national corporations. Bruce was a member of the management team that built and operated Disneyland Paris where he set up and ran the successful business unit for meetings and incentives: Disneyland Paris Business Solutions. He was also the CEO of the Lyon Convention and Visitors Bureau, where he was instrumental in turning the city into one of Europe's leading business-travel and leisure destinations. Bruce was also a senior consultant with Alexander Hughes International, one of Europe’s leading executive search firms.

    Since he had been with GainingEdge, Bruce has been involved in consulting engagements in France, Spain, Flanders, Luxembourg, Holland, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Canada, Rwanda, Tanzania, Qatar and Japan.

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    Bruce Redor

    Partner - Europe


  • Chloé Menhinick

    Chloé Menhinick - Partner – Association Consulting

    Chloé has 15 years’ experience of working in the Associations Industry, providing leadership across all areas of Association management & operations, membership, stakeholder engagement, communications and marketing. She has various leadership positions on Boards, advisory bodies and expert committees, where she has demonstrated effective experience in strategic planning and implementation.

    Chloé worked at the International Water Association from 2005 to 2018 where she was responsible for developing and executing a global growth and engagement strategy for a network of +60K members including national members, corporates, universities and individuals. Her professional experience includes international management and leadership, membership management, membership retention & growth, change management, strategic planning, organisational communications, digital engagement, awards & events management, sponsorship and partnership development, committee management, programme development, internal communications and brand management.

    As a globally recognised thought leader in the Association sector, Chloé is a regular speaker on issues pertaining to Membership, Communications and Digitalisation at many industry events and also regularly contributes to industry magazines on issues ranging from Communicating Brand Value to Association Impact & Legacy.
    She is a nominated Active Member of the Union of International Associations (UIA) and a Board Member of the European Society of Association Executives (ESAE) where she also chairs the Communications & Membership committee.

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    Chloé Menhinick

    Partner – Association Consulting

    The Netherlands

  • Stephen Pearce

    Stephen Pearce - Partner, Leisure & Tourism

    Steve leads GainingEdge’s tourism and leisure portfolio. He is a strategic marketer with over 30 years of experience in the public and private sectors. Steve was previously with Tourism Vancouver for 19 years as the Vice President Marketing and as the Vice President, Strategy, International Markets, where he was responsible for marketing and sales strategies for geographic markets in North America, Asia, Europe and the Pacific, and for several niche markets including Film, GBLT and Cruise.

    Some of the major accomplishments of his team in Vancouver included strong branding, destination development, expanding air service through creation of an air route development consortium, and a long-term strategic relationship with Chinese mega company Tencent – the first of its kind in North America.

    Steve has been active at the national level with Destination Canada where he chaired the US Marketing Committee and the Research Committee. He has also been active in several international organizations including the China-Canada Business Council and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), where he was an executive director for several years. His experience as a senior executive at both the provincial and city level has given him a unique perspective in terms of strategy and collaboration.

    Steve has an MA and an MBA and has been a sessional instructor at several universities in Canada.

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    Stephen Pearce

    Partner, Leisure & Tourism


  • Jane Vong Holmes

    Jane Vong Holmes - Senior Manager – Asia

    Jane joined GainingEdge in June 2009, at that time as Associate, and later as Senior Manager Asia, focused on GainingEdge’s business and relationships in Asia. She helped establish GainingEdge’s signature events GainingLeads and GainingEdge Knowledge Exchange which takes place annually at IMEX and ICCA Congress.

    Prior to this role, Jane served for 8 years as Regional Director Asia Pacific for the International Congress & Convention Association – ICCA. During her tenure, the ICCA Asia Pacific Regional Office established a research unit dedicated to studying association meetings and supplementing the market intelligence efforts of ICCA’s Head Office in Amsterdam. She had also worked in Malaysia’s National Tourist Office, Tourism Malaysia and served as the Deputy Director (Overseas) for Tourism Malaysia’s Sydney Office for four years.

    Jane was honoured with the IMEX Academy Award – Asia Pacific in 2013. She has served two terms (2014-2017) as Deputy Chair of ICCA Asia Pacific Chapter. She co-authored two UNWTO publications on the Asia Meetings Industry (2012, 2017), and will release a report on Accessibility in the Meetings Industry, a joint project with BestCities and Rehabilitation International, in Nov 2018.

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    Jane Vong Holmes

    Senior Manager – Asia


The Team

  • Debbie Canavan

    Debbie Canavan - Director of Finance

    Debbie has held the position of Director of Finance for the company for the past 13 years.

    Prior to that she was Administrator of the Sandringham Soccer Club in Melbourne Australia. In that position she was responsible for all aspects of management of the 800+ member club including membership and registration, fundraising, website development, and club finances.

