Industry leader reinforces CWT North America M&E strategic meetings management

Minneapolis, Minn. | November 30, 2010

Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), a global leader specializing in business travel management, announced that Kari Kesler recently joined CWT Meetings & Events (M&E), North America, as senior director of program management and consulting. Kesler is based in Minneapolis and reports to Tony Wagner, vice president, CWT Meetings & Events, North America.

Kesler has more than 18 years of industry experience, most recently serving as president and chief strategist for KK Strategic Solutions, the consulting organization she founded. Prior to that, Kesler was a purchaser of strategic meetings and corporate travel for Honeywell International, ING, and Xerox. She began her career in the hotel industry.

In her role at CWT, Kesler is responsible for leading the team of program management professionals who identify and implement strategies for ongoing improvement of clients’ M&E programs. In conjunction with the CWT Solutions Group, she also leads CWT M&E’s consulting practice, which focuses on implementing and managing strategic meetings management (SMM) programs on behalf of clients.

Kesler helped pioneer the SMM concept, which centers on the implementation of enterprise-wide management strategies for meetings and events, through her involvement with the National Business Travel Association (NBTA). Past roles include serving as an original member and co-chair of NBTA’s Groups and Meetings Committee. Currently, she is a facilitator for the NBTA Task Force that created the industry’s first Strategic Meetings Management Certification (SMMC) program.

“SMM as a discipline is at such a critical point in its maturity; it’s never been a more exciting time to be in this industry,” Kesler shared. “I’ve always had deep respect for CWT and its people,” she continued. “And, with the momentum they’ve been experiencing in the marketplace, now is an ideal time to join their successful and expanding M&E function.”

Wagner emphasized the value of Kesler’s SMM experience and expertise. “SMM is the largest opportunity in corporate meetings management for most organizations today, and I expect it to be a critical area of focus going forward for our clients and for the industry at large,” he explained. “Kari has a key role at CWT, providing clients with best practices and support at all levels of maturity and sophistication in their SMM programs.” 

Kesler has received numerous accolades over her career, most recently being named as one of Corporate Meetings & Incentives magazine’s “Top 20 Changemakers” for 2009. She also recently completed a three-year term on the NBTA Board of Directors. Kesler holds a dual MBA in marketing and international management from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

CWT Meetings & Events globally supports clients with a full range of services to create and organize meetings and events. These include ad-hoc services such as destination analysis, venue sourcing, and group air analysis and fulfillment; end-to-end event management; enterprise-wide strategic meetings management; and M&E consulting and optimization services. CWT Meetings & Events designs strategy and aligns processes to achieve savings, deliver attendee satisfaction, and assist clients in meeting their M&E business goals.

About Carlson Wagonlit Travel
Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) is a global leader specializing in business travel management. Present in more than 150 countries, CWT serves companies of all sizes, as well as government institutions and non-governmental organizations. By leveraging both the expertise of its people and leading-edge technology, CWT helps clients derive the greatest value from their travel program in terms of savings, service, security and sustainability. The company is also committed to providing best-in-class service and assistance to travelers. CWT services and solutions comprise four lines of business: Traveler & Transaction Services, Program Optimization, Safety & Security, and Meetings & Events. In 2009, sales volume for wholly owned operations and joint ventures totaled US$21.4 billion. For more information, please visit our global Website at


Media Contact:
Stefanie Tschida
Carlson Wagonlit Travel
1 763 212 1404 (office)
1 763 464 3862 (mobile)

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