Let’s Get Creative

In what is planned as a new era of sharing and motivation, Janet Traphagen, president of Chicago-based Creative Group, met recently with 60 members of the meetings and incentives teams from Creative Group’s Canadian operations, formerly SM+i and Meridican.

The new incentive powerhouse is a result of the merger of Canada’s Vision Travel (owner of Strategic Meetings + Incentives, or SM+i) with the United States’ Direct Travel in 2017. In September 2019, Direct Travel also acquired Meridican, a 30-year presence in the meetings and incentives industry. The two Canadian entities now operate as Creative Group under the current Canadian leadership team.

Said Traphagen: “This new and larger entity provides expanded opportunities for customers and broader career options for our staff. For customers, we can provide increased buying power, additional offerings, expanded staff resources and best practices for a range of industries. From the employee perspective, there are new career paths and increased training options. The cultures of our companies are so well-aligned that our joining together will be powerful.”

Creative Group is a full-service meeting, incentive and recognition company that delivers business results by inspiring people to thrive. An industry leader, Creative Group has been honoured with the CMI 25 Award which recognizes the top 25 most influential meeting and incentive management companies in the U.S. – and it has received the award every year since its inception in 2007.

Creative Group was founded in 1970 and serves clients in financial services, life sciences, insurance, manufacturing, retail, technology, automotive and hospitality. Employing over 260 people, the company is headquartered in Schaumburg, Illinois and maintains offices in Detroit, Denver, San Francisco and Appleton, Wisconsin and now Canada. Creative Group was acquired by Direct Travel in 2015.

Last year, the award-winning Creative Group in the U.S. organized a total of 825 programs with 155,000 attendees in 46 countries.

According to Traphagen, Creative Group’s role is to come to the customer with an idea that will shift their business. A vice president of design and insights has been recently hired to drive that entire initiative.

Future training meetings will cover sales training, recognition training and people management training.

And in the meantime, Traphagen says her message to her new Canadian colleagues is a warm welcome. “We are super excited to be expanding into Canada and we welcome all this incredible talent.”

In the photo

Creative Group president, Janet Traphagen (left) with Terry Manion, CIS, CITP, senior vice-president, business development/Canada and Ellie MacPherson, senior vice-president, Canada operations.