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    Debbie Canavan

    Director of Finance


  • Faye Langley

    Faye Langley - Business Development Manager

    Faye joined GainingEdge in March 2010. Faye’s projects include primarily representation and business development consultancy for a variety of GainingEdge’s clients. Faye is also the project manager for the GainingLeads Exchange whereby GainingEdge clients are encouraged to exchange bid intelligence with each other.

    Previously, Faye has provided clients with training, research and business development consultancy in numerous regions throughout the world. She is an experienced business development manager working with convention bureaus, venues and professional conference organisers.

    Prior to joining GainingEdge she served as the Business Development Executive, in the international sales team at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. She was responsible for helping and encouraging national and international associations to bring their conferences to Sydney. Earlier in her career Faye worked in the sales team at the Melbourne Convention Bureau (formerly Melbourne Convention + Visitors Bureau).

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    Faye Langley

    Business Development Manager


  • Nigel Brown

    Nigel Brown - Project Manager

    Nigel Brown is responsible for a number of projects at GainingEdge, ranging from IT projects to business development for the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute. He started his career at the head office of the International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) in Amsterdam. He was part of the event organising team of ICCA and served for 7 years organising a host of ICCA events on all continents. During his tenure, he gained extensive project management skills and was responsible for implementing new technologies at ICCA events.

    Prior to joining GainingEdge, Nigel worked as Project Manager for Singex Exhibition Ventures, the event organising arm of the Singapore EXPO. During his time at Singex, he gained experience working on trade and consumer shows and conferences. This all-round experience has given him insights into both the client and supplier side of the events industry and is put to good use at GainingEdge.

    Nigel holds a Bachelor of Hotel Administration, Bachelor of European Hospitality Management from the Hotel school The Hague, and a culinary diploma from the Amsterdam College of Hotel and Gastronomy.

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    Nigel Brown

    Project Manager


  • Esther Ng

    Esther Ng - Business Development Manager- South East Asia

    With close to 25 years’ experience in the tourism, hospitality and business events market Esther joined the Travel Industry as Corporate Sales Manager handling bids for Business Event, Incentives and Leisure travel and was also operationally involved in the event management.

    During this time Esther secured an extensive network of multinational clients within South East Asia. She is a meticulous organizer and believes good service comes from a humble altitude and not just strict performance of a duty.

    In 1998 Esther set up her own company representing hotels in SE Asia and Australia seeking to create more market awareness specifically on Business Events and Incentive Travel targeting the Travel Industry and Corporate companies in Singapore and Malaysia.

    With her destination and hotel knowledge, Esther is also a MICE consultant for Multi National Corporate companies. She manages their Annual Conferences mostly in SE Asia and China. Her main clients are from the IT Software Companies and average group size of 50 to 200 participants.

    With her passion in people relationships and providing good service she now spends her free time mentoring the young joining the hospitality industry. Esther has a certification as an ACTA trainer (Advance Certificate in Training).

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    Esther Ng

    Business Development Manager- South East Asia


  • Julia Yong

    Julia Yong - Business Development Manager

    Julia, based in Kuala Lumpur, is a business development and sales support specialist for the association market having worked with the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau international bid team.
    Julia has close to 5 years’ experience as a destination marketer specializing in promoting Malaysia

    and has worked with over 150 associations. In 2016, she was awarded the PCMA's Twenties in their Twenties (a recognition for young professionals in the meetings industry) making her the first person from Asia to receive the award. Julia is a marketer in the medical field for Asia Pacific where she specialises in lead generation and digital marketing implementations. Julia started her engagement with GainingEdge in 2017 to assist with lead development and research covering the association market.

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    Julia Yong

    Business Development Manager


  • Caryn Wong

    Caryn Wong - Management Assistant

    Based in Kuala Lumpur, Caryn joined GainingEdge as its Management Assistant in July 2012. She provides management support to the company's Corporate Office and also works closely with GainingEdge's Asian Office to build and manage its Asian clientele.

    Prior to joining GainingEdge, Caryn worked for one of Malaysia's leading destination management companies and professional congress organiser where she served as a personal assistant to the Group Managing Director of Asian Overland Services Tours and Travel and AOS Conventions & Events for 14 years. Earlier in her career, Caryn has worked as a Secretary to the Owner/Accountant of a Malaysian based accounting firm which later became internationally affiliated and provided administration support in a property development company.

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    Caryn Wong

    Management Assistant


  • Marlieke Kemp-Janssen

    Marlieke Kemp-Janssen - Digital Marketing Project Manager

    As Founder and Managing Director of Aureum Hospitality Advisers, Marlieke provides personable and results-driven revenue management and digital marketing solutions to companies in and beyond the hospitality industry.

