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October 20, 2014

IMEX Takes Over Las Vegas

IMG 3716 1024x768 IMEX Takes Over Las Vegas

Maureen Haley, left, and Richard Knight, far right, helped sell IMEX14 attendees on Scotland’s charm, at the VisitScotland booth.

IMEX America 2014 was billed as “three days of deal-making,” and it sure felt like attendees were in the mood to strike some serious deals. Planners were on the hunt for amazing venues; suppliers were only too happy to talk up theirs.

Roy Bloom, IMEX chairman, said at the closing press conference that the number of one-to-one business appointments and booth presentations had risen to 53,000 from 50,000 in 2013.

The Las Vegas show, in fact, turned out to be the biggest to date, with 2,900 exhibitors and 2,900 hosted buyers, and 10,000 total participants. Throngs of attendees filled the Sands Expo and Convention Center, not only on the expo floor but also in the breakout rooms and halls. Nearby restaurants were packed, and in the later hours business seemed brisk at area hotels’ clubs, bars and casinos (that may not have been due solely to IMEX, of course).

IMG 3690 300x225 IMEX Takes Over Las Vegas

Las Vegas pulled in $13 million in non-gaming revenue from IMEX14.

No doubt shops and services in the myriad malls benefited as well. Cathy Tull, senior vice president for marketing for the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, underscored the show’s economic impact on the city. “There was a total of $13 million in non-gaming revenue from IMEX14 to the city of Las Vegas,” Tull said at closing press conference.

IMG 3829 300x225 IMEX Takes Over Las Vegas

Cathy Tull of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority speaks at the close of IMEX14.

But despite IMEX crowds at certain times of day–for example, when the expo floor opened at 10 a.m.–mid-afternoon found many booths relatively empty, with representatives from various hotels, CVBs, DMCs, airlines, tour operators and event services sitting idly at their tables. Planners must have taken late lunches, or perhaps stuck with major brands (Marriott, Caesars Entertainment, Disneyland, among others) where the booths were always busy.

Planners’ familiarity and comfort with big brands (many of these coincidentally based in the United States), and the likelihood that their meetings would take place in the U.S. most certainly played a part in booth popularity, but some in attendance felt that things are shifting.

“It’s not as American as it used to be,” said Monica Maturano, executive director of Buenos Aires Convention & Visitors Bureau, speaking of IMEX14 compared to previous years. “Planners are more open to international meetings.”

Bloom acknowledged that IMEX is still growing. “Next year’s show can expect a certain increase in the hosted buyer program, and an increase in top buyers from around globe,” he said.

 

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October 14, 2014

The Meet Part of Meetings is Crucial

Susan RoAnn1 The Meet Part of Meetings is Crucialby Susan RoAne

The $64,000 Question: How can meeting planners create conferences, meetings and events where everyone interacts, connects and converses? This is not a new question. It’s been around since meetings first occurred.

My dad was active in his Chicago chapter of the Paper and Paper Products Association in the 1940s. I went to my first convention, which was in Miami, when I was 12.  Like my dad, people go to meetings, conventions and conferences because they want to attend and know they should attend, but that doesn’t make it easy. Dad was quiet and Mom was the connector so he always wanted her with him at these events. Why? Our overall discomfort at walking into rooms (or giant convention centers) full of people—many of whom are strangers—is a predominant feeling for the majority of attendees, speakers and vendors across the board.

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September 18, 2014

Seven Symptoms of Bad Meetings and What You Can Do About Them

infographic 1024x470 Seven Symptoms of Bad Meetings and What You Can Do About Them

From Atlassian infographic on wasting time at work.

By Joel D. Levitt

The door to the meeting room opens and it’s the person who called the meeting, running 10 minutes late because the previous meeting ended late and he had to stop by his office and pick up some notes to remind him of what this meeting was about. The folks already in the room are discussing last night’s game and wondering how long the meeting is going to last. Only one person remembers to get the notes from the last meeting. And he’s the only one that has a copy of the report they’re supposed to discuss.

Does this sound or feel familiar? You’re not alone. One topic that everyone can agree on is this: meetings are often a waste of time and money. Scary meeting statistics abound. Software company Atlassian’s infographic states that U.S. businesses waste $37 billion a year in inefficient, unnecessary meetings.

