Share Your Experience

Do you have something to say? blah blah blah

ConventionPlanit is now accepting articles for publication in the e-Alert, a biweekly e-newsletter for meeting planners.

Suggested topics may include what’s trending, challenges or success stories. We’re open to new ideas!

This is the perfect opportunity to promote your personal brand or share your wealth of experience with other planners.

ConventionPlanit was designed by meeting planners for meeting planners – so let your industry peers hear from you!

Comment below with a topic you would like to contribute and we’ll be in touch!

 

Unlike Anything You Have Experienced

hyatt regency tamaya

Step into the sacred lands of the Santa Ana Pueblo and experience a meeting destination like no other. Nestled at the base of the Sandia Mountains in central New Mexico, Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa is unlike anything you have experienced before.

Discover the beauty and culture of the Southwest, from our sparkling outdoor pools and championship golf course to our award-winning spa and exciting Stables at Tamaya, all surrounded by breathtaking mountain vistas.

The unique meeting facilities at Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa offer your attendees the opportunity to explore the culture of the Tamayame people. State-of-the-art venues, an ideal location between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and an experienced staff ready to assist in an unforgettable setting combine to create the most successful business gatherings. Take advantage of all the extraordinary services and features of our state-of-the-art conference center, including:

  • Over 31,000 square feet of indoor function space
  • More than 25,000 square feet of outdoor event space
  • Professional meeting and event planners on staff
  • Full-service Business Center and high-speed Internet access
  • Extensive on-site recreation and group activities
  • Special spouse and family programs
  • Enticing dining and entertainment choices
  • 350 spacious guestrooms

Learn more about the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa.

Bigger & Better Conventions

national conference center

BIGGER & BETTER CONVENTIONS
Just 35 miles from DC, The National Conference Center delivers warm hospitality within a dedicated conference environment devoted to learning and development. Productivity is supported by sophisticated technology, including powerful Internet connectivity, as well as Certified Meeting Professionals that take care of every detail so you and your team can focus on achieving goals.

Accommodations | All 917 guestrooms—including 78 suites—boast high-end amenities, including flat screen HDTVs, free Wi-Fi, a spacious desk with ergonomic chair plus pillow-top bedding. Camaraderie and teamwork are enhanced by living rooms nestled within each cluster of 18 guestrooms. Groups can even experience a private “conference center within a conference center,” thanks to pods encompassing 150 guestrooms with direct access to the meeting rooms accommodating that program.
 
Dining & Recreation | The National’s recent multi-million dollar renovation included numerous facility-wide upgrades. A redesigned dining room smartly serves 880 guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Private dining—indoors and out—shines a spotlight on Chief Wine Officer Mary Watson, Executive Chef Chris Ferrier and his culinary team. A new yoga/dance studio offers 72 virtual fitness classes on-demand. Built in 2014, The National Challenge Course features high and low ropes elements and a climbing wall, representing one of the DC-area’s most impressive team-building opportunities.

Your group can enjoy all of these amenities and more, situated on a scenic 65-acre campus in DC’s stunning Wine Country. Learn more about The National today at conferencecenter.com or 877.363.3104.

Must Know AV Tips & Tricks Part 2

av tips and tricks

Part Two: The “Must Know” Basics of AV (continued)

Union

Union can get extremely complicated and can change from venue to venue and from city to city where Union is required. Union can also be double the price for any labor needs. This is important to factor when choosing a venue. We have a full write up on Union labor that we can send to you, just let us know!

Below are a few very important things to remember when it comes to Union:

Things to know

1.    The Union will assign you an Account Manager for your event. They are commonly referred to as a “Steward” or “Administrative Steward”. The job of the Steward is to work directly with you and be your greatest support to ensure you are following all union rules, ensure safety guidelines are followed and oversee all operations while managing the schedule of all Union workers.
2.    Hourly rates/requirements can vary from the type/grade of Union as well as the work being performed
3.    Type of work being performed can affect rates. Example: Breakout Room is different than General Session work.
4.    Safety First: Union will never do anything “illegally” or unsafe when it comes to setting up or operating your event, so it’s best not to ask (yes – they get these request all the time!).
5.    You have the right to establish rules and regulations you deem necessary including conduct, dress, job performance, expectations. Review these expectations with your Union representative and ensure they do not conflict with any terms and conditions of your agreement with the Union or Union regulations.
6.    Lower “grade” of Union worker might be able to perform the same tasks as more expensive grade. Work with your Steward to find the most cost effective option.

