Tag Archives: meeting industry

Last Chance for Incentive Travel Exchange Hosted Buyer Program

Incentive Travel Exchange
As the MICE industry continues to enjoy monumental growth, more and more events seem to clutter the marketplace, making it difficult to know which may be the most beneficial to you.  But don’t worry – the BEST event to network with the largest selection of travel suppliers is still to come in 2017!

Join us for Incentive Travel Exchange, April 23-26 at The Delano Las Vegas for two days of focused meetings and exciting networking activities, while making lasting relationships with industry colleagues and suppliers.

If you organize, influence, plan or recommend MICE travel program purchases, you are invited to apply for one of the fully hosted buyer positions.

Hosted buyer participation includes:

  • Complimentary airfare to/from Las Vegas from home airport
  • Three nights’ accommodations in a suite at the Delano Las Vegas
  • Transfers to/from McCarran International and The Delano Las Vegas
  • Two days of pre-arranged meetings with leading incentive travel suppliers of your choice
  • Event meals and receptions
  • Networking activities including Brooklyn Bowl, dining at Smith & Wollensky, and a show!

Apply now for a fully hosted buyer position or visit IncentiveTravelExchange.com for more information.

Federal Travel Restrictions Loosened

President Obama has released a memorandum lifting many of the restrictions in place surrounding federal employee attendance at conferences and events.

Since 2012, the process and conditions required for federal employees to gain approval to attend conferences prevented many from attending and properly doing their jobs. The reduction of 25 percent equated to a savings of $30 million.

While regulations will still be in place, the focus will be on federally sponsored or hosted events. Government agencies will now be held to accountability standards, which include publishing information on their public websites about conference attendance with an overall cost greater than $100,000. They must also include the  date and location of the conference, the number of staffers attending, total expenditures, and an explanation of how the event advanced the mission of the agency.

Agencies will now be able to pre-approve attendance at reoccurring events, allowing for the cost savings bonus of early registration discounts and advance travel arrangements. If a conference will cost more than $500,000 for an agency to attend, an agency official must document in writing why the event is the most cost-effective way to achieve the organization’s purpose.

The memorandum says government officials must continue to root out wasteful spending, but it hints at a lesson learned by agencies while they were subjected to such tight controls on conferences. “These changes incorporate the lessons learned over the past several years and recognize the resulting actions that agencies have taken during that time,” the memorandum says, though it also acknowledges that it has impeded the ability of employees to do their jobs to some extent. “These changes also respond to challenges agencies faced as a result of OMB Memorandum M-12-12, including reduced opportunities to perform useful agency functions, present scientific findings and innovations, train, recruit, and retain employees, or share best practices,” the document says.

What’s In and Out for 2017 Meetings

By Al Rickard, CAE

It’s a new year, and the meetings industry is looking ahead to what will make their events compelling in 2017.

Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM, CSEP, Director of Education & Events at Practice Greenhealth, predicts more “attendee engagement through technology. There will be a bigger focus on attendee ROI by connecting them to their peers and coaches/mentors and speakers at events. There will be a shift toward using technology to connect people, such as the launch of ‘Brain Dates’ at PCMA’s Convening Leaders. Attendees need to demonstrate immediate ROI when attending conferences and so planners are working to meet those needs.”

“One thing that will always be ‘in’ in the meetings industry is networking and the opportunity to learn from people in a live setting,” says Suzanne Berry, MBA, CAE, Senior Strategic Advisor to the CEO at the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. “You can’t duplicate that type of learning online and capture the insights and nuances of new ideas that you get at an in-person meeting.”

Suzanne and her husband, Peter, spent many years running an association management company and have run hundreds of meetings and seen the results they produce.

Peter Berry offers this thought on what’s “out” for meetings in 2017: “Loud music. People come to meetings to connect and talk to each other, so give them an opportunity to do that. Have the reception and dinner in a relatively quiet space and save the loud music for later at night for people who want to dance.”

Kristin Clarke, CAE, Executive Director of the American Physical Therapy Association Section on Women’s Health, notes, “Sustainability continues to be important operationally not only because of cost but even more so from the standpoint of organizational values and alignment with member expectations. With more than 75 percent of communities engaged in recycling, attendees notice if they can’t find an easy recycling bin or if you serve coffee to thousands using Styrofoam cups.”

