#MeToo and the implications for the meeting industry

October 5th, 2018 @

MeToo

Friday, Oct. 5, marks the one-year anniversary of what has been dubbed the #MeToo movement. It’s been a rocky year. Viewing #MeToo and the implications for the meeting industry, there are a number of aspects of our professional lives that require scrutiny:

  • The emphasis on appearance in hiring.
  • The use of “booth babes” at trade shows.
  • The vulnerability of hotel housekeeping staff to sexual harassment and assault.
  • The excessive consumption of alcohol at some trade shows and corporate events.
  • The pressure on women to wear revealing attire when working at or hostessing certain events.

RELATED STORY: Alcohol at events & Duty of Care

It is significant that the day after this anniversary, there’s likely to be a crucial vote in the U.S. Senate involving an aspiring Supreme Court Justice and cases of alleged sexual misconduct. What will be the fallout from the testimonies of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh before the U.S. Senate?

Clearly, thorough background checks need to be conducted during the hiring process. One controversial aspect of the Judge Kavanaugh case is that his actions as a minor have been scrutinized and tried in the court of public opinion. It is a slippery slope when organizations start digging into the behavior of individuals when they were minors. In Canada, where I am based, this would never have been permitted. With few exceptions, there are strict publication bans on:

  • Information about offenses or alleged offenses committed when someone is a minor.
  • The names of complainants in sexual assault cases.

Even in jurisdictions where these bans are not in effect, trial by media should be avoided.

Another area of concern is any practice that would involve hiring private investigators to interview former classmates and colleagues. This would open the door to hiring decisions based on rumor, gossip and innuendo.

ethics

Best practices need to include the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. There have been a number of instances in which individuals have been immediately fired as the result of allegations. A fairer approach would be to have individuals placed on suspension with pay while an investigation is completed. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, a decision can be made about the appropriate course of action.

RELATED STORY: Discriminatory laws & the impact on meetings

Any allegations of sexual assault should immediately be referred to local law enforcement for investigation, rather than reported to the media. Statutes of limitation can be short in some jurisdictions, so delays could result in fewer options for complainants. Also, while there are many who believe that women should automatically be believed, there have been instances in which false allegations have been made. Investigation should always precede publication. All organizations within the industry need to ensure that they provide:

  • Clear channels for employees to report incidents involving sexual harassment, misconduct and assault.
  • An investigation process that ensures due process for those who are accused and the protection of complainants from punitive action.

Here is an example of what has been done in the film and television industry.

The #MeToo movement began in the U.S. but the fallout is global. It is time for our industry to review current policies, practices and procedures to ensure that best practices are identified and followed. This won’t be easy, but it is necessary.

RELATED MATERIAL: MPI’s Principles of Professionalism

The post #MeToo and the implications for the meeting industry appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Trade show etiquette: Confessions of a self-proclaimed suitcaser

October 1st, 2018 @

man with suitcase

Two years ago, my startup team and I were looking for events to attend to get the word out about our company. We settled on two events that charged no registration fee for attendees, thinking we’d save much of our meagre marketing budget by walking the trade show floor and handing out literature about our company. We thought we’d do after-hours networking in the bars and hotels surrounding the convention center, and we created t-shirts that advertised our fledgling brand.

None of us was a member of the event industry before creating the new company, so we had no idea how harmful our practices were to the event planners. In fact, it took another year or two before one of us happened upon an article that made us cringe. We had been suitcasing—but we had no idea that was a prohibited practice.

RELATED STORY: 8 top tips: Land quality leads at trade shows

Some of us had been attending trade shows and conferences for years. Some were veteran suitcasers. Not one of us had ever heard that it was prohibited or unethical. Had we missed the fine print in the registration form? Maybe we had. But can you blame us? Who reads that stuff anyway? We’d heard about events, had decided to put ourselves out there to hustle some sales and branding awareness for our startup, or our company was going to fail. We didn’t have a budget for a booth and even if we had, our company was too young and immature to do formal presentations to customers. We were still in the “market research” phase of development. The value of the booth couldn’t be calculated. And we’d never been kicked out of an event for soliciting outside a booth, so we didn’t know it was wrong.

But we are much more aware now. I suppose awareness is the first step in any behavior change, and please know that we’ve changed our behavior. We’ll affirm, though, that we had no idea how harmful our tactics were—and no exhibitors called us out on our actions. I suspect that many others are in the same position. They continue to attend shows as registered attendees because the cost of exhibiting is too expensive or the idea of standing behind a booth all day doesn’t sit well with them.

RELATED STORY: Trade shows: 5 top tips for new planners

trade show generalI have a recommendation. I think organizers should consider a new kind of hybrid registration that allows non-booth-renters to engage in marketing and solicitation, but in a limited fashion. Maybe allow them in the hall to solicit only at predefined hours. Maybe restrict their access to educational sessions. don’t hire them as speakers or only let them speak at one session. Definitely restrict advertising for them on the event website and in marketing collateral, and don’t list them as exhibitors in your directory. Print their marketing material as part of the package, and maybe limit how much they can pass out. And maybe by describing this hybrid registration on your form, you’ll help to create awareness and understanding. You’ll more easily telegraph the value of your meeting, and you may even raise some additional revenue. And the end result will be a mutual understanding between you, the organizer, and the industry participants who are your future five-figure customers.

