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GS Advisory Board:
Advisory Board Gets Ready for ETA 2005

Right now the buzz on the street is all about Electronic Transactions Association's (ETA) 2005 Annual Meeting and Expo to be held March 15 - 17 at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Now that ETA has set this year's program, those planning to attend are scheduling business meetings, finalizing their booths and giveaways, pressing their suits and dusting off their dancing shoes.

We asked members of The Green Sheet Advisory Board (GS AB) if they plan to attend the conference, and if so, what they hope to accomplish while there:

Why is ETA's Annual Meeting and Expo important to your business development?

Most of the respondents said that they will attend and have done so for several years because the event is the best and most cost-effective way to meet with numerous vendors, processors and ISOs.

The new product, service and technology announcements made during the conference have a significant impact on individual businesses and the marketplace. It's also the place to find answers to questions, culminate deals, meet new friends and cement relationships.

Speaking of meetings, you'll be able to meet with The Green Sheet staff at our first-ever booth (#1630) at this event. Julie O'Ryan, President/Editor in Chief; Karen Converse, Associate Editor; Patti Murphy, Contributing Editor; and Danielle Thorpe, Advertising Sales Director, will represent The Green Sheet at the conference.

Make sure you visit the booth and answer our brief questionnaire to enter to win a "Greentastic Voyage 2005" to either Maui or South Africa (no purchase necessary; winner must be present at the drawing to win). For more details on this adventure of a lifetime, please visit . We look forward to seeing you in Las Vegas!

Here's what GS AB members had to say about the upcoming meeting (responses are listed in alphabetical order):

Adam Atlas, Attorney at Law

"My primary goals for the [ETA Annual Meeting and Expo] are to solidify my existing client relationships, carry out some face-to-face negotiations and meet potential clients. My secondary goals are to learn as much as I can, check out the new products and services in the industry, and socialize.

"Vegas ETA is a key business development opportunity. The variety and volume of people present is unmatched by any other event in the industry. The Vegas ETA manages to showcase the full spectrum of businesses in the acquiring industry.

"Because change is a fundamental part of the electronic transactions business, attending the ETA is a good way of doing a reality check on your knowledge of the product offerings in the industry. As an industry attorney, I have an obligation to keep myself up to date on industry trends. The ETA is the most basic and important means of accomplishing this goal."

Shannon Byrne, Paradata Systems

"Yes, of course! This is the premier event in the payments industry where I can count on seeing all of Paradata's partners and prospects in one place in three days. As an ETA Technology Committee volunteer and ETA member, I am a vocal supporter of meeting and greeting new and existing members of the organization to be ensured the ETA as [an] organization continues to be accurate in defining value to its members.

"As with every annual ETA in the past, we plan to solidify existing relationships, breathe life into older fallow partnerships and look for the next new partner. The Paradata brand is gaining recognition throughout the payment space; this conference gives us a chance to showcase our brand and our newly introduced products and services through networking and the exhibition hall (booth #409).

"Furthermore, we schedule ... as much time as possible with our partners and plan for the year ahead. In addition to seeing our partners, we use the ETA as a showroom of supporting and competing technologies and service providers. In this way we can leverage the marketplace for newly developed solutions as well as forge cooperative relationships with our competitors."

Sam Chanin, Business Payment Systems

"I will absolutely be attending the ETA in Vegas. We are planning to regroup with our vendors, processors, banks and friends. Also to catch up with some of my customers, introduce them to some of the vendors, surf for new products and to observe where the marketplace is going. I would like to see what my competitors are doing and find new opportunities for the next 12 months ..."

Stephen B. Christianson Transpay-USA Inc.

"Yes, we are attending the ETA Annual Meeting in Vegas. Primarily to keep in touch with the new services and equipment available. Also to attend some of the seminars for educational value. Staying on top of these things is very important if you are a proactive business and continually looking for growth and revenue opportunities in the near future."

Nancy Drexler, Cynergy Data

"Cynergy Data will be in booth #726 at the ETA. Our booth will focus on our mission: to give our ISOs the service, sales, software and support that lead to total customer satisfaction. Cynergy is all about building relationships, and the ETA is a unique and excellent opportunity to reinforce this message to current and potential processing partners while meeting with them face to face. See you there!"

