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PC and Pocket PC Lead Retrieval with Integration into Sales Management Systems


September 29, 2006

BY Corbin Ball

This is the fifth in this week’s blog series on new and interesting meetings technologies. I am covering the winner and the four finalists of the EIBTM 2006 Worldwide Watch for Technology Innovation (WWTW --see the first blog for this week – September 24 - for more details).

On average only 20% of tradeshow leads are followed up on.  After all of the investment in booth rental/setup, in shipping, in time away from the office, in promotion… and only 20% of the leads collected at a show are contacted after the show!!!

The problem here lies not with the exhibitor. I believe the key problem is with the inconsistent methods used for data collection. There are about six major tradeshow registration companies that provide lead retrieval for about 90% of all the tradeshows in the U.S. – most with different methods of lead retrieval – bar codes of different types, magnetic stripes, RFID (radio frequency identification) systems and more.

Although there have been efforts to be able to export the lead data collected from these different systems into exhibitors databases, the reality is that there is not a consistent method to do so.

When lead data management becomes a difficult task, it doesn’t get done. That is the reason why there is such a low percentage of follow up.

Validar Corporation ( www.modernmindsoftware.com ), a finalist in the WWTW’06 award focuses on this issue.

Validar has mapped many of the tradeshow lead systems in use today so that they can be consistently scanned using their system. The benefit is that the same system can be used from show to show regardless of the registration providers. They have integrated the system into a suite of PC and Pocket PC tools to help exhibitors rank and categorize leads.

Although there are other companies providing these services, Validar stands out in that it has automated many of the steps. Leads can be loaded directly into salesforce.com or other CRM application directly from the show floor, and several return on investment (ROI) tools have been added to analyze and improve tradeshow sales effectiveness.

This application helps to digitize the business process and saves time/effort for tradeshow lead management.

When the huge investment in the tradeshow is considered, a small additional investment to manage and improve the lead response is probably well worth it.

Advanced Teleconferencing


September 29, 2006

By Corbin Ball

This is the fourth in this week's blog series on new and interesting meetings technologies. I am covering the winner and the four finalists of the EIBTM 2006 Worldwide Watch for Technology Innovation (WWTW --see the first blog for this week – September 24 - for more details).

Videoconferencing has not really hit the mark over the years. Yes, the costs have plummeted by using the internet instead of satellites. Yes, the reliability, quality and access have vastly improved. Yes, you can take a $40 webcam and be up and running on your computer in a few minutes.

But why isn't everyone using videoconference technology?

Part of the reason, I believe, is that it is such a pale match to face-to-face meetings. We look at each other on postage stamp sized images simultaneously watching disembodied heads on a TV. There is not eye-contact; there is not sense of really being there.

This is where telepresence can help. Telepresence is the virtual recreation of a person's image, full size, full color, full motion, eye-to-eye as if the person were sitting across the table from you or standing behind a lectern on the dais before a group.

Teleportec ( www.teleportec.com ) a finalist in this WWTW'06 award is a telepresence application.  Teleportec enables a speaker from anywhere in the world to appear before an audience anywhere else in the world--life-size, life-like, real-time, face-to-face and totally natural in apparent 3-D. The speaker and the audience see each other as if the speaker were physically present at the event.

It uses standard high-end videoconference equipment and high-speed data lines. The speaker is in a darkened booth with a "teleprompter" like viewing screen and can see the audience in many ways better that if he or she were on the stage live. If a person asks a question from the audience, a camera providing the feed to the teleprompter can be zoomed in providing a much better view than in a live situation.

This product takes teleconferencing to a new level using a novel way to use existing technology. As broadband, Internet 2, and high-definition television work their way into mainstream society, the video conference experience will improve dramatically. Teleportec provides and interface to make the experience even more realistic.

Innovative Conference Content Capture and Distribution


September 28, 2006

By Corbin Ball

This is the third in this week’s blog series on new and interesting meetings technologies. I am covering the winner and the four finalists of the EIBTM 2006 Worldwide Watch for Technology Innovation (WWTW --see the first blog for this week – September 24 - for more details).