Make sure you…

1.    Track all Union labor worked every day and for every shift. Have each employee sign the hour tracking or have your Steward track all hours with your daily approval.
2.    Employer needs to present a Certificate of Coverage showing a current workers compensation Insurance policy is in effect
3.    General Liability: Ensure you prepare general liability paperwork far in advance from the start of your event and ensure you have a copy with you at all times. Without it, your event can be greatly delayed or cancelled all together (Yes – events have been cancelled because of missing of general liability documentation – the venue will not take the risk).
4.    Book time in your contract with your venue to allow for set up the day before the event and during regular business hours. Any hours worked outside regular business hours will increase labor costs dramatically.

Insiders tips directly from the Union workers

1.    “Nice” goes a long way
2.    Meet with your Steward far in advance of your event. Review your event, your expectations and possible challenges and concerns. This is not only an excellent way to meet and get know your Steward, yet provide needed time to resolve issues far before you come to the venue. They will appreciate your efforts to get to know them and understand their requirements.
3.    Appreciate your Steward: the Steward has the ability to make or break your event.  Make efforts to work with them and rely on them as much as possible
4.    Keeping a sense of humor and keeping things in perspective: Problems will work themselves out and the event will go on.  Stay positive!!
5.    Everyone wants the same results: It’s everyone’s best interest for a successful event as this is the easiest and best approach for everyone involved. It truly is a team effort
6.    Communicate: Take the time to go out of your way to ensure clear and updated information.  Be a good source of information as best you can, and when you do not have an answer, be honest with all parties – everyone will work better knowing the situations at hand.
 
Broadband

1.    Make sure you determine the amount of devices expected to be used for internet use, not the amount of users. The average person has 2 to 3 devices they will use at an event.
2.    Determine how the internet will be used:
·         Low: Email and simple web surfing
·         Medium: Web applications and streaming audio
·         High: Instructor web training, large file transfers, video streaming
3.    Determine your estimated bandwidth. A good example is 700 devices (about 350 users) using medium internet usage is about 36MB/s per day.
4.    You can find good broadband estimators online to determine your broadband needs. Calculate your needs and integrate those needs with prices in your contract.http://www.conventionindustry.org/StandardsPractices/APEX/bandwidthconnectivity/bwidthestimator.aspx
5.    Your internet provider or venue can provide you with all internet usage during your event (amount of users, type of use, how many are logged in at any given time – all internet analytics). Ask them for daily updates.
6.    You can easily place user name and passwords to log into your dedicated internet to keep unwanted users from logging in.
7.    When possible, include your internet charges and the promised broadband in your contract. Also, state in your terms that your rates will not increase if you use an outside AV company. Why? Unfortunately, many in-house AV companies provide you an internet quote with the goal of being your AV vendor. But if they are not selected, they increase your internet rate. Many time doubling their rates. Ensure any quote provided to you is valid no matter who you use as your AV vendor.
8.    You don’t have to always use the in-house internet. There are other options available to you via Verizon and AT&T where you create a separate, fully functioning internet system. For example, MiMedia Productions works directly with Verizon Wireless setting up full internet access with the use of “cradle points”. You bypass the venue internet entirely and go directly through Verizon’s wireless system. This can supply internet up to 1200 devices.
 
Networking / Speaker Presentation Rooms

Networking is extremely valuable when connecting computers or equipment for easy access anywhere in a venue. Examples: would include speaker presentations available to all breakouts and general session rooms or printing to any location in a venue. When networking is needed, remember that you will need access to the venues network. You may be charged for network access and certain scenarios determine availability and cost. Networking can help you streamline breakout rooms and insure they start on time and without difficulty.
 
