Tag Archives: meeting planner feedback

New Question and Answer Series

Meeting planners have a wealth of knowledge, and are happy to share it! If  you have a burning question, comment below, and one of your peers will offer some advice!

Question: How can I improve my vendor relationships?

Answer: It’s never too late to start forming good relationships with the facilities where you conduct business.

For example if you are on a tight budget and are holding your meeting at a facility that is potentially oversold on housing, you have a great chance of negotiating an arrangement that is beneficial to both you and the hotel.

Contact your sales person or CSM and tell them you’ve heard they may be having some housing challenges and you’d like to offer them some help. If you are holding upgrade rooms, tell them you’d be willing to exchange your upgraded rooms for standard rooms in exchange a meeting comp. Suggest something you know the hotel will not cost them out of pocket (i.e., in-house technology, waiver of nonunion labor/delivery charges, comp room rental). Most of the time the hotel will be more than happy to negotiate because they will be able to happily accommodate both (or all) of their clients.

Answer Submitted by: Tina Buehler, CMP Conference Planning Manager, with Q Center

Share Your Experience

Do you have something to say? blah blah blah

ConventionPlanit is now accepting articles for publication in the e-Alert, a biweekly e-newsletter for meeting planners.

Suggested topics may include what’s trending, challenges or success stories. We’re open to new ideas!

This is the perfect opportunity to promote your personal brand or share your wealth of experience with other planners.

ConventionPlanit was designed by meeting planners for meeting planners – so let your industry peers hear from you!

Comment below with a topic you would like to contribute and we’ll be in touch!


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.

Meet Kasey McNeil, Advisory Council Member

This is the latest in a continuing series highlighting members of the ConventionPlanit.com Advisory Council, comprised of meeting professionals and others in the meetings industry who help shape ConventionPlanit.com to meet the needs of the industry.

Kasey McNeilKasy McNeil
Exhibits Manager
American Academy of Physician Assistants

Advisory Council Member Kasey McNeil is starting 2014 off in a new role with the American Academy of Physicians Assistants as the Exhibits Manager. She brings her over 17 years in meeting planning to this new role. Congratulations and best of luck, Kasey!

Apparently the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s loss is a gain for the meeting planning industry.

That’s because Kasey R. McNeil says that if she wasn’t a meeting planner, she would “want to be in the world of crime scene investigation or be an FBI behavioral agent.”

She notes that meeting planning can “become like a huge jigsaw puzzle,” and no doubt her ability to manage this complex process is being put to good use as a meeting planner, a profession she has enjoyed for more than 17 years.

At the American Academy of Physician Assistants, she oversees the management of exhibits for their annual conference and other events. AAPA is the only national organization representing physician assistants in all medical and surgical specialties and students.

Prior to joining AAPA, McNeil worked with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), where she managed exhibits for the annual citywide convention as well as the association’s smaller conferences. IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide.

McNeil has also served as the Exhibit Operations and Events Manager at the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA)/Digestive Disease Week (DDW), where she managed exhibits for the annual citywide convention, including security, expo floor and vendors, general contractors, and 250-450 ancillary meetings and industry supported seminars during each conference. Prior to working in conference planning, McNeil worked in hotel management for eight years as a banquet manager and catering sales manager at hotels such as the Hilton, Embassy Suites and Doubletree.

Her favorite feature of ConventionPlanit.com is RFP OrganizationSM She particularly enjoys the platform’s ability to organize quotes for service providers without having to re-key any information. “I would highly recommend this free service to meeting planners and tradeshow managers,” she says.

View more members of the ConventionPlanit.com Advisory Council.

The Philippines Welcomes Meeting and Exhibition Business – Manila Untouched by Typhoon Haiyan

Please enjoy the following guest post from our friend Liz Jackson, President of Jackson Consulting, Inc, with some uplifting news form The Philippines.

Less than two weeks after Hurricane Hayain hit islands in the south of the Philippines,  the 1st annual Association Executive Summit was held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila on November 19.  The capital was spared all damage from the storm and over 150 Filipinos attended the two-day educational conference and the launch of the new Philippine Council for the Advancement of Association Executives (PCAAE).

Filipino residents continually approached international visitors with warm thanks for the global response aiding the storm’s survivors and “business as usual” was the message everyone conveyed about the meeting and exhibition business in the Philippines.

The country is composed of over 7,000 islands and tourism, including MICE, is a major employer.  Assuring the world that the Philippines’ typhoon damage was restricted to a small part of the country is a major effort of the Philippine business community.  The Philippine Tourism Promotions Board’s press release quoted, “The (Filipino) government, through the Department of Tourism, said the outpouring of (MICE) support shows that travel and tourism have transformed the globe into one community, ready to stand by each other not only in times of festivities, but in times of challenges.”

