Anchorage Visits Washington, DC

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Yesterday, Co-Founder Katherine Markham, CHME attended a luncheon sponsored by Visit Anchorage in Washington, DC.

Our friends at Anchorage, always the most gracious of hosts, put on a wonderful presentation showcasing all of the exciting activities available to meeting planners who are lucky enough to hold a meeting there. Advisory Council Member Lesley Zeck with Visit Anchorage's Julie Dodds and CP Co-Founder Katherine Markham Advisory Council Member Lesley Zeck with Visit Anchorage’s Julie Dodds and CP Co-Founder Katherine Markham

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IMEX Wraps Up

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Well, it’s wrap up day for IMEX Frankfurt 2014! Ray Bloom in his closing press conference described it as “a more positive and buoyant business mood than we’ve seen for some time.”

There are always lots of numbers that get thrown out after this show validating its relevance to our industry, but perhaps the most interesting was not a statistic, but news of an historic collaboration between the Joint Meetings Industry Council, the World Travel & Tourism Committee and the UN World Travel Organization.

Representatives of these groups met in Frankfurt to work on a joint declaration for the alignment of efforts to further the cause of the entire meetings and travel industry. This understanding would be seen as a first and significant recognition of the meeting industry’s status as an economic driver at a global level.

Not a bad note to leave IMEX on!


See you at IMEX America…mark your calendars for October 12-14, 2014 in Las Vegas!

IMEX Provides Everything Planners Need

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IMEX is all work with some “play.” hosted buyers Marianne Van Wagner of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society and Alison Watson of Society Offices relax at a dinner hosted by supplier member ACC Liverpool.

The weather has been lovely in Frankfurt so outside restaurants are very popular after a long day sequestered in Hall 8 of the Messe!



IMEX has been described as “a crash course on what the world has to offer.” Two major examples of the type of education provided are the programs presented during the “Exclusively Corporate @ IMEX seminar and the traditional Association Day sessions.

From discussions of issues that are challenging many parts of the meetings industry to how to juggle being creative as well as compliant, corporate and association planners found the programs to be perfectly targeted in providing useful tips.

One planner put it succinctly, “I only attend IMEX and no other shows, it provides everything I need.”

Yesterday, me and the hosted buyer group ended the group appointment component of the show at the stand of our supplier partners The Malaysia Tourism Board and the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Speaking of appointments, there have been more than 60, 000 individual and group meetings at the show.  No wonder it’s been so hard to navigate the aisles of the Messe congress center!

IMEX Frankfurt Opens

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If it’s May it must be time to head to Frankfurt for the annual pilgrimage to IMEX! Your intrepid globe trotter/blogger arrived in Germany’s IMEX Europe along with 6 hosted buyers to join in the  action.

IMEX in Frankfurt opened Tuesday in Messe Frankfurt’s Hall 8 with the announcement that the leading trade show for the international meetings, events and incentive travel industry has grown again in 2014. New stands, stand increases from existing exhibitors, the biggest education programme ever and the scale and diversity of the hosted buyer programme are the defining features of this year’s exhibition.

64 new stands join the line up of 3500 exhibiting companies on the show floor so our buyers will be busy making the rounds!

140520_002On Day 1 of the IMEX Marathon, hosted buyers enjoyed a presentation by the Philippine Tourism Board to kick off their appointment schedule.

The video showed great festivals, impressive meeting venues and beautiful beaches but they also made a point of demonstrating their “sense of humor” while portraying their 7,000 islands as a destination that prides itself on its hospitality.


What Can a General Service Contractor Do for You?

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TradeshowsPutting together an exhibition or tradeshow that appears to run seamlessly to attendees is actually the result of maximum effort on the part of many behind the scenes groups. Convention service contractors are this invisible presence.

They are in the business of servicing the needs of event organizers and can provide everything from exhibition management, signage, and booth building, to drayage, shipping, and the latest technology systems, plus much, much more. is now offering a more robust listing of convention service providers.

With expert knowledge in event and exhibit planning, General Service Contractors (GSC) provide the logistical support to make an event happen, down to the smallest detail. GSCs will help to vet vendors and will often provide recommendations for vendors directly to their clients. Their focus is on everything that makes an event great, especially bringing buyers and sellers together.

General Service Contractors are now going beyond the value proposition of just providing logistics, labor, and decorations for an event. Large event GSCs know that it takes more than just pretty decorations to make a successful event. They know that asking the right questions on the RFP will help them to solve challenges that their clients face. This can be as simple as reworking a floor layout to make a space more useable to knowing what technologies will be most appropriate for their client’s needs.