We don’t think being a bad cop will achieve the results you look for. If other hotels are willing to host hospitality events for unofficial exhibitors, I suggest you let them. If those events earn higher attendance levels than your official event, learn from them. Marketers are going to do whatever they can to make the most of their marketing spend—and they’re going to discover channels that you haven’t even considered. Market yourselves as partners, though, and you’ll win their trust and loyalty. And that means you may have many more official exhibitors in the future.

RELATED STORY: 5 easy ways to survive soul-deadening trade shows

The post Trade show etiquette: Confessions of a self-proclaimed suitcaser appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

9 ways to drive media interest for your event

September 24th, 2018 @

journalist interviewingPublicity can dramatically change any event, whether a team-building exercise, presentation or quarterly meeting. With media support, corporate training can easily be transformed into a social occasion. A company’s anniversary will become a big celebration for the local business community and a new product presentation will be an important industry event. Media, often called the fourth estate, can be responsible for tens of thousands of people talking about your business.

At ArtNauka, we can say for sure that working with the media is easier than it seems. At the same time, it isn’t obligatory for you to have media friends or “useful acquaintances” in media—you just need to know some important rules. Here are 9 ways to drive media interest for your event.

1. Prepare your strategy before distribution

Before sending the first press release about an event, consider your overall strategy for working with the media. It is very important to understand which media editors will be interested. If it is a social project or a particularly large-scale project, then the news media will want to write about you. If the project is connected with the internal tasks of the company, influential industry magazines and blogs may be interested. If you know just a couple of suitable media outlets, but need more, then you can use SimilarWeb, which is able to find websites that cover similar subjects (scroll down after searching).

RELATED STORY: Free industry magazines, blogs and podcasts, oh my!

2. Style is your everything

Each publication writes in its own style: Some use loud headlines, only publish texts shorter than three paragraphs or insert professional jargon, which can be unclear for a wider audience. You can save an editor’s time by adapting your press release for mass media. It is not necessary to rewrite the text every time, rather make minor edits to get to a couple of versions for different sources. If in doubt, read a couple of the publication’s articles then re-evaluate your text. If it doesn’t feel out of place, send it.

If you need to get close to or make friends with a certain publication or editor, you can get even further. Find a social media profile of the publishing editor. Explore their pages: What do they like or repost? Who are their friends? Where have they been? Make a virtual “portrait” of the person and write to them.

3. Follow the hierarchy

Generally, the media falls into two categories: mass (tabloid) and professional. The rule of the food chain works for both categories. When sending material to mass media, first write to those with large readerships, then write to smaller ones. If your press release interests larger organizations, then lower-ranked websites and publishers may repost the materials with reference to the original source. You’ll save time and effort, plus secure the trust of the large mass media because uniqueness of the original publication will belong to them.

The situation is slightly different with professional publications. In this case it is important that the information is presented individually to each publication—never send the same text to multiple media outlets. The best way around this is to dispense information to a variety of sources. In one release you can discuss the event’s VIPs or speakers, in another add other event schedule highlights and in yet another, describe an interactive element.

4. Make plans and follow them on time

You will need to outline the approximate plan of action before sending the first press release about your event to mass media. How many qualitative press releases (containing real information) can you prepare before the event? How often are you planning to send them to the media and to which publications are they going to be sent initially?

Make a schedule of the press releases, list the planned topics and never confuse matters with post-event press releases. The news that dispatched a day or two after an event will have long been “spoiled” and only dilute the newsfeed. Present your story as something hot and actual. Only then will it be interesting to mass media and readers.

5. How many emails will be enough?

The most important question often occurs after long preparation: How do you write to mass media editorial offices? If you can’t find any individual editor contact details, simply write to a corporate email—this is usually found under “contact us” on the organization’s website. Social networks can also help: Journalists and top bloggers sometimes include their email addresses there.

But please don’t send a press release as a personal message on Facebook or LinkedIn. Public people appreciate their personal space—for work they use email, for chatting with friends and for operational issues they use instant messengers or social networks. Do you like receiving promotional mailings in WhatsApp? At best, the material will be sent to the recycle bin; at worst you will be blacklisted.

RELATED STORY: 6 B2B social media marketing tips for eventprofs

6. Forget about bulk emails

email overload

Learn to write personalized messages to reach journalists and editors, otherwise your messages may be blocked by mail spam filters. Don’t be lazy: Send press releases in separate messages rather than mass mailing 10 addresses. Ideally, it is worth writing personally to leading journalists or editors, addressing them by name in the greeting. If there are no such contacts, it is appropriate to send it to a general editorial email address.

Try to make your letter a little bit different to the hundreds of press releases that editors receive every day. Begin with a personal greeting or a simple explanation as to who you are and why you are reaching out to the publication. It is important that your letter stands out from the general stream and that editorial staff immediately understand that it is an interesting subject worth working on.