Steve Eazell, Secure Payment Systems

"Yes, [we plan to attend]. We do a fair amount of networking and it is an opportunity for us to meet with our sales offices without the cost and hassle of traveling to multiple locations.

"We also look to see what the industry is up to in general and get a lot of face-to-face time with folks that we would not otherwise get. [The event] helps us gauge our product set. We are a West Coast company and getting to Vegas is not difficult. Plus, we do not exhibit, so our costs are far lower than most companies that do."

Jim Fink, EVO Merchant Services

"EVO Merchant Services will be exhibiting at the ETA annual conference in 2005. Our primary objective at the conference will be to promote EVO's vision, capabilities, programs and services to as many prospective sales partners and vendors as possible.

"As usual, we plan to do a considerable amount of networking with industry professionals and friends. We see [ETA's] annual conference as an excellent venue for us to evaluate market trends and see who is making strides.

"We believe maintaining a visible presence at the conference establishes credibility and is important for business development."

Alan Gitles, Landmark Merchant Solutions

"Yes [we are planning to attend the ETA Annual Meeting and Expo. We will be] meeting with colleagues, searching for new opportunities, [and] hearing about new trends (also [I'll] work on my golf game). ... "We can sometimes feel isolated, and the conference makes you feel part of the community and industry."

Michelle Graff, NOVA Information Systems

"NOVA will be launching two important industry-leading products at this year's ETA. Our electronic check service has been expanded to support accounts receivable conversion (ARC) for recurring payments, mail order and drop-box environments.

"Additionally, we will showcase our dynamic currency conversion product that delivers a true value proposition to foreign travelers, merchants and MLSs. The ETA is the best forum available to reach out to representatives from the entire payment processing community, from ISO leaders, to manufacturers, to processors and other industry players. It is the place to feel the 'buzz' about what will be 'hot or not' in 2005. And it's a great place to catch up with old friends who have been around the industry for years."

Larry Henry, L. Henry Enterprises

"Unfortunately, I will not be attending the ETA meeting in Las Vegas. Personal matters have come up at that time and missing the meeting is unavoidable. I am glad that The Green Sheet will have a booth.

"The publication has become a standard resource in the industry ... it is important that everyone gets to know you. I would have enjoyed meeting with you myself. I have been part of The Green Sheet readership for almost 15 years. Good luck in Las Vegas!"

Jared Isaacman, United Bank Card Inc.

"Yes, we will be attending the ETA in Las Vegas. The ETA is a great opportunity, just like the regional acquirer shows, to network with vendors and our ISO partners. Typically at ETA you will see all the latest product and service announcements from the various industry manufacturers. The social and networking aspects of the event in combination with the venue of Las Vegas make ETA a pretty memorable time."

Mitch Lau, Money Tree Merchant Services

"Yes, not only are we planning on attending but we have rented two booths. We believe the annual ETA meeting not only offers our company a great opportunity to grow through knowledge expansion, but also by touching base with old friends and making some new ones."

Douglas Mack, Card Payment Systems

"Unfortunately not. I have never been to an ETA, but keep saying year after year ... 'Maybe next year.' This year I have a real reason for not going, but other years I suppose it was a lack of seeing any value. I don't need to mingle or rub elbows. Sure, I would love to see the people I work with every day face to face ... but I have a business to run.

"... Isn't the purpose behind an association membership to bring benefits and value to an organization (i.e. our company)? With all due respect ... even their so called 'privileges' as listed on their Web site are weak:

  • 'annual and midyear meetings' (yeah ... that we pay to attend thereby generating revenue for the next show)
  • 'education' (when ... at the annual and midyear meetings?)
  • 'communication' (useful I suppose, but does it save or make me money?)
  • 'committees' (missing the benefit here)
  • 'credibility' (I guarantee if you ask 100 merchants if they know what 'ETA' stands for five will say 'yes' and four are lying).

