Monday, September 8, 2014

Selling as a Community = Increased Productivity

By Cindy Novotny – Master Connection Associates

Selling today has become even more complex than in the past.  Disagree?  Although the Internet has made life easier for some, it has confused the sellers that don’t understand speed and how to compete in today’s hyper fast world.

Master Connection Associates in partnership with IACC spend a great deal of time with meeting planners, corporate travel managers, leisure travel agents and special event planners and without a doubt there are a few essential elements needed to compete effectively.

Here is our list:
  1. Focus your entire attention on the client – don’t create processes at the property that work for YOU – create a seamless way for clients to do business with you easily
  2. Don’t take things too personally.  Sure there is the one client that doesn’t click with you, the one boss who rubs you the wrong way.  Learn to move on and not take things so seriously.  If you are providing excellent service to your clients and bringing in revenue for you property – sleep well!
  3. Thank operations daily.  Yes, it is their job to provide excellent service, but it is your job to keep them motivated to do it every day!
  4. If you work at a resort, conference center or hotel today that is the hottest commodity in town – be humble, be happy and don’t forget that tomorrow what goes around comes around.  Those that treat clients well during the good times and bad end up with a steady stream of new business. 
  5. Inspect what you expect.  We believe that you should convey what you want 100% of the time.  This is no mystery.  Make sure you are clear with clients and operations so that the end result is a win.
  6. You had us at NO.  Learn to love NO…. as you will continue to hear it all your life.  Learn how to overcome objections with class, dignity and professionalism.
  7. There is always room to work with your clients and operations for a win-win.  Always be ready to bend the rules and negotiate to win the business.
  8. Stop multi-tasking – focus on one thing at a time and do it right the first time!
  9. Be kind, fair and professional – ALWAYS!
  10. Never stop selling!

Visit the IACC Institute’s calendar to know more about the IACC-Master Connection Associates training courses and other educational opportunities.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ten Insider Tips for Meeting Planners

By Derek Grimaldi and Al Morgan, Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre.

Chaos is a common scenario for a lot of Meeting Planners. It’s not the easiest job and sometimes you tend to lose perspective. That’s why we picked the brains of several members of the IACC community and came up with some effective insider tips. We only gathered from the best, so use our information wisely!


It is likely that you are a Meeting Planner because of your passion for organising events and bringing people together into an environment where they feel inspired and valued. You will be a 'detail' person and will know that meetings are an opportunity to help people and organisations perform at the top of their game! But can you say the same about the venue and the staff you are working with on your RFP?  Don't be afraid to ask them what percentage of their overall business are meetings and conferences as it will tell you a lot about how they structure and skill their staff.  If meetings are their staple and they value being certified by associations like International Association of Conference Centres, it is a sure-fire indication that they take meetings seriously!  The prominence of the Meeting Information pages on their website is another good way to figure this out!


It’s difficult to always achieve this, but considering that your delegates might have a different view of what the ideal venue looks like can have a number of benefits. If you put a delegate in an uninspiring environment for days on end for a training workshop, expect uninspiring results in terms of their retained learning.  Organisational culture, demographics and even the countries that delegates travel from to attend your meetings will all play a part in their venue preferences. Do you know your delegates this well? See some of the recent research proving how different generations value venues in another way and you will see that we do not all think the same!


It’s not too much to ask and don’t settle for anything less!  You and your delegates should be treated in the way that you treat your delegates. After all, it’s the hospitality industry right? It doesn’t matter how big or small your meeting is. You should leave it feeling like your group was the only one at the venue that day, even if you were one out of ten!  If you do not feel this way, just tell your Conference Planner.  A good venue will want you to walk away feeling completely satisfied and pleased about choosing them.


There is a lot that can be read into the first visit you make to a venue when considering it for your next meeting.  Did you get a guided tour of the facilities with the obvious pointed out? Or did your Conference Planner see this as a business meeting to understand your requirements, before looking to match these with their venue services and facilities?  In other words, did they see this as an opportunity to learn what is important for YOUR meeting, or did you get the same parade that every other Meeting Planner gets? Whether they are organising a training course, board meeting or conference?! Try calling the venue an hour before arrival and leave a message from a fictitious named person and then see how well the message is captured and relayed back to you upon arrival. Communication is an important tell-tale sign of an operationally efficient venue. Just consider the impact of your CEO not getting that all-important message when they attend your meeting!