7. Don’t dilute your brand with plugs

A logo on each photo and a long list of partners at the end of a press release can become a stumbling block for publication. Most media clearly separate advertising and editorial content, therefore they will remove info about commercial partners or even ask you to pay to have the news published. But what if you have already promised partners that you will mention them in the publicity materials? Our advice is simple, make the event interesting for the media, regardless of brands. The more you push the media to mention your partner companies through press releases or at the event itself, the less likely they will be to want to share it. Take an organic approach: Let the catering be so good that visitors and journalists want to know who is responsible for the buffet reception, and let the sponsor provide gifts.

The same rule applies concerning photos with company logos. Even if such photographs are published in the media, “advertising blindness” will affect readers and the logo will remain unnoticed. In this case, bold colors and striking color combinations, simple symbols and fonts will create the strongest identity. Just remember, mobile operators have already discovered this and have created strong brand identities without even mentioning their own name in the branding.

RELATED STORY: What is branding and how does it relate to events?

8. Share backstage

The final photo report or video from an event does not always show the real picture. Go slightly further and show another side of the action: the preparation process, final rehearsal, first guests meeting, etc. Backstage is often perceived as something very personal, because you show what wasn’t seen by active participants at the event. In addition, these shots are valued by trade publications for which off-screen material is more important and more interesting than a traditional multimedia report.

9. Build relationships

Working with the media is a relationship. Start building that relationship right away. To start, simply show care and a serious attitude: Save an editor’s or journalist’s time by sending prepared and crafted material which corresponds to the style of the publication. Don’t try to include all the info about the event in a single press release. If additional info is needed, they will write or call to get details.

And, of course, keep a database of friendly media, including personal email addresses and phone numbers of editors and journalists that are open to you. They have to be first to receive the details of hot and fresh news about your projects. After all, the one who possesses information rules the world!

RELATED STORY: Listening well opens door to good relationships

The post 9 ways to drive media interest for your event appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

7 ways to flex your creative muscles

September 17th, 2018 @

brain creativity arts

Now that Labor Day has passed, and summer is drawing to a close, event and meeting planners are settling back into their routines. With the return of students to classes, it’s time for event industry professionals to devote quality time to reflecting on their own professional development—and creativity is such an important competency when planning meetings, events and conferences. For this reason, one area of focus should be tapping into your creativity.

Are people born creative? Can people learn to be creative? There has been considerable debate about this. One thing is certain: It is possible to flex your creative muscles by using a range of strategies. Pick one or more that appeals to you.

1. Self-study

Workbooks and books can be very beneficial. For example, Julia’ Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity and It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond combine weekly reading with daily journaling, exercises and artist dates. This gentle approach can gradually help readers unlock their blocked creativity. There are even groups on Facebook where people share their journey and learn from each other.

2. Improvisation workshops

Improv involves responding with spontaneity through a range of exercises and situations. The dynamic at play is very similar to the environment in which event and meeting planners operate daily. Through improv, you’ll learn how to spin on a dime and develop greater comfort in responding to curves that are thrown your way without panicking.

3. Explore the culinary arts

Catering and menu planning are such an important part of meeting conferences and events that it makes sense for event professionals to explore the culinary arts. Whether it’s a semester long course at a community program or a series of one-day workshops, the skills that are acquired will have immediate benefits. The possibilities are endless. Select form grilling, baking, cake decorating, pastry making and more.

RELATED STORY: 2018 culinary trends showcase ethnic cuisine and fun

4. Try your hand at the visual arts

Select something that appeals to you. Whether it’s drawing, painting, pottery or sculpture, honing your creative skills will spill over into your work in the event and meeting industry. You don’t have to be naturally gifted to explore the visual arts. For example, a museum in Toronto regularly offers a course called “Drawing for Those who Can’t.”

violin play music5. Learn to play a musical instrument

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to play the piano, guitar or drums, there is no time like the present to get started. Select an approach that is compatible with your learning style. Group classes, private lessons and workshops are available in most locations.

RELATED STORY: All aboard for inspiration: Travel your way to creativity

6. Put on your dancing shoes

Music and movement have a way of freeing people up. So, take your pick from salsa, reggae, line dancing, ballroom and even capoeira (Brazilian non-contact martial arts through music).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8xxgFpK-NM

7. Set up a creativity corner in your home or office

Assemble sketch pads, adult coloring books, colored pencils, drawing pencils, poetry books, Bristol board, scissors, magazines, tape, glue, music, candles and flowers to create a space to explore your creativity when you and, if it’s at work, your co-workers need a break. The next time you have to come up with a theme for an event, create a mind map or treasure map using photos and text. It requires no skill to cut and paste photos on a Bristol board and this process can transform your brainstorming.

RELATED STORY: 8 signs that your work-life balance is looking good

These are just a few ideas. Any of these strategies will help you approach your work with greater creativity. Brainstorm and come up with seven more tactics to flex your creativity before selecting what appeals to you.

