Trade Shows aibtm, Event Industry Networking, pcma
AIBTM blew into Chicago on June 11 with the opening Welcome Party held at the Navy Pier. The evening featured ‘The Best of Chicago” with current offerings from the local culinary scene and the hottest entertainment including high flying acrobats and the singing group Green Thirteen. The evening of networking was topped off by fireworks – a hallmark of the energy generated on the show floor June 12 through 13.
The theme of AIBTM 2013 “Defining the future of Meetings…Together” highlighted an interactive agenda positioning new ways for planners and industry professionals to generate positive business results. More than 15,000 appointments between exhibitors and planners were scheduled to take place on the show floor. The appointments presented Hosted Buyers with high-quality face time with suppliers in their areas of interest. PCMA was responsible for delivering their usual educational and creative global solutions to advance attendees’ professional development.
Something unusual introduced on the show floor was “The Refresh Zone.” This area presented an oasis to relax, recharge, rejuvenate, network and have a little fun in between appointments. And, suppliers were seen taking advantage of this innovative “casual” method of connecting with their clients…and each other.
Contests, Trade Shows anchorage meetings, ASAE & the Center, Springtime Expo
At last month’s Springtime Expo, ConventionPlanit.com also co-sponsored a Grand Prize with longtime ConventionPlanit.com member Visit Anchorage. The prize, a Big Alaskan Adventure, was promoted at both booths.
The prize package included roundtrip airline tickets for two from Alaska Airlines, a two night stay in downtown Anchorage at the Hilton Anchorage, a ride on the Alaska Railroad, a Wildlife Glacier Cruise, a two night stay at the Grande Denali Lodge, a two day car rental, passes to the Anchorage Museum, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, and more!
The adorable brown bear gift bags were displayed at both booths and were gifted to two runner’s up.
Visit Anchorage’s booth display really tied in with the theme. The dog treats to the right of the bears are made of real Alaskan salmon and were a big hit with my pups!
We were eagerly awaiting the announcement of the winner – and our moment in the spotlight on the tv screen in the expo hall.
The winner of the grand prize package was Stephanie Santini with The Sulphur Institute. Stephanie was thrilled! Here she is with me, Julie Dodds of Visit Anchorage, and Maureen Pickell.
Save the date for next year’s Springtime Expo, which will take place on May 15, 2014!
Trade Shows ASAE & the Center, Associated Luxury Hotels, delta air lines, Kimpton, santa barbara meetings, Springtime Expo, switzerland meetings, travel portland, united airlines
Several weeks ago, both of your bloggers were together for the annual ASAE Springtime Expo in Washington, DC. Maureen and I had a great time attending education sessions, meeting planners at the ConventionPlanit.com booth (and giving away a Grand Prize…more on that later), and chatting with our member properties.
So many of the booth displays were eye catching and unique. The exhibiting hotels and cvb’s really pulled out all the stops! Join us on a tour around the expo hall.
First up, the ConventionPlanit.com Team! L to R: Katherine Markham, CHME; David Markham; Maureen Pickell, CTC; Ashley Chalmers (that’s me!)
Our booth was filled with meeting planners learning about ConventionPlanit.com and RFP Organization all day.
Next Stop: Visit Portland. They win our award for the best booth!
Their impressive new booth design was unveiled at the show. The booth even displayed replicas of some famous Portland landmarks.
Won’t you join us on a stroll down luxury lane with Associated Luxury Hotels International? ALHI represents over 140 luxury hotels and resorts worldwide!
Our friends at United Airlines were all smiles while posing in front of United’s impressive destination map. They fly to over 370 destinations!
Continuing with air travel, Delta Air Lines was our next stop. We had quite a few laughs with these friendly Delta associates. Give their group travel office a call; Andrew and Kristen would love to help you arrange flights for your next meeting!
Spin the wheel and win a prize at the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau booth. I spy some aspiring Vanna Whites!
These beauties from the Switzerland Convention & Visitors Bureau were such a delight to chat with. The Swiss chocolate I sampled really hit the spot. It would be worth holding a meeting in Switzerland for the chocolate alone!
