Wednesday, November 13, 2013

It’s all about the Education! IACC at IMEX Americas

With IMEX 2013 as its backdrop in Las Vegas last month, IACC CEO Mark Cooper announced the association’s ambitious goals for the upcoming year.  IACC dramatically increased it participation at IMEX 2013 where Mark Cooper was a presenter with DCI, Development Counsellors International IACC used educational sessions at the trade show to deliver the results of their joint survey “Exploring the Generational Preferences of Meeting Planners”.    IACC was also recognized as a parter to IMEX’s popular Association Planner Forum which takes place on the Monday before the main trade show and is attended by hundred’s of Meeting Planners representing some of Americas largest trade associations and societies.

At a media luncheon hosted by IACC, Mark Cooper announced additional IACC goals for 2014 that include the development of the IACC Institute, a certification program for conference centre operators in 2014.  “Cooper noted, “IACC has long sought to increase its presence and influence in the certification of professionals in our industry.”  The benefits of a certification program for IACC members focusing on the excellence and best practices adopted by Conference Centres and the IACC Institute aims to “deliver learning and training opportunities which will form the backbone of professional and personal development of our members.”

IACC saw a record number of pre-booked Meeting Planner appointments at IMEX this year and greatly appreciated the support of 6 IACC members who supported the IACC stand over the three day period.

In the coming year, IACC will also step up its presence and participation in industry trade shows in 2014 to include AIBTM Chicago, CIBTM Beijing, IMEX Frankfurt, AIBTM Orlando, IMEX Las Vegas, and EIBTM Barcelona. Educating Meeting Planners will be the key focus at IACC's Camp-Fire sessions at MPI's conference in February. This is consistent with the association’s goals to increase and strengthen awareness and to grow membership in the association.  IACC has successfully increased global membership in 2013, achieving its highest number of new members in the Americas in the last five years. 

IACCs September Roadshow in Australia Asia Pacific Takes in 5 Countries

IACC’s CEO, Mark Cooper, embarked on a comprehensive tour of Asia and Australia Pacific this September, taking in 5 Countries and 6 major cities in the space of just over 2 weeks.

The tour began in Beijing, China, where Mark used the annual CIBTM Trade Show as the backdrop to understand more about the potential for IACC to participate in China in future and the best approach to participating in this major economy which has recently opened its doors to global meetings trade. The importance of this market was evident from the involvement of other global industry players such as MPI and IEEE, with both associations CEO’s leading educational sessions aimed at Chinese Meeting Professionals. Furthermore, the US Department of Commerce has officially certified CIBTM, the only tradeshow they have certified outside of the US and the number of US exhibitors in attendance highlighted further the importance put upon being part of China’s developing meetings industry.

In a visit to Tokyo, the opportunity for growth of the IACC Meetings Concept was also highlighted, with training and meetings being an important part of Japanese corporate culture. Hosted by Benchmark Japan and Joined by IACC’s Global President Peter Stewart, IACC’s two current member properties and other potential member conference centres were visited and leaders met and introduced to IACC.

The next leg of the trip included a visit to the Philippines capital Manila, to inspect IACC’s first member property, First Pacific Leadership Academy and to meet with their leadership team. Peter and Mark were impressed with the global benchmarking that FPLA undertake, including recent trips to GE’s Crotonville and to the IACC-Americas Conference earlier in the year to seek out new innovative ideas to set the academy further apart from its national completion. IACC’s visit to FPLA was later featured in the national press, which it is hoped will raise the profile of IACC in the region.  

Mark Cooper then travelled on to Singapore where he conducted an in-depth induction of the new staff and officially opened IACC’s office, which will support the activity in the Australia Asia Pacific Chapter.

The next stop was Sydney Australia, where Mark Cooper and Peter Stewart conducted a roadshow of potential members in the Hunter Valley region, a popular conference destination and where there is a collection of venues focused on meetings. The visit included a meeting with the leadership at Chateaux Elan, who have since become the latest new member of IACC in the Chapter.

The final stop was Melbourne, where Chapter board members had staged a current and new potential members meeting at Bellinzona Grange Conference Centre as well as a new member luncheon in Central Melbourne where Mark Cooper and board members spoke of the benefits of IACC membership and future aspirations for the region. Discussions with new prospect members are ongoing and it is expected that new members will join in the coming months following this visit.

