The Midwest Acquirers Association held its annual meeting July 23 and 24, 2008, in St. Louis, Mo. The event was jammed with educational sessions, an inspirational keynote address and many networking opportunities.
Wednesday started off with the very popular Field Guide for ISOs seminar. As usual, Mark Dunn put together a well-thought-out program containing essential educational information for all merchant level salespeople (MLSs). This event alone is well worth attending.
Later, Greg Gumbel, a three-time Emmy award winner and current sportscaster for CBS, inspired a room full of payment professionals.
His keynote focused on his experience at the 1994 Olympics and the incredible efforts athletes make to achieve their dreams. This was followed by a reception with the vendors.
The evening wrapped up with a party sponsored by Electronic Merchant Systems. It included dinner, an open bar and entertainment. It was followed by United Bank Card's Texas Hold'Em Charity Casino Night.
Thursday began with a talk by Tony Abruzzio, Senior Vice President, Global Payments Inc. His presentation addressed the changing environment facing the payments industry. This was followed by more networking time in the exhibit hall.
Paul Martaus of Martaus & Associates gave the next presentation. Martaus ruminated on the challenges facing ISOs and MLSs this year, including the economy and upcoming legislation.
After lunch came educational breakout sessions, which were divided into two tracks: one of interest to ISOs and processors; the other dedicated to MLSs.
MLS sessions included a presentation about contract negotiations by Mary Winingham of TSYS Acquiring Solutions and Adam Atlas, Attorney at Law. Next was a panel discussion about closing merchant sales.
Finally, Beth Horowitz, Vice President of Product Management for Discover Network spoke about driving customer loyalty through products and services.
Thursday afternoon, the MWAA presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to Kim Fitzsimmons, the President of Independent Sales Services for First Data Commercial Services, a division of First Data Corp. Fitzsimmons is the fifth recipient of this prestigious award.
After accepting the award, Fitzsimmons closed the meeting with a discussion on using data as a new currency in the marketplace.
She pointed out the value of data already collected by ISOs, processors and MLSs and made suggestions on ways to use it wisely. If you have never attended an acquirers meeting, do so. For a nominal price, you can obtain a wealth of information and make valuable, long-lasting business connections.
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