Last but certainly not least – the gang from Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. Their stand included staffers from a variety of their many hotels, including the Hotel Monaco Baltimore – right down the street from where I live!
Ahhh. The ASAE staff really thought of everything this year – there was a massage station where attendees could receive hand, foot, neck and shoulder massages. The perfect way to rejuvenate your weary limbs from walking the (large) show floor!
Contests, Trade Shows anchorage meetings, ASAE & the Center, Springtime Expo
At the Springtime Expo, ConventionPlanit.com and Visit Anchorage teamed up for an amazing Grand Prize – a big, wild Alaskan adventure!
The package included round-trip airline tickets for two from Alaska Airlines, a two night stay in downtown Anchorage at the Hilton Anchorage, a ride on the Alaska Railroad, a Wildlife Glacier Cruise, a two night stay at the Grande Denali Lodge, a two day car rental, passes to the Anchorage Museum, the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, and more!
The trip was promoted at both the ConventionPlanit.com and Visit Anchorage booths on the show floor. Visit Anchorage brought these adorable black bears to help decorate. They were so soft and cute.
Anchorage’s booth graphics even continued the black bear theme!
Here we are right before announcing the winner. Julie Dodds with Visit Anchorage also put together these prize bags for two runners-up.
Winner! Stephanie Santini of the Sulphur Institute was the recipient of the grand prize trip to Alaska package. She was thrilled!
Places to Stay anchorage, anchorage meetings
ConventionPlanit.com supplier partner member Visit Anchorage came to the Denver area last week for a luncheon event attended by local meeting planners. Hosted by Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, participants enjoyed a delicious meal topped only by the excellent service.
Along with finding out why their next meeting should be in Anchorage, the audience was treated to a history lesson by “Professor” Jim Henderson, Vice President, Convention Sales. The city of Anchorage got its start as a tent city in 1915 when the site was selected as the base for the construction of the Alaska Railroad. Slides depicting Athabascan fishing camps, Captain Cook’s discoveries in 1778, Russian winter trading posts, Native cultural groups and gold rush riches illuminated details about Alaska’s largest city.
Marlene Geils, Convention Sales Manager, represented the Convention and Meeting, Sales and Service Team. This group of committed professionals knows the industry, is passionate about Alaska and can help make your next meeting easy, successful and fun.
Watch for the Springtime Grand Prize of a trip to Anchorage including hotel and ground arrangements provided by the CVB and air transportation by Alaska Airlines!
The 2013 Meetings Exploration Conference was held on April 24 – 26th at the Georgia International Convention Center. Meeting Professionals International Georgia Chapter hosted the event. This year’s conference was titled RE:Imagine, highlighting an expanded and more creative program than ever before.
Wyndham Hotel Group
ConventionPlanit’s newest member!
The audio-visual components included an LED Wall, 3-D Mapping, dynamic general session speakers and a lounge in the exhibit hall set up to meet clients and network. The conference featured a new twist on breakout sessions by creating Knowledge Pods, enabling participates to implement current trends or discover some of the newest, latest practices in the industry.
Tips for Meeting Planners, Trade Shows attendee interaction, meeting attendance, meeting education, meeting experiences, meeting ideas
As a meeting organizer, would you ever think of staging your event in a storage container or present your attendees with a lounge chair so they could stretch out flat in order to watch a screen mounted on the ceiling? If not, you need to dust off your imagination and be aware that creating innovative spaces will be an important component of meeting planning moving forward.
At a panel discussion during the Meetings Industry Council of Colorado’s Annual Conference, attendees were treated to ways you can work with venues to re-design meeting space to ensure innovation, collaboration and participation. Jeff Hurt of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, Gary Schirmacher of Experient talked with moderator, Glenn Thayer about how space matters to meeting attendees.
When they enter an area, they feel and internalize what that environment tells them about how to react and respond. Consider the difference between the standard theater style set-up designed for efficient transfer of information from the stage (which doesn’t necessarily guarantee learning) versus a creative space with beanbag couches grouped to encourage informal engagement by participants.