Mark Cooper commented on the trip “The trip to Asia and Australia was extremely beneficial and allowed me to understand these very different markets much better and to start to build a presence and relations further. Doing business in Asia requires an understanding of the region and it is important that we have opened an IACC office in the region to support our future projects and activities”.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


IACC has released the 2013 Edition of "Trends in the Conference Center Industry" and they are now on sale on the IACC Website at Benchmarking Surveys.

This year's trends report gives clear signs that IACC Conference Centers are experiencing recover and outperforming the broader hotel sector in relation to occupancies and profitability.

Demand for Conference Centers grew and so did average rates, with Executive style Conference Centers performing better than average with an ADR increase of 5% over the previous year. This led to a higher than average rise in rates compared with the hotel industry average in 2012, indicating conference centers are in vogue and the choice of Meeting Planners.

The report, compiled by PKF Hospitality Research on behalf of IACC, showed that Executive Conference Centers enjoyed the greatest gain in occupancy during 2012, growing on average 7.3%. Dave Arnold, CEO of East PKF Consulting commented "Our results this year indicate that a long awaited recovery is taking place for those centers positioned to do so. Corporate meetings have proven to be the last segment of the market to claw back to some semblance of former glory".

There is a saying that 'Turnover is Vanity and Profit is Sanity'. In 2012, IACC Resort Centers achieved the highest profits on a dollars per-available-room basis. On average, Operating Profits increased 14.5% during 2012 and in 2012, Residential Centers enjoyed greater gains in Net Operating Income (NOI) compared to comparable transient hotels.

In 2012, Executive Centers achieved the greatest increase in profit margin, increasing by 27.4%.

Mark Cooper, IACC's CEO commented "With improving margins and greater stability on the marketplace, we expect to see our members investing further in their conference environment for their clients. It will be our aim to provide our members with knowledge, trends and research to help them make the very best choices as they further development their services and facilities".

The PKF Trends report is a valuable resource for any conference center operator and the report also provides valuable insights into financial statistics for salary levels, operating expenses, package breakdowns and revenues. A must for good revenue and cost management. With increasing numbers of non-residential conference centers taking part in the IACC Trends in the Conference Center Industry survey, it contains valuable data for this growing conference center type.

IACC PKF Trends Report 2013Pick up your copy of the 2013 Edition by visiting the IACC Store.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How Will Generational Buying Preferences Transform the Meetings Marketplace?

The meetings (MICE) industry is in a state of flux with matures (those aged 66 and older) retiring and millennials entering the workplace. It is projected that employment in the North American meetings market will grow by a massive 44 percent through 2020. This rapid growth will usher in a new era of new expectations and demands for conference centers seeking to woo a meetings planner’s business.

It was with this in mind that the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) Emerging Trends Committee and Development Counsellors International (DCI) partnered together to survey meeting planners of various generations—from boomers to Xers to millennials. The findings of the survey were announced at IACC-Americas 2013 Conference in March.

This survey explored whether there are generational preferences among meeting planners and if these preferences shape how meeting space is selected. For the purpose of this study, the generations were defined as mature (age 66 and older), baby boomer (Age 47-65), Generation X (Age 33-46) and Generation Y/millennial (Age 18-32). The largest cohort of respondents were baby boomers followed by Generation X.

On average, the planners responding to the survey organize meetings for 11 organizations annually. A majority of respondents, 76 percent, were familiar with IACC. When asked the importance of holding events at an IACC facility, meeting planners responded that it was somewhat important.

Choosing and Declining Conference Facilities 
According to the survey results, the most important factor in choosing a conference facility is ease of connectivity via WiFi followed by the onsite presence of a staff planner and conference room design. When asked to further elaborate, respondents noted that adequate meeting rooms/flexibility of the space and the appeal of destination were highly important in selecting the location of meetings they had recently planned.

The top reasons for declining a facility were cost and excess charges followed by inadequate meeting space, location appeal and appearance/condition of the property.
Perhaps the most surprising fact, however, is that the preference of attendees—those individuals for whom the meeting planner is planning—actually didn’t rank as important. This is an interesting consideration for destination marketers who have long been trained to think about their “end audience” when crafting their conference center sales and marketing plan.  It turns out there are always exceptions to every rule.