The post 7 ways to flex your creative muscles appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Contract trends: What’s old may be new again

September 10th, 2018 @

shaking hands

MPI’s Meetings Outlook 2018 Summer Edition planner responses indicated that while “66 percent predict favorable business conditions, only 3.1 percent say negotiations are becoming simpler.” In contrast, 54.9 percent of respondents claim contract negotiations are becoming more complex. Today’s hotel meeting contracts are getting longer and longer and that would certainly indicate more specificity, if not more complexity. Whether contract trends are new or old, it is the meeting professional’s responsibility to read every single word of the contract carefully and seek advice from their legal counsel as warranted.

What should be keeping you up at night?

In August, Electronic Arts (EA) secured the GLHF Game Bar, for its Madden Football Gaming Tournament. Someone planned that event, but no one checked to see if the pizzeria/game bar complied with local ordinances. It had not, failing to secure building plans and being issued three fire code violations. A 24-year-old gamer walked into the venue with a gun, killed two, injured 11 others and then took his own life. Lawsuits are beginning to surface, naming both EA and the pizzeria as defendants, claiming that it was the responsibility of both to provide a safe place for the participants. This is not the first time a venue has been sued for failing to provide a safe place. In 2012, in Aurora, Colo., a man walked into a movie theater and killed 12 people, wounding more than 70 others. Victims sued but ended up owing the venue hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because of the building and fire violations, these lawsuits may yield a different decision.

RELATED STORY: Firearms at events…and your liability

What does your contract say about safety and security protocols? Do you have procedures in place to ensure compliance? This is a complicated issue and most likely one you should seek professional guidance to protect your organization.

What about boilerplate clauses?

Attrition, force majeure, cancellation and liability clauses are just a few of the clauses considered by most to be boilerplate clauses. When you receive a contract, is your inclination to start reading a clause and stop part way through it because you are sure you know what the rest of it says? Don’t glaze over them. Read them thoroughly and check them against clauses in other contracts you manage. Is there something different between the two?

For instance, if the attrition clause in another contract sets out your room nights as cumulative, does the draft contract describe them as being on a “per night” basis, such that you could oversell your room block on three of four nights but undersell one night and face attrition penalties?

RELATED STORY: Gotcha! Attrition clauses to address in your next hotel contract

2018 has seen a fair share of weather-related deadlines, with many meetings and events affecting around the globe. Do you know what your force majeure clause contains and whether it is adequate to deal with storms, hurricanes, volcanoes and other weather events? With weather reports being delivered to inboxes daily, are your attendees more likely to cancel attendance for fear of a projected weather event? Even if you don’t want to cancel the event, is there wiggle room in your force majeure clause to minimize or waive attrition and/or food and beverage minimums.

cyber security

How does the venue handle cybersecurity issues as they deal with your attendees’ personal information? While our industry has been focused on GDPR and related privacy policies, where does the venue stand on your guests’ personally identifiable information? Hotel privacy policies are quietly changing. If you don’t think so, check their website for their privacy policy and the next time you check into a hotel as a transient guest, pay attention to what you are signing—you may be signing away your right to pursue action against the hotel in the event of a data breach. If you are asked to sign anything at check-in be sure to pay attention to the 5- or 6-point type at the bottom. Does it say something like this?

The hotel and its providers of products and services are not liable for injury, loss or damage to your computer, or interception or use of our credit card or other personally identifiable information.

Take special care to ensure, as a meeting organizer, you are not similarly being asked in the contract to assume responsibility for responsibilities that clearly rests with the venue or its owner. Other, similar concerns arise when your draft contract contains language that shifts responsibility for damage to the property from the individual attendee to the meeting organizer.

Do you know who owns the venue you have chosen for your event? While a property may have a well-known hotel brand’s name, it may be a franchise, owned by another company. Ensure that ownership of the property is spelled out in your contract and what the property’s obligations are to notify you should the ownership change.

Once a contract is signed, revisit it every year to ensure that things have not changed at the property since the contract was executed. That gorgeous spa you were counting on to wow your attendees may no longer exist. Likewise, monitor your chosen venue to ensure there are no new fees the property has instituted since your contract was signed. A good practice is to ensure the property discloses all mandatory fees at the time of the RFP and a statement included in the contract that no fees can be added or modified without being agreed to in writing.

RELATED STORY: Partnering for successful contract negotiations

One of the newer irritations is the urban destination fee which is not a resort fee but acts like one. A bundle of items such as a specified dollar credit in a restaurant, an internet fee and similar, so-called enhancements are added to the daily room rate—enhancements you may never use but are charged for. Be sure to include a request for disclosure of these fees in your RFP and detailed in your contract as to whether they will be charged and in what amount.

In the end, how successful you are in getting the contract you want depends on establishing a relationship with your venue partner so that both of you work in unison for the success of your event and satisfaction of your attendees. Successful events are founded in successful partnerships between the meeting professional and the venue representative.

Marriott International disturbed the status quo earlier this year by cutting third-party planner commissions by three percent. Other brands followed suit, while some brands refused to do so. Is that a bellwether of other hotel-favorable changes to meeting and event contracts? In a seller’s market, anything could happen. Be vigilant!