Meetings are the most important educators of adults in the industrialized world. Colleges and universities are only the start in this quickly changing world. It is through association meetings, corporate meetings and other events where people receive updates on their professions and other interests.

The challenge with meetings is that they are like a three-ring circus. The tent is thrown up, there is an overload of activity, and then it is gone. With large meetings with many simultaneous sessions, it is physically impossible to experience it all. The ability to record the events and playback at a later time can benefit the attendee, others who have a chance to view the recordings, and the show manager as a promotional tool for future events.

In the “olden days” (meaning a couple of years ago) this was done with conference cassettes. These had limited benefit as they did not include visuals and they were difficult to distribute broadly.

Recent advances in advanced digital audio files (MP3 with visuals), improvements in collection methods or large events, and web-based distribution techniques have changed all of this to provide a rich conference archive of the event.

Conference Archives (www.conferencearchives.com) was selected as a finalist for the EIBTM WWTW 2006 award due to its innovated and proven means of advancing capabilities in this area.

Their ConferenceOnDemand (CoD) platform provides a means to capture and deposit in an online library media (audio, video, visual, text) later production and publication. The resulting online library also facilitates e-commerce transactions, instant access to purchased content, and an ability to choose between complete sets (e.g., content of an entire event) or a la carte offerings (e.g., individual presentations). This can be done quickly and for very large meetings.

Conference recording extends the life of the meeting, broadens its impact, and is useful for building attendance at future conferences. The Conference Archives platform does this in a quick, cost effective and easy-to-use manner and for this was acknowledged by the WWTW judging committee.

What’s New with Meetings Technology? Request for Proposal (RFP) Automation.


September 26, 2006

By Corbin Ball

This is the second in this week’s blog series on new and interesting meetings technologies. I am covering the winner and the four finalists of the EIBTM 2006 Worldwide Watch for Technology Innovation (WWTW --see the first blog for this week for more details). EIBTM WWTW Finalist: MeetingBroker--www.meetingbroker.com).

When planners and suppliers can be on the same page electronically, very significant efficiencies will result.

MeetingBroker is an information service that receives electronic Requests For Proposals (eRFPs) sent by meeting planners through online channels and provides hotels with the online tools to more quickly respond to these eRFPs. MeetingBroker provides consistency in the way all leads are handled – regardless of the channel of origin and the format of the eRFP – assuring that meeting professionals receive prompt, comprehensive responses to their requests and empowering them to create the best events possible.

In a case study, Carlson Hotels Worldwide recently rolled out MeetingBroker to 933 properties around the world, resulting in a reduction in their average response time to leads from 56 hours to 4 hours – a savings of 90% in time!

Although this product integrates only with Delphi (one of the largest hotel sales management programs available), it is another example of how technology can reduce costs and improve services through digitizing the business process. When hotel sales staff receives an eRFP from a site selection/sourcing website that is formatted in the same way as if it were generated from the hotel national sales office, the sales staff can respond and follow up in a much easier and quicker manner. This standardization of how leads are transmitted to sales leads to a much more efficient system.

MeetingBroker.com working with NewMarket has done this in a novel way that improves the hotel sales and sourcing process. Although not directly affiliated, it also points the way toward more standardization efficiencies that are to come through APEX(www.conventionindustry.org/apex/)

What’s New with Meetings Technology? Mobile phone-based meetings and tradeshow tools


September 24, 2006

By Corbin Ball

Innovation is alive and well in the events industry.

I have just returned from the UK for my fourth year of chairing the judging committee for the EIBTM Worldwide Technology Watch ( www.eibtm.com ) – the world’s most significant award for meetings technology innovation. We reviewed 27 entries this year and the finalists and winner highlight some very interesting trends. This week’s blog will highlight these finalists and trends that they point out.

This year’s winner is LOG ON Mobile Event Assistant ( www.log-on.nl ).

LOG ON uses mobile phones to provide a range of tradeshow and event applications to attendees including: the conference agenda, exhibit product directories, event feedback and surveys, SMS audience polling, group announcements, networking capabilities, travel information and more.

