Jane Schuldt of World Marketing Group – Loss of an Industry Icon

The ConventionPlanit.com staff, along with the entire meeting and incentive travel community, is saddened by the passing of Jane Schuldt, Founder and President of World Marketing Group and icon of our industry.

The WMG portfolio of Destination Management Companies around the world was our first DMC supplier member and continues to provide contacts in far flung locations for our event planners.

Maureen Pickell, Director of Global Accounts for CP.com, had the privilege of calling Jane a dear friend as well as esteemed colleague.

In her words, “Being respected by Jane was a badge of honor in an industry held to high standards. She will be remembered for her elegance of spirit as well as her resolute work ethic and will be missed for the warmth and loyalty shown towards her friends and close associates.”

Hilton Atlanta Gets a New Look

 

Located in the heart of Downtown Atlanta, Hilton Atlanta is within close proximity to renowned attractions and premier venues, and 15 minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

In the summer of 2017, Hilton Atlanta will complete a multi-million dollar renovation consisting of enhancements to guestrooms and suites, meeting spaces, and public areas.

Learn more about the Hilton Atlanta.

What is RFP Organization?

An interview with ConventionPlanit.com Co-Founder David Markham on the creation of RFP Organization

david  markham

What is RFP OrganizationSM and what should meeting planners know about it?

RFP OrganizationSM is a sourcing tool planners use to send their RFP to pre-qualified suppliers and obtain online responses within 24 hours. Traditional sourcing takes several days. Planners must research suppliers, send their RFP and wait for generic proposals to glean specific criteria for comparison shopping. This is exactly what RFP OrganizationSM does, and it’s so simple to use!

Step 1 – Planners send their original RFP.

Step 2 – A courtesy call from our team establishes their preferences and criteria for comparison.

Step 3 – Within 24 hours, all comparative responses are posted on an organized chart.

How is RFP OrganizationSM different from other sourcing tools?

Saving time is important to meeting planners. There’s no training or retyping of the RFP to use RFP OrganizationSM. When it comes to digital options, RFP templates are burdensome. Planners prefer to use their own RFP, and suppliers appreciate the RFP details that enable them to better understand the needs of the group.

There’s a cost factor, too. RFP OrganizationSM  is offered as a free amenity to meeting and event planners, so there are no hidden fees or mark-ups to be concerned about.

How did RFP OrganizationSM evolve?

Everything on ConventionPlanit.com is planner driven. Our Advisory Council and industry feedback is what guided us. Given our national sales experience, we offered a similar service when we started ConventionPlanit.com called RFP Valet®, for personalized RFP sourcing. With the development of time saving, digital applications, we married the two. It’s hi-touch meets hi-tech!

Who uses RFP OrganizationSM?

It’s primarily used by meeting planners who conduct their own RFP sourcing and negotiate contracts. Many independent planners who may be commissionable use it because they prefer a commission-free tool. Executive Directors, meeting staff and non-traditional planners use it too because it’s so easy.

What RFP services does your team offer?

We offer meeting planners free consultation to help prepare their RFP and pre-qualify suppliers, which may include their NSO representatives. We merge their laundry list of criteria and concessions into our comparison platform. We send the RFP to selected suppliers who submit online quotes in minutes to the comparison chart. The planner is provided with log-in credentials to view their response chart which are easy to export to others involved in the decision making process.

Learn more about RFP OrganizationSM.

Welcome Newest Members

ConventionPlanit.com has been busy adding new venues to our portfolio.

Consider these newest members of ConventionPlanit.com for your next meeting:

Horton Grand Hotel – San Diego, CA
Kimpton Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh – Pittsburgh, PA
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress – Orlando, FL
Visit Huntington Beach – Huntington Beach, CA
Miraval Resort & Spa – Tucson, AZ
Myrtle Beach Area CVB – Myrtle Beach, SC

View more newest members.

Don’t forget, when you use ConventionPlanit.com, you can still send your RFP to your NSO reps!

Planners Helping Planners: Your Questions Answered

Welcome to a new series on the blog where your meeting planning questions and dilemmas are answered by experts – other meeting planners! Comment below with your own questions. 

Q: How can I improve my vendor relationships?

A: It’s never too late to start forming good relationships with the facilities where you conduct business. 

