Channel Partners Conference & Expo Sizzles with Energy

Miami’s South Beach is all about the hot, hot, hot, from the clubs to Ocean Drive’s models to the ever present samba beat. The Channel Partners Conference & Expo (, which took place Sept. 8-10 at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, fit right in, with lively expo hall action and scorching education tracks.

The show, sponsored by PHONE+, broke attendance records for the East Coast Channel Partners Conference & Expo. Nearly 1,300 people gathered in Miami to network, share ideas and do business. The floor was packed with channel partners browsing the sold-out exhibit space, which offered a sizzling sampler of services from across the industry.

Exhibitors included everything from master agents like Telegration Inc. ( and MicroCorp Inc. (, to conferencing providers such as Premiere Conferencing (, Eagle Teleconferencing Services Inc. ( and Conference Express ( Familiar faces such as American Telesis Inc. (, Broadwing Inc. ( TelePacific Communications (, Sprint Corp. ( and Focal Communications Corp. ( set up side-by-side with newcomers like Gryphone Telecom and do-not-call compliance company Call Compliance Inc. (, Momentum Business Solutions Inc. (www.momentumbusiness,com) and Web hosting/advanced IP service provider NTT/Verio Inc. ( A prepaid pavilion showcased the top players in that area, including Blackstone Communications (, Radiant Holdings Inc. ( and Global Prepaid Alliance Inc. (

Booth traffic was good and maintained itself even on the last day, traditionally more of a wind-down period.

“Every show we come away with good leads and this has been no exception,” says Lisa Falso, manager of sales operations for reseller and longtime show exhibitor TransNational Communications International Inc. (TNCI) ( “This show has been great.”

Asked if the show had been a success, Angie Hebron, an analyst of indirect marketing programs for XO Communications ( said, “"We are happy to be here.  Attending the Channel Partners shows have always provided valuable opportunities to help our indirect sales channel grow."

ACC Business ( sponsored virtual reality golf, adding more flair to the floor, which had a South Beach-style, carnival-like atmosphere. Food and cocktail networking events sponsored by eMeritus Corp. (, Radiant, WorldxChange Communications Inc. ( and (, a division of GPA, were packed, while overhead giveaway announcements made some attendees lucky winners of golf clubs, Palm Pilots and money. The Channel Partners Conference & Expo Advisory Board made Alexander Rothman from Earthfriendly Communications, an agent/consultant, the winner of a $1,000 raffle prize. Enhanced Communications Group (ECG) ( also gave away $1,000.

If the raffles weren’t enough to make channel partners happy, the networking opportunities were. An immense amount of business seemed to take place.

"I think I got more done at this show than any of the earlier ones,” says Bill Power, president of master agency Association Resource Group (

Ted Schuman, president and CEO of master agency PlanetOne Communications Inc. (, was so busy running from meeting to meeting he was almost a blur.

“The show in Miami was outstanding,” says Schuman. “The venue, high-quality curriculum and attendees were the best I have ever seen at any of the PHONE+ conferences.”

News from the show floor set ears ablaze. WorldxChange, RSL Com U.S.A. Inc. ( and Transpoint Communications Inc. ( unveiled a plan to merge under one brand, yet to be announced, beginning in October. Word on the street is the new company will retain the WorldxChange brand in some form. A new leadership team, new commissions for partners, new products and new rates will follow in the next few weeks, says director of marketing Rick Eberhardt.

Qwest Communications International Inc. ( held a salon and cocktail reception to meet with business partners and to announce its “Qwest Central” back office portal. Internap Network Services Corp. ( announced it was the only business ISP in the top 10 to increase market share, according to a study by Instat/MDR ( OneRoute LLC ( was there to showcase a brand-new aggressive channel partner program, while Metropolitan Telecommunications (MetTel) ( announced a monthly residual commission hike to as much as 20 percent. Also, TelePacific announced enhancements to its Telepartner Program.

Carl Churchill, formerly of defunct startup Igaea, has joined AllCom USA Inc. ( as vice president of business development and announced he will reinvigorate its agent program and revamp its marketing. “It’s great to be back, and this is the venue for it,” says Churchill.

Red-hot conference sessions rounded out the two and a half days of channel partner opportunity. With the economy on everyone’s minds, the conference portion focused on business strategies and survival tactics, using field experts to give valuable knowledge on topics ranging from online marketing to picking a solid long-distance carrier.

Khali Henderson, PHONE+s editor-in-chief, got the education program started with an inspired look at ways to minimize exposure as a channel partner in the event of bankruptcy. She was followed by the keynote speaker, bestselling author Wayne Dyer. Dyer’s presentation, sponsored by master agency Global Systems Telecom Inc. (GSTI) (, spoke of self-actualization, spirituality and the power of positive thinking in an uplifting way. The crowd was riveted.

During a kick-off general session on “Growing and Expanding Your Business,” the oft-quoted Drake Johnstone, first vice president of research at Davenport & Co., noted that Worldcom Inc. ( is a “house of cards,” and gave financial snapshots of telecom companies as a sales guide. AT&T Corp. ( is in better shape than Sprint, but not by much, and they’re both doing fine, while exhibitor Allegiance Telecom Inc. ( took the prize as the CLEC most likely to succeed.

Concurrent sessions, including those on account penetration (which featured some very Miami-like drumming to set the beat) and cable offerings in the market, were full, while the ending general session, “Vendors Uncensored,” was packed with agents eager to query vendors on subjects ranging from contract terms to evergreen clauses.

Arunas Chesonis of PaeTec Communications Inc. ( proved a good sport after moderator Schuman cued the Miami Sound Machine on the PA system-Chesonis cabbage patched for all to see.

However, the discussion soon turned serious. Representatives from Allegiance, Business Telecom Inc. (BTI) (, eMeritus, Internap, PaeTec, Premiere Conferencing, TNCI and Williams Communications Group ( took a crack at some tough questions, like the one from master agent Mike Parizanski or Tier One Telecommunications Management Group, Inc. (

“What are you going to do to help lift the image of our industry?” he asked. “The perception out there of this industry’s reputation is not good.”

Mark Solomon of GSTI asked about contract issues in the event of bankruptcy, and other questions concerned Web-based partner support, the amount of business driven through channels (25-35 percent in most cases) and what’s next for the panelists’ partner programs.

As the hot Latin rhythms of South Beach fade, some are already looking forward to the next Channel Partners Conference & Expo, to be held Mar. 25-27 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino (, in Las Vegas, Nev.

“If any agent or vendor can’t justify the ROI or enormous reasons why they should attend the next show in Las Vegas,” says Schuman, “they should update their resume and change industries.”

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