The post Contract trends: What’s old may be new again appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Contract trends: What’s old may be new again

September 10th, 2018 @

shaking hands

MPI’s Meetings Outlook 2018 Summer Edition planner responses indicated that while “66 percent predict favorable business conditions, only 3.1 percent say negotiations are becoming simpler.” In contrast, 54.9 percent of respondents claim contract negotiations are becoming more complex. Today’s hotel meeting contracts are getting longer and longer and that would certainly indicate more specificity, if not more complexity. Whether contract trends are new or old, it is the meeting professional’s responsibility to read every single word of the contract carefully and seek advice from their legal counsel as warranted.

What should be keeping you up at night?

In August, Electronic Arts (EA) secured the GLHF Game Bar, for its Madden Football Gaming Tournament. Someone planned that event, but no one checked to see if the pizzeria/game bar complied with local ordinances. It had not, failing to secure building plans and being issued three fire code violations. A 24-year-old gamer walked into the venue with a gun, killed two, injured 11 others and then took his own life. Lawsuits are beginning to surface, naming both EA and the pizzeria as defendants, claiming that it was the responsibility of both to provide a safe place for the participants. This is not the first time a venue has been sued for failing to provide a safe place. In 2012, in Aurora, Colo., a man walked into a movie theater and killed 12 people, wounding more than 70 others. Victims sued but ended up owing the venue hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because of the building and fire violations, these lawsuits may yield a different decision.

RELATED STORY: Firearms at events…and your liability

What does your contract say about safety and security protocols? Do you have procedures in place to ensure compliance? This is a complicated issue and most likely one you should seek professional guidance to protect your organization.

What about boilerplate clauses?

Attrition, force majeure, cancellation and liability clauses are just a few of the clauses considered by most to be boilerplate clauses. When you receive a contract, is your inclination to start reading a clause and stop part way through it because you are sure you know what the rest of it says? Don’t glaze over them. Read them thoroughly and check them against clauses in other contracts you manage. Is there something different between the two?

For instance, if the attrition clause in another contract sets out your room nights as cumulative, does the draft contract describe them as being on a “per night” basis, such that you could oversell your room block on three of four nights but undersell one night and face attrition penalties?

RELATED STORY: Gotcha! Attrition clauses to address in your next hotel contract

2018 has seen a fair share of weather-related deadlines, with many meetings and events affecting around the globe. Do you know what your force majeure clause contains and whether it is adequate to deal with storms, hurricanes, volcanoes and other weather events? With weather reports being delivered to inboxes daily, are your attendees more likely to cancel attendance for fear of a projected weather event? Even if you don’t want to cancel the event, is there wiggle room in your force majeure clause to minimize or waive attrition and/or food and beverage minimums.

cyber security

How does the venue handle cybersecurity issues as they deal with your attendees’ personal information? While our industry has been focused on GDPR and related privacy policies, where does the venue stand on your guests’ personally identifiable information? Hotel privacy policies are quietly changing. If you don’t think so, check their website for their privacy policy and the next time you check into a hotel as a transient guest, pay attention to what you are signing—you may be signing away your right to pursue action against the hotel in the event of a data breach. If you are asked to sign anything at check-in be sure to pay attention to the 5- or 6-point type at the bottom. Does it say something like this?

The hotel and its providers of products and services are not liable for injury, loss or damage to your computer, or interception or use of our credit card or other personally identifiable information.

Take special care to ensure, as a meeting organizer, you are not similarly being asked in the contract to assume responsibility for responsibilities that clearly rests with the venue or its owner. Other, similar concerns arise when your draft contract contains language that shifts responsibility for damage to the property from the individual attendee to the meeting organizer.

Do you know who owns the venue you have chosen for your event? While a property may have a well-known hotel brand’s name, it may be a franchise, owned by another company. Ensure that ownership of the property is spelled out in your contract and what the property’s obligations are to notify you should the ownership change.

Once a contract is signed, revisit it every year to ensure that things have not changed at the property since the contract was executed. That gorgeous spa you were counting on to wow your attendees may no longer exist. Likewise, monitor your chosen venue to ensure there are no new fees the property has instituted since your contract was signed. A good practice is to ensure the property discloses all mandatory fees at the time of the RFP and a statement included in the contract that no fees can be added or modified without being agreed to in writing.

RELATED STORY: Partnering for successful contract negotiations

One of the newer irritations is the urban destination fee which is not a resort fee but acts like one. A bundle of items such as a specified dollar credit in a restaurant, an internet fee and similar, so-called enhancements are added to the daily room rate—enhancements you may never use but are charged for. Be sure to include a request for disclosure of these fees in your RFP and detailed in your contract as to whether they will be charged and in what amount.

In the end, how successful you are in getting the contract you want depends on establishing a relationship with your venue partner so that both of you work in unison for the success of your event and satisfaction of your attendees. Successful events are founded in successful partnerships between the meeting professional and the venue representative.

Marriott International disturbed the status quo earlier this year by cutting third-party planner commissions by three percent. Other brands followed suit, while some brands refused to do so. Is that a bellwether of other hotel-favorable changes to meeting and event contracts? In a seller’s market, anything could happen. Be vigilant!

