Tag Archives: international meetings

Berlin Claims the Top Spot

For the first time, Berlin has claimed the top spot in the current ranking of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). International organisations from around the world are increasingly choosing to meet in the German capital. They appreciate the modern hotel landscape, the numerous special venues, and also the city’s unique role as a magnet for science, culture, and innovation.

The new Meeting Guide Berlin provides all event planners with an indispensable tool. Accessible at www.meetingguide.berlin/en, the online tool with around 300 entries makes it possible to find the right hotel, venue, incentive, and service partner – such as PCOs, DMCs, catering and technology companies, suppliers, or mobility partners – for your event in the city of Berlin. The Meeting Guide Berlin includes newly opened hotels like the Riu Plaza near the famous Kurfürstendamm, the 4-star Hotel Titanic Chaussee Berlin as well as modern conference centres like the CityCube Berlin and Estrel Berlin, Germany’s biggest hotel.

The visitBerlin Berlin Convention Office is your first contact in the city. Established in 2001, the BCO offers comprehensive support for the organization of conventions, meetings, corporate events, and incentives in Berlin. Benefit from an experienced team, free-of-charge agency and reservation services for hotel allocations as well as a vast network of national and international contacts.

Learn more about Berlin.

Berlin Convention Office – We Know all About Arranging Meetings

berlin logoBerlin Convention Office – We know all about arranging meetings
The visitBerlin Berlin Convention Office (BCO) is the first go-to agency for event planners. The BCO offers comprehensive support for the organisation of conventions, meetings and incberlin photoentives in Berlin.Customers benefit from the experienced team, a vast network of contacts and the free-of-charge agency and reservation services for hotel allocations.

Learn more about Berlin.

10 Must-Ask Questions When Choosing Local Suppliers for International Meetings

By Carol Krugman, MEd, CMP, CMM

Let’s start with a simple premise: No matter how expert you may be, no matter how many years you have been managing meetings, you should not attempt to plan and execute a meeting overseas without help from local supplier partners. If you think that you can do everything alone, as you may be doing here at home, then stay home. Get local support lined up and you will save time, money, and, quite possibly, your job.

Here are my top 10 questions to ask before you select a supplier, be it a destination management company, professional congress organizer, tour company, transportation company, or any other vendor you are considering:

1. How long has your company been in business?
Three years is usually enough time for a business to achieve some internal stability and a presence in the community. I would never risk a meeting on a startup unless I knew the owner personally and had successfully worked with him/her previously.

2. Can you provide names and contact information for three previous clients whose groups or meetings were similar to mine?
Once you get this information, follow up with an e-mail and a phone call. You want to know if this supplier will really understand the details and nuances of your particular group of attendees and if you can rely on the operations team to carry out the promises made by the salesperson.

3. Can you provide references from your bank and creditors?
Verify financial references. This is not difficult for a public company. For a privately held enterprise about which you know nothing, at the very least ask for a letter from the company’s bank. A statement from a reputable bank confirming that the company has a currently active business account is not a guarantee of future solvency. However, a good relationship with a commercial bank and an active account is one indicator that a business is functional. You could also ask for references from three creditors, to see whether the company’s accounts are up-to-date and if it pays its bills on time. Again, this doesn’t guarantee against bankruptcy in the future, but at least gives snapshot of the current financial health of the company and the responsibility of its management.

4. Is your company and/or its staff active in at least one recognized regional professional association and, preferably, an international professional association?
Membership is not a guarantee of competency or performance, but it does indicate that the management subscribes to an internationally recognized level of professionalism and code of practice. It also indicates a willingness to be accountable to colleagues in the industry and to invest time and money in continuing professional education and training. These are all good signs.

5. Are all necessary licenses current?
Business license requirements, if any, vary from country to country, but if they are required, your local partner should have them up-to-date and available.

6. Is any required insurance current?
Like business licenses, insurance requirements vary. Most developed countries require some kind of business insurance. Even in countries where requirements may be less stringent, most reputable suppliers who work with American clients will carry insurance, since this is such a major concern in the U.S.

7. May I visit your office and meet your staff?
If the answer to this question is not an immediate “yes,” this may be an indication that the supplier may not have the physical and/or human resources required to support your meeting. If there is an office, visit it. In what part of town is it located? What kind of IT and communications equipment are in use? Is the staff busy? Are they pleasant? What overall impression of the company do you get from watching the staff in action?

