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.

ConventionPlanit.com “Onion” Report: 20 Meeting Tips for the Presidential Election Season

By Al Rickard, CAE

Planning your next conference is hard work every year, but this presidential election year presents a special challenge.

As political rules seem to go off the charts, you may have to issue your own set of rules for speakers and attendees at your next conference. Here’s a list to get you started:

1. Provide speaker guidelines noting prohibited topics, including wives, walls, immigrants, religion, deporting members, and body parts.

2. Association Board members must post their tax returns in the convention app and on bulletin boards in the registration area.

3. Provide a roped-off area in general sessions for disgruntled members to sit. Alert hotel security before the sessions start.

4. No “brokers” are allowed at the convention.

5. No counting delegates before the convention begins.

6. No yelling into the microphone.

7. Private email servers are not permitted in hotel rooms.

8. Themes are allowed, but “Make the Association Great Again” should be avoided.

9. Do not rant about “America winning again” at the international reception.

10. No spreading rumors among convention attendees that the secretary-treasurer has resigned.

11. Any speaker promising free association education programs throughout the year has to also present a way to pay for them.

12. Breakout speakers are not allowed to circulate “Attendee Violation” notices to get people to attend their sessions.

13. Do not Photoshop the head of the incoming chairman onto another body.

14. The amount of money the association paid for all keynote speakers and the transcripts of these speeches must be posted on the convention website.

15. Documentation of the last time the association budget was balanced must be posted in the convention app.

16. Do not refer to the association PAC as “Super.”

17. As a replacement to meditation sessions this year, classes in self-defense will be held in the Welcome Center.

18. Yoga may be done onstage at any time.

19. Only “adult arguments” are allowed in the case of disagreements.

20. Hugs are allowed!

Good luck with your conference in this election year. May civility prevail.

Al Rickard, CAE is president of Association Vision, a Washington, DC-area communications company; arickard@associationvision.com.

Jewels in the Midwest

sheraton westin kansas city

Sheraton and Westin Kansas City at Crown Center are truly the jewels in Hallmark’s Crown Center district, bringing you Midwest hospitality at its finest. Our location has been an asset to meeting planners for years, but it’s also a huge advantage for attendees. In fact, more than 55 million Americans can get to Kansas City in less than a day’s drive. Flying here is even easier as Kansas City International is just a 3 hour flight from each coast and all major U.S. air carriers service KCI with over 400 daily flights.

Connected between glass enclosed and temperature controlled walkways, we also have a direct connection to the Crown Center shops offering a wide variety of cuisine, entertainment and shopping for meeting attendees. Our expansively designed lobbies offer great mix and mingle spaces and branding opportunities and our event space offers some of the best views of the city you can find.

Kansas City has invested billions of dollars to create major new attractions and facilities. This includes the eight block Power & Light entertainment district and the Sprint Center, both near the Kansas City Convention Center. From Walt Disney’s first animation studio to the locally-founded Hallmark Cards, Kansas City has a history of inspiration and innovation we can’t wait to share with you.

Learn more about the Sheraton and Westin Kansas City.

A Worthy Cause

Equipment Connections for Children

ConventionPlanit.com is proud to support Equipment Connections for Children (ECFC), a nonprofit organization that  connects costly adaptive equipment from special needs children who outgrow the equipment to children who need it.

Adaptive equipment allows for children to play, learn and grow in ways that are so important to their development.  In 2015, the organization received over 419 requests from families in need of this specialized equipment.

ECFC received 203 adaptive pieces through donations and equipped 154 families with the equipment they needed for their children.

We encourage you to support this cause by joining ECFC on May 10th for their annual donation day, called “Connect the Dots”! It is called Connect the Dots because they connect equipment that is not used to children who need it. Every piece of equipment makes a difference for each child.

No matter how big or small the donation is, every donation helps!

Donate here: http://www.equipforchildren.org/connect-the-dots.html

 

ASAE’s 40th Springtime Expo

As everyone in the Association world must know by now, last week’s Springtime was both the 40th anniversary of the iconic event and also its “Swan Song.”

Your intrepid Blogger was there along with ConventionPlanit.com staff members Katherine & David Markham, Mara Hill-Buckner and Taffy Rice to bid farewell to this event, long characterized by its partnering of education and networking for the Washington D.C. region’s planners and suppliers.

ConventionPlanit.com's Katherine Markham & Taffy Rice chat with an attendee at Spingtime

ConventionPlanit.com’s Katherine Markham & Taffy Rice chat with an attendee at Spingtime

It will be replaced next year by a new endeavor called XDP. The Xperience Design Project will be held May 23-24, 2017, at Gaylord National® Resort & Convention Center at National Harbor, Maryland.

Needless to say, this announcement leant a certain amount of poignancy to the occasion but in no way diminished the energy level of business being done on the tradeshow floor. While this format appears to be going the way of the Dodo bird, we are ever hopeful that the replacement Business Exchange component of the new event will continue to serve the B to B and Face-to-Face needs of both planners and suppliers.

Among the member partners of ConventionPlanit.com exhibiting in the hall were Hargrove, Visit Bellevue, Team San Jose, Delta Air Lines, Little Rock CVB, Visit Anchorage, Providence Warwick CVB, Hyatt Regency Chicago and Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs.

Visit  Bellevue's Booth

Visit Bellevue’s Booth

The Mexico Tourist Board was represented by Elizabeth Melgoza, Manager Group Sales, Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach and Felix Arroyo, Director of Sales, Krystal Hotel, both in Cancun.

Mexico Tourism at the show

Mexico Tourism at the show

ConventionPlanit, Visit Anchorage, and Alaska Airlines also sponsored a Grand Prize for the show again – a trip to Alaska for one lucky planner! Rosanne White, Executive Director of the Technology Student Association was the winner.

Julie Dodds, Director of Convention Sales, Visit Anchorage Carolynn Hoey, Sales & Marketing Manager, Conventions Moi

Julie Dodds, Director of Convention Sales, Visit Anchorage; Carolynn Hoey, Sales & Marketing Manager, Conventions, Alaska Airlines; Moi

We look forward to seeing you all next May at XDP!

Industry Career Opportunities

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to work for your favorite search directory, now is your chance! conventionplanit job openings

ConventionPlanit.com has openings for the following positions:

Regional Director of Sales

    Sell online marketing solutions to hotels, resorts, CVBs, and other service providers. Position entails phone sales for website listings, advertising and e-marketing features. Additional training will be provided. A minimum of five years of sales experience as well as basic computer skills are required. To apply, or for additional information, please send cover letter and resume to
    info@conventionplanit.com.

    Meeting Specialist

    Meeting Specialists present ConventionPlanit.com to meeting and event planners and acquaint them with the functionalities and services of the website. The website is free to use, and spans destinations, facilities and service providers. Previous sales experience in the meetings industry is preferred. Applicants must have basic computer skills and be able to comfortably navigate and browse the internet. To apply, or for additional information, please send cover letter and resume to info@conventionplanit.com.

Marketing Manager

    Working from home as an independent contractor, the Marketing Manager arranges sales appointments with designated hospitality suppliers, i.e., hotel sales directors, VP of management companies, CVB marketing directors, for assigned ConventionPlanit.com sales directors to demo and close the sale. This individual may flexibly set their own hours and focus on the best time to reach their clients, given the various time zones. Clients are retrieved from our CMS database as well as specific lists in which special pricing was coordinated. Additional training will be provided. To apply, or for additional information, please send cover letter and resume to
    info@conventionplanit.com.