Equipment

Room size, room set up, environment, audience size, impact and budget all effect the type of equipment needed for room set up’s. However, below are some general guidelines for room set ups to give you a starting point for needed equipment:

 1 to 30 people:
1.    Audio: typically no audio needed. You can use computer speakers if needed for presentations that have audio.
2.    Video: 6ft to 8ft screen / 2500 to 3500 Lumens projector

30 to 80 people
1.    Audio: two speakers (type TBD), mixer, microphones
2.    Video: 8ft screen / 3500 Lumens to 4000 Lumens

80 to 150 people
1.    Audio: 4 speakers (type TBD), mixer, microphones (“delay” speakers may be needed as well)
2.    Video: One or two 9×12 screen (4:3 format) / 5000 to 6500 Lumens

150 to 350 people
1.    Audio: Line Array system or 6 speakers with sub woofers, mixer, microphones (using delay speakers when needed)
2.    Video: One or two 10.5 x 14 screens (4:3 format), 6500 Lumens to 7000 Lumens

350 to 1000 People
1.    Audio: Line Array system (flown is option) or 8 speakers with sub woofers, larger mixer, microphones
2.    Video: One, two or more 10.5 x 14 screens (4×3), 7000 Lumens to 10000 Lumens

 1000 to 3000 people
1.    Very complex system for both Audio and Video. See your AV provider or call us for event review.

Remember

1.    Room layouts provided by the venue are extremely helpful in determining the best equipment needs and best layout. This will also help determine if rigging is needed. Whenever possible, have your room layouts available at RFP stage. Also, for complex rooms and General Sessions, your AV provider can (and should) provide you with their own renderings for easy review and considerations.
2.    Rooms with windows that do not provide window covers will need brighter LCD Projectors for use during the day.
3.    The “Lumens” on an LCD Projector (example: 3000 Lumens) references to the strength, clarity and brightness of the LCD projectors bulb. The higher the lumens, the higher the quality (and higher the price).
4.    You will always need room behind or in front of a screen for the LCD Projectors light “throw” or “projection”. The type of lens the LCD projector offers will determine how much room is needed. Also, you can attach a different type of lens to some LCD projectors if more room is needed or if you need to project from the back of the room over your audience.
5.    Any room with sound should have a mixer included. This allows for quick control of the audio as well as allows for multiple pieces of equipment to be used with one sound system (example: 2 mics, one iPod, one computer). Small 4 to 6 channel mixers are common in breakout rooms. More advanced mixers are needed for General Sessions or with special audio needs.
6.    Your room layout may require more cables, power and cords for the equipment set up. Be prepared for some flexibility in costs to accommodate the room layout.
7.    For large audiences, determine ahead of time the layout of the room and where you will be placing the stage as well as the stage size. This will help the AV company determine the best equipment for that layout. Also, remember that a change in the layout can dramatically affect the equipment being used.  You can always ask your AV company for their recommendations on size of stage and layout.
8.    Let the AV company know if you are using 4:3 or 16:9 format. This will effect screen size, LCD Projector set up and video switcher equipment. Also, 16:9 screens are usually a little more expensive yet a better look and becoming more common. Let all your presenters know the format you are using to ensure they build their presentation in the correct format.
9.    “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) is very popular with speakers. You will need to know what devices they are going to use so you can prepare the correct connections. For computers, ask if they are using a PC or MAC. If PC, ask if the output is “VGA” or “HDMI”. For MAC, ask what version of computer they are using (MAC frequently changes their video output so many adaptors may be needed). Remember, BYOD situations can create a chaotic situation for both you and your AV staff, especially when you have more than 3 breakout rooms. Try having your AV company provide computers in each room,
10.Encourage your presenters to “embed” any presentation video in their presentation. This way they will not need to rely on internet to play video. This will save on costs as well
Beyond your basic equipment, consider having the following included

General session

1.    Audio mixer large enough to handle last minute audio connections
2.    Back up computer
3.    One video switcher for smooth switching from one video source to another
4.    Confidence monitor for speakers (so they can stay on track and not have to turn away from the audience to look at the screens
5.    Mini audio jack for sound source (iPod/iPad/tablet/music player/other)
6.    Ensure your speakers embed video in their presentations so not to rely on internet access to show video’s.