These days we couldn’t imagine a venue without WiFi anymore and that's a good thing of course.  But now we’re entering into the phase where fast stable broadband is an expectation and the average delegate needs to connect two devices at their meeting, if not three!
Ask the venue what the speed of the WiFi (bandwidth) is and check out what the minimum is that you need for your meeting by using an online bandwidth calculator.  DO NOT settle for less because you don’t receive any complaints.  That will not wash with your delegates when they fail to connect during their presentation and the essential informative YouTube video blocks halfway through...


Social Media Displays are coming into their own right now.  At your next conference, consider that there are many different attendee touch points that can both benefit the conference and attendees, beyond hoping that delegates are tuned into their Social Media App on their smartphone. Creating a “Social Media Hub” display, where all social media platforms come together in one place is exciting. It allows guests to engage with other attendees while sharing the happenings across the venue space! Cvent SocialWall and Eventstagram for live display feeds are worth a look!


A good venue expects to mound its product around a Meeting Planners needs, it’s called being flexible! No two meetings are the same and a good conference centre operates to allow flexibility and creativity to provide the best meeting experiences! Your Conference Planner will want to know about any challenges that you may be having from a services or budget perspective.


Often Corporate Meeting Planners are given a budget by their boss and are told to “Book this for me please!!” Conference Centre meeting planners are happy to help you find the best bang for your buck. For example we might suggest if you are down to your last $300 in your budget and you are planning a dinner for 30, perhaps adding a fourth course to your dinner would have more impact on everyone attending, than four $75.00 centrepieces.  Conference Centres always have something simple that can be placed in the middle of your tables that will fit into the overall look. Ask us for help. As you already noticed, we love sharing our ideas and thoughts.


This is applicable especially if you have a number of guests that are local and are driving to your meeting. If you start at 7:30am instead of 8:30am, you allow your attendees the opportunity to beat heavier city rush hours. Likewise if you start early, finish at 3:30pm. You beat the afternoon rush hour and it will feel like you are giving your attendees an afternoon off if they usually work until 4:30pm. Also, you get the first opportunity to partake in shared coffee breaks and earlier starts might allow you to schedule an 11:30am or 11:45am lunch to beat the rush there as well.


All Conference Centres have their own format of providing you with your final invoice. Ask your Meeting Planner for a face-to-face meeting or a phone conversation to go through the final invoice line-by-line. Email is not as efficient a method to review this matter. Direct conversation is most helpful when dealing with tax structures, gratuities and attrition charges. If you encounter a property that gives you a feeling that they are trying to find a way out of this post event meeting, be wary. Ask them about this meeting when you initially book, just to see what kind of reaction you get. Every professional Conference Centre Planner should be thrilled to have a chance to review the invoice with you as soon as possible after the event is over. It will help with a quicker payment and will facilitate both parties.

That sums up our 10 best Insider tips and we are sure that they can be of value to your work. At IACC we find these kinds of guidelines important, as it makes working as a Meeting Planner easier and more professional. That’s exactly why we don’t mind sharing this essential information. So absorb it, make good use of it and achieve your full potential as a professional Meeting Planner!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

No money? No problem! 20 Free Tools for the Creative Conference Centre Marketer

By IACC's Marketing Team

As a conference centre or events marketer sometimes you get handed a project that demands everything while the budget is next to nothing, right? What are your options when you are required to be financially savvy and a creative genius at the same time? Fortunately, the wonderful world of the wide web offers some amazing online marketing tools that don’t cost a dime and are just as practical and professional as the real thing. We start with Google, because let’s face it, everything always starts with Google.

You’re probably already rolling your eyes to the back of your head, but don’t worry, we’re not here to talk about this wonderful search engine. You already know Google, but have you checked out Google Alerts yet? This notification service browses the web for you to figure out how popular your brand name is and who actually sets the standard in your industry. Google also helps you keep track through Google Analytics which generates detailed statistics about your website and email communications. Last but not least, Google Trends will help you play Big Brother on your own. You can see what the world is searching for by typing in key words.

Before using these Google tools, some email communications to attract the attention of your target audience could be very useful. The light-hearted and humorous company MailChimp will accompany you through this usually complicated process. The what-you-see-is-what-you-get style of this email marketing service helps you craft creative messages in no time at all. Afterwards you can send them to a database up to 2000 people. Another amusing primate is found in SurveyMonkey. Marketers adore this tool, because of the easy method to draft a survey, after which it can easily be send to a targeted audience.
In the decade of data it’s also important to showcase your information in an easy going way. PowerPoint is a little out of date, but you can be a great presenter with Prezi now. These zooming presentations make your demonstration look trendy, memorable and fun. If you prefer getting in touch with your customers through a website or a blog, you should definitely check out Weebly. You can even start an online store, if necessary.