The post Contract trends: What’s old may be new again appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

4 ways to build anticipation for your next event

September 3rd, 2018 @

excited cat

Uber-novelist Stephen King once offered some deep insight into hype and buzz. He said when the message lands, and there then becomes a groundswell of genuine interest, that becomes “buzz.” It almost always portends good things (the success of your product launch, new feature rollout, etc.)—and creating that spark is what marketers live for. Marketers should pay attention to this insight because it goes straight to the heart of why consumers get excited about certain things.

It’s also what any brand that is planning an event should be hoping for. Getting the most bodies through the door at your next event will likely hinge on how well you did at creating genuine buzz. Here are four ways to achieve that and ensure there’s much anticipation for your next event.

Create an outstanding event website

The first thing you’re going to want to do is create a website specifically for your event. It’s not enough to link to a page on your company website. And since this will be the official landing page for your big event—the point of contact where leads convert to attendees—you’ll want it to pack a punch. It should be well designed, elegant, direct, bold and offer a positive user experience. The colors you use should be simple, yet keep with the color scheme of your overall brand.

For an example of a group that did bold right, look no further than the website for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. The Ethics Centre’s annual forum for international speakers has imbued their event website with the same provocative attitude that defines their organization. The site is simple and understated yet visually compelling and, above all else, interesting. They prime their audience with a 30-second promotional spot that further whets their appetite to attend.

Other examples of effectively designed event websites.

RELATED STORY: 10 lessons for creating social media videos

social media

Select the right social media channels

The goal of event marketing is to reach people where they are. And in 2018, people are on social media. However, the success of your promotional message depends on how well you execute a social strategy as well as choosing the right platforms. The platform you choose depends principally on your brand and the type of event you’re promoting. And if you’re a B2B operation, you’re going to want to focus heavily on LinkedIn.

For professional networking platforms, this one is hard to beat. Users tend to be older, more affluent and more educated. A quarter of adults in the U.S. who are online use LinkedIn, as do half of all college graduates. So if you’re looking to invite folks to your next trade show, conference or event, you’ll find no greater pool (there are now 500 million users on LinkedIn) of potential attendees.

A prime example of a brand doing this well is the DIG Interactive Conference. This tech conference and media company from Charleston, S.C., does everything right with their LinkedIn promotion; including publishing short (about 25 words) promotional posts hyping their authoritative and renowned guest speakers. And their efforts seem to be generating buzz, as they routinely notch thousands of attendees at their events.

Of course, LinkedIn is not the only social platform out there. Consider these stats.

Ultimately, knowing the stats of all these platforms, as well as who is using them, is going to dictate on which ones you focus the bulk of your marketing efforts. The final step to round out your social strategy is to create a branded campaign around those platforms you’ve selected and incorporate targeted content to promote your event.

RELATED STORY: 6 B2B social media marketing tips for eventprofs

Launch an email campaign

If you already have a robust email list, that will make promotion even easier—especially if many on your list are attendees from previous events. You’ll want to send an initial email to your targets about 16 weeks before the scheduled event. This is just an initial announcement email covering the particulars: date of the event, location, when registration opens, link to your event page, etc.

The key with any email campaign is to nurture rather than inundate. So, wait until 10 weeks out to send the next message. Now that the audience has been primed, it’s time to appeal to them on a more personal level. Segment your list so that your audience is receiving more targeted emails that speak to them as individuals. After all, segmented emails generate a whopping 58 percent of all revenue for business, and it will be just as effective at helping to generate interest in your next event.

Be sure to send the final email two weeks before your event, urging recipients to register before it’s too late.

Don’t worry if you don’t have an existing email list, you still have plenty of options. For instance, you could look at partnering with a publication that has a similar audience, consider purchasing a targeted email list or look into cross-promotional opportunities.

RELATED STORY: Event marketing strategies for tough economic times

Enlist the help of influencers

The days of celebrity endorsements driving consumer behavior are all but over. Today’s generation craves authenticity, thus most of their consumer behavior is driven by peer recommendations. Even the algorithms of social media channels are putting a premium on user sharing nowadays.

Enter influencer marketing.

Statistics show that this tactic delivers an 11x higher ROI than other forms of digital marketing. And some 94 percent of marketers who invest in influencer strategies report the tactic to be effective. So, if you want to create interest in your next event, you’ll want to get the message out with the help of the very people who are speaking directly to your target audience.

Many influencers with a large audience have spent years endearing themselves to their fans and building trust. The most valuable influencers to your event promotion are going to be the ones who enjoy that level of earned respect. Therefore, you will likely have to offer social incentives. Whether that’s early access to your event, VIP perks, promotional swag, etc., you’re going to need to get them excited before the event to ensure they spread the word among their audience and build that anticipation.

Explore some of the best free tools to find influencers.

influence cycle

How well you convert hype to buzz not only depends on using the strategies above, but how uniquely you use the strategies above. Can you think outside the box and create an event page no one’s seen before? Will your social campaigns rise above the competition with an interesting branded message? Will your email marketing standout? Those factors are up to you, and the more creative you get is all but guaranteed to translate into more attendees.