Breakout Rooms

1.    Mixer in all rooms with sound
2.    Mini audio jack for sound from presenters computer
3.    For small rooms without microphones or sound systems, consider small computer speakers for sound from presenters laptops
4.    Wireless mouse/presenter mouse
5.    Have your AV company provide the needed computers for breakout rooms to keep multiple speaker set ups easier and to avoid problems.

General Equipment

1.    Apps are nearly essential in today’s events. Beyond the tremendous value they bring an event, one of the values is the ability to quickly change schedules, send push notifications and communicate with all attendees – anytime, instantly. MiMedia Productions provides event app services and many times offers a complimentary event app for your event.
2.    Radio’s/push-to-talk phones are extremely valuable especially when dealing with multiple venue levels and a team of people. Know which type of radios you want to use and if there is a different in costs.

The Webcast vs. Webinar
When planning a webcast – remember it is a “broadcast” like golf, Nascar, and football – with a production truck in a “box” or computer that takes all the media, video, audio and graphics and is live switched to make the viewing experience equal to our years of live TV events.

Webinar style utilizes a laptop and operator and hardline internet connection. This is the >easiest way in which we use a service like GoTo meeting and the presenters PPT is loaded on this local laptop and then the audio feed from the room is directly run to the audio input of the laptop OR via a “Gentner” audio to telephone adapter and into a phone line and dialed into the GoTo meeting service. The Operator then follows along with the presenter and the viewer sees the slides and hears the presenter. Requires a one day prior internet set and test.

Webcast Single Camera

utilizes a desktop video/graphics (Tricaster) switcher and operator, and a camera and camera operator. This 2-man team gives a viewing experience of the PPT slides and a close-up shot of the presenter. The operator chooses to switch between the camera and PPT based on the delivery of the presenter and what is best for the “viewer” to follow the program and stay engaged. This service utilizes a CDN or content delivery network of server computers that broadcasts the stream out to your audience across the internet with solid performance and multi-platform/device confidence. This requires a landing page on clients website for player or we can provide a standalone unbranded page. Requires venue internet and a one-day prior setup and test.

Webcast – 2 Camera and Cam Switcher OP

Takes the single cam webcast (above) and elevates the experience to include a second wide shot, allowing second shot such as a panel or on stage interview to also been seen. You would then cut to the close-up and back to the graphics and so forth. Requires a 3-man team, equipment, venue internet, and a one-day prior setup and test.

Webcast – 3 Camera and Cam Switcher OP

A third camera can be added to show the room, the audience and often a wide shot of both the side of the presenter and the audience. This is extremely important if there is Q&A and you want to see and hear the audience participation. There are additional costs of this additional camera and operator and builds on the two camera option (above) for a rich multi-camera experience. Requires a team of techs, equipment, venue internet and a one-day prior setup and test.

IMAG/Video Recording

This guide describes the approach we use for creating a better “live” experience and the difference of what is needed to create a good viewing experience.

Live IMAG Camera

IMAG stands for “Image Magnification” and is just that, a manned camera that holds a close up shot of the presenters and the screen video switcher and can hose to put this on the screens which usually is about 20% of the time and the other 80% is the PPT.  This close up shot with no graphics can be recorded but only shows the presenter in the recording.
 

Record for Editing

This include the IMAG close up camera and a Second wide static (unmanned) second camera that shows the stage and the screen so that an editor can take the close up and the wide and the PPT slides and edit together a nice video of the presentation for distribution.

Recording 2 Camera Live Switch

This is a good way to have an edited version of the program available for immediate distribution. This takes the single IMAG cam and elevates the experience by adding a second manned camera with a wide shot so if there is a panel or an on stage interview that the multiple people can be seen. The cameras are run to a video switcher computer (separate of the screen switcher) and operator called camera director and allows the two cameras, audio, and graphics to be mixed live and recorder.
 

Recording 3 Camera and Live Switch

A third camera can be added to show the room, the audience and often a wide shot of both the side of the presenter and the audience. This is extremely important if there is Q&A
and you want to see and hear the audience participation.

