Tag Archives: meeting planner help

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

New Year, New Look

As the New Year gets underway, ConventionPlanit.com is ready with a fresh update to the website. If you have visited the site recently, you will notice a clean, streamlined new homepage design and improved navigational tabs to help direct users. The new ‘my meetings’ link allows you direct access to your RFP OrganizationSM charts from any page on the site.

The refresh to the website comes from direct feedback from the CP Advisory Council of meeting planners. The website is now more accessible, with full functionality available on mobile devices and iPads. You can truly check your RFP quotes from anywhere now!

Over the next several months, we will be unveiling many added features and improvements to the overall website and in particular, the search capabilities, which will soon allow users even more customization and freedom to narrow down destinations, facilities and service providers.

If you have suggestions of new features for the website, be sure to let us know by commenting below!

What Can a General Service Contractor Do for You?

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. ConventionPlanit.com 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 ConventionPlanit.com.

How to Plan an International Meeting

We all know planning a meeting can be a complicated process, and for many meeting planners, this process is further complicated if the meeting is international. Here are some tips from a session at HSMAI MEET National to help you get started.

Getting Started: Do Your Research

Familiarize yourself with the location(s) you will be visiting. Research the city, especially any cultural differences that may exist. Regardless of the location, you will want currency information, time zones, a list of holidays, metric conversions and a language translation tool handy. Tip: all of these tools are listed in the Global Tools section of ConventionPlanit.com.

Hotel Options
Global hotel chains tend to cater more to North American clients, and most will have an advocate based in the U.S. to aid communication. Utilize your existing representatives and connections to expand your choices. Tip: don’t forget to consider non-U.S. chains!

Rating Systems
Rating systems are different from country to country. Just because a hotel website says it is a 5 Star hotel does not mean it is a Forbes rated hotel. Ask what the rating criteria are, and conduct research on travel websites to obtain a greater understanding.

Down to Business: What’s Different?

Food and Beverage
For international meetings, breakfast is typically included in the room rate. Language will vary, so look out for these terms: ddr (daily delegate rate), standing luncheons, and private meal space instead verses restaurants.

Meeting Space
For North American planners, you will typically always have to pay a rental fee for meeting space. The larger the room, the greater the cost.

Because exchange rates are constantly changing, your budget will need to have flexibility to change with the rates. Deposits are non-negotiable when securing space for an international meeting. Many countries also require the costs to be paid with a corporate credit card. Be prepared with this prior to entering contract negotiations. Investigate your options regarding foreign taxes and VAT reimbursement. You are in luck -surcharges often appear only in the U.S.! Some vendors prefer to issue a “rebate” instead of a commission.

The process takes much longer, so have patience. Conducting the appropriate research comes into play here; make sure you are an educated partner. Your U.S. advocate, GSO or NSO can setup a conference call or virtual tour of the property.

For more assistance planning an international meeting, consider using ConventionPlanit.com’s RFP OrganizationSM. Your responses are tracked on an organized spreadsheet, and ConventionPlanit.com staff conducts the follow up. Comparing your responses in one format sounds like a language everyone can understand!

What Makes Millennials Tick

A reoccurring theme running through the PCMA Convening Leaders Conference held last month was how to improve inter-generational communication with the 18-30 year old segment of the meetings industry, a.k.a. The Millennials.

The PCMA Education Foundation funded an investigation into what this key audience wants in their meetings, conventions and events. The goal is to provide opportunities for planners to more effectively market to and satisfy this group of attendees.

The findings were certainly interesting. Here’s an outline of the results:

What do Millennials value in meetings?

  • “Edutainment” – education with entertainment
  • Engaging events and activities where participation will personally benefit them
  • Simple/concise meetings and service projects to an (often) short attention span

What drives Millennials to particiate in meetings?

  • Career networking and job opportunities
  • Rewards/incentives
  • Financial support

How do Millennials wish to see technology used in their meetings?

  • Internet integrated into presentations via visual effects and interactive games
  • Having Wi-Fi available
  • Using technology for team building

Which channels of communication do Millennials prefer?

  • Face-to-face
  • Email
  • Texting

This may be the most surprising result of the survey. In spite of their love of technology, Millennials prefer face-to-face communication and interaction over email or texting. They want to attend events in order to benefit from the obvious and immediate results that come with personal introductions and energetic discussions.

What does all this mean for meeting and event organizers? Just that you can put the following strategems into action to attract and retain the newest generation of attendees:

  1. Stage short, simple and structured meetings
  2. Help them connect via Wi-Fi at their meetings
  3. Make learning fun by employing gamification and visual learning
  4. Ensure individual impact by guaranteeing job opportunities and career coaching if they register
  5. Segment your audience as needs and expectations vary at opposite ends of the millennial age spectrum. Older members are less interested in social activities and more interested in being mentally challenged

For interested planners, complete results of the study can be found at go.pcma.org/GenYstudy.

Have you implemented any of these tactics? Are you a millennial? Do you agree or disagree with these findings? Comment below and let us know!