The post 4 ways to build anticipation for your next event appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

5 steps to improve engagement in meetings

August 20th, 2018 @

gratitude

The interview for that new job you’re hoping to get. The coffee date with your personal hero and, hopefully, future mentor. The make-or-break sales demo with that perfect-fit client. The last-ditch attempt to mend a broken partnership.

When everyone in the room understands what’s at stake, engagement is automatic. We don’t worry about engagement in these situations. Instead, we focus on success.

When you are clear about why your group needs to meet and what you want to accomplish together, engagement is natural. Sadly, many meetings lack this clarity.

The good news: Every meeting can be as focused, compelling and engaging as the high-stakes meetings listed above when you follow these five steps.

1. Define what you want people to contribute.

Get clear about what you want to help each person actively do or say during the meeting. Engagement involves more than simply paying attention; active engagement results in observable behavior.

It helps to visualize the meeting in advance and think through everyone invited. Picture in your mind what each person will do in your best-case scenario. That’s the engagement you want.

Tip: If you picture someone just listening quietly, they probably don’t belong at your meeting. Of the 16 types of meetings businesses run, only two (training and broadcasts) expect a passive audience. The rest of our business meetings are not spectator sports; only active players belong in the game.

2. Ask for engagement.

Do you want written feedback? Verbal input in a go-around? A show of hands? Get specific and provide examples.

This seems obvious, and that’s actually the problem. To the person leading the meeting, it’s obvious how things should play out because they thought about it in advance. Meeting leaders frequently forget to fill everyone else in, though. They don’t give people advance notice about how to prepare for the meeting, and don’t ask clear questions during the meeting—then they get frustrated when no one participates.

Remember, you must explicitly ask for engagement to get engagement.

RELATED STORY: How to improve meeting outcomes

3. Make space for people to engage.

Make sure you have enough meeting time for engagement. For example, to get feedback from 10 people with each speaking for just two minutes, you need 20 minutes.

Many leaders prefer meetings with five or fewer people because it’s far easier to make sure everyone has a chance to contribute in a small group.

We can’t keep all meetings tiny, though. With more people involved, you have three options:

  • Make the meeting longer so everyone has time to speak.
  • Break out some facilitation skills. There are great ways to engage larger groups, all of which require advance planning and some know-how to pull off.
  • Accept that you’re going to basically ignore some of the people in the meeting.

That last option is the default choice in most corporations. It’s also a lousy way to treat people.

4. Acknowledge contributions.

At the very least, people who contribute to the meeting deserve thanks.

For many individuals, speaking up in a group means taking a personal risk. Some people are shy, and some environments are hostile. Whether the risk arises from internal or external factors, it still takes courage and effort to overcome. When this contribution is then glossed over, when it’s dismissed or when you haven’t made time for it, people learn that the risk was not worth the effort.

Many high-performing teams make a point of reserving time at the end of each meeting for sharing appreciations, where individuals publicly thank one another for specific contributions. This is a fabulous way to acknowledge the value people bring, improve team relationships and reinforce the benefits of contributing for those who might be reluctant to speak up.

make things happen5. Use what you receive.

Most importantly, make sure contributions made during the meeting impact what happens after the meeting. With our high-stakes meetings, this is a no-brainer. Can you imagine a sales person failing to send over a contract after a successful demo? Hardly. In these cases, we know that the decisions we make in the meeting will result in action after the meeting.

That shouldn’t be different for other meetings, and yet too often it is.

For example, strategic planning workshops are notorious for creating a significant outcome that never gets used, and not because they fail to engage participants. It’s possible to run a fabulously engaging workshop to build out your company’s strategic plan, only to then have that plan sit on the shelf for a year.

When it comes to engagement, the rule is use it or lose it. Clever facilitation tricks can’t get people engaged if they learn it doesn’t matter. When people see they made a difference, however, they’ll contribute again.

Every meeting presents an opportunity for engagement and the creation of new value. For some meetings, this opportunity is obvious. For others, we have work to do. When you follow the five simple steps outlined above, you’ve got a great shot at transforming every meeting into one worth your team’s investment.

RELATED STORY: Top tools for audience engagement

The post 5 steps to improve engagement in meetings appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

When clients don’t get strategic meetings management: A rant

August 13th, 2018 @

stressed out

So, strategic meetings management…disclaimer: This is a rant.

First of all, if one more person says the word “strategic,” I am going to scream. I personally like the word “plan,” it’s parsimonious all by itself. Not pompous or self-important, but simple and easy to understand.

Before the industry gets all in a ball about it, I’m not saying that strategic meetings management (SMM) isn’t important, I’m simply saying that I was terrified when I first heard the term. And then as all the articles and white papers rolled out, I got so overwhelmed that I said, “Forget it!” I know I’m not the only one that felt that way. With all the talk about ROI, stakeholder management, phases, cross-functional teams and enterprise-wide goals, who wouldn’t run away?