"I don't mean to be so cynical. But an association should bring value to me and my organization. Value to me equals saving me money by discounted health care, accounting, software development, etc. or making me money because my customer realizes that not just anyone can be a member of the ETA. I just don't see the value."

David McMackin, AmericaOne Payment Systems

"'Would not miss it for the world! We are looking forward to seeing all of our friends and partners. Plus, AmericaOne is doing a full national release of our Merchant Lead Generation program.

"As an added-value service to our ISOs, AmericaOne pinpoints qualified merchants in the ISO's local market, pre-sets and then confirms each merchant appointment for them so the ISO is in the perfect position to close the deal. This program delivers the merchant business directly to the ISO, and now our AmericaOne partner companies can stop spending most of their time prospecting for merchants and start selling 100% of the time with this new program."

Steve Norell, U.S. Merchant Services

"Yes, golf, R&R, grow current relationships, start new relationships, gain new ideas, see what I am missing, and last but not least, win The Green Sheet prize."

Garry O'Neil, Electronic Exchange Systems

"Yes, we will have a double booth. Since we have established a booth four years ago, we now have to show up just to keep the rumor mills at bay. We like to have meetings with potential VARs and processors, but we don't really expect to recruit ISOs."

Bill Pittman, TPI Software

"The ETA is a great show for us to show off our new products, talk with MLSs about what we are doing right, what we can do better and what new products they need us to provide to help them be successful.

"For example, we just built a plug-in for QuickBooks and Microsoft's Retail Management System (RMS). With this plug-in, MLSs will be [able] to route integrated payment transactions from these applications to their preferred payment processor. We've gotten feedback from MLSs that they are looking for this type of product to sell against the competition, differentiate themselves and grow their business.

"The ETA is an excellent forum for us to demonstrate these types of products and see what we can do to make them even better. It is so much easier to work with people when you can put a face with a name.

"The ETA provides a forum where you can meet so many people from the industry in person and build important partnerships."

David H. Press, Integrity Bankcard Consultants Inc.

"Yes, see the new technology ... products and services that we can offer our clients. Also it is important to catch up with our friends in the industry and some clients that will be there as well. This is the only time of the year that all the major players are in one place."

J. David Siembieda, CrossCheck Inc.

"CrossCheck Inc. has been attending the ETA Annual Meetings since its inception. This year we will be in booth #507. It continues to be a very advantageous event for us as an opportunity to network with all levels of business contacts and to reinforce relationships with some old partners and friends.

"We will have a small army there, consisting of our partner acquisition, ISO team and corporate officers to man the booth and be available for meetings. Some of our group will be utilizing the educational opportunities of ETAU as well.

"Last year there was a great deal of talk about checks and we are looking forward to more discussions about the future of checks, Check 21 opportunities, new markets for guarantee, and new services and equipment. There is a lot going on with checks and ETA is a great place to hear about it.

"... For the last few years this show has been our largest, in terms of sales revenue, that is directly tied to contacts made at the expo. We are confident that this upcoming ETA will bring us even more solid ISO relationships and large partner agreements that develop into mutually profitable deals."

Charles W. Salyer, GlobalTech Leasing

"Absolutely. Never miss the annual meeting! This is the main show that allows us to touch base with our ISO customers. We plan on meeting and greeting, listening to feedback, showing new ideas and products and generally participating.

"This meeting is important as it allows face-to-face contact with many people that are all meeting in one place. It is cost effective for them and for us. We also like to show support for the ETA as the spokesgroup for our industry."

Lisa Shipley, Hypercom Corp.

"Our goal at the ETA is really simple. As the industry pioneer, we are embracing a true shift to advanced communications such as IP and GPRS. What we want: to ensure that the industry as a whole gains greater understanding of this paradigm, and [we] are prepared to capitalize on the new opportunities that this brings for all of us.

"Our business development as well as others is based on how well we as an industry adapt and adopt these new technologies into our industry, while maintaining the same high degree of service and support that the market expects. It's just not enough to talk around the technology; you must show how its adoption will improve everyone's bottom line."

Scott Wagner, GO Direct Merchant Services

"Currently, I have a schedule conflict, but you never know considering that this is 'THE' event!"

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.
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