Studies showing that kids work better in teams have resulted in a typical classroom format being composed of groupings of small tables with 4 chairs each to foster participation. When you consider that today’s younger audiences have the same attention span as children due to the influence of technology on their communication skills, perhaps this concept of “edutainment” is the right path to follow!
How are spaces changing? Here are some examples of new design elements:
- “Brainwave Lounging” instead of upright seating
- Entire conference on mobile apps
- “Tiered” spaces -large spaces mingled with small
As competition to draw attendees to your conference increases, planners will need to look towards a different designing of attitudes and behaviors to create deep and meaningful collaborations to attract this audience. To assist in this endeavor, reach out to your colleagues as follows:
- Budgets: work with Sponsors to direct their funds from just providing logos to helping you to design experiences to move attendees towards being active participants. They will be seen to be on the “cutting edge” for a better ROI.
- Venues: communicate with hotel and special event venue managers to explore how they are envisioning and re-designing traditional spaces – i.e. using conventional venue furniture to design new room sets to foster learning and one-on-one connection.
Space matters. It’s no longer just a room but a valuable tool to help you stage a successful event. Storage containers may not be the ideal alternative but it does get you thinking!
Trade Shows colorado meetings, Keep America Meeting, meetings industry council, travel promotion act
Your intrepid ConventionPlanit.com Blogger came out of her winter hibernation to attend the 13th Annual Meetings Industry Council (MIC) of Colorado Educational Conference and Trade Show in Denver last week.
Held at the Colorado Convention Center, the event attracted a combined audience of 900+ planners and suppliers for education and networking. General Sessions produced varied presentations ranging from one acrobatic speaker tumbling across the stage in order to exhibit “how to be your best when it matters most” to a more “staid” panel discussion on “The Changing Space of Meetings.”
Even Denver Mayor, Michael Hancock, dropped by to address the attendees. He’s totally committed to supporting the role that meetings and events play to our economy. We just have to hope that his beliefs make their way east to Washington!”
Speaking of which…next stop on my itinerary – Springtime in DC! See you there…
Tips for Meeting Planners food and beverage, meeting experiences, meeting ideas, Tips for Meeting Planners
Savvy meeting planners are always looking for ways to keep costs down without compromising quality for attendees. Food and beverage always consumes a large part of any meeting’s budget, but there are ways to help take a “bite” out of this expense.
Meeting planners from across the nation shared their favorite tricks of the trade when it comes to saving on food and beverage costs by posting them on the popular ConventionPlanit.com Stellar Tips list.
* Serve pitchers of water with and without slices of lemon. Attendees love the twist of lemon and it cuts down on wasted, half-drunk bottles of water and attendees grabbing two or three bottles “for the road” which can add up to big costs. Plus it is more environmentally friendly. (Linda Testa, A O North America)
* Use self-serve soda stations instead of cans. This saves on waste and also keeps attendees for taking extra cans with them. (Susan Neff, APICS)
* When serving wine, ask if there is any dead stock, that is, discontinued varieties. They are usually sold at a discount to help clear out inventory. This works especially well when the wine bottles are at the table. No one will know that different varieties are being served. (Diane Aquino-Medina, Nestle Professional)
* Ask to be with the beverage manager when the bar count is done. Inform your hotel convention manager in advance that you would like to do this. Being present keeps the manager honest, especially when having to measure out tenths of bottles (how liquor is measured) and can add up to big savings.
* If your budget is really tight, consider giving out snack vouchers instead of setting up a break table. Attendees get a certain amount of money ($3-5) for the snack shop in the hotel. You pay only for the vouchers that are redeemed. (Kathy Craig, Ecumenical Stewardship Center)
* Don’t be afraid to get creative with banquet menus. Work with the hotel staff to combine items from various menus (lunch, dinner, special events) to create the meals you want. (Carol David, Axcelis Technologies)
· If you are on a budget and need to plan a full day of meals, provide the total amount you have to spend to the chef or catering manager and request that they customize menus based on the specific requirements for each event. This allows the chef to be creative with dishes and to utilized local products, which should be less expensive.