Key Generational Preferences
Overall, the generations have very similar preferences. There are a few differences to keep in mind, however, when selling to meeting planners of different generations.
  • Matures: When pitching a meeting planner of the mature generation, provide details on business-friendly guest rooms, spaces that are conducive to learning and collaboration as well as off-site activities that are within walking distance of the venue.
  • ·         Baby Boomers and Generation X: Promote your Wi-Fi capabilities. Like matures, these generations are also interested in spaces that are conducive to learning and collaboration. They are apt to decline a facility for inadequate meeting space (size/quality/layout) as well as cost and/or excess charges.
  • ·         Generation Y: The top two reasons that this generation is likely to decline a facility are the same as baby boomers: inadequate meeting space and cost/excess charges. However, Generation Y cares deeply about the appeal of the destination, so it is beneficial to share entertainment and evening activities that are available off-site. In addition, this younger generation is interested in space that provides the ability to recognize key performers, so if you have a stellar set up for an awards banquet, make sure to highlight that in your discussions with this generation.

To download the full results of this survey, click here.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Getting the most out of Banquet and Catering

by Neil Pompan, CMP; President, PHG, Inc.

Smith Travel Research is on the verge of releasing a new index that will measure Banquet and Catering contribution to property performance.  Unlike guests rooms and average rate which are for the most part objective; the factors involved in BnC success such as event room sizes and configurations, menu complexity, upselling skills, and the like are subjective. This will no doubt create a great deal of debate because of the inherent conflicts of comparing ones performance against others. 

I predict that in time the debate “noise” will settle down and the industry will agree to accept the inconsistencies in comparison in favor of the consistency of a regular metric that will give operators the ability to compare period to period within their respective markets.  In time, such an indexing report will be noticed by owners and developers and as such, it will integrate into the analytical culture of how property success is measured and understood.

This is a long overdue revolution.  Food and beverage, and specifically banquet and catering, has always been the misunderstood stepchild of a properties operations and revenue streams.  We all want more events, higher average checks, better meeting room rentals.  We all have meetings on how to improve performance in this area and we comfort ourselves with the action plans we create to make such improvements. But how many of us understand and measure, for example, the difference between actual banquet and catering average check versus retail opportunity average check.  The difference between the two is money on the table. How many of us have a strategy in place to handle price push back that does not compromise profitability? How many of us are manually entering more than 10% of menus onto BEO’s.

The following is a list of questions a property should ask and answer if they want to feel confident that they are maximizing the potential of their banquet and catering profit contribution:

  • What is your strategic pricing plan for your banquet and catering menus compared to your competition in all meal periods?
  • Have you calculated your retail opportunity average check and is so, how often does is vary from your actual performance?
  • What is your acceptable variance factor between retail opportunity average check and actual average check?
  • How do you measure variances in average checks by market segment to maximize revenues?
  • What is the menu audit process to evaluate the efficiencies in your property's space management system?  Has an audit been completed within the past 12 months?
  • How is the information from a space management system audit used by your team to maximize banquet and catering revenue generation?
  • What percentage of menus is manually entered on BEO’s? What practices do you employ to minimize manual entry?
  • How do you determine banquet and catering minimums and adherence to the guidelines to ensure profitability is not compromised? 
Sometimes the hardest thing for and operator to do is take a step back and devote the time needed to fully understanding a situation. With only so much time in a day, operators need to ensure they are being as effective as possible in what they are selling and servicing to maximize profitability, otherwise all the work they are currently doing is being wasted. The questions above, and many more, once understood and answered, will serve to help a property map out the strategies and tactics needed to make the banquet and catering function operate at maximum profitability and become better prepared for the analytical performance measures that are on the horizon.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New technology trends that can boost your performance in controlling conference rooms

With recent trends showing that 1 out of 3 meetings are using technology the need for presentation technology support has grown.  Especially on Monday mornings or in the beginning of a program until the presenters become more familiar with the room and the technology. Sometimes the needs are as simple as sound or lighting adjustments.  Other requests involve connecting the presentation to the projection unit/s.  It is difficult for the presentation technicians to take care of multiple needs concurrently especially when there is distance between the meeting rooms. Here are two solutions FLIK Hotels and Conference Centers have recently implemented in some of our conference centers to support these needs.

·        A mobile application was recently installed that allows our technicians to adjust sound, lighting from their smartphone for the meeting rooms.  This allows the technician to manage the demand of his/her priorities and still assist some presenters in their meeting room remotely from a different place. With the requestor on the telephone the technician can toggle to a control screen from his smartphone and adjust sound and lighting in the requestor’s meeting room while discussing the adjustment with the requestor. His smartphone has become a new mobile office for  the assisting customers.