By: Stephen O’Connor
MiMedia Productions

Must Know Tips & Tricks to the AV World Part 1

av tips and tricks

Many know that the audio-visual or “AV” portion of an event is key to a successful event. However, when it comes to the world of AV, many cringe at the thought of AV. The AV world has become a chilling, unwelcome world – one many do not like to venture into as it is considered far too complicated and complex. But AV is so important and so needed. Why can’t it be simpler?

Well, we have made it simpler for you – welcoming in fact. Everything you need to know to thrive in the AV world is now provided to you in our five-part series “The Must Know Tips & Tricks to the AV World”: Part One and Two will cover “The “Must Know” Basics of AV”, Part Three reviews “AV Secrets”, Part Four covers “How to Win At The AV Game”, and in Part Five we “Answer Your Tough AV Questions.”

We are going to help show you what a wonderful, and easy, world AV truly is.

Part One: The “Must Know” Basics of AV

For Part One of our Five-Part Series, we want to take a step back and review the basics of AV. Though we are calling them the basics, in many ways they are the fundamentals of AV. These will give you a better understanding of how things work while helping you save time and money on your next event.

Rigging or “flown” equipment

Rigging is where any type of equipment is ”rigged” or “flown” in the air. The equipment is connected to “rigging points” or “points” in the venue ceiling. These points are engineered for rigging equipment and have a pre-determined load barriers. The venue will have all important point and rigging information and diagrams needed.

Rigging or “flown” equipment will always be more expensive than equipment that is placed on the ground. Flown equipment can include LCD projectors, lights, speakers, drape and cables.

Benefits:

1. The equipment stays out of the way and allows for more space in the room for larger audience or for rooms that are at capacity.
2. The sound can be better if flown and your screens will be easier to see for those in the mid to back of the room.
3. Lighting, this allows for great light presentation.

Keep in mind:

1. When rigging is required, more than likely the in-house AV company is required to conduct all rigging in the venue which includes labor, truss or “sticks” and rigging motors and equipment.
2. Much more time is needed for set up and strike (teardown) when rigging is involved. Plan accordingly with your venue contact.
3. Rigging will always be more expensive than “ground supported” equipment.
4. Your outside AV company will draft room layout diagrams and drawings and will work with the in-house AV company closely to get everything in place for rigging.

Room Information

Keep in mind:

1. Know when each and every room is available for set up including dates and times and share this information with your AV company – especially during the bidding process. This can greatly
effect labor rates.
2. Always ask for more time on the front and back end of your event to make sure you have enough time for setup and teardown. You can always release the space if you don’t need it as it is harder to add time and space after the contract is signed.
3. Provide room set up diagrams and audience size to your AV company at the quote stage. This ensures the correct equipment will be used for each room and will provide clear expectations for equipment set up. Also, your AV company can use thee diagrams to look for possible concerns or challenges with each room set up.

Consider the following:
1. How your audience will walk into a room. This helps determine where the wiring for equipment will go during set up. Also, when possible, it is ideal that your audience see your screen and stage when they walk into a room.
2. In most cases allowing equipment to be set up and checked the day before your event starts. If not possible, ensure you are providing ample time for set up. Given ample time will reduce the amount of techs that are needed and will help avoid any challenges that may arise.
3. Schedule sound checks and rehearsals for your general sessions well in advance of the event start time.

Room changes

Changes in any room midday can be an AV nightmare and can get very expensive and can also cause problems and delays. Avoid changes to any room as much as possible – especially when you are dividing a room with air walls. If you do need to change a room, allow for ample turn-over time, especially when dealing with changes in the audio and video equipment. Remember: tight turn-around times require more techs to complete which means additional labor hours.

Security
1. Request that your AV company strike and replace expensive AV equipment at the end of each day including microphones, LCD projectors, audio mixers. These are easy to strike and set up each day and do not require a lot of time. Though secured rooms are a benefit, they are not always thief proof.
2. Always plan on providing your AV company a secured “bone room” or storage room to keep equipment
safe with limited access to room during the event. In many cases they can “share” your office or meeting space.

Strike/Teardown
Share the date and time equipment must be removed from a room during or at the conclusion of an event. Allow ample and realistic time for striking of equipment – especially when rigging was used. Also, try to request that the striking of equipment be conducted during daytime hours and weekday hours for lower labor rates.

