Organizing RFP Responses

One of the most tedious jobs for a meeting planner is organizing RFP responses from hotels.

Hotels often send information to meeting planners in their own formats, can forget to include pertinent information for the planners, and on occasion, send a proposal with the wrong organization’s name on the top…and the list goes on!

RFP Responses Piled Up

What is a crunched-for-time meeting planner to do?  Ask to help, of course. now offers meeting planners RFP Organization.

We compile hotel responses for you in an easy to read spreadsheet so you can compare Apples to Apples (instead of Apples to Bananas).  You identify the important criteria for the spreadsheet, and we do the rest!

I highly recommend using this 100% free service to compile your RFP responses for any meeting planner short on time.

And if you find your self wondering what’s the catch?  Well, there isn’t one…it’s our way of saying thank you for using our website!

To get started, submit your RFP here and mention the RFP Organization Tool.

What do you think…will you use this new service?  What other service would you like to offer meeting planners? Post a comment and share!

PCMA: Final Thoughts

Along with facilitating an increase in global participation over the past few years, PCMA has also begun providing education for corporate planners beyond its historical foundation with medical and other association planners. This initiative included a session entitled “Going Global with Strategic Meetings Management” presented by Jami Stapelmann, Director of Global Travel & Meeting Services, Estee Lauder, Inc.


Essentially, expanding a corporate SMM program to all the global regions where business events are held requires a complex operational strategy. I should share that can help by providing corporate meeting planners with global contacts for Tourism Offices, Hotels and Destination Management Companies to help get the job done.

Speaking of which, I was pleased to encounter the following supplier partners in attendance: Alan Pryor, General Manager of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre; Kerrin MacPhie, Director of Sales for ACC Liverpool; Heike Mahmoud, Director of Conventions, Visit Berlin; Jane Schuldt, President, World Marketing Group and Marie McKowan, Manager Business Tourism, Meet In Ireland.

There may have been more of our colleagues in the hall, but I was lucky to find these few among the 4,000 of our closest friends! Hope to see them again (and you) at next year’s Convening Leaders in Austin!

Hot Topics at Convening Leaders

The “hot topic” at the conference was the recently announced Marriott-Starwood Merger and its effect on our industry.

Mel Robbins and Marriott's Arne Sorenson opening session speakers at PCMA in Vancouver

Mel Robbins and Marriott’s Arne Sorenson opening session speakers at PCMA in Vancouver

Beginning with the Opening General Session entitled “Mergers, Disruptions and Provocations, Oh My” (unofficially sub-titled “What’s Going to Happen to my Frequent Stay Points?”) and migrating to an overflow of the overflow room holding the break-out session “Mergers and Their Effect on the Meetings Industry,” attendees were brought into the loop on possible outcomes as to what will change and how the two organizations will complement one another.

Spoiler-alert! Arne Sorenson, Marriott CEO, is committed to an organization that is not just bigger but better by creating a sense of community right down to each and every property. But it still could be a “bumpy ride” for hoteliers and planners/consumers alike!

PCMA Kicks Off the New Year

Greetings from your intrepid blogger reporting on the 2016 PCMA Convening Leaders Conference held in Vancouver, BC Jan.10-13. The city of Vancouver welcomed over 4,000 delegates with a dramatic skyline of steel, glass and snow-capped mountains.

Unrestricted harbor views

Unrestricted harbor views

The Convention Center itself provided unrestricted views of the harbor through floor to ceiling windows surrounding all 3 levels of the venue. More importantly, attendees could stop anywhere in the facility to check mobile devices courtesy of building-wide Wi-Fi.

160111_003This provided an ideal environment for “Cultivating Creative Moments”… the theme of this year’s event. As usual, this industry showcase gathered the latest innovations in event technology, meeting design and business event strategy to present to the participants.

Get Peer to Peer Meeting Ideas

light bulb Meeting professionals know that the best ideas often come from their peers, who are usually more than willing to share them with people who show an interest. Planners are talking about adding value to their meetings to attract attendees.

Maureen Thompson of ASBO International taps the knowledge of the hotel staff by hiring some of them to put in extra hours staffing the meeting registration desk instead of hiring temps to do this. “The person’s knowledge of the venue, location and even access to the ‘behind the scenes’ places of the hotel is invaluable,” she says.

For more great meeting ideas, check out the Stellar Tip Archive, and search through a variety of tips and advice submitted by other meeting professionals.

What are some ideas you will be implementing? Let us know, and share the information with your peers. It’s the most effective way to learn!

Start the New Year Off Organized

A successful conference needs a highly organized meeting planner running the show. Make sure your event is up to par and ensure no detail is overlooked by making an event binder.

This will be your lifeline onsite at the event. Below we share some of our must-have items to include in your binder. Be sure to let us know what you would add!

• Schedules

o Personal Schedule: day-by-day works best for larger conferences
o Meeting Schedule: be sure to include room numbers o Staff Schedule: include who is working check in, registration, etc. and the shift time

• Venue Information

o Event Contract
o Venue Contact List
o Rooming List: ask for an up to date list on arrival day
o Room Set Ups: highlight any changes from the version the hotel received
o Food & Beverage Order Forms
o Hotel Floorplan
o AV Requests

• Exhibits

o Exhibiting Company Lists: alphabetical & by booth number
o Exhibitor Contracts: include copies of check or credit card numbers
o Set-Up Instructions: include all drapery colors and any other set-up details sent to the venue

• Signage: a list of all signs and placement locations

• Speaker Information: contact information and arrival times

• Additional Details

o Last minute action list
o Security schedule
o Insurance certificate

What additional information do you include in your binder? Send a tweet to @conventionplani with the hashtag #cpeventbinder and let us know!

