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Meet Lori James of AZA Events in Scottsdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lori James.

AZA Events, Inc. was founded May 4, 1991, by Amy Zak, who not only set the mark for exceptional service and creativity in event planning but was also one of the first destination specialists to enter the Greater Phoenix marketplace. Throughout the 1990s, Amy and her staff successfully established themselves as the region’s industry leaders for full-service destination and event management. In February 2001, longtime industry veteran Lori and Roger purchased the company and worked tirelessly to continue Zak’s mission of setting new standards that separate AZA Events from other destination and event management specialists.

Today, they produce over 80+ events a year for fortunate 500 companies setting the Gold Standard in producing premier events whether a group of 20 guests to over thousands.

Has it been a smooth road?
Our event planning industry follows the economy and has a stiff competition with our marketplace. Our organization really needs to provide the white glove service to separate ourselves from the competition. We are constantly trying to raise the bar from other organization to give our clients more than they expect from a DMC partner.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the AZA Events, Inc. story. Tell us more about the business.
It has not always been a smooth road. When we purchased the business in February 2001, the economy was soft and long behold one could never predict 9/111. We had payments for the business of $50,000 every 6 months for the next several years. If people are not flying, staying in hotels, then they are not utilizing our services. AZA stayed strong with strategically managing the business. Then the Iraq war broke out when several clients their incentive programs because they felt it was not a time to celebrate when the world was in a disarray. Once again, we had to shift gears to deal with the shortcomings of groups canceling. Then we were faced with the horrible recession of 2008-2010. We stayed lean, loaned the company $300,000 to keep all of our associates employed with not cutting their salaries, laying anyone off to get through the hard times. The end result was we weather some tough times to keep dedicated employees. To this day, our associates have no idea that we loaned the company our personal funds to keep them employed.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
We have expanded our business into Southern California in 2014 which we continue to nurture to grow our market share. Destination Management has definitely shifted on how we do business. DMC’s definitely need to show our clients value, technology has definitely played a role in how we do business and we need to our client an ROI on their investment in utilizing our services.

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