Labor
1. Let your AV company know if your event is a “simple” or “complex” event when dealing with labor to ensure you are getting the right amount of techs to run and oversee your event effectively.
2. General session: always plan to have at least one dedicated Audio Tech (A1) and one dedicated Video Tech (V1) for your general sessions. More may be needed, yet this is bare minimum for a successful general session.
3. As mentioned, always provide set up times and strike times for each and every room. Also, always provide event start and stop times for each day and for each room. Each will greatly impact your labor.
4. When possible, request or hire an Event Producer to oversee and run your event. The Event Producer works directly with you months before your event and is present at your event to ensure the event goes smoothly. They are your “right hand man” when it comes to anything and everything AV. Make sure your AV company is providing you an Event Producer for your event and that the costs are included in your AV quote. MiMedia Productions provides a dedicated Event Producer for each event we work with. This is very unique in our industry and is a must for a successful event.
5. Rates are much lower during the week and between 8am and 5pm and much higher on the weekends and after hours and holidays. Weekends and after hours are usually time and a half and weekends can be as much as double time. Also, general techs (set up, strike, run event) have lower hourly rates than higher qualified techs.
6. Different labor grades:
General Tech
a. Used for equipment set up and strike
b. Run and oversee breakout rooms and speaker ready rooms
c. Assist with event production

Audio Specialist
a. A1: Lead Audio Engineer (oversees set up/runs equipment and sound board)
b. A2: Lead Audio Assistant (Assists A1)
c. L1/Head Electrical: Electrical and Lighting

Video Specialist
a. V1: Lead Video Engineer (may act as computer lead as well and work with graphics)
b. V2: Video Assistant
c. V3: Video Assistant

Rigger
a. Lead Rigger
b. Assisting Rigger*Note: You must book two riggers for all rigging. One rigger is “in the air’ or on the scissor lift completing all needs above the ground and the second is “on the ground” and working all needs on the floor. The rigger in the air is the Lead Rigger
Computer/Networking tech

By: Stephen O’Connor
MiMedia Productions
http://mimediaproductions.com/
 

Planner Reviews

If you have not given ConventionPlanit.com’s RFP Organization tool a try, you are missing out on the easiest way to compare hotel bids.

RFP responses are guaranteed within 24 hours, AND the responses are organized on an easy to read chart to allow for side by side offer comparisons.

Meeting planners are raving about it!

“I’ve worked with the ConventionPlanit RFP Valet® Team on a few occasions over the last year and I’m most impressed with their services. Our group typically obtains quotes from multiple destinations and their RFP OrganizationSM sourcing tool provides us with timely quotes in an online chart along with capacity charts and floor plans. The best part is that their site is truly transparent with no hidden fees or mark-ups like other RFP portals. I highly recommend this free time-saving resource to other planners.”

Cecilia Ferrara, Director
NCBFAA Educational Institute (NEI)
Washington, DC

“As an independent planner, my clients rely on my personal attention to the details of their programs. When I’m sourcing their meetings, I go right to ConventionPlanit. They are an extension of my staff and get me results quickly and expeditiously. The best part is there are no hidden commissions or mark-ups to worry about. Couldn’t do it without them!”

Annette M. Suriani, CMP, Chief Meeting Strategist
AMS Meetings Solutions
Fairfax, Virginia

“I recently had the opportunity of working with the ConventionPlanit RFP Valet® Team and utilized their RFP OrganizationSM sourcing tool. I was able to obtain RFP responses from various destinations which were compiled on a streamlined, online chart to easily compare quotes and concessions. The free service they were able to offer was a major help and best of all there were no hidden fees or commissions. I highly recommend their services to other meeting planners.”

Renee M. Amans, IT Technician, Americas
Danfoss Group IT
Loves Park, Illinois

Give it a try with your next RFP. The service is complimentary and is commitment-free.  You have nothing to lose! Get started here or by sending an RFP to info@conventionplanit.com.

Mergers, Meetings and Avoiding Mayhem

brand mergersWith all of the recent hotel mergers, PCMA decided to tackle the topic at a recent conference with a panel of suppliers and meeting planners.
ConventionPlanit was there to get the scoop!
The main concern is that of relationships “going away” as companies consolidate – though the point was made that unless they are merged, some companies would disappear, taking those relationships with them anyway.