Some of these are remarkable tools, which could make your life easier. But don’t forget; content is king. You can reach out big audiences, but if your grammar is rubbish, your message is rubbish. Who other than Hemingway could help in your goal for clear, simple writing? No, not the renowned author, but the useful app that will mark unnecessary adverbs and complicated phrases.

The content of your client’s blog can also not be forgotten. In case you suffer from writer’s block, you can always go to Blog Topic Generator.  Fill in some keywords and they will come up with a week's worth of relevant blog post. Last but not least, the visual aspects of your emails or other campaigns cannot be underestimated. Graphics are bliss in the marketing world and you don’t always need to pay an expensive graphic designer every time you want to publish a campaign. Piktochart is an amazing little programme which helps you craft designs and infographics in a very easy and fast way.

Let's not forget social media!  You know Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more, making it sometimes a little bit too much to handle. An overview comes in handy, Followerwonk and Tweriod assist you in getting a grasp on timing and show you when the ideal moment is to tweet. Conversation Score and Wolfram Alpha Facebook report will recap all your Facebook activities and pours them in a pleasant summary.  LikeAlyzer will review your company’s presence based on dialogue, action and information. Finally, find out how your company is doing on your LinkedIn Company page through SimplyMeasured LinkedIn Analysis tool. In case you still find it too hard to control everything, you can always rely on websites such as Quicksprout and Marketing Grader. These tools report a whole media summary on all your social media accounts. Another amazing programme is ScharedCount which tracks how your content spreads across the web. This way you can track your marketing efforts all through the internet.

It’s possible that you are overwhelmed by all of this information, so it’s better to organise everything in Trello. You create a board for your marketing campaign and pin your progress and to-do lists. This way you have an eye on the bigger picture and you remember all your ideas. Another way of being prepared is Dropbox. Here you can collect all your files in a cloud so you and other people involved in a project can reach it whenever you or they want.

There are no longer reasons to hold your head down, as we gave you several ideas not to give up. The internet offers so many solutions to build a solid marketing campaign without costing money. So, start browsing the World Wide Web, try out all these free tools and impress your clients and colleagues with creative and innovative ideas!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My experience at the 33rd IACC-Americas Annual Conference

By Chloe HSIA

During the week of spring break, I had the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles, California to receive the IACC-NYU Doris Sklar Scholarship. The award was presented at the 33rd IACC-Americas Annual Conference -Catch The Wave-, which was held at the Pacific Palms Resort. It was an honour to represent NYU at the IACC Conference, and to network with conference and meeting professionals in the industry.

The week was filled with informative, engaging workshops and entertaining keynote speakers. Sandra Dove-Lowther, the Tisch Center’s Director of Academic Services, accompanied me to the conference and introduced the scholarship to the attendees during the opening ceremony. The scholarship allowed me to demonstrate my interest in the future of the meetings industry and indicate how it may be effected by the desire of conference centres to cater more towards guest needs. In 2013, I was a part of the Shark Tank team at the 2013 North American Hotel Investment Conference (NATHIC) in Chicago. I used our findings about the rising demands of the millennial generation and interpreted a selection of meetings and events trends to determine how this information may also effect the conference and meetings event industry. I personally focused on the technological changes and demands of the rising generation, gearing towards a more flexible conference centre, different channels, and shorter booking windows. Ultimately, when conference centres further incorporate desired amenities and services, organizers will be able to provide a more unique experience for their attendees, a goal that hotels, restaurants and other service entities are trying to tap into.

As the conference progressed, I had the opportunity to sit down with IACC Global President, Peter Stewart and IACC President, T.J. Fimmano. Mr. Stewart and Mr. Fimmano were both extremely helpful in offering recommendations and advice for students and also very open to sharing their unique stories about how they entered the industry. With my graduation date in May fast approaching, it was a wonderful time to explore what aspect of the hospitality industry that I am interested in. I also had the opportunity to sit in on a few great workshops, including PKF Trends in 2014 led by CEO Mark Woodworth, Global Culinary Trends and Beverage Pairing Strategies led by Brian Freedman, and a HSIA (High Speed Internet Access) workshop. 

