IACC Reveals the Top Meeting Package Trends for 2016

iacc-logoUseful tips for meeting planners and meeting venues contribute towards better meetings and conference experiences

Following research among the 378 members of IACC, the association released its Top  Meeting Package Trends for 2016, which are influencing meeting planners and venue operators across the globe.

The concept of meeting packaging is one where the required components provided by a venue are included in a per person package.  The concept carries different names in different parts of the world (such as Complete Meeting Package, Day Meeting Package, Day Delegate Rate, 24-Hour Rate etc), but the concept is the same throughout IACC’s membership in 22 countries.  An IACC-certified meeting venue must offer a package which includes food and beverage, meeting room hire and basic AV).  See IACC’s Guide to Quality Standards for more information on what it takes to be an IACC-certified venue.

Mark Cooper, IACC’s CEO, commented, “Meeting Planners not only prefer easy-to-manage delegate packages for their meetings, they also expect delegate packages to be creative and fit their specific meeting objectives.  Venues that specialise in meetings, also understand that planners need to be able to buy in transparent and easy-to-budget ways.”  Cooper continued with, “We are seeing some very innovative meeting packages available at IACC member venues in 22 countries across the globe.”

Trend #1    95% of venues have offered non-traditional meeting packages for over 5 years.  IACC member venues surveyed stated that they have been offering flexible and highly creative delegate meeting packages for over 5 years. As a result, they have developed packages over time, which meet the specific needs and requirements of planners and delegates. They are now experts in customising packages.

Trend #2    Innovative packages developed by venues and clients
Two-thirds of delegate packages were crafted and developed by the leadership at IACC-member venues, using their specialized knowledge in selling meeting space in this inclusive and consultative way. At the same time, 1/3rd of those surveyed reported that their planner clients had a direct hand in developing a package that was bespoke to them and their needs. Being able to influence the way a venue packages services and products is a true demonstration of collaboration between venue and client.

Trend #3    Fifty-five percent reported that meeting planners wanted to tailor a package specifically to meet their needs. Offering inclusive delegate packages provides certain differentiation, but being able to tailor a package to the individual client is a further step. With 55% reporting their clients prefer flexible packaging, this is not a rare approach any more. Of the packages offered which include guest room accommodation and meals, 56% of responders cited that these packages were becoming more customised.

Trend #4  Sixty-five percent reported that planners are starting to request new package inclusions.  A significant number of members surveyed reported that clients are starting to ask for packages beyond the normal meeting room, F&B and tech inclusions. The top additional items requested were teambuilding, local cultural trips, coaching and facilitation. Although many IACC venues offer free delegate WiFi, the inclusion of high bandwidth WiFi to support the use of collaborative technologies was highlighted as a growing trend.  The survey also indicated that the inclusion of collaborative technologies such as audience participation and meeting apps, had potential for future packaged pricing.

Trend #5  Top inclusions in customised packages.  Food & beverage enhancements lead the list of inclusions, with 76% of those surveyed reporting they tailor packages with non-standard F&B items.  Indoor teambuilding and meeting room configurations were 2nd at 70% and outdoor teambuilding  was 4th.  Also included in the list of components used to customise delegate packages were AV, WiFi and culinary teambuilding activities.

Trend #6  Delegate packages are good for 3rd parties as well!  Thirty-five percent of the venues surveyed reported that third party booking agents could consider all components of the delegate package as part of their commercial terms with the venue.

Trend #7  Flexible meeting packages are here to stay.  Although flexible meeting packages — where the client can build a package that fits their needs exactly — have only become widespread amongst IACC venues since 2008, all surveyed believe that this is a concept that is here for the long term and demonstrates that they are true partners to their clients and understand their needs.

The concept of meeting packaging is one where the required components provided by a venue are included in a per person package.  The concept carries different names in different parts of the world (such as Complete Meeting Package, Day Meeting Package, Day Delegate Rate, 24-Hour Rate etc), but the concept is the same throughout IACC’s membership in 22 countries, where a IACC certified meeting venue must offer a package which includes food and beverage, meeting room hire and basic AV).  See IACC’s Guide to Quality Standards for more information on what it takes to be an IACC-certified venue.

IACC is the only global professional association, which represents small to medium sized venues focused on meetings, training courses and conferences. All members conform to a comprehensive global set of criteria and standards. The association serves its members by being the global thought-leader in the meetings industry and currently has 355 members in 21 countries in the Americas, Europe and Australasia.

Attracting the Millennials to Your Meeting

Millenials Book ImageIt’s a bit ironic, but when we’re not complaining about the Millennial generation (entitled! flip flops! trophies!), we seem to be falling all over ourselves to attract them, retain them, and, of course, lure them to our conferences and meetings.

This motivation is probably driven by the fact that they are the largest generation in the history of the United States. By my count, they currently number almost 100 million people—substantially larger than either the Baby Boomers or Generation X.

That means they will soon become the largest segment of the workforce, and while they may not yet be the “big spenders” in your membership or customer base—they will be. It’s inevitable. So it will pay to understand them a bit better.

And they are different. They grew up in a different world than previous generations—one dominated by the social internet, where they could reach out to their networks and get just about anything done, on their own. They also grew up in a period of significant material abundance (the United States spends more on trash bags than 90 other countries spend on everything), a period where diversity became the norm, and a period where children got a lot more attention and focus than in previous generations.