Hoteliers mentioned that it is critical that a like meeting of the minds exists when merger candidates are under consideration. The most important core value is “put people first otherwise mechanics will fail.” Visions should be set clearly and belief systems should be in line.

Change occurs along with the need to adapt. Business is still relational, so change should be understood and not feared even though business rules will be re-written to make room for something different. This would include the fact that those basic terms i.e. cancellation policies/deposits/commissions etc. will be under review due to fewer players.

Specifically in regard to the Marriott/Starwood merger, 60% of U.S. lodging is franchised. Therefore, the individual GMs will still set pricing as large chains have never had this responsibility and that will not change moving forward.
This fragmented approach (unlike the Airlines) takes into consideration market conditions as well as the needs of each owner.

Major Brands will need to satisfy all parties at once…owners/managers/clients. How do they hear the voice of the customer? Having a similar culture helps relationships stay consistent.
It’s important to maintain vulnerability by keeping ego out of it. Provide incremental value or Don’t Do It. Use Advisory Boards and provide open communication.

Other take-a ways:

Don’t under estimate the time it takes to complete a merger. There is a goal on the horizon but as it is human driven, it takes years to do well.

PLANNERS need to be open-minded, not anticipating problems. Express any concerns in a civilized manner as fundamentals need to stay strong…provide constant education to end users to manage expectations.

BRANDS must communicate to the customer openly, frequently and consistently from a marketing perspective. Avoid a vacuum or people will fill it with their own negativity.

BOTH SIDES should manage emotions, show empathy and look at the good changes taking place (more affordable technology and cost savings based on volume purchasing).
What other concerns do you have about mergers? Any other tips to help navigate the changing market? Comment below!

Fight Conference Fatigue with Fitness Breaks

EdCon YogaBy Al Rickard, CAE

Spending time traveling and attending conferences is tough on your body. It’s no different for your convention attendees – late nights, early mornings, sitting in sessions much of the day, standing and walking in the exhibit hall, less than ideal food, etc. It all takes a toll.

But there are ways to help attendees minimize these issues.

“Conference fatigue is a common problem,” says Kim Bercovitz, Ph.D., (aka Dr. Kim) president and chief exercise officer of Exercise Bytes. “Muscles tighten, posture becomes slouched and energy levels plummet as the day wears on. Attendee inactivity at a typical conference or full-day meeting puts them in a state of sluggishness. This affects the brain as much as it affects the body. The more tightly scheduled the program, the more tired attendees are, so they are less able to retain information. What is needed at your next event is an energy booster; something to fight sitting fatigue and learning fatigue, as well as enhance concentration and alertness.”

She notes that meeting planners traditionally use coffee breaks as energy boosters. “While energizing for a short time, attendees end up feeling more fatigued once the caffeine and sugar high wear off, Dr. Kim warns. “Coffee-break induced fatigue can be counterproductive to learning. Light exercise, on the other hand, increases blood flow to the muscles and pumps oxygen to the brain, keeping attendees awake and alert for extended periods of time.”

She advocates offering fitness breaks (delivered in-person or by video) during the conference day to keep attendees energized and alert.

“While initially met with intrigue and surprise, they are very well-received, particularly when they are brief, sweat-free and able to be done in business attire at participants’ seats during conference sessions,” Dr. Kim says.

Fitness breaks can be integrated easily into event agendas as energy boosters when energy levels are low (mid-morning and mid-afternoon), time fillers to fill unplanned program gaps (such as when a session starts late or ends early) and social icebreakers that build camaraderie.

These breaks are usually well-received. “A room full of people talking, laughing, smiling and stretching together, and applauding at the end of each break is a typical response,” she notes.

Dr. Kim offers these tips for adding fitness breaks to your meeting agenda:

Introduce exercising with enthusiasm — Moderators need to introduce the fitness break enthusiastically to put participants in the right frame of mind to exercise. The energy shown by the moderator will motivate attendees to stand up and participate instead of leaving the room. Moderators should be briefed in advance about how to introduce the fitness breaks to attendees.

