CommentaryJul 9th, 2022

Building Summits: Creating value through Networks


We sat down with Pam Walter, the VP of Business Development for Thought Leadership Summits, the producer of CXAUTO Summit Series and Founder of MAPconnected Membership Forum and the VEHICLE SERVICE & WARRANTY LIFECYCLE Summit. Pam is remarkable in the way in which she engages with people and has helped build a brand and community that is changing the way that the automotive industry comes together.

How has the last couple of years affected the CXAUTO Summits?

At the start of 2020, we had already begun planning for the CXAUTO summits in June. I never thought that we would need to go virtual. We kept moving the date out until we realized that things were not changing, in fact, the restrictions were becoming more severe as the year progressed. We had to adapt our strategy to support our brand and our community. It took a lot of work, coordination and relationship management; we were just not set up for virtual conferencing and it required a lot of effort and understanding to make it successful. After CXAUTO2020, I had considered what we had achieved and was grateful that we had been able to adapt our model and make it work. That said, I never in my wildest dreams imagined that we would need to do it all over again, virtually, the following year.

When CXAUTO2022 was in its planning phase, we decided to focus on in-person fully and decided not to adopt a hybrid model and include digital. It may have been more accommodating to those who are still not traveling but based on our brand, our audience and our business platform, it made more sense to create an exclusive and closed environment in which to share and meet people.

What was different about this years’ summits in comparison to those held, in-person, in previous years?

There was a distinct sense of appreciation for creating an environment for people to connect in-person, to shake hands, to step out from behind their computer screens and connect once again with people. Attending an event in-person, forces you to be fully present without the distractions that come with digital technology being the sole environment to connect. It really created the opportunity to share, engage and network.

What makes CXAUTO different?

There are many conferences that take place in our industry, there is a huge market and an incredibly diverse ecosystem within automotive. As a smaller and select group, our events allow for everyone to experience direct access. Anyone they want to speak to is available and so you are able to create relationships with people easily and the quality of the engagement is beyond that which can be experienced at large events or in a different environment. We have found that based on the exclusive environment that we create, everyone in attendance, as well as our sponsors, come prepared to share and receive thought leadership and experience something very personal and unique.

How did CXAUTO come to be, how did you come to build this brand and create these experiences?

I specialize in automotive and have been running CXAUTO within the Thought Leadership Summit brand for the last 6 years. I think that traditionally, my role represents a very transactional function. However, I am fully invested in each person who forms part of our ecosystem, I truly want everyone to benefit from participating and attending. I truly care about people, their brands and their business. My distinct specialty is relationship marketing and having built my foundation in the hospitality industry, I am able to bring something different to the table. I stay in touch with our network and really focus on sharing the experience with everyone in it. For the most part, we have an exceptionally high retention rate based on the experience we create and the relationships that we build.

In terms of my own story, I spent the late 1990’s and early 2000s in Chicago working for Hyatt Hotels. I was selected for the Executive Committee, Director of Catering role to re-open the flagship Park Hyatt on Water Tower Square and was really on top of my game. My husband was approached by his company to launch a program which he had started in the US, over in Europe. What was meant to be a 2-year sabbatical had turned into a 15-year European Adventure and it forced me to look at other career opportunities. It was at that time, living in Amsterdam, that I got my first taste of being a hotel customer while creating and hosting pan-European business to business conferences in key cities such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Brussels, Berlin and Paris.

Living abroad and working extensively while immersed in different cultures changed our lives. It was such an incredible opportunity and experience. When we returned to the US, I knew that I wanted to continue to focus on automotive conferencing and that I wanted to do it through building real human relationships.

What is up next in the calendar?

Well the dates for CXAUTO2023 have been confirmed and we will be back at the Ritz-Carlton Marina DelRey next year June 20-22 but until then, I am really focused on MAPconnected Members Forum which I started in 2021. It is a network of executives responsible for the warranty lifecycle: warranty, aftersales, aftercare, technical services; all the way from the manufacturer’s warranty through to additional extended warranty and financial services products.

There are a lot of events focused on marketing and new and used car sales which get a lot of attention in the industry but very limited attention and forums for warranty and technical services peer networking and benchmarking: which is a huge expense for manufacturers besides raw materials.  

MAPconnected was created for this reason and offers different levels of membership and varying packages which allow for single or multi user executives who are interested in connecting with like-minded people. The MAPconnected model provides monthly small virtual benchmarking and sponsored webinars, and our messaging forum allows you to further communicate as well through private and group threads throughout the entire year. 

And, the annual summit, VEHICLE SERVICE & WARRANTY LIFECYCLE Summit will be taking place October 25th and 26th at The Southfield Westin in Detroit, open to leading automotive, powersport, bus, truck, construction and agricultural equipment OEMs, Parts & Equipment Suppliers, their Retailers, Dealers, Distributors, Logistics & Services Providers. 

We have a really exciting lineup of 35+ speakers who will be sharing case studies on Strengthening Your Warranty Roadmap in a Customer-First-Connected-World focused on 7 core topic pillars including:

Warranty & Quality Strategy – Connected Customer & Recall Strategy – Financial Services & Extended Warranty – Service Operations & Parts – Legal & Regulatory Compliance – EV Warranties & New Services – Technical & Field Service Ops

Take advantage of the July early bird special and receive 2 tickets for the price of 1 through July 15th.  

Reserve & Read more here:

Pam Walter LinkedIn:

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