Archive for the 'Meeting Planning' Category

Do We Need More than One Way to Connect?

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Two articles crossed my desk recently. One was entitled “Meetings Deliver”, a white paper on the ways that face-to-face meetings of all kinds have a positive impact to drive sales and profitability. The other was an article on how virtual presentations saved one company “serious time and money”. Which one is correct? To be fair, they both are. Xerox uses online presentations for both training and lead generation. Due to tight travel budgets, employees and channel partners attend training classes online. Marketing presentations include product demonstrations and customer testimonials. Xerox controls the information required by viewer log-ins to maximize lead generation. This way they know which customers were interested in which topics. All well and good. However, Xerox still attends dozens of live events every year.

This boasting of the holy grail of virtual creates the impression that face-to-face is a big waste of time and money. It’s just not that easy. We’re part of the human race, and most of us need more interaction than via our computer screens. What’s important is to recognize the opportunity to mix and match to create a strategic solution. According to the MPI white paper, some of the business benefits of face-to-face include the opportunity to “seal the deal” and form long-term relationships, the ability to build trust, and improved productivity. In the local economy, meetings deliver direct and indirect employment for millions of people. One figure quoted states that a 10% increase in business travel would raise GDP by 1.5% – 2.9%. (more…)

Great Offers from Leading Mexico Resorts

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

We had the pleasure to meet with representatives of some high-end properties in Mexico. There are great deals to be had for meetings through 2011.  Just to give a few highlights we heard:

Several years ago Mexico implemented a 0% VAT on international conventions organized through foreign meeting planners. Be forewarned – incentive meetings do not qualify for the 0% VAT. The VAT varies in cities; Cancun and Los Cabos have a 10% VAT, Puerto Vallarta, 15%. The VAT exemption is regulated by the Mexican government, the rules are clearly stated. The meeting must have daily sessions running from at least 9am to 12pm, and be one of the following: (more…)

Capitalizing On Market Opportunities With Low-Cost Or Cost-Neutral User Conferences

Friday, April 9th, 2010

In our last blog post, Vicki pointed out that market share shifts are most prevalent during a down economy. This happens because some companies hold back and slash their budgets. Their brand suffers, and this creates a void with opportunities for competition. Sure this is a time you have to cut costs, but cut the right costs to divert resources to activities that create value. Just to name a couple of high-tech success stories in recent times, Microsoft and Intel both started in downturns. Pre-existing companies that made gains when the economy was down include Google, PayPal, and

So how does one take advantage of market opportunities, especially if the budget has been cut? Consider hosting a user conference. Your initial reaction may be to scoff and say that it would be too expensive, too time consuming and not possible. However, if planned properly, it is possible to create a low-cost or cost-neutral conference. Does this sound too good to be true? Well, we are here to tell you that it is not. Success comes from the proper strategy. (more…)

Negotiating for Meetings – Part II

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

In our last post we talked about the buyer’s market in the hotel market. That said, you still need to go into any negotiation with your homework done. Preparation is key. Understand your strengths and weaknesses, such as regarding dates/rates/space. For example, do you want the event held in the venues high season/low season/shoulder season? Are you negotiable on this? Non-peak dates, even at luxurious properties, will be less expensive. What about the day of the week: business hotels are busiest during the week, while resort hotels are busiest during the weekend. Go into the negotiation with an understanding for the other party’s perspective. What are their priorities/deadlines/pressures? Develop a list: what are must haves, like to haves, gifts; and keep focused on the goal. So, maybe they offered you free coffee, but what you really care about is the room rate. They’re dangling free limo service, but perhaps you need more breakout rooms. Another important tool is to share your historical data, this will show your worth and value to the hotel and make them more interested in your business. Ideally you should look at three properties to compare offers. Choose the one that gives you the best deal, whatever that means to you. (more…)