·      The application as it appears on the smartphone is below:

·        Wise projection systems – allow presenters to connect their presentation to the projection through a wireless network.  When you do not need cables to connect to the projector - you do not have to be concerned with notebook adaptors. Another benefit is the cable may have a defect and compromise your presentation.  Any presenter who can power up and find their presentation on the screen with speed and simplicity will be pleased and not need to call for a technician’s assistance. This will add to productivity and a much smoother Monday morning of launching 5 meetings at 8am!

Written by Joe Sebestyen. Sebestyen is a Regional Director with FLIK Hotels and Conference Centers. He specializes in sales and operations and assisting the Conference Center General Managers in creating an environment for achievement.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Making the Most of LinkedIn with Tips from a LinkedIn Expert

Everyone is talking about LinkedIn these days, but how exactly do you use the world’s largest professional social network to support your professional goals and the goals of your property? Lindsey Pollak, an official spokesperson for LinkedIn, will share expert tips, tactics and case studies at IACC's 2013 Annual Conference. Feel free to bring your laptop or iPad to implement Lindsey’s advice immediately.

Lindsay Pollak will explore topics such as how to:
  • Build an impressive and “discoverable” LinkedIn profile that achieves the results you desire
  • Grow and maximize your professional online network
  • Drive more traffic to your property’s LinkedIn Company page
  • Use proper LinkedIn etiquette and avoid online networking mistakes
  • Receive expert answers to your LinkedIn questions

Lindsay is an exceptional speaker. This session will only be offered once during the annual conference so don't miss it. Register for the 2013 ANNUAL CONFERENCE TODAY as an individual or with a property! Don't forget you can share this post on Facebook or Twitter #IACC13 to let your network know you're attending the 2013 IACC Conference.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Marketing Your Property through Video

Video, what was once considered a rather high-end medium to showcase your property, is now becoming an expected marketing tool. In fact, video has become one of the fastest growing segments of the internet. Search engines are even providing video clips in results. The good news is that barriers to developing quality videos are being broken down with advancing technology. This is a great time to take advantage of the opportunities video offers to engage people and highlight the many unique features of your property, building both your brand and your sales. This session will highlight the components of developing a successful video strategy for marketing a property and discuss the myriad of tactical considerations.

In this IACC conference session with 
Dan Swartz, SVP Interactive Marketing and Analytics, Upshot, participants will walk away with knowledge about:
  • How to develop a comprehensive video strategy
  • How to effectively create and leverage property video assets for marketing purposes
  • Extending visibility of video assets in social networks
  • Creating and managing online video channels that encourage meaningful participation
Hotel marketers, don't miss this conference session in Chicago. Register for the annual IACC conference today! If you're already registered, tweet about the session you're most looking forward to in March. #IACC13

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Networking: Post Season

David Haas is a long-time Marriott veteran and currently the Destination Sales Executive for Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel. As the former Board Associate for IACC, David still plays an active role on the Emerging Trends Committee. Enjoy this article about networking, a pastime that David is very talented at...
Congratulations! You made it!! -Fresh out of the holiday season.

Do you feel well-rested? Are you ready for the New Year and a new challenge? This year, have you asked yourself, “How do I get better at networking?”

 According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of all jobs are found through networking. We are talking good, old-fashion conversations with older and more experienced executives. These folks are able to help you get noticed. The baby boomers are not the enemy, and most times willing to help.

As we roll on by the holiday season a majority of companies host training courses, corporate kick-offs and strategy meetings. Our conference centers host these events, and they are likely never second nature to you. Now think about what happens when you are the guest.
Here are (7) tips to work a room:

  • If your boss is a company veteran, get them on a topic about an old holiday party. That “back in my day” nostalgia can pay off later.
  • Don’t leave early! If a training class ends 45 minutes early talk a few colleagues into a cocktail. You were planning on being there anyway; use the time to grow a connection, hopefully more than one.
  • Avoid negativity at all costs. A bad comment about a colleague could offend someone in the group. You could lose allies without knowing it. 
  • Avoid pointing out the sleeping person if their boss is present. If the boss is not there, it is free game and highly amusing!
  • Go to a business after-hours event at your Chamber or local business association. In an environment created for networking, watching veterans is the best training.
  • Keep an almost empty drink in your hand as long as you can. You leave an opening for a person to refill that glass. You also give yourself an out to do the same.
  • Be interested, not interesting.

Finally, it is most important to be a strong performer in your current role. If you are not producing, networking is not the answer to next job. This is all made possible by making your goals!