Bringing the latest technology to the shows improves the overall experience and perception of the show. “There’s an App” for most shows today and GSCs know how to incorporate the right technology to make each event successful. This will also help to build the attendee base.

Convention service contractors are evolving and changing to meet new demands in the marketplace, particularly related to new technology being used in connection with exhibitions. It would be impossible for each company, organization, or association to purchase the latest advances in technology each year, so convention service providers are key to being able to bring the future to their shows.

Getting the physical set up of the show right is just one aspect of the overall event. Managing the people side of the event is equally important. In addition, many events are a combination of both a tradeshow/exhibition and a conference and require extensive coordination of an educational program.  Meeting management companies play an important role in this regard. These companies help clients with site selection, online and on-site registration, speaker coordination, and housing.

General service contractors and meeting management companies can manage most of the details, but there are always the ones that slip by and have to be dealt with personally. Being away from all of the conveniences of the home office can make managing those last minute office tasks difficult. Many hotels have well appointed business centers to help. Premier hotels and convention centers around the U.S. now also have FedEx Office centers that can offer critical business services, including shipping needs. This is always a welcome service for receiving forgotten items or those that may be needed during the course of the show.

Convention service contractors help to make the process of organizing an event highly organized and coordinated.  Their expertise allows for the maximization of resources, while keeping client expectations and budgets in mind. They ensure that their clients are able to focus on their core competencies and don’t sweat the details.  Attendees reap the benefits of these behind the scenes workers and are presented with an outstanding experience, which in turn, helps clients reap maximum profits.

To contact a GSC, visit

A Double Win at the Springtime Expo

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Springtime ExpoStop by and see at the Springtime Expo May 15 at the Washington Convention Center, Booth 3101.

We’ll be providing live tours of RFP Organization, our time saving meeting planner tool that organizes RFP responses onto a chart (for free!). Plus, you can enter our Grand Prize Drawing, co-sponsored with longtime member Visit Anchorage. It’s a double win!

The prize, a Big Alaskan Adventure, includes round-trip airline tickets for two from Alaska Airlines; a two night deluxe stay in downtown Anchorage at the Hilton Anchorage; round-trip tickets for two on the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward; a Wildlife/Glacier Cruise; passes to the Anchorage Museum for two; passes to the Alaska Native Heritage Center, the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, and much more!

Register for the Springtime Expo here. We can’t wait to meet you!

Spring Meeting Deals

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Most of us expect to pay top dollar when it’s last minute. Yet, you can find special offers for any season you choose on!

Hotels and convention centers needing to fill certain time frames are extending great deals for your meeting – a virtual win-win. Check out some Divine Deal samples below with special offerings for the upcoming months:

Balboa Bay Resort (Newport Beach, California)

Choose from the following for a meeting from now to June 30, 2014:

  • Daily 30-minute guided Yoga session set among lush gardens, with refreshment station
  • One hour lawn bocce with chips & salsa and wine
  • Complimentary 1-night stay for a future visit for the planner

Plus, receive room rates from $169 for 20 or more room nights.

Hilton Graden Inn Washington, DC/Bethesda (Bethesda, Maryland)

From now until the end of April, win a 42” flat screen TV, round trip airline tickets, or an iPad Mini with group business in APRIL 2014. Call the sales department for more information.

Crowne Plaza Hotel Tampa Westshore (Tampa, Florida)

Get a jump on Spring Training with an all day meeting package, available for groups of 25 or more, through the end of April.

$60 per person includes:

  • Complimentary meeting room rental
  • 10% off audio visual equipment
  • Continental breakfast (chef’s choice)
  • AM break (chef’s choice)
  • Lunch buffet (chef’s choice)
  • PM break (chef’s choice)

Scottsdale Resort & Conference Center (Scottsdale, Arizona)

Meetings at the Scottsdale Resort & Conference Center are always a great value, but now there is more value with their Benchmark Conference Plan (BCP).

Choose up to four of the following:

  • 5% rebate of total guest room revenue
  • 50% attrition policy
  • No cancellation penalty up to 30 days prior to arrival
  • 50% off private dining package
  • Surcharges or 25% off a la carte dining
  • 1:35 comp room ratio
  • No F&B minium
  • One hour Welcome Reception (beer, wine & chef’s choice appetizers)

Some requirements apply. To learn more about these special offers and to see even more great deals, visit the Divine Deals section on!