Negotiating for Meetings – Part I

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

The economic downturn has created some positives for planning meetings. This is the first time since late 2001/early 2002, that planners have some leverage. The reason? We are now in a buyer’s market. Industry research projects an overall 7.5% drop in revPAR in 2009, one of the largest annual declines since the 1930’s. There will be a 2.9% increase in hotel supply due to construction that is near completion. And the 2009 year-end occupancy rate is expected to hover around 59%, a far cry from the earlier average 80% rates. This means better times for planners. Some economic indicators show, and industry experts agree, this won’t last – it looks like they could turn around in 2010. Hotels are very interested in getting deals signed before this year’s end. Contracts signed in 2009, can be for events held this year, in 2010, or beyond. Therefore, if the contract is negotiated properly, you can reap the rewards now without having to spend any money in 2009. The key is to act now, and benefit from this unique buyers market. (more…)

Demystifying Hotel Revenue Management

Monday, February 11th, 2008

Have you recently sent out an RFP, and received limited or no response? Are you finding it more and more difficult to find the right hotel at the right price? Are hotels passing on your business without an explanation? If you answered yes to any of these questions, welcome to the club! Many meeting planners are facing these same challenges. In order to succeed in this hotel seller’s market, planners must first understand the role of revenue management.

Revenue management is not new. Hotels have used it for years. Simply stated, the goal of revenue management is to maximize profits based on projected demand. What is new is how involved hotel revenue managers have become in the sales process, and how influential they are in overall decision-making. More likely than not, it is not the Director of Sales or General Manager that has the final say on whether a hotel signs your business, but the revenue management team that makes the final decision. (more…)

Maximize This Year’s Marketing Budget – Part II

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Last week, we discussed the initial steps involved in creating a Strategic Meeting Management Program (SMMP). As each company is unique, it would follow that each SMMP should be unique. However, there are some underlying steps that should be considered when creating and developing any comprehensive and successful SMMP. These steps include:

Meeting Leadership: Organize a leadership team that is responsible for setting standard polices and procedures and the oversight of all meetings. This team should have top-level management including a procurement member.

Meeting Approval Process: First define what a meeting is. Is it a gathering of ten or more people? Must outside resources be used? Is travel involved? Once you have defined the term “meeting”, be sure to communicate it to all departments/divisions. Mandate that all meetings must be registered and approved prior to any planning or allocation of funds. (more…)

Maximize This Year’s Marketing Budget

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

I was surprised by the results of a recent survey. They showed that 95% of meeting planners said their organization does an adequate job of sharing information across departments revealing the total sum of meetings costs and identifying suppliers. But when asked if they must use, or even consider using, the suppliers with volume agreements, almost 50% of the planners said they had no such restrictions. (Meeting News Nov. 2007) This doesn’t make sense. It isn’t enough to wrap your arms around total meeting spend. Companies must leverage this knowledge and spend to significantly lower and/or avoid internal and external costs.

The best way to achieve this goal (and savings!) is to implement a Strategic Meetings Management Program (SMMP). (more…)

Limiting Meeting Liability

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

It’s the evening of the first day of your company’s most important conference of the year. Everything’s gone smoothly so far and you’ve finally got some free time to do a little schmoozing at the evening reception party. As you enter the reception there’s a hushed crowd gathered around a man lying face down on the floor. A co-worker rushes over to you. The man tripped on a power cord and is unconscious. He’d been drinking. An ambulance is on its way. Are you protected if the man decides your company was somehow liable?

In a society where people sue for millions over missing pants and hot coffee, it’s imperative to be proactive and take the necessary risk management steps to limit one’s exposure to financial liability. ITEX has put together some guidelines for you to consider when conducting your next conference. (more…)


Monday, November 26th, 2007

If you’re looking for a place to find information on all kinds of conferences, connect with speakers and attendees, or even promote your own event, take a look at

“Confabb…combines an aggregate database of major conferences, conventions, and trade shows sorted by industry with social networking tools designed to empower conference attendees to improve their overall experience.” — from Summary of Confabb, The Conference Community

More than just a database of events, the site aims at “maximizing the conference experience” by providing tracking and social networking tools, along with an avenue for critique, review, and discussion. (more…)