So why don’t corporations make the effort to fix the problem? Perhaps it boils down to a lack of accountability. But this is something that is entirely within our control. Here are some symptoms of bad meetings and what you can do to fix them.

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August 24, 2014

More Domestic Meetings Forecast for Industry

800px Kyoto International Conference Center   Annex Hall interior 300x225 More Domestic Meetings Forecast for Industry

Kyoto International Conference Center, Japan

More domestic meetings, shorter booking lead times, increased use of technology and continuing problems with compliance are among the worldwide trends being forecast for the meetings industry in a report released this month.

The report, the 2015 Global Travel Price Outlook, is a collaborative effort of Carlson Wagonlit Travel and the GBTA Foundation, the education and research component of the Global Business Travel Association. It focuses on what businesses can expect in 2015, and is designed to help their planning.

Part of the report focused specifically on the meetings industry. Besides the trends forecast above, the report predicted that:

* The cost per-day cost for an attendee will rise 8.5 percent in Latin America and 2.5 percent in both North America and the Asia-Pacific region, and decline by 5 percent in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

* Group size will increase by 3.5 percent in North America. 2.5 percent in Latin America and .75 percent in the Asia-Pacific region, and remain stable in the EMEA region.

* North America will see steadily improving economic conditions, resulting in more corporate confidence.

* The modest increases in per-attendee spending and group size in North America will be tempered by the strategic sourcing of the many North American-based organizations that implement a holistic approach to meetings management and drive significant savings accordingly.

* Companies in North America will focus on combining meetings and events with transient spending and on continuing to consolidate suppliers for greater negotiating leverage.

* Solid growth in the Asia-Pacific region should enable organizations to invest in meetings and events.

* Booking lead times will be particularly short in the EMEA region (two to three weeks out) and will likely fluctuate in a manner consistent with corporate earnings reports.

* Bookings for EMEA events will maintain a lead time of approximately nine months.

* Meetings management will continue to become more sophisticated in the Latin America region, with more interest in end-to-end management and some countries improving online registration tools.

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August 21, 2014

Five Tips to Get Attendees To Stay Until The End of Your Conference

4169489849 81c3279770 b 300x225 Five Tips to Get Attendees To Stay Until The End of Your Conference

You’d stay for the closing night party, wouldn’t you?
Photo: Bill McIntyre, Flickr Commons

We’ve all been there.  You had 312 people sign up for your conference – more than ever.  Things started with a bang, your vendors were thrilled with floor traffic, and the hotel upgraded your room halfway through because of all the money they were making on drinks at the lobby bar.  The second day was good too, as was the third.  But when you woke up on the fourth and final day you realized that only 68 people were still powering through to the end, and most of them had only stayed because they were too hung-over to drive home until 2 p.m. anyway.  You apologized to your closing keynote speaker, who either understood completely or (if he was Scott Jenson) shouted about how important he thought he was and then stormed off.

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August 15, 2014

Integrating Gen Y into the Meetings Industry

Joe Martin Headshot 2 4 200x300 Integrating Gen Y into the Meetings Industry

Joe Martin

The MPI World Education Congress this month had dozens of captivating presentations, and one that stood out involved three young meeting professionals who participated in a panel about the generation gap in the meetings industry.

One of the panelists in the presentation, titled “Generation Next: Bridging the Generation Gap in the Workplace and at Meetings,” was Joe Martin, partner and conference director for BDI Events, a full-service events company based in Los Angeles. Martin has more than nine years professional experience in special-event planning and implementation for non-profits and the entertainment industry, and has served as a meeting planner for conferences ranging from 50–1,200 people.

Martin’s energy and enthusiasm buoyed much of the discussion, and his comments broadened the audience’s understanding of Gen Y meetings professionals such as himself. “When baby boomers arrive at their destination, they get on the phone and say, ‘Hi. I’m here.’ When we land, we send a text,” he said.

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February 08, 2014

What Happens When a Crisis “Attends” Your Event?

atlanta snow What Happens When a Crisis “Attends” Your Event?