What else can you expect to be “In” and “Out” in the meetings and travel industry? Here’s a snapshot:

In Out
Jeans and Casual Dress Neckties
Facebook Live Expensive Videos
Theater in the Round Lecterns and Podiums
Retargeting Ads Mass Marketing
Connection Receptions Sit-Down Dinners
GMO-Free Produce Processed Food
TSA Pre-Check Shoeless Airport Security Check
Calendar Appointment Requests Formal Invitations
Alexa Siri
Phone Alarm Alarm Clock
Real News Fake News

What would you add to the list? Leave a comment and let us know!

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

Meeting Planning Lessons from The Book of Mormon

What meeting planning lessons can we glean from the popular Tony-award-winning Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon?

Plenty, as it turns out.

At a learning lab at the ASAE 2016 Annual Meeting entitled, “What the Musical The Book of Mormon Taught Me About Association Management,“ seven association professionals used The Book of Mormon as a metaphor to offer association management lessons about leadership, membership recruitment, branding, social media, humor, diversity, and yes, meeting planning.

The session was created and moderated by Sheri Singer, president of Singer Communications, and drew about 500 attendees.

Tom Quash, CAE, Vice President, Marketing, Communications & Publications at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN), encouraged session attendees to script an inspirational story at their conferences, much as the one of the lead characters in The Book of Mormon did as he worked to convert skeptical villagers in Uganda to the Mormon faith.

“At AWHONN, we celebrate the daily work of our nurses and underscore Connection — a core belief that we know our members value,” Quash explained. “We weave the connection messaging into social media, marketing, and speeches throughout the convention. You know the old adage about the elevator pitch: you must simply state your story and build your script around it.”

Cast of Characters

Next, consider your cast of characters.

“Who is responsible for telling your story at your convention?,” Quash asked. “The CEO? The Chair? Both? You can also have dual roles but they should be positioned purposefully and intentionally.”

He cautioned executives to not try to make a storyteller funny if that doesn’t mesh with their mission or style, and instead leverage the talents of each individual to create a great cast.

“Who can speak with authority when necessary?” he asked. “Who can add levity? Which speakers will best support the story? Does your cast represent a fair balance of your membership or constituents? How many industry partners should be represented? Have you considered diversity, in all its forms?”

Quash noted that at the end of a great play, it’s the cast that receives the hearty applause and the standing ovations.

“For example, think about your general session,” Quash suggested. “When that is over, you want your attendees to be touched or re-energized by what they have heard.”

Creating the Stage

“Does the décor on your main stage reflect your brand and your story?,” Quash asked. “Don’t overlook the opportunity to leverage staging, music and lighting to help create a theatrical experience. If you can, consider using what Broadway plays use all the time the ‘Wow’ factor. Think about the chandelier crashing in Phantom of the Opera–that’s a wow factor.

“You may not have a Broadway budget, but you can still make it theatrical. One year, we had a rock-and-roll pit band during the General Session instead of piped-in music. Another year, our Board Chair took the stage from the audience, rather than backstage, followed by dozens of student members to tell that year’s story of our commitment to the next generation,” Quash explained.

According to Quash, like it or not, your association is competing for attention with free and open access to online content, web-based communities, apps, streaming, Netflix, and even Pokemon Go.

“Your story and your stage cannot come across as stale or disconnected with the expectations or even demands of your members,” Quash said. “Your venue, the city, your networking events, your tradeshow, and more are all ‘stages’ for you to support the experience.”

Practice Makes Perfect

Quash is an advocate of dress rehearsals to make sure “the show” flows without a hitch.

“Rehearsals help determine if the timing is right,” he explained. “Are all the cues in place? Where will your VIPs sit? Are your presenters comfortable with their delivery?”

Quash says it’s also important to consider “what if?” scenarios and have a plan to act accordingly.

“What if a speaker doesn’t show up? What’s the plan to communicate this? What if the fire marshal is onsite and shuts down a room due to overcrowding? What if there’s a weather event that threatens the safety of your attendees?” he asked.

While Quash notes that you can’t plan for every conceivable scenario, you can be prepared for at least some unexpected developments.

