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MeetingSource
Convention Site Selection Reviews + Occasional Musings
Convention Site Selection Reviews + Occasional Musings
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Attention convention city site selectors: Our List of Top Convention Cities for 2017 was released on Valentines Day! Click on an individual destination to see how it scored and the (objective) factors that may make you love it too!

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Few things frighten meeting planners more than coming up against unforeseen attrition charges because they've failed to fill a contracted room block. The alternative may be worse - not having enough rooms available for exhibitors or attendees that need them. Here's why it's so hard to keep everyone happy and what to do about it.

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While many organizations (like MeetingSource.com and hundreds of Convention Bureaus that represent cities for the convention industry) have paid thousands and thousands of dollars in advertising fees to Google to get top placement for important keywords for our websites (because advertisers pay us), it seems these efforts are now being preempted by - none other than Google itself. 

We got the attached results (notice what appears to be a new marketing banner above everything else) repeatedly after typing in sought after keywords that our directories rely on like, conference facilities, meeting facilities and <destination name> meeting facilities. 

http://meetingsource.com/images/Google_Search_Results_7-3-13-Conference_Facilities.jpg

We've researched and purchased innovative keywords and now must wonder how long it will be before the same banner appears over those?

What industry is next?

Does anyone else agree that this may not be fair competition? 

PS  - We've noticed Google's own (marketing?) boxes in other kinds of hotel results, but have not raised these concerns until it was aimed directly at searches for conventions and meetings.

+John Horchner  

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Every convention center and meeting facility would like meeting planners to believe that the're “ready for anything”, but these days, any large event would be foolish to overlook the size of its bandwidth and cost.

The tidal wave of change for online services that connect attendees to conference material, each other and the outside world on multiple devices requires larger and larger amounts of capacity and this realization is pushing most meeting planners out of their comfort zones.  

This is one area where calling the geeks in makes .  Find an IT person who knows the technical questions to ask.

According to  Ian Framson,  CEO, Co-Founder of Tradeshow Internet,  a company that teams up with facilities to boost capacity for events and/or provide meeting planners with a competitive alternative, there are a few steps planners should take first.

1) Determine the scope of the event
2) Determine the budget
3) Remove any internet exclusivity clauses in your lease agreement

The last point is subject to negotiation, but well within the rights of every meeting planner, according to Framson. More information can be found by visiting Tradeshow Internet’s Website http://tradeshowinternet.com/

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Omni Hotels is offering meeting planners a special program to improve their  skills and understand of  hotel contract negotiations. Learn from an industry leading lawyer that contributes to the Convention Industry Council’s Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) in the area of contracts.

It's not all work... the presentation also includes a talk by Joel Zeff, a leading author on work/life balance who demonstrates "what happens when work becomes play".

Find a seminar new you:

http://www.omnihotels.com/ExclusiveOffers/BeCollaborative.aspx  

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Hotel brands from Hilton to Omni are offering daily, Monday-Friday, 7am-7pm site selection assistance from a real person, sometimes with considerable clout. What does that mean? We put this directory together to help us start to find out.

Standing Ovation for its First Live Streaming Lecture!

Teresa  Adam Assistant Director of Education for the non-profit Chautauqua Institution said their first try with live streaming a lecture was very successful.

"It got a standing ovation." 

She said the idea for the live stream arose when the speaker said she couldn't make it because she had to stay at her lab, the Aquarius Reef Base, 60 feet under water! Instead of getting another speaker, they decide to try their first ever live video streaming event.

The group successfully navigated its way through a couple of common traps.

1) Plenty of bandwidth: this was already on site. 
2) Video production team: a professional filming team was already underwater capturing footage for a series of ocean IMAX Theatre films.
3) Live video feed:  They used Ustream's production services.

The biggest hurdle that most groups face with live video, besides insuring the type of quality that the TV generation expects, is cost. In this case, Adam said a lot of the costs were already covered.

I just finished a piece for MeetingSource on virtual vs. real trade shows...there's no longer a trade-off - - the two should be combined!