Traffic during the Atlanta snow storm on Jan. 28, 2014. Photo by William Brawley, via Flickr.

The following is a guest post by Casey Cote, chief executive officer of event-management company Omnience, originally posted to the company’s official blog, The ROI Blog.

Last week, I went to Orlando to meet clients for a pre-event site visit. I knew that with airport and car rental hassles in two cities, flying would only save me an hour over driving, so I opted to drive. Then I decided to leave at 11 a.m. instead of early afternoon.

During my drive from Atlanta to Orlando on Tuesday, I learned how fortuitous those two decisions were. A snow storm hit Atlanta more directly, earlier and with more intensity than predicted. Schools and businesses closed early, and hundreds of thousands of cars, trucks and school busses simultaneously chocked roads in every direction. Hundreds of flights were cancelled.

Later, as the magnitude of the weather disaster emerged, I wondered: What if a major storm or other external crisis disrupted one of my big events? What would I do?

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January 17, 2014

8 Reasons to Let us Do Your Site Selection

sss2 8 Reasons to Let us Do Your Site Selection

Here at Smart Meetings, everything we do is geared toward a single goal: making it easier for planners to do their jobs and put on better events. For years, we’ve been providing information and ideas in the pages of the magazine and facilitating connections at our signature events. Now we’re literally pitching in and taking on some of the planning workload with our Smart Site Selector service.

Smart Site Selector allows us to book meetings for planners, submit RFPs on their behalf, speed up their site search and generally save them time and money. Whether you are a seasoned meeting professional, an executive assistant whose has just been charged with organizing a company gathering or even a third-party planner, Smart Site Selector is available to help you find the perfect venue for your next event. Here are eight reasons why you should be using it right now:

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January 15, 2014

Meeting with the Next Generation of Planners

jmu pcma Meeting with the Next Generation of Planners

Guess who among this quartet is a current James Madison University student or recent graduate
and who is Smart Meetings Managing Editor Holly Woolard

 

Many times when I’m covering events for Smart Meetings, I’m so busy going from interview to interview, attending general sessions and heading out to galas at night that I miss out on the type of engagement that epitomizes meetings. I definitely had that chance meeting moment, though, during the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) Convening Leaders event at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston this week.

Sitting on a comfy sofa checking my email after a great one-on-one with George Aguel from Visit Orlando, I overheard a young woman talking about her upcoming college graduation from JMU. It just so happens that I graduated from James Madison University many years ago. I waited until the young woman finished her conversation, glanced at her badge and confirmed that she was from JMU as part of PCMA’s college group.

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December 31, 2013

2014 Wish List for the Meetings Industry

2014 calendar 2014 Wish List for the Meetings Industry

As 2013 comes to a close and 2014 beckons, Smart Meetings wishes a happy new year to meeting professionals and suppliers around the world. We’re so excited about the new year that we even have a Top 10 Wish List for the meetings industry:

1. For your sake and the sake of meeting attendees traveling to your events, we’re really hoping that the airlines do not let people make phone calls on planes. (See Smart Meetings’ January issue for more on Airplane Etiquette.)

2. We want free Wi-Fi…everywhere: convention centers, hotel rooms, hotel lobbies and boardrooms. (This includes planes, too, although we’re unwavering about our disdain for people making phone calls.)

3. May every speaker you choose excite and motivate attendees, not send them to their hand-held devices to catch up on emails.

4. Can’t we all just get along when it comes to shorter lead times for bookings? This trend is not going away.

5. Note to the government: Stop thinking that you’re saving so much money by cutting back on meetings and realize that events are valuable resources to foster ideas and solutions.

6. #CleverHashtags

7. More open bars at events. If you made it to No. 7 on our list you deserve a drink. Cheers to you.

8. More sustainable meetings and fewer attendees who feel gypped because you’ve done away with plastic water bottles. This goes double for people who still need paper handouts.

9. Increased meeting and event budgets would be nice. Just saying.

10. Hoping for a healthy meeting environment, from an increase in the number of meetings and attendees to snacks and meals being served at events.

From your friends at Smart Meetings, we wish you a happy and healthy New Year.

─Holly Woolard

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