Got a Tip? Share and Win!

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pc nametag badgesDon’t forget – there’s still time to put on your thinking caps and share your best name badge tips!

From creative to useful to income-generating, submit your best ideas for a chance to win a $250 gift certificate for anything in the PC/NAMETAG catalog.

Agendas and sponsorship messages are great – but what other practical little “oh, yeah…” detail or “a-ha” ideas have you had about the backside of badges? Enter your tip today – the winner will be announced at the end of April!

The tip with the most votes wins, so spread the word to your industry peers!

Founded by meeting planners, PC/NAMETAG® provides fellow planners with supplies that solve their problems and simplify their jobs. They specialize in exclusive, innovative products that make meeting registration run smoothly. Check them out if you are in the market for their services, and be sure to enter the contest!

The Meeting Planner Inside Scoop: 2013 Takeaways and 2014 Predictions

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meeting planner inside scoopWe recently sat down with seasoned meeting planner Darlene Lyons, President of EzEvents and Advisory Board member.

We got the meeting planner inside scoop on what lessons she learned from the 2013 meeting season, and what we can  look forward to for 2014.

2013 Takeaways – A Rebounding Economy Offers Pros and Cons

  • Larger Budgets: Lyons found many of her clients in 2013 had larger than expected budgets to put towards their meetings. This is certainly a signal of a strengthening economy!
  • Rise in Demand Limits Meeting Space & Guest Room Availability: Lyons said this happened quickly, and was an unpleasant surprise for her clients, who expected high availability and lower rates. 
  • Increased Lead Times: a direct result of the increase in demand has been longer lead times. Sales staff are inundated with more RFPs to respond to, and planners are experiencing longer wait times. Lyons says that makes it easy to get an organized search for properties done, as well help to get a response. “Venues respond quicker to,” she says.
  • More Research: another side effect of the demand, planners are finding it more difficult to secure their first choice destinations. Lyons recommends researching a meeting a minimum of two years out. “We’re having difficulty finding space in high demand destinations such as Las Vegas, but even the top twenty-five spots, like Dallas, are rebounding as well,” says Lyons.
  • WiFi Becomes a Requirement: No longer an option, WiFi is now demanded as a necessity. In face, Lyons said that Wifi was probably her biggest frustration and challenge for 2013. So much that she worked with an audiovisual specialist “to standardize the exact amount of megabits/sec needed per person based on how many devices they were likely to have and for what purposes they would use them,” she says. This way, she could bid out the right amount needed for that meeting so that no one was stuck with a frozen device. You can find out more about how to determine WiFi needs at her website,
  • Emerging Technologies: Digital signage, audience polling systems and smart phone apps all grew in popularity last year. Other changes she saw in 2013 included meetings with fewer speakers who talked at their audience and more round table discussions, and the need to reuse or maximize space.

2014 – Positive Expansions

What does 2014 hold for the meeting profession? Lyons is very positive for this year. She expects business to double, if not triple. “Companies are more optimistic, and many are projecting moderate growth. This is allowing them to free up larger budgets for meetings,” says Lyons.

“People still want peer to peer training. They want to network and learn.” She sees a trend for more collaborative type meetings with more audience participation. “Networking breakouts, and Ted-like short talks with a small number of people for a shorter period of time are becoming very popular.”

A final word of advice from Lyons for those who may be starting their careers in the meetings industry, especially those who will be working as independent planners like herself: “Have a solid business plan, have a good contract, find a niche market to work in, and have a good, targeted marketing plan,” she says.

Darlene Lyons is the founder and President of EzEvents, Inc. and has over 25 years of experience in the meeting industry. She has been responsible for the planning and execution of over 5,000 events on the North American continent. She has worked with many of the worlds’ leading speakers and entertainers, and thrives on the excitement of the event industry.

What did you take away from 2013? What do you think 2014 has in store? Comment below to join the discussion!

April Hilton Meeting Giveway

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Are you in need of a home for an April meeting and feeling the pressure? Hilton Garden Inn

The Hilton Garden Inn Washington, DC / Bethesda has availability and will reward you for booking your meeting with them.

From now until April 30, you will be entered to win the prize of your choosing when you book your April meeting:

-a 42″ flat screen TV

-round trip airline tickets, or

-iPad mini

Learn more here or call their sales department at 301-654-8111 for information.

Must book a minimum of 25 rooms including a Sunday and/or Thursday. Based on availability. NOT valid with any other offer. Promotion ends April 30, 2014.

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