Become a conference “coach” — Every successful program has a coach whose job it is to support, encourage and cheer people on. Conference coaches can be moderators, session chairs, conference planners, volunteers, students or attendees who have a visible presence in the main room where the fitness breaks are done or in each of the concurrent session rooms. Coaches can, if they want to, stretch and exercise with event participants and cheer them along.

Schedule breaks at the right times — The best times to schedule fitness breaks include:
  • Mid-morning and mid-afternoon. This is when people become naturally sleepy. For many, energy drops after a big lunch.
  • Before or after the keynote, plenaries and in large rooms. When all participants are together, they feed off the group energy.
  • Before sessions. Have attendees stretch at their seats while they wait for a session to begin.
  • Mid-session. A spontaneous energy booster surprises participants when their energy and alertness levels are low.
  • Fitness breaks are less effective early in the morning or at the end of the conference day.
  • Fitness energy boosters can be easily included as part of a refreshment break, but they are most successful in the conference meeting room. When held during refreshment breaks, your attendees are more interested in checking their smartphones, finding the restroom, grabbing a coffee or networking.
Dr. Kim adds that fitness breaks are becoming increasingly popular in conference or trade show wellness lounges and mind-body zones where participants practice mindfulness and yoga. She offers a wellness lounge at PCMA Convening Leaders, IAEE Expo Expo, and other popular meeting planner events as well as industry conferences and tradeshows (health/medical, financial, furniture).

“Meeting planners are in the business of creating memorable events,” Dr. Kim declares. “If you want to keep attendees actively engaged throughout the conference, try getting them out of their seats periodically to re-charge their bodies and minds.”

Her company, Exercise Bytes, is a multi-media wellness company that licenses video-delivered fitness breaks for meetings and conferences. Videos can be custom-branded and included as part of a turnkey conference wellness program. She can be reached atkim@x-bytes.com and 855-8xbytes.

Al Rickard, CAE, is president of Association Vision, a communications company, and serves as the ConventionPlanit.com director of communications.

Explore U.S. National Treasures

anchorage hidden gem

The 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service makes this an exceptional year to explore U.S. national treasures. With tremendous access to the adventures, animals and natural wonders of Alaska’s national parks, Anchorage holds something special.

Anchorage is perched on the edge of incredible glaciers, unrivaled wildlife and seemingly endless wild lands. From the sparkling waters of Kenai Fjords to the tall summit of Denali, the city pairs wild adventures in stunning national parks with metropolitan appeals.

Anchorage is nearest to the state’s iconic parks and offers many ways to enjoy each of them. Whales feed and otters bob in the glacier-filled Kenai Fjords National Park. Denali National Park is home to North America’s tallest peak and amazing wildlife. Take off for bear viewing, hiking or fishing in Lake Clark National Park and Katmai National Park. Mighty Wrangell-Saint Elias has glaciers larger than Rhode Island, and a gold history runs deep.

In all, Alaska has eight national parks, each among the largest in the nation. With so much to explore, Anchorage serves as a key hub for Alaska’s parks. Learn more about what Anchorage offers for conventions and meetings.

Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Personal Service and Superlative Style

6688-Wynn_MargauxBanner_300x130_C1

At Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, the team is driven by attention to detail and anticipating questions. The goal of creating an event experience unlike any other you will encounter in Las Vegas.

That’s why you will enjoy the services of a dedicated Convention Services Manager, Catering Manager and Meetings Concierge, each of whom will work with you personally to ensure group needs are handled with the expertise and finesse one has come to expect from these award-winning resorts.

Among the 260,000 square feet of space, you’ll find floor-to-ceiling windows—some featuring open-air terraces—with pristine views of the Wynn Golf Club’s rolling hills or one of the sparkling pools or cascading waterfalls.

These Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star resorts flow seamlessly into one another with 4,750 beautifully-appointed guest rooms and the finest in dining, shopping and entertainment. Inspiring describes these environments from signature chefs in their kitchens nightly to vibrant nightclubs that keep the party going.  When business or pleasure calls for a ballroom for thousands or an intimate gathering for 25; an extraordinary guest experience awaits.

Call 866.770.7201 or visit www.WynnMeetings.com.