For example if you are on a tight budget and are holding your meeting at a facility that is potentially oversold on housing, you have a great chance of negotiating an arrangement that is beneficial to both you and the hotel.

Contact your sales person or CSM and tell them you’ve heard they may be having some housing challenges and you’d like to offer them some help. If you are holding upgrade rooms, tell them you’d be willing to exchange your upgraded rooms for standard rooms in exchange a meeting comp. Suggest something you know the hotel will not cost them out of pocket (i.e., in-house technology, waiver of nonunion labor/delivery charges, comp room rental). Most of the time the hotel will be more than happy to negotiate because they will be able to happily accommodate both (or all) of their clients.

Submitted by: Tina Buehler, CMP Conference Planning Manager, with Q Center

An Idyllic Destination

fairmont mayakoba

Fairmont Mayakoba, Riviera Maya, Mexico.  Bordered by a pristine tropical jungle, navigable water canals, and a secluded beach, all while radiating Mayan flavor, this AAA-5 Diamond and Rainforest Alliance Verified resort is an idyllic destination.

The Fairmont offers over 26,000 sq. ft. of indoor function space and two event lawns measuring over 20,000 sq. ft., in addition to a pristine beach, pool areas for events and El Pueblito Mayakoba, an authentic Mexican village square with restaurants, boutiques, a kiosk, and chapel for events of up to 1,000 people.

Amenities include world-class restaurants with Latin-Asian, Mexican and Latin-Coastal menus created by celebrity Chef Richard Sandoval, on-property boat tours, stargazing activities, nature/bike tours, cultural experiences, water sports, championship golf at El Camaleón—the only course host of an official PGA TOUR event in Mexico, and local inspired experiences at Willow Stream spa!

The resort’s Casita-style accommodations—all featuring spa-style bathrooms and furnished private balconies—are elegant yet practical. With flexible meeting space and meal plan options, meeting planners can select from a wide selection of options, including Premium Appetite for Luxury, the resort’s signature inclusive package or design a package suited to their specific needs. Learn more about the Fairmont Mayakoba.

Connecting Conference Goals to Conference Results

By Erik Schonher

You’ve probably set some ambitious goals for your 2017 conference(s).

They probably include quantitative goals such as attracting more attendees, generating more revenue, increasing the number of exhibitors, and selling more products in your on-site bookstore.

You may also have other more qualitative goals such as providing quality programming, adding new programming or tracks, and making registration operate more smoothly,

Like most things in life, what gets measured typically gets done, and this is certainly true for your meetings. So what are you doing to track results and gather data and insights that will help you improve your meetings for the future?

During the planning phase, you need to feel confident that the content of the conference is of interest to your prospect base and develop your promotion list. The use of data-analytics and data-modeling, in conjunction with more traditional forms of qualitative and quantitative research, will help you with these tasks. These tools help you aggregate data to develop the best content for your conference, create compelling messaging, and identify those traits that best represent prospective attendees which can be used to target prospects from internal and external list sources.

Once at the show, focus groups are a good choice to collect qualitative data if you want an in-depth sense of what some attendees are thinking regarding a few specific topics. The ideal focus group consists of 8-12 people. Aim for a mix that represents the geographic and tenure of your organization. Good questions to include are:

  • How did you make your decision to attend?
  • What other annual meetings do you attend and why?
  • What would make you choose our meeting over another?

An alternative to focus groups are attendee intercepts, where someone from your association randomly selects attendees on the floor of the conference to interview with a short list of questions. Be sure to develop a short and easy script for the interviewer. This is also a great way to develop fresh testimonials for marketing materials.

To answer questions concerning member responses to programs, on-site product purchases, and other criteria that can provide insight for future meeting elements and their related marketing strategies, you can use two techniques: surveys (online, paper, phone) and database analysis.

A survey, when constructed properly, offers you the ability to collect the hard data on an extensive or complex range of issues and provide a measure of confidence that the decisions you make based upon this data are good ones. These will typically be delivered by email, although today social media opens the door to data collection on a multitude of levels. As with any methodology, be sure to get responses from a group that most represents your overall market.

Finally, database analysis allows you to look at what people actually did. Who attended? Where did they come from? What sessions did they attend? Did conference attendee purchase more products from us than non-attendees? If so, from where: the show floor or the website?