Mobile technology is a trend that holds great promise for the events industry. LOG ON represents a novel and creative way to use an existing technology that is nearly ubiquitous – mobile phones -- in a novel and creative way. We are all carrying them around and in an increasing numbers, most are web-enabled and SMS (short messaging service) enabled.

Meeting planners will not have to rent relatively expensive audience polling devices – audience members will be able to pull out their phones to vote. A change in the agenda? Broadcast messages can be sent. Networking technology needed? Mobile phones can be used to help bring people together during a meeting. A exhibit product directory needed? Look up the exhibitors via your phone.

As phones roughly double in processing speed and capabilities every two years, attendees, meeting planners and exhibitors will increasingly rely on mobile technology for a wide variety of onsite applications.

When Good Pens Go Bad


September 21, 2006

We all have at least one, often in the kitchen, occasionally in the desk and sometimes several in both places. It’s that drawer. You know the one with the junk in it. Batteries the good ones and the dead ones, the coupons with expiration dates from the 1980’s along with the take out menus, old personal address books, a broken knife, thirty two small parts from your kids various toys and games, one dollar and thirty seven cents in change (mostly pennies), one green stamp permanently stuck to the bottom of the drawer, three UPC labels from some product that is long gone and of course enough pens to open a stationary store.

You’re in a hurry to take down a message, all of your accessible pens have mysteriously disappeared so you reach into this drawer and pull out one of these “other” pens to write it down. The pen you grab has ink leaking out the tip, it only writes in great blobs of ink and tends to get more ink on your hands than on the paper. So, you throw it away? NO don’t be silly we’re in a hurry so we throw it back in the drawer and grab another. This one tears the paper in half as the point void of any ink grabs holds and won’t let go. Where does this pen go? Too many times, back in the drawer. After all, throwing it away would require making a firm and irrevocable decision. It would mean we have to take a stand, change the natural order of things. No we throw it back in the draw and vow that “someday” we will clean out this drawer and organize our lives.

What if our minds have places in them just like those drawers. What if we hold onto “stuff” (thoughts, notions, ideas) that are outdated, out of place and just plain don’t work any more. What if all that is mixed up with some useful information and ideas but every time we want the useful information we have to go through the worthless and broken “stuff” (like misperceptions) again. And like the drawer what if instead of getting rid of our “old stuff” (mistakes among them) we keep putting them back into that drawer and then pulling them out over and over again.

So I am wondering if you have one of these drawers in your mind what might be in there about cruising? Let me help you, lets take a look at both misperceptions that still exist about cruising for meetings and incentives and also some of the differences between a program on land vs. at sea that will help you in the planning process.

First let’s cover some of the great advantages about cruising:

Budgets

They are fixed, one price included your meals, function space, meeting space and AV equipment (provided we have it on board) That also means no meal planning as each participant will order what they want off our menu that changes daily. And the options include selections like a spa choice, meat, chicken, pasta, seafood, low salt and vegetarian along with appetizers, soups, salad and dessert.

Some differences:

One Way Guests

Speakers that only attend for one day of your program will have several options for a cruise. They can fly into a port and speak wile the ship is in port and fly out again that day, or they can sail with you part of the cruise and pick up another speaker on the day they leave. Be aware though that the Coastwise Services Act (also more commonly known as the Jones Act) prohibits passengers from sailing between two US ports on a Foreign Flagged ship. Most modern cruise ships are flagged in what is called a country of convenience such as the Bahamas or Panama. That means you could not have a speaker board a ship in Miami and then depart in Key West, or San Juan. You could not board the ship in Anchorage and depart in any other Alaskan port. But you could easily board a speaker (or VIP or CEO for that matter) in Miami, sail to Nassau and have them depart there.

Single vs. Double

Typically hotels sell a room for a rate based on either single or double occupancy. Cruise ships base all their rates on per person pricing based on double occupancy. So when you get a cruise quote the double rate is often a straight 2x the single rate. Keep in mind with all the inclusions even at 2x the cruise can often be a competitive option with many land resorts.

