Category Archives: Tips for Meeting Planners

ConventionPlanit.com recommends attending IMEX America as a hosted buyer to learn the latest in the international meetings world

IMEX America is approaching fast and we know you will benefit from being a hosted buyer in Las Vegas.  ConventionPlanit.com colleagues, Susan Sarfati and Liz Jackson, are offering participation in their hosted buyer group.  Here’s what you need to know now: 

  1. IMEX will cover the cost of air fare to Las Vegas, hotel and airport shuttles to bring you to this global meeting, incentive, convention, exhibition trade show and education program.  Expand your meeting industry knowledge and contacts plus attend education programs and earn certification points. 
  2. Dates are October 15-17, 2018. Mark your calendar! 
  3. Requirement is booking meetings outside the US or book a minimum of 1,000 attendees annually to US destinations. They can register up to two hosted buyers per organization.  Bring a colleague or pass this invitation on to qualified staff members. 
  4. Want to invite a qualifying friend, colleague or client?  It will be done! 
  5. ConventionPlanit.com will be exhibiting at IMEX America and we look forward to meeting you there. 

RSVP now to Liz Jackson ljackson262@msn.com 

In addition to a great IMEX learning experience, enjoying being with new friends and colleagues,  our group will be dinner guests of Caesars Palace’s new restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen.  It’s the world’s first Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen restaurant drawing inspiration from the global hit reality television show starring world-renowned Chef Gordon Ramsay and we will feel like we are on his studio set.  Many thanks to our long-time Caesars Entertainment sponsor, Shelley Williams, for this wonderful invitation. 

Planners Helping Planners: Meal Cost

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 save on meal costs?

A: Get creative with your meal items. 

Order a la carte items instead of packaged meals. Also check with the facility to see if they will allow you to use the dessert that comes with lunch as your afternoon snack.

Submitted by: April Cox, Education Manager (Meeting Planner), with SC Association of CPAs 

SUBMIT YOUR TIPS AND ADVICE HERE

How Meeting Planners Book, Plan, and Execute Their Events

The 26th Annual Meetings Market Survey collected information about the number, size, revenue, and budgets for meetings industry during 2015, as well as information about site visits, booking windows, housing, and other topics:

Site Selection 
When it comes to ranking tools for booking meeting sites, site visits are first, according to 41 percent of respondents. A higher percentage of planners say that online searches are their preferred site-selection approach over one-on-one sales interactions (35 percent and 22 percent, respectively), and only 6 percent rank fam trips as their first choice.

Airbnb and Shared Housing
Most respondents (79 percent) said that Airbnb and other shared-housing platforms are not important options for their attendees. Seventeen percent expect that a percentage of registrants will use Airbnb rather than their headquarters hotels or hotels in their room block, but it’s low: 6 percent of registrants, on average.

Booking Window 
More than two-fifths of respondents (43 percent compared to 31 per-cent in the 2015 study) report that they are booking their large meetings more than three years in advance; 24 percent are booking two to three years ahead; 24 percent are booking only one to two years out; and 10 percent are booking their large meetings in under one year. The average booking window is 2.5 years, slightly above 2.3 years reported in last year’s survey.

Technology
The technology that respondents continue to seek most for their meetings is high-speed wireless internet access. In terms of social media, 78 percent of respondents rate Facebook either first or second when it comes to marketing their meetings and engaging attendees. Seventy-two percent say Twitter is their No. 1 or No. 2 choice, while LinkedIn is first or second by 51 percent. Instagram is ranked first and second by 35 percent (a big jump from 2 percent in last year’s survey) and Pinterest is ranked first by 10 percent. Eight percent of respondents use Snapchat as their first and second choice, and 6 percent of respondents rank Periscope first — in last year’s survey, no one reported using Periscope.

Virtual Meetings
Fewer than one in five respondents (17 percent) report that their largest event included a virtual or hybrid component. Twelve percent (compared to 14 percent in the 2015 survey) report that their use of virtual meetings and events increased in the past year, while 82 per-cent (compared to 79 percent in the 2015 survey) say it remained the same and 6 percent (down from 7 percent in the 2015 survey) report that it decreased. On average, respondents’ use of virtual meetings and events went up nearly 0.3 percent, on par with last year’s survey increase of 0.2 percent.

Changes as a Result of the Economy 
More than half of respondents (62 percent) say they have not made any changes to their meetings over the last year because of the economy. Twelve percent (down from 16 percent in the 2015 survey) say they have cut back on some aspects of their events because of the lingering effects of the downturn in their particular industry. Conversely, 26 percent (up from 21 percent in the 2015 survey) say they have been able to make a greater investment in their meetings because they’ve seen an improvement in their industry.

This article was originally published by PCMA Convene and is written by Michelle Russell.