Track Your RFP Responses Easily

RFP OrganizationMeeting planners can now track RFP responses more easily than ever before with ConventionPlanit.com’s new virtual RFP Organization platform.

RFP Organization is now completely accessible to meeting planners via the ConventionPlanit.com website.  The service, now a year old, saves meeting planners time by having all of their RFP responses compiled on a spreadsheet.

Now, these same RFP responses are displayed in real time on an easy to read chart.

The response charts display only the criteria the planner requests, and can be customized for each meeting. Planners can even view responses from past meetings with the new online component.

The RFP process has been streamlined for hoteliers, as well – they can now respond to RFPs virtually, saving them valuable time.  This means planners will receive responses more quickly!

Planners interested in using RFP Organization for their meetings can get started here, or by calling 866-922-8988.

Take a Tour, Win a Prize

If you are reading this blog, the company ConventionPlanit.com definitely rings a bell – but do you really know how ConventionPlanit.com can help meeting planners?

ConventionPlanit.com is full of ways to improve meeting planner productivity and make the site selection process less stressful. 

Take a quick tour of the website to find out how, and receive a $25 American Express Rewards Card* in return!  

To register for a site tour, please contact joan@conventionplanit.com.

Rewards Cards available exclusively for meeting planners.

Organizing RFP Responses

One of the most tedious jobs for a meeting planner is organizing RFP responses from hotels.

Hotels often send information to meeting planners in their own formats, can forget to include pertinent information for the planners, and on occasion, send a proposal with the wrong organization’s name on the top…and the list goes on!

RFP Responses Piled Up

What is a crunched-for-time meeting planner to do?  Ask ConventionPlanit.com to help, of course.

ConventionPlanit.com now offers meeting planners RFP Organization.

We compile hotel responses for you in an easy to read spreadsheet so you can compare Apples to Apples (instead of Apples to Bananas).  You identify the important criteria for the spreadsheet, and we do the rest!

I highly recommend using this 100% free service to compile your RFP responses for any meeting planner short on time.

And if you find your self wondering what’s the catch?  Well, there isn’t one…it’s our way of saying thank you for using our website!

To get started, submit your RFP here and mention the RFP Organization Tool.

What do you think…will you use this new service?  What other service would you like ConventionPlanit.com to offer meeting planners? Post a comment and share!

Independent Planners Receive Clients Through RFPs

Submitting RFPs through ConventionPlanit.com can now mean more business for independent meeting professionals.

That’s because ConventionPlanit.com is now offering free listings on its site to independent planners who submit at least three RFPs through ConventionPlanit.com.

“We recognize that association and corporate meeting planners with fewer internal staff resources than they used to have are increasingly turning to independent planners for help,” says ConventionPlanit.com Co-Founder Katherine Markham, CHME.

“So our site now helps these professionals connect.  We also know that independent meeting planners have tight budgets, so they are always looking for free exposure opportunities like this.”

TeamworkIndependent meeting planners who submit three RFPs through ConventionPlanit.com will receive a free one-year Ruby level listing.  Those who submit 10 RFPs will receive a Sapphire listing, and planners who submit 20 RFPs will get a Diamond listing.

Each higher listing level offers more features to display information on the site.

“Since we implemented our 24-Hour Response Guarantee for RFPs submitted through ConventionPlanit.com, we’ve seen a remarkable increase in the use of our three levels of RFP services,” Markham said.  “Using our site for RFPs is quick and easy and removes the burden of follow-up from busy meeting planners.  We make sure that connections are made and that planners receive the proposals they need on a timely basis.”

Planners can select meeting sites on ConventionPlanit.com and with a single click distribute an attached RFP to all them. Or they can fill out an RFP form on the site.

Those that want a higher level of service can choose the RFP Valet® program, where ConventionPlanit.com executives will help them narrow their search and provide additional follow-up services.

“All these services are free to the meeting planner and they all feature the 24-Hour Response Guarantee,” Markham explains.  “There are no commissions or hidden fees – we simply connect planners and meeting sites and let them negotiate their own deals. Our compensation comes from the listing fees that hotels, resorts, convention centers, CVBs, and other suppliers pay to be part of the site.”

Meeting planners can click here to learn more about the ConventionPlanit.com RFP services.

What to Do in an Earthquake

The earthquake yesterday that was felt over much of the East coast got me thinking…what are the proper safety procedures for earthquakes?  Many schools in California teach earthquake safety, but out here this is certainly not the norm.

Here is some information from FEMA to help keep you safe:

Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.

If Indoors:

  • DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
  • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
  • Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
  • Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.
  • Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
  • Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
  • DO NOT use the elevators.

If Outdoors:

  • Stay there.
  • Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
  • Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

If in a Moving Vehicle:

  • Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
  • Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.

Information courtesy of fema.gov

It is a good idea to become familiar with safety procedures for any situation.  To learn more, be sure to check out our previous post on handling crisis situations for your meetings.