* Keep breakfast budgets in check by asking the catering director to cut pastries (danish, muffins, bagels) in half. They go farther and many people want only half. (Laura Johnson, Market*Access)
* At a reception, pass/butler more expensive items. They will last longer and it will save money. Another trick is to use only napkins (not plates) on the table. This will keep people from loading up a plate.
* Instead of serving dessert at lunch, save it to serve at the coffee break. This will provide a yummy treat and keep calorie-conscious attendees from indulging in two sweets during the day. This is a good tip if there isn’t enough money in the food and beverage budget for food at the coffee break.
* Make sure the banquet or catering manager has the final meeting agenda to ensure that breaks and meals are in sync with that agenda. (Lori Schwarze, RTI International)
* Plan ahead with hotel staffing to make sure that bars and restaurants are adequately staffed to handle attendees during free time, especially if those times don’t coordinate with normal meal/bar times.
* Prepare for all special dietary needs. Some people are shy or overly considerate to voice their preferences. Offer lo-carb, vegetarian, gluten free, etc., fare to please all. (Susan Neff, APICS)
Lucky enough to have surplus funds in the F&B budget?
* Have a continuous all-day refreshment break outside of breakout rooms. This will save attendees from having to search for staff if they need something outside a scheduled break time and will keep them from going hungry. (Nancy Williams, Plan Ahead Events)
* Use the money to combine food with a team-building event such as putting together food boxes for charity, having a wine-making event, or having teams create their own ice cream flavors.
These helpful hints can help to maximize or trim a F&B budget, allowing you to enjoy your just desserts!
Want to make some money? Visit the ConventionPlanit.com Stellar Tip Contest and submit your best tips. If your tip receives the most votes from fellow meeting professionals next month, you will win a $100 American Express Reward Card!
Tips for Meeting Planners meeting ideas, meeting planner help, overseas meetings
We all know planning a meeting can be a complicated process, and for many meeting planners, this process is further complicated if the meeting is international. Here are some tips from a session at HSMAI MEET National to help you get started.
Getting Started: Do Your Research
Familiarize yourself with the location(s) you will be visiting. Research the city, especially any cultural differences that may exist. Regardless of the location, you will want currency information, time zones, a list of holidays, metric conversions and a language translation tool handy. Tip: all of these tools are listed in the Global Tools section of ConventionPlanit.com.
Global hotel chains tend to cater more to North American clients, and most will have an advocate based in the U.S. to aid communication. Utilize your existing representatives and connections to expand your choices. Tip: don’t forget to consider non-U.S. chains!
Rating systems are different from country to country. Just because a hotel website says it is a 5 Star hotel does not mean it is a Forbes rated hotel. Ask what the rating criteria are, and conduct research on travel websites to obtain a greater understanding.
Down to Business: What’s Different?
Food and Beverage
For international meetings, breakfast is typically included in the room rate. Language will vary, so look out for these terms: ddr (daily delegate rate), standing luncheons, and private meal space instead verses restaurants.
For North American planners, you will typically always have to pay a rental fee for meeting space. The larger the room, the greater the cost.
Because exchange rates are constantly changing, your budget will need to have flexibility to change with the rates. Deposits are non-negotiable when securing space for an international meeting. Many countries also require the costs to be paid with a corporate credit card. Be prepared with this prior to entering contract negotiations. Investigate your options regarding foreign taxes and VAT reimbursement. You are in luck -surcharges often appear only in the U.S.! Some vendors prefer to issue a “rebate” instead of a commission.
The process takes much longer, so have patience. Conducting the appropriate research comes into play here; make sure you are an educated partner. Your U.S. advocate, GSO or NSO can setup a conference call or virtual tour of the property.
For more assistance planning an international meeting, consider using ConventionPlanit.com’s RFP OrganizationSM. Your responses are tracked on an organized spreadsheet, and ConventionPlanit.com staff conducts the follow up. Comparing your responses in one format sounds like a language everyone can understand!