8. Is the English proficiency of your operations staff as good as that of the sales staff?
Insist on talking with members of the operations staff. If their English is not as proficient as that of the salesperson who so eloquently pitched the business to you, how will you and your staff communicate with them on site, especially in an emergency?

9. Can you work with within my budget?
I always make the meeting and budget parameters clear from the outset. This does not mean that you cannot and should not negotiate with suppliers overseas. It simply provides a foundation for a more efficient and successful negotiation. Accurate and realistic information with which a supplier can prepare a proposal is the first step toward developing a long-term relationship of trust and respect. In many areas of the world, the relationships you do or do not establish may determine the success or failure of your meeting. I have always been straightforward with my suppliers about what I can and cannot spend, and, as a result, I have often gotten more value for my budget. They appreciated an honest, professional dialog that did not waste their time and more often than not found creative ways to add extra value to their proposals.

10. What is my gut telling me?
Trust your instincts. Chemistry, comfort, and trust are crucial. As with all relationships, those we establish with support partners abroad will often depend on intangibles that cannot be measured, researched on the Internet, or provided by references. We like to work with people we like. Sometimes we “click” and develop long and fruitful relationships, sometimes we do not. I have been fortunate to meet and work with extraordinary people all over the world who remain valued colleagues and friends after decades of collaboration. Through them I have met other members of my global resource network and we continue to share assistance and advice as needed.

Carol Krugman, MEd, CMP, CMM, has managed programs in Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East, as well as in the United States and Canada over the past 30 years. As Director of Meeting and Business Event Management for the Department of Hospitality, Tourism and Events Management at Metropolitan State College of Denver, Carol is currently teaching undergraduate courses in meeting and event planning full time.

For more global meetings tips, visit ConventionPlanit.com.

Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI) Expands M&I Global Portfolio To Service Client Needs

jim schultenoverBased on the increasing global needs of both corporate and association clients, Associated Luxury Hotels International(ALHI) selectively added members around the world to provide the same Four- and Five-Star quality hotel and service options that currently define their hotel and resort portfolio for the clients they serve.

As you incorporate international destinations in the rotation for your meetings and programs, a great way to accomplish this is by contacting ALHI, which now offers more than 100 international luxury-level hotel and resort options in 45 countries, among its distinguished portfolio. Significantly, all are high quality vetted hotels and resorts which specifically serve the meetings, conventions and incentive marketplace.

Providing Global Sales services and support to meeting professionals, association executives, incentive travel specialists, convention specialists, and business executives through its 20 Global Sales Organization (GSO) offices across North America, ALHI offers an impressive portfolio that features more than 250 luxury-level, meeting & incentive-focused hotels and resorts worldwide, plus distinctive alliance members to assist planners. Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2016, ALHI is the longest established and leading worldwide independent GSO specifically serving the North American M.I.C.E. marketplace. ALHI is led by CEO David Gabri and President Jim Schultenover, two highly respected executives in the meetings and hospitality industry.

ConventionPlanit spoke with ALHI President Jim Schultenover to learn more about ALHI’s international growth to address the growing demand.

CP: Have you seen an increase in the demand for meetings and programs outside of the U.S.?

Schultenover: Yes, we’ve been experiencing significant growth in the demand for international meetings and incentive travel programs from our accounts, particularly for Europe. Statistics provided by the Incentive Research Foundation reinforce this growing demand, as last year more planners considered international destinations over domestic locations for their incentive travel programs for the first time since the recession. Of course, it also should be noted that incentive travel remains very strong to appealing North American hotels and resorts too.

CP: How has ALHI addressed this?

Schultenover: To address this need, we recently expanded our global portfolio with the strategic addition of 77 magnificent luxury-level hotels and resorts in 31 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Members include the highly regarded Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin, the Hotel du Collectionneur Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and the Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok in Thailand. Our portfolio now features the impressive choice of 18 hotels in Western Europe, 13 hotels in Eastern Europe, 26 hotels in Asia, 10 hotels in Africa, and 10 hotels in the Middle East.
Plus, we also provide the very appealing option of conducting programs on a wonderful variety of 23 luxury-level cruise ships – Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Oceania, and Norwegian Cruise Line — suitable for M&I programs at an array of outstanding, memory-making locations around the world. The value, array of experiences, variety of services, and seeing several different locations – while only unpacking once – is an increasingly popular choice for groups.

CP: Is now a good time for planners to book an international program?

