The Roundtable in Vail will continue its 27-year tradition as founder Tom Ratkovich retires and passes the unique torch to INMA starting in 2020.
The announcement was made last week in Vail at The Roundtable presented by LEAP Media Solutions, of which Ratkovich recently stepped down as president.
Founded in 1993, The Roundtable began as a publisher retreat to discuss database marketing, which was the focus of Ratkovich’s company at the time, ASTECH InterMedia. Over time, The Roundtable became focused on more strategic issues facing news media yet maintained its intimate, casual, and eclectic nature for several generations.
Earl J. Wilkinson, executive director and CEO of INMA, told Vail Roundtable participants Thursday that it was a great honour to continue the events legacy — notably the “sweet, informal spirit” that Ratkovich has created over nearly three decades. While INMA will continue The Roundtable in Vail at its home of 21 years, the Sonnenalp Hotel, the event’s precise focus in 2020 and beyond is being discussed by the association’s global board of directors.
“Tom has built The Roundtable into a news industry tradition that has served multiple generations of media executives,” Wilkinson said. “We want to build on those traditions of informality and people connections via golf, hiking, and all of the communal aspects of Vail while finding a programming formula that builds on INMA membership and can guide the news industry in the years ahead.”
The Roundtable is typically capped at 60 participants to preserve an intimate atmosphere. Most attendees are senior executives at North American media companies. INMA likely will include more global participants beginning next year, with the event tentatively scheduled for August 19-21, 2020.
A long-time member of INMA, including stints as the association’s North America Division president and a member of the North America Division and International boards of directors, Ratkovich has participated in many INMA conferences.
“I’m thankful that The Roundtable will continue after 27 years and that it has found a home with an association for which I have deep affection in INMA,” Ratkovich said. “It’s been a great privilege to host 1,500 media executives at The Roundtable through the years. From database marketing to transformation, we’ve helped guide our industry through its biggest transition. And we might have had some fun along the way.”
After an early career at Claritas and National Demographics & Lifestyles, Ratkovich founded ASTECH InterMedia in 1992 before selling the company in 2008 to U.K.-based smartFOCUS. In 2012, he founded LEAP Media Solutions, which enables audience growth, engagement, and monetisation through its data-optimised audience solutions. LEAP was acquired by BlueVenn in late 2017, and Ratkovich continued as LEAP president until June. He and his wife, Monica, reside in Hawaii where they will focus on their “next chapter.”