    Marlieke has over 10 years of experience in the international hotel industry. She held positions as Revenue Manager, Ecommerce Manager, Digital Marketing Manager and Marketing Communications Manager in luxury (branded) hotels.

    Combining all her experience she successfully helped other businesses grow by implementing proven revenue management and digital marketing strategies.

    Marlieke is working with GainingEdge as Digital Marketing Project Manager for BestCities Global Alliance, a client of GainingEdge.

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    Marlieke Kemp-Janssen

    Digital Marketing Project Manager


  • Molly Doheny

    Molly Doheny - Business Development Director - Europe

    Molly has worked as a travel agent, tour operator, travel PR account director and destination marketing executive in a MICE and travel career that spans over 30 years.

    In 1997 Molly joined what was then the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Valley Tourist Board as senior manager – Convention Bureau, and 3 years later was promoted to Head of the Glasgow Convention Bureau. Under Molly, the Glasgow Convention Bureau won Gold in the M&IT UK’s Best Convention Bureau award 6 times and the International Conference and Congress Association (ICCA) Best Marketing Award twice.

    Molly was the Scottish Chair of BACD (British Association of Conference Destinations). She sat on the DMAI European Advisory Board and is an active member of ICCA, MPI, SITE and Eventia (now Evcom).

    In 2011 Molly left the Glasgow Convention Bureau and is now a destination marketing consultant and has worked with clients in India, USA, South Africa and China. Molly started working with GainingEdge to provide part time representation for the South African National Convention Bureau for association sales across Europe.

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    Molly Doheny

    Business Development Director - Europe

    United Kingdom

  • Lesley Williams

    Lesley Williams - Consultant / BestCities, Managing Director

    Employed by GainingEdge, Lesley took up the post of Managing Director for the BestCities Global Alliance account in January 2020, having worked as Director, Market Development since July 2017. Before joining GainingEdge and BestCities Lesley was Head of Business Tourism for Marketing Edinburgh where her key focus has been sourcing and bidding for international and national conferences and events for the city. Lesley participates fully in the wider tourism arena, is a past Chair of ICCA UK and Ireland Chapter and a huge advocate for legacy and the beyond tourism benefits generated by business events. Previous experience includes business development for international hotel chains and prestigious caterers and 8 years as Director of Sales at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) playing a key role in taking EICC into operational profit in 2003 through the development of key international and national association and corporate business.

    Lesley participates fully in the wider tourism arena sitting on international tourism committees. She is currently Chair of ICCA UK and Ireland Chapter where her aim is to ensure ICCAUK&I grows from strength to strength and continues to deliver for its members through an inspiring education programme and through business development opportunities.

    Previous experience includes business development for international hotel chains and prestigious caterers and eight years as Director of Sales at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC), playing a key role in taking EICC into operational profit in 2003 through the development of key international and national association and corporate business.

    With Edinburgh being a founding partner of the BestCities Global Alliance, Lesley plays an active part in the alliance helping shape strategy and business development. In January 2020, she was appointed as the Managing Director of BestCities.

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    Lesley Williams

    Consultant / BestCities, Managing Director

    United Kingdom

  • Helen Crompton

    Helen Crompton - Business Development Manager - Europe

    Helen has worked in the meetings industry for 12 years, joining the multi award winning ACC Liverpool when it opened in 2008 and first working in event management before moving into the conference sales and bidding team.

    Having spent many years working in the only convention, arena and exhibition centre in Liverpool she has worked with a broad range of clients from associations, PCOs, corporates and agencies. She has a great understanding of the conference bidding process and actively develops relationships to create new business opportunities. Helen is a specialist in research and information gathering, project and account management and is passionate about connecting people and relationship building.

    Helen joined GainingEdge in 2017, providing project and account support for different clients. Her recent projects have included hosted buyer qualification for Meetings Africa, Africa’s largest MICE trade show and in market representation and business development support for Guadalajara Convention & Visitors Bureau, including lead research and qualification.

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    Helen Crompton

    Business Development Manager - Europe

    United Kingdom

  • Tia Daniels

    Tia Daniels - BestCities, Director of Business Development & Community Engagement

    Tia is based in Denmark and brings more than 25 years of experience in the meetings and events industry, with many of her previous positions stationed in the US and Denmark. Her most recent roles include Director of Sales and Marketing at Konventum Hotel & Conference Center and International Senior Sales Manager, Congresses & Events at Bella Center in Copenhagen. She also worked for MCI Copenhagen, where she led the COP15 Hotel & Guest Relations team through one of the city’s largest conferences in history with over 30,000 delegates in attendance. During her time in Houston (1995 – 2008), Tia worked at Hilton Houston Post Oak and the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, in roles such as Convention Service Manager and Corporate Sales and Service Manager.

