Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Deal is in the Details: How to Maximize Your RFPs

Written by Audrey Staples, a Systems Analyst for Cvent in McLean, VA; Audrey is a member of IACC's Emerging Trends Committee, a committee for industry professionals under the age of 30. Audrey brings her knowledge of the vendor side and shares these cool conference center tips to maximize your RFPs.
Planners: Be sure to include some high level information about the organization looking to host their next event on RFPs sent to the conference center.  If your organization has held this event in the past, be sure to add some information about the event history.  These details give the convention center a better picture of the organization’s priorities and consistencies regarding the event.  Providing these details may get you more customized or event specific details from your venue!  Adding information about pick-up might help when negotiating attrition.   And sharing other city locations you have visited in the past, may encourage conference centers to include details about their city’s features.

Conference Centers:  Use all the information planners include on their RFPs to sell your property.  If planners include particulars about this event from years past, take them and relate them to the service or product your center can offer.  Did the Dairy Farmers of America offer an ice cream reception last year?  Play off the theme and suggest a cheese tasting at your conference center!  Use you city’s resources; talk to local chefs for some food theme ideas or elicit your coordinators advice to discuss d├ęcor and setup.  Or use their agenda to highlight your meeting rooms.  Do you have the perfect space for their silent auction?  Give them the details, the flow, so they understand why your venue is the right fit for their event.  Including these ‘extras’ may help the planners understand the experience their attendees will get at your conference center.

What do you also recommend including in your RFPs?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

3 Eye Catching Concepts for Your Conference Center

Vintage 1960's ad from Steelcase
 Written by Kasey Sanders of Hamilton Park Hotel and Conference Center in Florham Park, NJ. Kasey is a sales manager and an active member of IACC's Emerging Trends Committee. Most recently, Kasey explored her curiosity for Steelcase and planned a company field trip to the manufacturer's NYC showroom. Discover what she found out during her trip...
Understanding your clients’ daily work environment will provide insight into how they might perceive your conference center. After all, companies influence their culture through the layout of the office space and the way their employees interact. And when a company decides to host a meeting or training at an offsite location, they need to be certain that the ideologies of their culture are being reinforced.

My curiosity on the latest trends in office design led me to the Steelcase showroom at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. I spent an afternoon wandering the many floors of eye catching furniture, in search of new ideas and a look at what is popular in office space infrastructure. And I did indeed stumble upon a few resounding themes worth sharing.

Flexibility – I was introduced to many furniture pieces that could adjust to the variety of tasks completed in a single day. Take the Airtouch for example. “With a light touch of a finger, workers can quickly, effortlessly, and quietly adjust their worksurface to fit their personal, or task related needs. Be it seated, standing, collaborative or solo.”

Collaboration – Engaging with colleagues takes on new meaning when you have the personal space to work on a project while still comfortably seated within a group. “Verb tables are specifically designed to support different learning modes and encourage easy shifts between lecture, discussion, and project work.”

Connection – Video conferencing with colleagues at other offices and in other countries is no longer novelty but mandatory. And fumbling with AV connections is a total hindrance to communication and productivity.  Enter a product like media:scape with HD videoconferencing and the PUCK (Personal User Control Key).  “media:scape was designed to provide a collaborative destination—one that is simple to use and ready to host your digital tools in three easy steps: (connect, press and share).”

Of course Steelcase is just one of many office furniture design businesses with purpose built fixtures in offices throughout the world. Explore the white pages and research papers of these companies to learn what trends and ideas are helping to sculpt their designs and the office spaces of your clients. And check out the winners from NeoCon 2012 for more innovative concepts in furniture and technology.

Which of these concepts seem to be a market trend at your property? 

Friday, July 6, 2012

IACC Customer Roundtables Show Continued Support for Complete Meeting Package

(St. Louis, MO) - June 2012 - For the third consecutive year, the International Association of Conference Centers-Americas conducted a series of customer roundtables designed to gather direct feedback from customers and potential customers of IACC conference centres. The primary purpose of the on-going marketing project is to strengthen and expand the IACC Meeting Concept which continues to differentiate IACC members from traditional hotels and meeting venues.
According to Peter Stockmann, President, IACC-Americas (and CEO, 3P Business Solutions), “With this third series of face-to-face customer roundtables, we sought to compare the results from the previous two years and keep our priorities in check. The focus is to make sure we are aware of the customer’s wants and needs and to ensure that we continue to provide an exceptional meeting experience.”