Schultenover: Yes! Now is a great time for groups to experience their program, or programs, in a global destination, particularly in Europe, to take advantage of the increased buying power of the U.S. currency, as the U.S. dollar has actually strengthened 21% versus the Euro since 2013. So, appealing and memorable places like France, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland are now very good values compared to prior years. Plus, the strength of the U.S. dollar is also making it more affordable and appealing for U.S. groups to travel to Canada and Asia too.

CP: Are there additional Global Sales services that ALHI provides to planners?

Schultenover: Yes, ALHI also has a strategic alliance with Global DMC Partners with their portfolio of highly qualified and experienced Destination Management Companies (DMCs) in over 100 destinations worldwide. So, collectively, ALHI is prepared to assist accounts with their programs in the United States plus over 90 other countries worldwide. We offer this service as another means to help planners with their programs, as there are many advantages to utilizing the services of a qualified DMC. They can help immensely as local experts, as they have in-depth local knowledge, with a network of local vendors. Plus, they become a single point of contact for a client, which really saves time and effort and keeps all of the off-site details much simpler.
DMCs can assist with an extensive range of services, such as coordinating transportation, teambuilding programs, dine-arounds, tours, and identifying and coordinating unique off-site venues. They also can coordinate catering services, entertainment, décor, themes, spouse programs, translation services, VIP meet-and-greets, community give-back programs and program logistics. Plus, they can leverage relationships and purchasing power to provide the best services in a cost-effective manner.
 

CP: Earlier you mentioned that the ALHI Global Sales Organization is a one-stop solution. What does that mean?

Schultenover: With one contact, our sales executives can provide hotel, DMC, and cruise options in North America and across the globe. These selective options all meet the quality requirements that have defined us for the last 30 years. Additionally, our membership portfolio ensures meaningful options for our clients to choose from.

For more information about ALHI, to inquire about any program for the ALHI portfolio, and alliance partners, visit alhi.com and contact your nearest ALHI Global Sales Office, or call the “ALHI Group Desk” toll-free at 866-303-ALHI (2544).

Top International Meeting Planners to Visit Prague for Meeting & Incentive Forum Europe Autumn 2016

Forum supported by Prague CVB to see over 4,000 pre-scheduled one-to-one meetings aimed at increasing business travel to Czech Republic.

Prague is making big moves this year!

More than 350 top international meeting and incentive professionals will gather in Prague, 26-30 September 2016, for M&I Forum Europe Autumn 2016.  In partnership with the Prague Convention Bureau and a number of local DMCs, the four-day event will see fully hosted buyers hold over 4,000 meetings with event suppliers from across Europe and beyond.

The Forum will introduce some of Europe’s leading meeting and incentive professionals to new and undiscovered features of the Czech capital. While it retains a rich culture and history, Prague is also a modern and dynamic city, home to state-of-the-art, multifunctional event spaces, and new hotels.

“Prague hosted an M&I Forum back in 2009 and this is the perfect time for the event to return. Heritage and history remain an inseparable part of the city, but they’re now complemented by stunning modern venues, all with exceptional services. A dynamic city, we’re excited to show Prague in a new light. Our wonderful city is perfectly suited to both big events and smaller incentive groups, and I am sure the experience will open up new business opportunities and give attendees total confidence in the destination.” said Lenka Jarošová, Executive Director of Prague Convention Bureau. “Coming to this Forum is in my opinion a great opportunity to experience up close what we have to offer and, besides doing good business, have a huge amount of fun.”

M&I Forums are trade events held in the world’s leading meetings destinations. They offer business events suppliers the opportunity to meet and develop relationships with vetted, hand-selected buyers who have confirmed budgets to spend. The Forums provide a professional, effective and fun platform for business meetings and networking with these high quality buyers. They also allow top global meetings destinations to showcase their offerings, in order to grow their share of the international business events market. In 2016, Prague will join Dubai (UAE), Scottsdale, AZ (USA), Madrid (Spain), and Izmir (Turkey) in hosting M&I Forums to showcase their offering to a global audience of events professionals.

Commenting on the event in Prague, Richard Barnes, Managing Director of M&I Forums, added: “Prague has invested a vast amount in their meetings infrastructure in recent years, and there’s a new side to the Czech capital that’s waiting to be explored. It’s home to an array of new, groundbreaking hotels and venues which we’re excited to introduce our delegates to, opening their eyes to the opportunities this city has to offer in 2016.”