Analyzing your data to make comparisons allows you to know who your most productive targets are. Given the amount of data you have and how many years it covers, through cluster analysis, regression analysis and other research techniques, you may be able to uncover the hidden trends and “linkages” from year to year that will help make your next conference even better.

Erik Schonher is Vice President of Marketing General Incorporated and is also the Corporate Engagement Officer for EurekaFacts, a research company providing market research, marketing analytics, social research and human factors located in Rockville, MD. He can be reached at (240) 403-4800.

Last Chance for Incentive Travel Exchange Hosted Buyer Program

Incentive Travel Exchange
As the MICE industry continues to enjoy monumental growth, more and more events seem to clutter the marketplace, making it difficult to know which may be the most beneficial to you.  But don’t worry – the BEST event to network with the largest selection of travel suppliers is still to come in 2017!

Join us for Incentive Travel Exchange, April 23-26 at The Delano Las Vegas for two days of focused meetings and exciting networking activities, while making lasting relationships with industry colleagues and suppliers.

If you organize, influence, plan or recommend MICE travel program purchases, you are invited to apply for one of the fully hosted buyer positions.

Hosted buyer participation includes:

  • Complimentary airfare to/from Las Vegas from home airport
  • Three nights’ accommodations in a suite at the Delano Las Vegas
  • Transfers to/from McCarran International and The Delano Las Vegas
  • Two days of pre-arranged meetings with leading incentive travel suppliers of your choice
  • Event meals and receptions
  • Networking activities including Brooklyn Bowl, dining at Smith & Wollensky, and a show!

Apply now for a fully hosted buyer position or visit IncentiveTravelExchange.com for more information.

Hola LatAm Welcomes Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta has an excellent selection of five-star hotels for planners to choose from. The Grand Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive in South Vallarta is an adults-only luxury property right on the beach with 443 suites all ocean-view and 10 meeting rooms in their Convention Center that can accommodate up to 1,300 people—the largest in Puerto Vallarta.

Nearby, the newly opened in a completely renovated building, the five-star Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, tucked away on a secluded cove with 335 all-inclusive suites and over 6,500 sq. ft. (603 sq. m.) of meeting space and beautiful outdoor gardens. Their “Evolution of All-Inclusive” is a boon for planners, which includes Resort Butlers, concierge service, and a dedicated Tequila Sommelier and tequila tastings, always a hit with groups.

The award-winning five-star Barceló Puerto Vallarta is located on Mismaloya Beach in the southern area of Puerto Vallarta with a view of Banderas Bay, just 15 minutes from the city center. Its all-inclusive 316 suites include access to specialty restaurants, Lounge Premium, in-room service, Internet and more. For meetings and events, the Barceló has a large Convention Center with capacity for up to 600 people, as well as six fully equipped function rooms.

The new AAA Five-Diamond Hotel Mousai Puerto Vallarta takes luxury up a trendy notch with white glove service, 72 lavish all-inclusive suites, and a private event room that can host up to 200 people. This adults-only retreat offers an all-inclusive plan with gourmet dining options and premium spirits, and your VIP clients will enjoy personalized check-in and concierge service.

Dena’ina Center Blends New Technology and Rich Culture

Wanted: a convention center that incorporates 10,000 years of human history, and has Wi-Fi capabilities for up to 4,000 simultaneous users. Anchorage’s Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center successfully combines the rich traditions of Alaska with a modern meeting facility.

Artwork and room names in the Dena’ina Center tell the story of the Dena’ina Athabascan people in the centuries before Anchorage was established. For example, a stained glass mural depicts scenes of traditional life in the region.

The Dena’ina Center may tell a story thousands of years old, but it is also loaded up with enough technology to keep the proceedings firmly in the 21st century. The center’s wireless network can handle thousands of concurrent devices; there’s no searching on the tradeshow floor for a signal, even on a busy day.

The largest convention center in the state, the Dena’ina Center is ideal for national conventions and tradeshows and has all the elements expected in a world-class convention center.

The 2015 GLACIER conference was a prime example of Anchorage’s world-class standing. Foreign ministers joined President Obama for an Arctic issues conference. Anchorage met the demanding security, communications and conferencing needs for world leaders and is ready to serve you.

Learn more about Anchorage.