Selling Your Show

You can’t start too early when it comes to selling your next conference, Quash declared.

“The selling starts at least a year in advance, at your current convention,” he believes. “While attendees are in the midst of a great experience, you want them to get excited for the following year. Talk up next year, as ASAE routinely does.”

Quash says at AWHONN they test story messages to determine what is resonating with their key audiences. They also explore new marketing platforms.

“Direct mail, email and advertising may be effective, but have you leveraged content marketing?” Quash queries. “Do you have a digital marketing strategy? Can you use your chapter or sections to act as champions? Are there bloggers that can help support the conference promotion? Don’t underestimate their reach and impact.”

Be sure that you provide your members, leaders and other stakeholders with the right tools to help you sell the show, Quash suggested.

“With a compelling story, great cast, inviting staging, detailed rehearsals and smart selling, you’ll create your very ownBook of Mormon – a theatrical, memorable experience for your members,” said Quash.

Al Rickard, CAE, is President of Association Vision, a Washington, DC-area communications company, and serves as Director of Communications for ConventionPlanit.com.

Hospitality 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.

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

    .

ASAE Annual Visits Salt Lake City

David Markham, Mara Buckner and Maureen Pickell enjoying ASAE Salt Lake City

David Markham, Mara Buckner and Maureen Pickell enjoying ASAE Salt Lake City

If it’s mid-August, it must be time for your intrepid blogger to report on the 2016 ASAE Annual Conference & Exposition. Salt Lake City was the fortunate city this year to host 4,800 attendees anxious to network and attend educational sessions positioned to help them:

  • Grow globally
  • Foster volunteerism
  • Be a collaborative leader
  • Design inclusive, safe and welcoming meetings
  • Establish a disaster plan
  • Educate tomorrows workforce
No these weren’t the window washers!

No these weren’t the window washers!

ASAE’s opening night receptions are always epic, but Salt Lake brought a new dimension to their event held against the dramatic backdrop of the Wasatch and Oquirrh mountain ranges in downtown Library Square. Along with the local food and drink and a giant social wall projected onto the side of the city’s art, science, and technology museum, attendees were treated to aerial dancing on the public library’s glass exterior wall by Project Bandaloop.

That’s right, the WALL of the building served as the stage as we all looked to the sky to follow the intricate performance.

I don’t think that this was planned as the lead-in to the Opening General Session the next morning, but we found ourselves focused heavenward again as astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly enthralled the audience with a dual keynote “conversation” about the challenges connected with their combined 550-some days in outer space.

Using a combination of brotherly bantering and serious reflection, the Kelly’s presentation demonstrated how we should always welcome the opportunity to accomplish something that is hard. Thank you ASAE for kicking off the conference with men of action instead of just “talking heads.”!!

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!

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.

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.

ASAE Annual Takes Over Detroit

If it’s August, it must be time for your intrepid blogger to head out to the 2015 ASAE Annual Conference & Exposition. Detroit was the fortunate city this year to host 5,300 attendees anxious to network and attend educational sessions positioned to help them:

  • Grow globally
  • Build relationships with board and staff
  • Create a marketing strategy
  • Boost a career
  • Expand creativity
  • Achieve work-life balance

Coinciding with the Annual was the launch of a six year, $279 million renovation of the Cobo Center in downtown Detroit. The new and improved meeting venue boasted expanded meeting facilities along with 30,000 square feet of contiguous floor space presenting attendees with views of the Detroit River and Canada through floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

ConventionPlanit & SPiN team up. Carolyn Pemberton, Muzette Randall, Sara Vanderbilt, Maureen Pickell, Katherine Markham

ConventionPlanit & SPiN team up. Carolyn Pemberton, Muzette Randall, Sara Vanderbilt, Maureen Pickell, Katherine Markham, & Catherine Jensen

Most importantly for a venue this large, were the staffers positioned throughout the building to point you in the right direction and even help you up the escalator with excess baggage when necessary! All in all, Cobo Center did a great job with its first major post-renovation convention!

Carolyn Pemberton & Katherine Markham ConventionPlanit enjoy Detriot's Greektown

Carolyn Pemberton & Katherine Markham ConventionPlanit enjoy Detriot’s Greektown