That last one gets mentioned a lot as a source of complaints about Millennials—the “everyone gets a trophy” generation—but in fact it just means that they grew up with access to people higher in the hierarchy (adults), so when they show up in our organizations (and at our meetings) they will be expecting the same access. It’s not them being “entitled,” it’s simply their natural reaction to the times in which they grew up. Kind of like any generation, actually.

So what does this all mean for meetings? It means we need to shift. In the research that Maddie Grant and I did for our recent book,When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business, we identified four capacities that organizations need to develop to stay relevant to this generation and succeed in today’s fast-paced environment. They have some important implications for meetings:

Digital. This means not only mastering the technology but embracing a digital mindset, where the users come first, everything is customizable, and innovation is constant. If that sounds like hard work, it is, but that’s what we need to do to stay relevant. Most organizations design their meetings around the needs of the organization or the few people on the committee that organize it. We need to shift and design it around the needs of the users. We have to expect it to change every year, and we have to let different users engage with us in different ways. Welcome to the new normal.

Clear. We also need to be much more transparent. Being clear is about making more visible to everyone in the system in order to enable better decision making. Yet we still offer only a 50-word description of each session that is always in marketing language? We need to find ways to make more details about our educational content visible to attendees before the session to let them make better choices about how to spend their time. In the same vein, we also need to find ways to make information about our attendees more visible to the people who are developing the content.

Fluid. Decision-making systems in most organizations are too rigid, which means the people who are closest to the problem often don’t have the authority to solve it. Fluid systems, however, still maintain a hierarchy but are able to inject some flexibility into it. The right people can make the right decisions at the right time. This is a challenge for meetings that are managed by archaic and rigid committee structures.

Fast. The world is moving faster and changing more rapidly than ever before, yet our meeting schedules are pushing dates farther and farther back, trying to get content submission nine or even twelve months prior to the meeting. The Millennials are not going to tolerate attending a meeting with content that is a year old—and neither should the other generations! We need to figure out how to move more quickly in our decision making to match the speed of what’s happening around us.

Again, the Millennials are still probably a relatively small segment of our meeting attendees—but that’s going to change. The organizations that learn how to inject digitial, clear, fluid, and fast into their meetings will start to leap ahead of their competitors as the Millennials become a larger and larger segment of the customer base. And they’ll also be doing a better job at attracting the older generations, because these trends go beyond just the Millennials. But now is the time to build these capacities internally. The longer you wait, the farther behind you’ll fall.

Jamie Notter is a partner with Culture That Works LLC. He can be reached at jamienotter@gmail.com.

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Maximize Content from Your Annual Meeting

What’s the biggest content generator for your association? 

Nearly every association will quickly answer, “The annual meeting!”

So what are you doing to capture, re-purpose, and distribute that content? If you’re like most associations, probably several things. But are you maxing out this important activity?

Check out these ways you can spread the word to see if there are any untapped opportunities:

Seize the News. When a keynoter or another speaker announces a key piece of news, what are you doing about it? Make sure you capture it and feed it out to your members and external audiences immediately. Delivery methods include e- newsletters, blogs, tweets, Facebook, and press releases. When reaching out to external audiences make sure you highlight the relevance to them.

Record Everything. Capturing all your sessions in either video or audio format ensures a complete historical record and gives you multiple ways to market your current and future meetings. Besides just selling session recordings to non-attendees (attendees should get them for free), make sure you capture video/audio snippets, post them on YouTube, and then share the links on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, and website along with a quick pitch on why people need to see them. When you market next year’s meeting, use the best of these to remind members of the quality content they can expect.

Deliver the Buzz in Real Time. Your meeting is a rich experience filled with content, business opportunities, networking connections, entertainment, and more. Encourage attendees to share all this online. Set up Twitter hashtags and take full advantage of Snapchat, Instagram, and other social media to get the buzz out there. Create a contest for the best member posts and give away a prize at the opening session each morning during the meeting.

Share the Photos. You probably have an official photographer taking thousands of photos. How are you using them? How many of them will see the light of day? Select the best 100 photos each day and put them on a continuous loop on the big screens as people are coming into all your general sessions and evening receptions. Create an online social media forum as well and asked members to post their photos there. This is also a great opportunity for a member contest.

Cover the Sessions. Engage your editorial team and bring in freelancers as needed to cover all your best sessions. Write them up immediately in 600-800 word articles. Use these for press releases, articles in any on-site convention publications, post-meeting coverage, blog posts during the meeting, etc. Share them with the speakers from those sessions and ask them to multiply the exposure. They will be thrilled with this coverage and be happy to do it!

Interview the Experts. Your annual meeting is the one occasion of the year when all the top leaders and experts in your industry/profession will all be in one place. Take advantage of this opportunity to do a quick video interview to pick their brains on critical issues. Set up a video station in the exhibit hall or another convenient location to do these five-minute interviews. Feed them out online during the meeting and throughout the year to drive ongoing discussion. Use them in your association’s online discussion forum too.

Tap the Research. Announce major research findings and release new reports at your annual meeting to draw more attention and news value to the event. Leverage this research throughout the year in a series of releases and news postings about key findings that also mention they were released at the annual meeting.

The plethora of social media and the ability of attendees to spread the word if sufficiently motivated can deliver an exponential impact. Leverage this as much as possible and soon you will find that your meeting content is living a longer life.

Al Rickard, CAE, is President of Association Vision and serves as Director of Communications for ConventionPlanit.com.

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 ConventionPlanit.com to help, of course.

ConventionPlanit.com 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 ConventionPlanit.com 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 ConventionPlanit.com 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 CP.com 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 CP.com 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!