The Copper Skillet Chefs cooking competition finals were also held at the resort, and featured five international chefs and three judges from Le Cordon Bleu, the British Culinary Federation, as well as the Pacific Palms’ very own executive chef. It was very exciting to see the competition up close and to smell the mouthwatering scents of artistic dishes being prepared.

I am incredibly honoured to be chosen as the 2014 NYU Doris Sklar-IACC scholarship recipient and I look forward to entering the industry in May of this year. You can always remember me by my last name – HSIA (High Speed Internet Access). Thank you!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Attendees can now earn valuable CE Credits at the IACC-Americas Conference this March!

The exciting speaker line-up for the 33rd IACC-Americas Annual Conference brings together a multi-talented group of experts from around the globe.

Don’t miss this opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and discuss the latest Conference Center trends!
Cindy Novotny
Managing Partner, Master Connection Associates
Opening Keynote: Disrupt Your Status Quo!
Avinash Chandarana
Group Learning and Development Director, MCI Group
Plenary: Crossroads of Culture -How to Do Business and Work Together in a Global Marketplace
Mark Woodworth
President, PKF Hospitality Research
Workshop: PKF Trends
Tom Cole
General Manager, The Ohio State University
Workshop: University Fishbowl
Midori Connolly
Chief AVGirl, AVGirl Productions
Workshop: Hybrid Meetings - Strategy, Planning and Execution
Joan Eisenstodt
Hospitality and Meetings Industry Trainer, Facilitator and Consultant, Eisenstodt Associates, LLC.
Workshop: Shades of Grey: Critical Conversations about Industry Ethics
Brian Freedman
Food, Wine, Spirits & Travel Writer/ Restaurant & Wine Consultant / Wine Educator
Workshops: Winemaking Sensibilities in West Coast Beer, Global Culinary Trends with Beverage Pairing Strategies, California Wines & How to Upsell
Joe Vina
CMP, CDS. Vice President and Managing Director, Conference Direct
Workshop: Doing Better Business with Third Parties
Rachel Dumke
Talent Development Coordinator, First Bank Financial Centre
Workshop: Take Back Your Life
Michele Joseph
Professional Facilitator, Consultant and Speaker, Master Connection Associates
Workshop: Setting the Bar Higher than Ever Before!
John Potterton
Workshop: Innovative Conference Centre Design
Chuck Salem
President, Unique Venues
Workshop: Leading the Service Philosophy
Eric Bracht, CTS
Sr. Consultant, CTS
Workshop: Hot Topics in Technology
Travis Hodge
Director of Business Development, SpeedRFP, Elite Meetings International, Inc.
Workshop: Speed RFP
John Rissi
Senior Vice President Operations, PSAV
Workshop: High Speed Internet Access (HSIA)
Jeff Kear
Workshop: Conference Planning -Organizational Tools for Meeting Planners
Mary Anne P. Bobrow
CAE, CMP, CMM, CHE, Bobrow Associates
Workshop: High Speed Internet Access (HSIA)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Too many cook's spoil the broth....?

........Not a chance! 

I have had the pleasure of attending two IACC Regional Copper Skillet competitions in as many weeks and I feel inspired to share my experiences with you.

The IACC Copper Skillet competition is in it's 11th year and in my mind it is getting better and better each and every year.

This annual competition is a shining example of the passion and determination of IACC members pushing the boundaries to be the absolute best in the World at what they do, with food being at the heart of it.

To put it into context, the 6 regional competitions which take place throughout the Americas, Europe and Australia Asia Pacific, determine who will go on to represent their conference center AND their Country in the Global Final.

But if you think that the chef's see this as just a qualifying round, you would be sadly mistaken, the Heat is definitely on and pride is at stake here!

 Up to 12 chefs compete to take the prestigious Gold Copper Skillet Award in their country's final, looking to earn the right to go on and compete head to head in the Global final, held this year in California. It's serious business for the chefs and also their band of followers from their conference centers, who come along to cheer (and sometimes sing!) them on to victory!

I have had the privilege to attend the US, Swedish and UK finals, as well as the Global Final and no two events are quite the same, I can tell you.  Except perhaps for the importance each put on the event, which is blindingly obvious from everyone I have met.  Some invite clients along to watch, some see it as a chance for members to network and many invite press to join IACC members in a display of culinary intensity and pressure, which even Gordon Ramsey would struggle to re-create!

When you attend a IACC Copper Skillet competition, you will see just as I have, that food is an incredibly important component to delivering an exceptional IACC Meetings Experience and according to many industry judges I met this year, IACC members can be proud to be creating World beating dishes!

Bring on the final in California this March!