Susan Sarfati, High Performance Strategies, and Liz Jackson, Jackson Consulting Inc., were speakers and facilitators during the AES conference’s two days and report to ConventionPlanit that the convention center delivered a flawless meeting and the meeting scene in hotels and throughout the city was alive and vibrant.

“The country is working to repair the typhoon damage while business interests in the country continue everywhere.  Everyone expresses appreciation for global help in caring for the survivors and for continuing to do business with the Philippines.  I am looking forward to my next visit!”

Want to see a brief 5-minute video of the Association Executive Summit?   Check it out, see how well the event was managed and join the world in the Philippines! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qrz8vSwR4I

Thank you to Liz for writing this post for us and reporting firsthand. Comments or questions? Please post below!

Meet Dawn Young, New Advisory Council Member

This is the latest in a continuing series highlighting members of the ConventionPlanit.com Advisory Council, comprised of meeting professionals and others in the meetings industry who help shape ConventionPlanit.com to meet the needs of the industry.

CP Advisory CouncilDawn Young
Workshop Coordinator/Meeting Planner
Bechtel Corporate Project Controls
Frederick, MD

Dawn Young, new member of the ConventionPlanit.com Meeting Professional Advisory Council, has a challenging job.

As Workshop Coordinator/Meeting Planner for Bechtel Corporate Project Controls, where she has worked for four years, she plans more than 100 corporate meetings and workshops each year across the globe. What makes it especially tough is that she must book the meeting venues sight unseen.

That’s why ConventionPlanit.com is such a critical tool for her in her job.

“I like how ConventionPlanit.com is a one-stop shop,” Young says. “That’s what I need. The search engine quickly identifies potential meeting sites, and each listing is structured with key information that I can easily compare. The photos that are usually included in the listings are also extremely helpful, since I usually cannot visit the site in advance.”

Her favorite part of meeting planning is the early phase of designing a meeting. “At the beginning, all things are possible and the process is creative,” she says. As part of the creative process, Young often visits the “Stellar Tips” section of ConventionPlanit.com, where she can find meeting tips that others have discovered and used successfully.

Young places a high value on leadership and organizational skills and says she would urge young people looking to enter the profession to learn these skills. “The ability to multi-task is a must,” she observes. “A meeting planner must work well under pressure and be able to deal with unexpected problems.”

As a mother of three “very active” children, Young can apply her skills in more than one area of her life. “In my free time I am bouncing around from the baseball fields to the softball fields to the basketball courts,” she says.

Despite her busy schedule, Young claims she “would not trade my job for another,” but admits that someday she “would like to have my own company and plan meetings on much larger scales to challenge myself.”

Learn more about the ConventionPlanit.com Advisory Council Members, or comment on this post if you are interested in joining the council.

ConventionPlanit.com Advisory Council Tackle the Tough Issues

Eight members of the ConventionPlanit.com Meeting Planner Advisory Council met recently at The Donovan House in Washington, DC to discuss current issues facing the meetings industry and how online search directories such as ConventionPlanit.com can help address them.

ConventionPlanit Advisory Council at the Donovan House

ConventionPlanit.com Staff and Advisory Council Members at the November Meeting

Some of the issues included:

  • Demonstrating the Value of Meeting History – Providing a hotel with historical data from previous meetings is essential in negotiating room blocks, rates, and food and beverage costs.  “Everybody complains about not having the history of hotel room pickups and meeting attendance, but nobody does anything about it,” one planner said.  “Just once I want a hotel to come to me with this information – I always have to hunt it down myself.”  Other planners shared similar experiences, and their common wish is for hotels to be more proactive about providing this information.  As electronic information-sharing in common formats becomes more common, this should improve in the future.
  • Unauthorized Third-Party Housing Companies Selling Non-Refundable Rooms – This is a lightning-rod issue for many planners, who often see their room blocks erode and subsequent attrition fees assessed as association members book rooms outside the block. These unauthorized companies often launch aggressive marketing campaigns to association members, making it sound like they are the official housing provider.  Attendees that book the rooms find they are non-refundable and sometimes cannot reach the companies by phone.  Meeting planners agreed that strong communications to prospective attendees warning them of these tactics is necessary, plus legal action against these companies if appropriate.
  • “Resort Fees” – Resort fees that typically cover Internet access, spa use, and other amenities are increasingly common.  The problem is that government employees cannot usually be reimbursed for these fees when they attend a meeting, and planners noted that the fees are often non-negotiable.  Their wish is for hotels to better understand the effects of these fees and be more willing to negotiate them if needed.
  • E-Blasted RFPs – Some companies e-blast RFPs out to numerous properties with little regard for qualifying them in advance.  This wastes the time of hotel salespeople as they respond to RFPs that don’t match what their properties offer.  It leads to complacency that can cause them to not respond to viable RFPs that could bring them business.  ConventionPlanit.com pre-qualifies properties to ensure that only those that are a strong potential match receive the RFPs, dramatically increasing the success rate for hotel proposals.
  • Hotel Proposals Lacking Necessary Information – When planners send out RFPs, they need all the information requested in order to do an apples-to-apples comparison of prospective properties.  The planners agreed that hotels are not doing themselves any favors by not providing complete information – it forces them to follow up and spend extra time getting information that should have been provided in the first place.  When RFPs are submitted through ConventionPlanit.com, incoming proposals are checked to make sure they are complete to save planners the hassle of chasing down information.