As in previous years, the market research program took place at IACC-member properties in the United States and Canada. The information gathered at the roundtables continues to provide IACC with important data that will allow the association to make sure the mission statement (“to be the thought leader on the meeting experience”) remains relevant.
Based on a highly-interactive format developed by former IACC President Neil Pompan (President of Pompan Hospitality Global) the roundtables were created to:
·         Strengthen and expand awareness of the conference centre concept
·         Get direct feedback from customers to ensure that the IACC Quality Standards
            are current, relevant and on target.
·         Generate usable market intelligence to share with member properties
·         Generate quantifiable data that point to market trends.

Highest ranked items in the 2012 survey include:
10.0     Financial          Set-up fees included in the Complete Meeting Package (CMP)
9.9       F&B                 Customize a menu to accommodate special dietary requirements
9.8       Financial          CMP -- A single package price – No nickel and diming
9.8       Meeting Rm    Individual Meeting Room Climate control
9.8       Technology     Skilled on-site AV/IT technicians to handle every need
9.7       F&B                 Continuous Refreshment Break Service
9.7       Financial          Meeting room rental expenses included in CMP
9.7       Meeting Rm    Ergonomic Chairs
9.6       Meeting Rm    Acoustically rated walls that guarantee no sound distractions
9.6       Technology     At Least One (1) LCD projector

Participants in the surveys were provided a deck of 57 cards, each of which had one component of an “ideal meeting,” in eight general areas: Business Services; F&B; Financial; Guest Room; Meeting Room; Meeting Amenities; Technology; and Other.  Groups evaluated and ranked all 57 components in terms of their importance to the ideal meeting.  The facilitator then displayed a spreadsheet with the collective ranking of all components which fueled a discussion of priorities and what are the essential elements of the ideal meeting environment. 

In previous years, the highest ranked items in the categories of Food and Beverage, Meeting Room, and Technology.  In the most recent surveys, the highest ranked items came from the Financial category for the first time, followed by Food & Beverage and Meeting Room Design.

Mission Statement: The International Association of Conference Centres is the thought leader on the meeting experience. IACC represents its members by defining and promoting the IACC Meeting Concept and providing learning opportunities.

Founded in 1981, the International Association of Conference Centres is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting understanding and awareness of the conference centre industry and to giving member properties the tools necessary to provide an exceptional meeting experience. Active members meet a set of stringent Quality Standards and agree to a Code of Ethics. Currently, the association includes approximately 400 members from the United States, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, France, England, The Netherlands, Germany and Japan. For more information, visit the website at “There are meetings and then there are IACC meetings.”

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Why You Should Consider Flat Screens Instead of Projection Units

Written by Joe Sebestyen, District Manager of FLIK Conference Centers. Joe is a member of the Emerging Trends Committee on IACC and serves as a mentor and industry leader for the group of young professionals. Enjoy these cost saving tips about flat screens in meeting rooms!

Recently more companies are considering replacing projection units in smaller meeting rooms with flat screen displays. You may want to consider this as the projection units require ceiling mounts, need lamps replaced and filter cleaned. Flat screens are less maintenance and have good viewing quality, even with available light in the meeting rooms. When you add the lamps, the labor to clean filters, replace lamps and adjust the projection units, it may be worthwhile to consider the flat screen displays. Even if the IT installs are not your responsibility...when you know they are considering retrofitting smaller meeting rooms you may want to mention this option to your client. They may perceive you have their best interest at heart even though you may not be responsible for the IT installations.

Some other thoughts to help you compare the two technologies:

  • Projectors are able to create the largest images. A projector's screen size is also adjustable and can be changed to fit your environment. Flat screen TVs peak at about 70-90 inches.  However you can stitch several flat screens together to make a larger image.
  • Flat screen displays in general are much harder to move from room to room unless you have them mounted on a rack. Without a rack or cart it can be usually a two-person operation. Projection units are easier and safer to transport. If mounted on a ceiling it requires more maintenance to change lamps and filters.
  • Life-span Projectors have lamps that last up to 5,000 hours. They are replaceable and generally cost $199 to $399. Flat screens have a reported half-life of about 100,000 hours. Half-life is the time it takes the light source to fade to half its original brightness. A projector has a shorter lamp life, but the lamp can be replaced multiple times.
  • It would cost $11,500 for 100,000 hours of viewing if your projection units have a life span of 5,000 hours. A high quality flat screen may cost $1,500 for 100,000 hours of viewing. Because of their big image, projectors may provide a more immersive 3D experience than flat screens. 3D quality is good, but is limited by the size of the screen. Projectors provide the most realistic 3D images thanks to the large image they provide.
What's your take - projection units  or flat screen displays?