Site Inspection

Again a little different from a Hotel. It is easy for a resort to put you up for a night to see their property, however a ship sails (often at 100% occupancy) and when you go you are taking the room for the entire cruise. This means that even if you only need to see the ship for a day or two the cruise line can not resell that room for the rest of that cruise length. Different cruise lines handle this in different ways so I won’t go into all the possibilities here.

I could tell you more about Tax deductibility, deposit differences and working on program agendas but I want you to have a reason to call, or oh my, actually post something on this blog.

In the meantime see what you can do about cleaning out that draw of yours. I am sure you can put those old address books that you haven’t looked at in 10 years, to good use.

Upsidedown and Backwards


September 19, 2006

By Richard Weinstein

China seems to be on everyone’s mind lately. Tired of hearing about the baby boomers we needed someone else to blame for…well, everything. Maybe it was because bringing China into the modern world was Richard Nixon’s idea. Or that China being so far away seemed like a safe target. With their development boom and entry into the world market they are now blamed as the root cause for the rising cost of gas, concrete, fish, wood products and, of course, the pending epidemic of Bird Flu. Personally I think the real issue is that their round coins used to have a square hole in them.


Originally this was so they could run a string through the money and wear it around their waist to impress the women. Actually, it was for convenience because they didn’t have any pockets. Forget about Google and the Internet. Imagine if you had invented and held the patent on “Pockets”. But other than teaching kids, and some adults, that you can’t put a round peg in it, I am not sure how much need there is for a square hole.

Remember slide projectors? The carrousel trays had a round hole in the middle. But I never did see anyone wearing them around their waist on a string. My real challenge with the carrousel was that I never could put the slides in them the right way. Right-handed golfers would end up as lefties or the ocean would end up where the sky should be. Then one day the Power Point fairy came along and solved all this for me, or so I thought.

It seems that I still get things just a little confused. Not too long ago I set out to clean the tub in the bathroom. That seemed easy enough, as all the cleaning supplies were readily available right there under the sink. So off I went spreading the cleaner around the tub and vigorously rubbing it with the sponge. But it seemed that no matter how hard I scrubbed, the cleaner just sort of spread around the tub without cleaning anything. I figured the cleaner must be past it’s expiration date until my wife came by and noted that I was using Soft Sense (a hand lotion) instead of Soft Scrub (a tub cleaner) which left me with a smooth but still dirty tub.

That experience was recently surpassed when I set out for the video store in search of The Lord of the Rings movie, and in a moment of inattention came home with The Lord of the Flies. At least they were both action oriented movies, I can’t imagine how I would have been able to recover if I had wound up coming home with The Lord of the Dance.

Even every day expressions don’t make as much sense as they used to. It used to be when you were “all thumbs” that was a bad thing, now it just means you own a Blackberry. Or how about conversation shifts. This one is not so intuitive and you will have to listen for it but mostly everyone does it. It happens when it is the other persons turn to speak and they start their sentence with the words “Yeah, but no…” or the similar but I guess wholly different in meaning, “No, but yeah…” listen for it and then think of me when you hear it.

Even cruise programs can be different then what you expect if you do a lot of land-based programs. For example, on land you travel first then when you are all done and ready to go back home you pay the bill for the hotel and related costs. It is not the same for a cruise, first you pay for just about everything up front, before you even get a ticket and when you are all paid up then you go on the cruise. Since your meals and entertainment are already included this should ensure you remain within budget. Once you are on board there are not any surprise costs. That in turn creates an extraordinary value that translates into real savings that you can put in your pocket, or on a string around your waist if you want to impress your boss.

SELECTING THE RIGHT CRUISE

To simplify this section here are a list of questions you need to ask and a few quick thoughts:

Participant Demographics:

Yes this seems easy and obvious but we also look at the Psychographics not just what a person is but how do they think. Are they fun loving and energetic or relaxed and sophisticated. Is it a high energy group moving from one thing to another or a more cerebral gathering? These factors will have a greater influence on making the right choice

Program Length and Budget:

They go hand and hand but unlike land where you can select the property and then choose the number of days Cruise ships only sail on certain days for a certain length. For example suppose you decide that Holland America is the perfect line for you but you want to sail for a four night program. Except for an occasional repositioning cruise you can’t have that cruise line for less than seven days. You would need to look to Carnival or another contemporary line. This is why so many planners seek the assistance of an incentive company that knows cruises to help them sort out their best options.