RELATED STORY: Make SMM your best career buddy

If studies are correct, the average company spends 15 percent of its collective time in meetings. The whole point of SMM is that if your company spends nearly one-sixth of its time in meetings, then someone should really be making sure that the time and money is well spent.

With quantitative cost savings being a huge part of SMM, many planners focus on reducing attrition and cancellations (which by the way, are both the bane of my existence). But guess what, every time they (read: internal clients and/or the “higher ups”) look at the bottom line, what’s the first to go? Say it with me: Travel. Which means that some of the meetings you’ve already ruminated over and planned are about to be cancelled. And to your dismay, they really don’t intend on rescheduling, they just know this has to be cut, not now, but right now, as in yesterday.

So, let’s talk about that. How the heck did you just amass cancellations equivalent to someone’s salary? Does that mean they’re letting me go tomorrow? I mean literally, the cancellations amounted to $71,680.53. I think I better find a way to use that. Some way, somehow. You would think they wouldn’t cancel because perhaps, maybe, they can keep a co-worker from being downsized. But nope, even after explaining to them that they can host the meeting with an ROI for $72K or totally lose $71K, they still cancel the meeting.

RELATED STORY: 5 tips for presenting financial information to company executives

stress out burn outMaybe we shot ourselves in the foot by telling them they had to have their requests in at least three months in advance. We knew that they wouldn’t know who was attending 90 days out. Like, why would they know who’s attending when they don’t even know what they’re going to talk about (i.e. the agenda); as in, why are you even trying to plan this meeting when you don’t have a purpose, an agenda or know the people that you want there?

So, let’s say they decided to hold the meeting, but they’ve rolled out this self-service policy where attendees can book any way they like versus going through our travel management portal. Now whose bright idea was that? What happens if something happens? How do I know where my attendees are because I don’t have an arrival/departure on them? It’s called duty of care, people. Why did we even bother selecting a travel management company as part of our SMM process? What a waste of time!

After saying all that, what did I really say about strategic meetings management? It’s probably time you instituted your own company’s plan. Because you are in the trenches and know why all of the above matters and can draft a policy that will make a difference. After all, policies change behavior, right?

The post When clients don’t get strategic meetings management: A rant appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

When clients don’t get strategic meetings management: A rant

August 13th, 2018 @

stressed out

So, strategic meetings management…disclaimer: This is a rant.

First of all, if one more person says the word “strategic,” I am going to scream. I personally like the word “plan,” it’s parsimonious all by itself. Not pompous or self-important, but simple and easy to understand.

Before the industry gets all in a ball about it, I’m not saying that strategic meetings management (SMM) isn’t important, I’m simply saying that I was terrified when I first heard the term. And then as all the articles and white papers rolled out, I got so overwhelmed that I said, “Forget it!” I know I’m not the only one that felt that way. With all the talk about ROI, stakeholder management, phases, cross-functional teams and enterprise-wide goals, who wouldn’t run away?

RELATED STORY: Make SMM your best career buddy

If studies are correct, the average company spends 15 percent of its collective time in meetings. The whole point of SMM is that if your company spends nearly one-sixth of its time in meetings, then someone should really be making sure that the time and money is well spent.

With quantitative cost savings being a huge part of SMM, many planners focus on reducing attrition and cancellations (which by the way, are both the bane of my existence). But guess what, every time they (read: internal clients and/or the “higher ups”) look at the bottom line, what’s the first to go? Say it with me: Travel. Which means that some of the meetings you’ve already ruminated over and planned are about to be cancelled. And to your dismay, they really don’t intend on rescheduling, they just know this has to be cut, not now, but right now, as in yesterday.

So, let’s talk about that. How the heck did you just amass cancellations equivalent to someone’s salary? Does that mean they’re letting me go tomorrow? I mean literally, the cancellations amounted to $71,680.53. I think I better find a way to use that. Some way, somehow. You would think they wouldn’t cancel because perhaps, maybe, they can keep a co-worker from being downsized. But nope, even after explaining to them that they can host the meeting with an ROI for $72K or totally lose $71K, they still cancel the meeting.

RELATED STORY: 5 tips for presenting financial information to company executives

stress out burn outMaybe we shot ourselves in the foot by telling them they had to have their requests in at least three months in advance. We knew that they wouldn’t know who was attending 90 days out. Like, why would they know who’s attending when they don’t even know what they’re going to talk about (i.e. the agenda); as in, why are you even trying to plan this meeting when you don’t have a purpose, an agenda or know the people that you want there?

So, let’s say they decided to hold the meeting, but they’ve rolled out this self-service policy where attendees can book any way they like versus going through our travel management portal. Now whose bright idea was that? What happens if something happens? How do I know where my attendees are because I don’t have an arrival/departure on them? It’s called duty of care, people. Why did we even bother selecting a travel management company as part of our SMM process? What a waste of time!

After saying all that, what did I really say about strategic meetings management? It’s probably time you instituted your own company’s plan. Because you are in the trenches and know why all of the above matters and can draft a policy that will make a difference. After all, policies change behavior, right?

The post When clients don’t get strategic meetings management: A rant appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News