Information compiled with the help of the National Council of Teachers of English

Top International Meeting Planners to Visit Prague for Meeting & Incentive Forum Europe Autumn 2016

Forum supported by Prague CVB to see over 4,000 pre-scheduled one-to-one meetings aimed at increasing business travel to Czech Republic.

Prague is making big moves this year!

More than 350 top international meeting and incentive professionals will gather in Prague, 26-30 September 2016, for M&I Forum Europe Autumn 2016.  In partnership with the Prague Convention Bureau and a number of local DMCs, the four-day event will see fully hosted buyers hold over 4,000 meetings with event suppliers from across Europe and beyond.

The Forum will introduce some of Europe’s leading meeting and incentive professionals to new and undiscovered features of the Czech capital. While it retains a rich culture and history, Prague is also a modern and dynamic city, home to state-of-the-art, multifunctional event spaces, and new hotels.

“Prague hosted an M&I Forum back in 2009 and this is the perfect time for the event to return. Heritage and history remain an inseparable part of the city, but they’re now complemented by stunning modern venues, all with exceptional services. A dynamic city, we’re excited to show Prague in a new light. Our wonderful city is perfectly suited to both big events and smaller incentive groups, and I am sure the experience will open up new business opportunities and give attendees total confidence in the destination.” said Lenka Jarošová, Executive Director of Prague Convention Bureau. “Coming to this Forum is in my opinion a great opportunity to experience up close what we have to offer and, besides doing good business, have a huge amount of fun.”

M&I Forums are trade events held in the world’s leading meetings destinations. They offer business events suppliers the opportunity to meet and develop relationships with vetted, hand-selected buyers who have confirmed budgets to spend. The Forums provide a professional, effective and fun platform for business meetings and networking with these high quality buyers. They also allow top global meetings destinations to showcase their offerings, in order to grow their share of the international business events market. In 2016, Prague will join Dubai (UAE), Scottsdale, AZ (USA), Madrid (Spain), and Izmir (Turkey) in hosting M&I Forums to showcase their offering to a global audience of events professionals.

Commenting on the event in Prague, Richard Barnes, Managing Director of M&I Forums, added: “Prague has invested a vast amount in their meetings infrastructure in recent years, and there’s a new side to the Czech capital that’s waiting to be explored. It’s home to an array of new, groundbreaking hotels and venues which we’re excited to introduce our delegates to, opening their eyes to the opportunities this city has to offer in 2016.”

Since Prague last hosted an M&I Forum in 2009, the city has undergone substantial changes. The accommodation offering, especially 4 and 5* hotels, increased considerably, and the public transportation system has been modernized and widely extended to make the city and its meeting venues easily accessible to visitors. Prague is now home to many international innovative technology and science institutions, attracting experts and scholars from all over the world. In tandem with these infrastructure changes, Prague Convention Bureau has developed its services significantly, including an extensive program of incentive support granted by the city and Ambassador Programme for association events. In short, Prague is completely prepared to meet the demands of the very highest end of the meetings industry.

For more information about M&I Forum Europe Autumn 2016, or to take part in the event, please visit the M&I Forums website:

Tips to Manage Risk and Liability When Liquor Is Served

We posted these tips last year, but frankly, with all of the holiday parties this month, they are timeless and a  must to revisit during the holidays/event/party season!

Lawyers will tell you whether you’re giving alcohol away or selling it at an event, anyone who has control over the facility or the event is typically liable if an intoxicated person causes bodily injury or property damage as a result of the liquor served at that event.

The good news is, provided the meeting planner isn’t pouring the drinks, they normally would not be at much risk of being held personally liable. When an employee is acting in the scope of their employment, liability usually rests with the employer, not the individual.

That good news, however, does not typically extend to independent meeting planners or third-party meeting planners who are independent contractors and not employees. In these instances, the meeting planner could be held liable along with the company, depending on the circumstances.

“The only way to eliminate liquor liability is to eliminate alcohol from your event,” says Marilyn Hauck, founder and president of The Complete Conference and a 20-year veteran in the meetings industry who plans, markets, and manages meetings and events of all sizes. “A non-alcohol event is often not an option, so the next best way to reduce your liability is to create an environment that discourages overdrinking.”

Hauck suggests these steps to take to keep your attendees from overindulging and to reduce liquor liability:

Give written instructions to bartenders not to serve persons who are either underage or noticeably intoxicated.

Establish a monitoring system to ensure that minors and intoxicated persons are not served alcohol.

• Designate someone from the planning team to refrain from drinking during the function to monitor the bartenders.

Avoid self-service bars and kegs of beer.

• Control the length of the cocktail reception and don’t announce last call.

• Always provide food and non-alcoholic beverages where alcohol is served.

Arrange transportation – or a place to stay – in advance.

Buy liquor liability insurance if your organization is the server or seller.

• Make sure the group has a standard operating procedure for handling attendees who have had too much to drink.

Since its inception in 1979, the mission of The Complete Conference, Inc., has been to develop and implement high quality cost-effective meetings with professionalism, integrity, customer satisfaction and dependability. The company can be reached at 916-922-7032 or

What are some of your steadfast rules for such events? Maybe we will add your tips to the list!

‘Tis the Season for Giving

Calling all meeting planners –

Do your meetings include a charitable component, or is your organization doing something special this holiday season to give back?

However you are keeping charity in your holiday season, we want to know! Comment below to share your participation with us. We’ll be including the information in our Holiday e-Alert newsletter next week.