    Throughout her seasoned career, Tia has worked with a vast array of associations and corporations. She has also remained active within the MPI and PCMA communities, and regularly forges new connections at IMEX, IBTM and other industry events.

    Now, as Director, Business Development & Community Engagement for BestCities Global Alliance, Tia will focus on helping partners and clients develop experiences that leave a positive and lasting legacy in the world, while raising BestCities’ profile in the corporate and incentive market. She will also ensure forward momentum on BestCities’ legacy commitments by working in collaboration with members and supporting key initiatives such as The Madrid Challenge, Copenhagen Legacy Lab, and Incredible Impacts Programme.

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    Tia Daniels

    BestCities, Director of Business Development & Community Engagement


  • Milos Milovanovic

    Milos Milovanovic - Consultant

    Based in Belgrade, Milos Milovanovic has expertise in the activation and development of convention bureaus and destination marketing in emerging regions. He has over 10 years' experience in the meetings industry and has consulted on projects in Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan and Rwanda.

    Prior to joining GainingEdge, Milos was the CEO of Serbia Convention Bureau where he was instrumental in its establishment and development. Under his leadership, the bureau has made constant progress in ICCA rankings (International Congress and Convention Association) making the top 50 globally.

    Milos has a diploma in Economics from the University of Belgrade and Master’s degree from Ecole Centrale Paris. In his previous career as marketing and project management specialist he has worked with universities, business associations, international donors and AID agencies creating a number of educational and training programmes in the hospitality and meetings industry.

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    Milos Milovanovic



  • Alessandra Delmonte

    Alessandra Delmonte - Business Development Director - North America

    Alessandra Delmonte has been involved in the North American international business tourism market segment for almost 10 years in a Business Development Director position. She has worked with over twenty-five International DMOs and venues to develop and execute sales and marketing activities including client events, sales missions throughout the USA and Canada, and educational trips.

    She possesses extensive knowledge of the Meeting, Incentive and International Association market segments and has trained and developed sales teams to generate business results for international convention bureaus and venues. Alessandra and the Arena Destination Marketing team is now a strategic partner of GainingEdge in North America, providing in-market representation services for GE clientele.

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    Alessandra Delmonte

    Business Development Director - North America



  • Alicia Yao Hong

    Alicia Yao Hong - Business Development Consultant

    Based in Beijing, China, Alicia is a Business Development Consultant for South Africa. She is responsible for supporting South Africa National Convention Bureau’s goal to build South Africa’s profile as a business events destination and help grow business sourced from China.

    Alicia is a member of Site, MPI, PCMA and ICCA and had her professional training for PCO by IAPCO. She has had successful events delivery and supplier relations experience as it relates to event marketing and creative services. Alicia had 30 years working experience in CITS with full management and sales skills in leisure travel, luxury travel, business travel, incentive programmes, corporate meetings & events, international association conferences, international exhibitions & trade shows and city promotional events. Alicia is experienced in creativity and design, marketing and promotion, bidding documents preparation, logistic and operation management as well as being a special columnist of M.I.C.E China Magazine.

    Alicia is now the General Manager of IME Consulting Co., Ltd, the only ICCA member in China which is focusing on destination promotion and marketing consultancy. She is a moderator of IT&CM China, CIBTM, CMIC (China Meetings Industry Convention), China International Meeting Industry Week Chengdu Summit and Chongqing Summit. Alicia Yao is the vice Chairman of Site China Chapter and deputy general secretary of China M.I.C.E Committee.

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    Alicia Yao Hong

    Business Development Consultant


  • Shogo Kaneda

    Shogo Kaneda - Associate - Japan & Korea

    Shogo worked for Korean DMC based in Tokyo to start his career in the business event industry and later, joined MICE consulting company in Tokyo.

    His expertise is in destination marketing and business development and has been consulting for years. He is Korean Japanese and has a broad network in the Japan and Korea business event industry.

    He has been working with representative convention bureaus in Asia, such as Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Singapore Exhibition & Convention Bureau and Korea MICE Bureau under Korea Tourism Organization. He also has experience in managing venue and event marketing in the Japan and Korea market.

    As an associate of GainingEdge, he is responsible for in-market sales representation projects for Tokyo Convention & Visitors Bureau and New Zealand Convention Bureau and some bureau training projects in Japan and Korea.

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    Shogo Kaneda

    Associate - Japan & Korea

    Japan & Korea