Meal Planning Tips for Meetings

When it comes to food, it’s personal.  Attendees may not remember the facility, but they always remember the food! How do you satisfy every individual?

Below are some guidelines to consider when beginning to plan your group meals.

1. Decide on a theme that coincides with the destination or type of meal service, i.e., formal linens for a sit down, international food stations or cookout?

2. If the meeting is for a group of strangers, an informal buffet inspires social mingling. If using the same venue for several days, vary the meals between a sit-down and buffet.

3. Be eventful by the 3rd day with a cookout or offer a ‘meal credit’ to eat at the hotel’s restaurant or nearby eateries.

4. Taste everything, including the appetizer, soup, bread, entrée and dessert. Make sure there are healthy options that are fresh and well prepared. Can they accommodate special requests, i.e., peanut allergies, low fat, gluten free, low sodium, vegetarian?

5. Alert the hotel if they can expect a volume of attendees to hit their restaurants all at once. Communicate with an individual on site who is responsible for food and beverage

Questions? Call our free RFP Hotline at 866 922-8988!

Planners Helping Planners: Green Meetings

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 make my meetings more environmentally friendly?

A: To always be prepared, create an event kit to bring on site. 

Visit the Green Meetings Resource section on ConventionPlanit.com.

This resource section is full of information specific to meeting planners on how to make your meetings more environmentally friendly. Venues are getting on board, too – when searching on ConventionPlanit.com, check off the green initiatives box to view properties committed to improving their environmental footprint.

Selecting the Right Venue for your Meeting

The most important step before selecting a location or venue is to understand the overall goals, objectives and outcomes desired at the end of your conference.  Is the purpose to incentivize or reward?  Is the goal to strategize and plan? Or, is the goal to educate and train?  The answer to these questions may assist your organization to select the right type of venue and location.  Though budget is always a factor; the desired outcomes should be the first consideration.

Cities and resort destinations are often the first locations considered for sales launches and incentive trips.  These destinations are convenient to attractions, dining and shopping.  If building a cohesive sales team is important to your organization, then perhaps other destinations and venue types should be explored.  Conference centers are often overlooked because they do not provide a traditional hotel experience.

Most conference centers are dedicated only to meetings.  Your attendees are not competing for attention with other leisure travelers and non-meeting guests.  If your conference center is a member of   IACC, the International Association for Conference Centers, then that conference center has implemented a set of benchmarks within their venue to reflect the highest standards, facilities, technology, and are modeled with strong corporate social responsibility in mind.  Conference centers simplify the buying process through offering a CMP, or Complete Meeting Package, to encompass meals, breaks, meeting room rentals, basic a/v and internet.  Many items such as executive board chairs often come standard.  Less add-on fees and fewer hidden charges are assessed.

Conference Centers provide an environment for learning, networking, and team building.  The open spaces and wide variety of meeting and event space provide near limitless opportunities for you to create a meeting that achieves your objectives while creating a memorable and meaningful program for your attendees.

Content courtesy of The National Conference Center  

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: What should I include in an emergency kit?

A: To always be prepared, create an event kit to bring on site. 

Items to include: batteries, flashlight, markers, tape measure, cell phone charger, assorted cables, assorted charging cords, extension cords, flash drives, post it notes, stapler, tape, shipping labels, box cutters, and a basic first aid kit

Submitted by: Kim Marenus, Director of Events, City Chic Events

Meeting Planner Summer Camp

Learn and play with a purpose at the Reston Herndon Meeting Planners (RHMP) summer camp 2017!

The camp takes place on July 27th in Leesburg, VA and will have lots of fun, professional development training, and the opportunity to learn about managing interactive traditional and non-traditional meetings.

The event is free to planners!

To register and additional details, visit http://www.rhplanners.info/

Maximize ROI from your RFPs

Meeting planners who have been told “those dates are unavailable” are often surprised to learn that some suppliers may instead simply not be interested in their business.  Suppliers are focused on maximizing revenue within their available timeframes, and if your meeting does not fit the bill, you may be on the receiving end of that dreaded phrase.

If you’re looking to receive competitive proposals from suppliers (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), it all starts with the RFP. Investing a little more time to market your meeting to suppliers is all it takes.

The following guidelines will help make your meeting more desirable to suppliers and help you maximize the return.

Pre-Qualify the Hotel

Narrow your search to a short list. If the hotel is right for your group, the group is likely right for the hotel. Narrow your search to the type of hotel that suits your meeting and can accommodate your space needs.

Avoid Duplication

While suppliers will not take your meeting seriously if the odds of booking your meeting are 30:1, the reaction tends to be similar if they receive your RFP from multiple sources. Be respectful of the suppliers’ time (and your own) and send your RFP to each supplier once.