Since Prague last hosted an M&I Forum in 2009, the city has undergone substantial changes. The accommodation offering, especially 4 and 5* hotels, increased considerably, and the public transportation system has been modernized and widely extended to make the city and its meeting venues easily accessible to visitors. Prague is now home to many international innovative technology and science institutions, attracting experts and scholars from all over the world. In tandem with these infrastructure changes, Prague Convention Bureau has developed its services significantly, including an extensive program of incentive support granted by the city and Ambassador Programme for association events. In short, Prague is completely prepared to meet the demands of the very highest end of the meetings industry.

For more information about M&I Forum Europe Autumn 2016, or to take part in the event, please visit the M&I Forums website: http://mi-forums.com/.

Estrel Convention Center in Berlin – Expanding Its Capacities

Exciting news from Berlin!

There are now new major convention capacities for Estrel Berlin, Germany’s largest hotel, who opened its new Convention Hall early last month.

The Convention Hall II will now offer 10,000 m² of meeting space for conferences and congresses for up to 5,200 participants.

Together with its existing meeting space, the Estrel Berlin will offer more than 25,000 m² for conventions for up to11,200 participants.
Today, the hotel with the striking glass façade has 1,125 rooms ready for the night. Until 2017, Estrel Berlin will be adding 814 more rooms as construction of the 46-storey Estrel Tower is completed.
The tower will stand 716 m tall, about two and a half times higher than the current Estrel Hotel, and will thus become the tallest high-rise hotel in Germany!

The Culture Map: How Cultural Complexities Will Impact Business in the Future

Among the most interesting educational sessions at this year’s PCMA Convening Leaders was one included in the Globalization tract. In the past, education geared towards organizing a global event was centered on instructing planners how to know when to kiss, bow or shake hands in order to ensure a successful transaction.

Now as today’s business world becomes ever-more global and virtual, professionals are expected to work harmoniously together with counterparts from a broad array of starkly different backgrounds and cultures…without disastrous results!

Erin Meyer, author of The Culture Map and specialist in the field of Cross-Cultural Management, broke down how different cultures influence the way to do business. Living and working in Africa, Europe, and the United States prompted her study of the communication patterns and business systems of different parts of the world.

She devised The Culture Map to help business executives break through these “invisible boundaries” by learning how to navigate cultural minefields. It is made up of eight scales representing the management behaviors where cultural gaps are most common. By comparing the position of one nationality relative to another on each scale, the user can decode how culture influences day-to-day collaboration.

For example, dissimilar cultures qualify feedback differently. Managers in various parts of the world are conditioned to give feedback in drastically diverse ways. The Chinese manager learns never to criticize a colleague openly or in front of others, while the Dutch manager learns always to be honest and to give the message straight. Americans are trained to wrap positive messages around negative ones, while the French are trained to criticize passionately and provide positive feedback sparingly.

If you are finding this a bit overwhelming, ConventionPlanit.com is positioned to help planners who are looking to refine their existing approach to doing business globally. Our international supplier partners include Destination Management companies who can help you with the challenges incurred by executing a meeting outside the U.S.

Click Here to view one such organization with “boots on the ground” serving five of seven continents through a portfolio of international DMCs.

IMEX America Hosted Buyer Opportunity

IMEX AmericaEveryone knows that IMEX America is the biggest meetings industry event in Las Vegas this year, but did you know that you can attend for free?

If you are responsible for placing two or more international meetings annually (away from the US, Canada and the Caribbean), join ConventionPlanit.com at IMEX America 2014 via the Hosted Buyer Program!

IMEX America returns to the Sands Expo in Las Vegas October 14-16, 2014. Don’t miss your chance to be part of our Hosted Buyer Program and join this group of valued meetings organizers as a guest of IMEX. At IMEX America you’ll meet suppliers from across the United States and around the world under one roof. Along with conducting business with them, you will be able to benefit from tailored education and peer-to-peer networking.

What is included?

  • Roundtrip airfare
  • Accommodation at one of our partner hotels
  • Transfers within Las Vegas between Las Vegas McCarran Airport, the Sands Expo and hotels
  • Access to the Hosted Buyer Lounge with phone charging stations, free luggage storage and complimentary WiFi
  • Dedicated Hosted Buyer team to support you and your clients

Bonus – our Hosted Buyer group is led by me and my colleague (and fellow blogger) Maureen Pickell. We’re a pretty fun duo!

For more information or to register, please comment below and we will be in touch!

IMEX Wraps Up

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!

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

IMEX Provides Everything Planners Need

IMEX is all work with some “play.” ConventionPlanit.com hosted buyers Marianne Van Wagner of the International Behavioral Neuroscience Society and Alison Watson of Society Offices relax at a dinner hosted by CP.com 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!

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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!