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Michael K. McKean, The Knowland Group

ABA11 Winner / How to Enter

Company: The Knowland Group, Lewes, DE
Company Description: The Knowland Group is a proven innovator, developing intuitive marketing products and services that streamline and support event and group sales in the hospitality industry. The Knowland Group was started in 2004 by CEO Michael K. McKean. The company serves more than 3,000 hotel clients and nearly 20,000 users globally.
Nomination Category: Management Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Executive of the Year - All Other Industries

Nomination Title: Michael K. McKean, CEO/COO

    Tell the story about what this nominee achieved since January 1 2010 (up to 500 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

        At the beginning of 2010, Michael saw the company he founded launch a new innovation called Target Net, a complete business development solution for hotels that manages ongoing sales efforts and meeting planning. Target Net features a built-in lead generation tool, Smart Targeting technology, which gives targeted, high probability sales leads. In February, Knowland introduced its Business Development Suite which includes Knowland’s four software sales and meetings management tools in one web-based package. The Knowland BDS is the most affordable business development, meetings and catering management package on the market today, offering multi-property discounts and customizable packages. The BDS has a leg up over the competition because it includes training and advanced client care support services for a fraction of the cost.

        Only six years after Knowland launched, its products and services are used in 110 U.S. cities and across Europe. During 2010, Knowland expanded into cities in Germany, France, Spain and Belgium. The move further into Europe is part of Michael’s big picture for Knowland. He is dedicated to making Knowland the largest and most respected software and business services company in the global meetings and conventions industry.

        During March, Michael was named to the Editorial Board of, the leading online hotel industry business resource. Michael provides editorial leadership to the publication and serves as a contributing editor to the website’s primary business journal, Hotel Business Review.

        In the fall, the company Michael built from the ground up was named the second fastest growing company in the travel industry for the second year in a row by Inc. Magazine. In 2010, Knowland had a three-year revenue growth of 790% and was also ranked 379th on the prestigious list of the 500 fastest- growing companies in America. Knowland was also ranked the fifth fastest- growing software company (public and private) in North America on the Deloitte Fast 500 Technology list. In January 2011, Target Net received the 2010 Product of the Year award from Technology Marketing Corporation's Customer Interaction Solutions magazine.

        In November, Michael was selected by SmartCEO to participate in their Smart100 program, an exclusive group of 100 CEOs who represent the mid-Atlantic region’s most influential business leaders. Once a CEO is part of this highly-selective group, membership is permanent.

        In 2010, Knowland also experienced tremendous growth and expansion. In March, Knowland increased its staff by 26% during a time when many other businesses of the same size were laying off employees and cutting spending. For this, Knowland received national attention from the media and was featured on MSNBC, Business Week and FOX Business Live. By year’s end, Knowland continued its expansion and saw staff levels rise again by nearly 40%. Many of the new hires were the direct result of Knowland’s expansion into a much larger call center in Salisbury, MD. The new office can seat 250 and is five times larger than the former building.

        Michael also continued his education as part of a three-year Owner/President Management program at the Harvard Business School. He has been an active member of the Entrepreneur’s Organization since 2007 and is forum chair of the EO’s Washington, DC chapter. Michael also contributes regularly to Hotel News Now, Hotel Interactive and Hotel Business Review.

    List hyperlinks to any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that support the claims made in the section above. IMPORTANT: Begin each link with http://, and enclose each link in square brackets; for example, []:,%201st%20in%20Region129322309514138750.pdf KEYWORDS=SARA+MURRAY

    Provide a brief (up to 100 words) biography about the nominee:

        Michael K. McKean started The Knowland Group in 2004 after spending six years running a small software engineering firm.  At Knowland, Michael is the CEO and COO. As CEO, he makes strategic decisions for the company, promotes a positive vision of Knowland, positions the company for growth and monitors its direction. As COO, Michael looks at the day-to-day operations of the company, directly oversees several departments and frequently checks in with other departments.

        Before Knowland, Michael worked as a software engineer, systems architect and project manager. He is a University of Colorado graduate and is currently enrolled in an Owner/President Management program at the Harvard Business School.