Some of the takeaways I got:

>>Move past the old virtual trade show environment where everything was put online; find out what people really like watching 
>> Create real conversations and demonstrations, this means video, as the primary means of communicating online
>> Insist on real people, with real identities, just like at the physical 
>> Don’t over do it. Give out just enough to get potential visitors/participants interested.
>> The convention bureaus and trade show centers that control the industry may be key to creating a cost-effective infrastructure needed for virtual services to become generically available.

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Renaissance Hotels - what does a lifestyle brand mean for meeting planners?

In late summer, MeetingSource.com is producing a brand report on the leading brands and what each of them brings uniquely to meeting planners.

Here is a sneak peek at some fascinating insights provided by Dan Vinh, vice president of marketing for Renaissance Hotels, a Marriott International Brand since 1997.

1. What makes this brand unique for meeting planners?

“Renaissance Hotels is the signature lifestyle brand within the Marriott International portfolio - a global brand that is known for meetings excellence...We like to infuse our overall meetings experience with a lifestyle feel that works for our customers...

We know that the new generation of business travelers are much more savvy these days, and they want more. They want a meetings environment that stimulates learning, encourages creativity and ultimately, they want productivity. That's why our meetings rooms are not just boring boxes. We create sensory experiences - from lighting, to music, to scents to having toys and games that stimulate the minds and engage the participant"

For instance, in order to provide meeting attendees with a relaxing environment after the formal meetings part to network and get real business done, the Renaissance Hotels strive to help meeting planners create custom entertainment.

“RLife LIVE is the way our hotels bring their lobby and bar spaces to life with live local entertainment, DJs, mixology demonstrations, food pairings by our chefs and so on,” explained Vinh. “Many hotels go further with their own local signature events.”

“Meetings Planners can create unique experiences for their attendees. Our Navigator local experts are there to help guests who have down time to go out and explore the cities and get the true local flavors. Navigators can also be engaged in the planning process to assist with identifying what is happening in the area at a future date - that might be of specific interest to your group- a special event, museum opening, baseball game- which can enhance the overall experience once the group arrives. This can help create interest in the meeting, and even help drive attendance."

2. Are these two programs available at all the hotels?
"Yes. This is available in all US hotels, as well as globally in more than 150 hotels in 34 countries. Now, we do leave some room for local customization, but R.E.N. Meetings is our core belief in how meetings should be run to be successful for both the attendees and the planner."

>>>
* Learn about some of these features in MS Site Selection Reports*

For example, what church is near the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel where George Washington and Robert E. Lee were regulars? What group hosts weekly runs of the Freedom Trail Run in Boston? What is the address for the top beach in Florida...?

Follow the links to each of the hotel's Navigator Program.

Arlington: http://meetingsource.com/detailFacility.asp?Advertiser_ID=20805
Baltimore: http://meetingsource.com/detailFacility.asp?Advertiser_ID=2848
Birmingham: http://meetingsource.com/detailFacility.asp?Advertiser_ID=20797
Boston: http://meetingsource.com/detailFacility.asp?Advertiser_ID=20741
New York: http://meetingsource.com/detailFacility.asp?Advertiser_ID=2283
St. Petersburg: http://meetingsource.com/detailFacility.asp?Advertiser_ID=2901
Washington, DC: http://meetingsource.com/detailFacility.asp?Advertiser_ID=20186
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Marriott is one of the best at maintaining the quality of its brand across all its channels and making sure that planners get a consistent experience at every hotel. But how do they deliver such consistency when the brand itself dictates that every experience be unique?

Such is the challenge faced by Renaissance Hotels, which was acquired by Marriott in 1997. One solution is to the introduction of the Renaissance Navigator program, expert advice on what’s special about each local destination. The corporate office may have set up the website, phone apps and training for personnel, but the content you see and the suggestions to follow or all created at the local level. Consistent delivery - unique experiences - such is the beauty of the Navigator program. +Olga Burket
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