Meeting Mentor Magazine

January 2021

Advisory Council Roundtable

Meetings Under Pressure to Perform

Rising rates, new hotel fees, social media demands, the mobile app explosion, return on investment. More than ever, meeting professionals are under pressure to perform, reported ConferenceDirect Meeting Mentor’s Editorial Advisory Council. Their issues reflect the ups and downs of a U.S. economy struggling to recover.

Here are some highlights from the Council’s recent annual meeting:

On Fees and Concessions: “Let’s negotiate concessions around real numbers,” said Bryan Quinan, CMP, senior event manager, Milken Institute. “It’s frustrating to negotiate concessions when a property will try to contract a lower food and beverage minimum than we actually spend.” When you execute the contract, it should always list the fees in place at that point in time, noted Dave Scypinski, ConferenceDirect senior vice president. “You negotiate these, and state that there are no other fees. How many times have I had to say to a hotel, ‘If it’s not part of the deal, you can’t retrofit it into the contract’?”

On Strategizing: “We’re fighting for people’s time,” said Cici Thompson, CAE, GMS, vice president, meetings and member alliances at Worldwide ERC. “We produce two large meetings each year. One is U.S.-focused, the other global-focused, and a significant percentage of attendees come to both. A component of our membership would like us to go to one meeting a year. How would we replace that revenue? How would we answer all the needs of our very diverse membership with only one meeting?” A strategic taskforce is looking at those conferences to decide what is best for the organization and the customers it serves.

One of John Botticella’s clients has combined two training programs — one right after the other over two weeks — into a single week. “This resulted in better pricing and cut costs for the parent company,” said the ConferenceDirect global account executive, “which also didn’t have the time pressure from staff being out of the office two weeks in a row.”

On Hybrid, Social, Mobile: ACN Inc. has really increased its use of technology the past year: blogging, Facebook, videos on YouTube, noted Lisa Krass, CMP, director, global event planning. “And because our events are more about introducing products and services, we put webinars on immediately after to give people the tools on how you sell them. Everything we’re doing online is linked together, announcing speakers and topics, what we’re selling in the on-site store, anything that gets people excited and going to our web site or to register.”

The Milken Institute has “not been willing to spend anything significant on a mobile app, but that has changed this year,” said Quinan. “The smart software provider is taking the standard features — agenda, GPS location within the building, links to Facebook and Twitter, speaker bios — to the next level, where we can start writing off the costs to exhibitors, who can create their own virtual booth online.” — Maxine Golding

Read the complete article in the Fall issue of ConferenceDirect Meeting Mentor, in print and online the end of August.

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

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