Meetings & Incentives Worldwide is a family business in operation for more than 50 years. A lot has changed in that time, from our company name and size to our key services and clientele. What remains the same, however, is our commitment to best practices, innovation, and unparalleled customer service.
How did we go from a small travel agency to the global meetings and events organization we are today? It all started with a man named Dan…
The Early Days
In the early 1970s, a young family man, Dan Neider, along with his parents, Walter and Mildred Neider, started a small retail travel agency they named Neider Travelway, Inc. Walter had owned the local Racine Greyhound bus station for years, and they saw an opportunity to expand into retail airline travel and tours. They bought a building around the corner from the bus station and opened their doors.
In addition to retail travel, the company dabbled in corporate travel for local corporations in Racine and the Milwaukee area. As word spread about Neider Travelway’s superior service, they landed a couple of group incentive trips, and that got Dan thinking about what the future could hold.
In the late 1980s, the focus of the company changed from the leisure and corporate transient business to corporate groups and meetings as the clients’ needs and expectations expanded. They sold the retail and corporate business and changed the company’s name to Meetings by Design. Fort Howard Paper, Circuit City, and Oscar Mayer were their first full group meetings clients.
In those early days, the company only had five full-time employees, and Dan and his daughter Jean rolled up their sleeves and did whatever it took to make sure things got done. “It was an exciting time with lots of learning, hard work, and long hours,” said Jean. “But we always had fun, and it was such a thrill to get every detail right and to please our clients. We always knew that if we treated all of our customers like VIPs, we would succeed.”
Dan often reminisces about being a meet-and-greet staff person at the airport or working late hours in order to issue all of the tickets for a group and get the best advanced purchase airfares. His motto was always that customer service came first; you did whatever was needed to make sure every meeting was perfect and the clients were happy.
A Period of Growth
In the 1990s, the business name was changed to Meetings & Incentives to better describe the company’s core services. At this time, Meetings & Incentives expanded to better serve their many corporate clients. Tina joined her father and sister in the family business after first working as a CPA for a public accounting firm. Dan’s small shop grew to 30 employees, so he had an A-frame building custom built and moved the company out of the office building environment. As the business grew, the staff continued to expand as well, and the company opened a second office and multiple on-site locations.
Dan led the company as President while he passed along his skills, dreams, and vision to his two eager daughters. Now, he continues as a silent partner while his daughters run the day-to-day operations of the enterprise, knowing he has given them the skills, knowledge, and faith to take the company into the diversified and high-tech travel world of today. As part of their continued growth and global expansion, they are now Meetings & Incentives Worldwide, Inc. (M&IW).
Today, M&IW has a truly refreshing perspective as a business owned and led by two sisters, Jean Johnson and Tina Madden. They are the third-generation descendants of the Neider family and entrusted with keeping the legacy alive. Described as agile, energetic, and innovative, Jean and Tina are dedicated to instilling these attributes into the M&IW staff, company culture, and vision.
“Everything I learned when we were a team of five still applies today,” said Jean, “from all that goes into planning successful events to the value of providing the highest level of customer service. Even after 36 years, I continue to pass those lessons on to our team.”
Since taking the reins in 2010, Jean and Tina have grown the business from 30 employees and $20 million in revenues to more than 275 employees and growing, revenues of more than $120 million, and a managed meeting and event spend of more than $250 million. They have continued to expand the business by implementing the latest technologies, opening global offices, expanding the incentive and conference divisions, hiring key experienced personnel, and growing their team to share the fruits of their labor.
“Our team’s diverse skillsets; core values of quality, flexibility, agility, and innovation; and passion to serve our customers has been the key to our success,” said Tina. “We are also more grounded than ever in our purpose. Meetings and events transform organizations, and we now have more ways to connect participants and drive engagement. It’s an exciting time!”
The sisters grew up in the family business, learning the travel industry by working side-by-side with their father. After five successful years as Co-CEOs, a recent organizational change saw Jean assume the role of Chief People Officer with Tina stepping into the role of Chief Executive Officer. They may be opposites in looks and personalities, but they complement one another and are singular when it comes to their shared vision and devotion to the enterprise their father started.
“We are extremely optimistic about the future,” said Tina. “We have a top-notch team, a special culture, and an expanded service offering. We are focused on growth, talent, innovation, and excellence as we continue on our journey to world class.”