Friendly Competition

Encourage hotels to compete for your business by letting them know who’s on the short list. No one likes to ‘lose’ the business to their biggest competitor across the street!

History

Present the facts to make your meeting appealing. Include information like the total spend, including previous rates x room nights + F&B and the room pick-up over the last 5 years. Name drop other hotels within a comp-set.

Attendee Profiles

Regardless of what you contract with a hotel, your attendees also have spending habits that may be of interest to the hotel. Will your attendees be doubling up in the rooms or ordering suites?

What are the spending habits of your attendees? Are they on expense accounts taking clients to dinner, or will they frequent the cocktail lounge?

Want more RFP tips? Contact the ConventionPlanit.com RFP Hotline 866-922-8988 for personalized assistance.

Six Trends in Experiential Learning

The National Conference Center – one of the nation’s largest conference centers and the largest on the East Coast – with its partner The Browne Center, has observed Six Trends in Experiential Learning for 2017.

Experiential learning presents a highly unique growth opportunity for participants, and a tool that planners can use to achieve a specific outcome.  Differentiated from the more traditional teambuilding, experiential learning uses a blended approach to learning, integrating activities, exercises, adventure elements, quiet time and ongoing post-event coaching to create powerful programs of leadership development, strategic planning, mentoring and coaching, communication, feedback & observation and enhancement of behavior styles.

Six Trends Observed in Experiential Learning:

  1. Barrier Free Learning … Take away the white classroom tables. Barrier free learning is hands-on training in a lab-like setting verses the traditional meeting room or classroom. For example, The National has created an entire workroom and lab for simulation or scenario training for a top major client to deliver new skills, taking away the barrier of the ‘white table’ with attendees learning in a lab or open space area.
  1. Learning By Choice … Mixing classroom training with outdoor activities. The Challenge Course at The National has high and low rope elements, and increasingly facilitators are using a Challenge-By-Choice approach. Learning Programs are designed to meet the variety of goals unique to each client, whether conferees make use of the elements of the high or low course, or none at all. There is a role for everyone in the training, even if individuals choose not to physically participate.
  2. Learning By Shared Experiences … Creating ‘shared experiences’, such as a building project, where everyone is involved collectively – from C-level executives to assistant managers – taking each participant out of their comfort zone and into a creative problem-solving task to construct the future.
  3. Learning By Silence … Groups are increasingly exploring the power of silence in a high-speed, technically dependent world. Facilitators are allowing more time for conferees’ solo quests, reflection, meditation time, and movements like yoga that can provide powerful reconnection with the natural world, and the true inner self, opening new channels of connection and learning.
  1. Learning By Doing… Learners participate in carefully chosen experiences that are supported by reflection, critical analysis and synthesis. It engages the learners to be in direct experience, to be doing something that connects to an area they hope to improve or develop. The learner is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experimenting, being curious, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative, and constructing meaning.
  1. Learning Through Application … Historically, debriefing was a structured process facilitated by a skilled professional throughout the process and at the conclusion of a program. This still occurs, but today a post-program debriefing application assists participants over time with how learning translates back at the office. There are a number of strategies that can be arranged to help facilitate this continued learning process. These include, self-directed debrief meetings, professional coaching sessions by phone or in person, or follow up, mini sessions at the one, two or three month intervals. These sessions can be highly productive and fun, assisting the participants in real time learning application issues. They can be on the participants’ work site or scheduled as an offsite.

The National Conference Center installed a state-of-the-art challenge course last year to provide additional training and learning opportunities for their clients. The National Challenge Course consists of five low elements plus many portable options, which are weight bearing problem solving activities that can accommodate 15 or more people at any one time. Also six high elements can be done with two or more solo, or with many other climbers simultaneously. All high elements are dynamic relays where participants hold the rope for one another.

For more information on the Six Trends in Experiential Learning for 2017, contact Denise Benoit at 703-919-1589.  For information on meetings at The National Conference Center, call Sales at 800-640-2684.

About The National Conference Center

Located in Northern Virginia 12 miles from Dulles International Airport and 35 miles from Washington, D.C., The National Conference Center is one of the largest and most comprehensive conference centers in the nation. With 917 guest rooms and over 265,000 square feet of meeting and group function space, including the West Belmont Place catering complex with its 16,552 square foot ballroom, The National has become the nation’s headquarters for productive meetings and West Belmont Place the hub for Loudoun County and surrounding area social functions.

West Belmont Place was named 2013 Best Venue by the International Special Events Society. The National Conference Center is also on the GSA schedule. The National is owned by NCC PS Enterprises LLC, a venture between PCCP, LLC and Stoneleigh Capital, LLC., which retained LaKota Hotels & Resorts to oversee all aspects of the day-to-day operations. For information call 800-640-2684 or visit www.conferencecenter.com and www.westbelmontplace.com.