Women take the lead in expanding convention-services field

Women make up more than 80 percent of the personnel and own about 80 percent of the touring and convention-services businesses that are now affiliated with the Convention Service & Sightseeing Network, says Vivian Masters, the network's administrator. The headquarters of the network changes as its president changes, but it is currently located at 3714 Fourth Avenue, San Diego, Calif. 92103, where Miss Masters is also the director of meeting management systems for California Leisure Consultants.

''This field is growing and its potential opportunities for women are expanding,'' says Miss Masters. ''Conventions and conferences are a fact of life today as never before. People who attend these meetings are usually well traveled and sophisticated in their demands and expectations. They are busy professionals who appreciate well-planned and organized meetings and leisure activities and are willing to pay for the expertise that makes them so.''

Convention service companies, which assist with conventions and meetings, constitute a relatively new industry, having begun about 15 years ago. Some major convention cities may have over a dozen convention service companies. These usually work closely with the local Convention Bureau and hotels, and are referred by both to handle services they cannot offer and to promote better meetings in their cities.

Those who manage and work for such service companies usually have a broad knowledge of the local area, including its history, architectural achievements, leading citizens, landmarks, and cultural and tourist attractions. They often plan and coordinate transportation, registration, meetings and seminars, dinners and banquets. They also can help stage parades, product presentations and trade shows, find guest speakers, and arrange entertainment for spouses and children.

''These days,'' says Miss Masters, ''we are trying to help corporations and organizations get the most for their money and be cost-effective in their convention planning. We are also helping them use their time more effectively when they bring people together at conferences, meetings, and conventions.'' Some consultants are now working with clients at the very inception of a meeting or convention, and are helping to determine its overall theme, and carry it out in programs and through speakers.

Miss Masters admits that the network represents only a small and very select group of companies because its requirements for membership are very stringent. There are many more who are not members. The network was formed, however, to help build a common professionalism and to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and the solution of mutual problems.

The network's annual educational meeting will be held Oct.30-Nov.2 in Dallas and will include sessions on better marketing practices, business development, and the advantages of computers and word processors.

''This is a natural field for women,'' concluded Vivian Masters. ''They have very natural capabilities for it.'' Peggy Schweig of St. Louis comments, ''We are no longer housewives looking for something to do. We are professionals looking for groups we can serve.''

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