“This discussion was extremely valuable for both the planners and our staff,” said ConventionPlanit.com Principal and Co-Founder Katherine Markham, CHME.  “We found that much of what we are already doing helps to address many of these concerns, and it helps spark ideas for new solutions we can launch in the future.”

We are always looking for fresh faces to contribute to our council!  If you are an avid user of ConventionPlanit.com and would like information about joining the Meeting Planner Advisory Council, please contact Katherine Markham, CHME at katherinem@conventionplanit.com.

What improvements would you like to see on the site?

What is a Prezi?

So, exactly what is a “Prezi?” what is a prezi

We first heard about it after a member of the ConventionPlanit.com Meeting Professionals Advisory Council told us that it was one of the hot things for 2011.

It does have a cool name…and it’s free… so we thought we’d give you the lowdown.

But first, we want to clue you in on what a Prezi is NOT:

  • It’s not what you call your boss or the head of your association who carries the title of “President.”
  • It’s not a new device like an iPad or a Droid – although you can view a Prezi on a device like that.
  • It’s not a phrase you utter in anger when something bad happens at your meeting.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, here’s the deal: A Prezi allows you to “create astonishing presentations live and on the web,” according to www.prezi.com.  The website also talked about “stunning” presentations, so it got our attention.

Basically, it frees up your creative mind when you’re building a presentation, because it allows more flexibility than traditional PowerPoint presentations, and even has zoom-in and zoom-out features to examine details or view the big picture.

There’s a creative presentation online called “How to create a great Prezi” that offers a quick look at the possibilities.  So we encourage you to check it out.

We even created a quick Prezi on “How We Made the ConventionPlanit Flash Back to the Future Video.” You may like that one too.  It was fun and took less than an hour to create.  So try one yourself and see what you think.

Like anything else in life, a basic version of the Prezi software is free, and it costs money to upgrade the capabilities.  But the upgrade cost is reasonable.  We’re not even getting a commission for telling you all this.

Have you created or viewed a Prezi?  What did you think?

Trend Watch – Room Rates

Room rates are creeping back up – or are they?

Smith Travel Research data from January shows that urban hotels at 66% occupancy while suburban hotels are at 58%.

As a result, urban hotels are offering fewer discounts for rooms – but suburban property rates are still lower than 2009 levels…which is shifting the demand.

Are you booking more meetings in the suburbs to secure lower rates? Have you experienced higher rates in urban areas?

Flash Behind the Scenes

Want the inside scoop on how our music video came to be?  You’re in the right place!

ConventionPlanit.com Co-Founder and Principal Katherine Markham, CHME is the mastermind behind the concept and idea of the video.

She was inspired when she learned about a talented singing group called Buffalo Stance, who are based in her hometown of New York City.

The totally awesome Buffalo Stance

The group is named after the “Buffalo Stance” song from the 1980s…and appropriately, the all female vocal group sings a lot of 80s music!

“We thought it would be fun to rewrite the lyrics to a popular song and sing it in the video,” Markham said.  “We chose ‘Flashdance,’ which has a strong, dramatic style that really captured the excitement we wanted to convey.”

She then got to work writing the script for the video and lining up the production team.

Markham asked meetings industry veteran Roman Holton, who runs a video and filmmaking company called Ascension Media, to shoot and produce the video.

“When she called with the idea I said, ‘It may not be as easy as you think,’” Holton recalled.  “But she persevered, so we got the crew together that would do the job for her.”

Some familiar faces from the meetings industry were sprinkled into the video.  Can you spot them?

  • Bob Gilbert, President & CEO of the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI), offered the association’s offices to shoot the video.  Gilbert also appears in several scenes in the video.
  • Windy Christner, CMP, Senior Director, Meetings & Expositions for the American Pharmacists Association, played the role of a “new age” fortuneteller
  • Association Vision President Al Rickard, CAE, played the office receptionist
  • Association professional Sallie Hyman appeared as an office visitor and as an office employee

“The whole video conveyed the idea of how much easier it is today for meeting planners than it was 25 years ago, thanks to technology such as ConventionPlanit.com,” Markham explained.

Have you been involved in a video production?  What was your favorite part?

Don’t forget to check out the music video and submit your own predictions for what you think the future of meeting planning will be like.

The predictions will be put to the vote by your peers, and the grand prize winner will receive a trip for two to Cancun, courtesy of the JW Marriott Cancun and Continental Airlines!