Cruise Itinerary vs. Program Needs:

Now throw in the fact that you want certain destinations or the contrary choice that you don’t want destinations you have been to recently and you add another decision level to selecting your ideal ship. Also consider your program needs. First time cruisers want short cruises with lots of ports. If you are doing a meeting program often it is the days at sea that are best for your meeting times.

Number of Participants vs. The Need for Exclusivity:

This boils down to the right size ship for your program. That does not mean every program should be a full ship charter. The smaller ships tend to be the more luxurious ships and cost more per person per day than a larger ship, that in all likely hood will have more meeting space and be better at accommodating your needs. That said for an incentive program there is nothing more special than a full ship charter just for those that earned their place among the elite.

Function Space and AV:

Most ships do not have empty ball rooms waiting for your functions. But they do have spectacular show rooms with full sound systems, lighting and AV equipment that can all be yours for the small fee of an on board AV tech (or two) to operate the equipment for you. In this case you can do your product launce or awards program with follow spots, revolving and hydraulic stage lifts, multiple curtains gobo lights for a fraction (and I mean literally a fraction) of setting up the same event on land.

Choose Wisely


September 18, 2006

By Richard Weinstein

OK I admit it. I was a different kind of kid. While other mothers were busy cutting off the crust on their kids sandwiches, I was digging down to the bottom of the bread bag to get the “other end” so my sandwich could have ALL crust. In fact, when in a restaurant I still remove the center of the bread and only eat the crust. (I fear this may have started the low carb craze) I always thought the perfect girl for me would be one that only liked the center of the bread, so naturally I married one that also, only likes the crust. That makes our relationship special because we don’t just fight about the every day domestic stuff we get to fight over the ends of the bread loaf too. OK, maybe I am a different kind of adult as well.

The other day, as I was scooping out the dough from the edges of my bagel (the center does not have any dough, just a hole) and I realized that things have changed. When I was growing up there were basically three possible bagels. Plain, sesame seed and poppy seed, that was it. On any given trip to the bagel store there are now quite a few choices. I guess whole wheat, pumpernickel, garlic and even “everything” bagels are at least innovative, but chocolate chip, banana nut, cinnamon raisin and blueberry? Those are not innovation, they aren’t even bagels, those are Donuts! But this phenomenon is not limited to bagels.

Suddenly it seems as if every food substance with a hole in it needs a greater variety. It was not too long ago we fed our baby Cheerios. (Originally named CheeriOats a healthy ready to eat breakfast that did not require cooking) Now all of a sudden there are not just plain old Cheerios but also Frosted Cheerios, Team Cheerios (which seem to be frosted with extra frosting), Honey Nut Cheerios, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Multigrain Cheerios and the newest Berry Burst Cheerios, in three flavors (I am not making this up) Triple Berry, Strawberry and Banana something or other.

Speaking of food with holes in it, a few years ago I was attending a travel industry event in Germany. They had a reception in a hotel ballroom with food stations attended by various hosts from around the world. As I approached the food station from Switzerland I was confronted with an enormous variety of cheese in all sizes and shapes. Eyeing one cheese that was full of holes, I slowly pointed to it while asking “Is this Swiss Cheese?” The attending host looked at me quite odd so that at first I thought he did not understand my question, which was not quite the case as he responded in perfect English. “Well… (Long pause) they’re ALL Swiss cheese…the one with the holes is called Gruyere” It was then that I realized what the expression “stupid American” really meant.

But this is not just about food with holes. If you grew up in the north you had Maxwell House Coffee and if you were in the south there was Folgers. Without going into too much detail, now among others there is frapachino with whipped cream and chocolate shavings and as many other varieties of Coffee with a similar number of way to order it. We see it again and again. With Yogurt it was Dannon (remember trying to get the fruit stirred up from the bottom without spilling it? Was that even possible?) Now it comes pre mixed (funny. pre mixed yogurt is called Swiss style, coincidence you ask?) in a variety of colors in easily portable plastic tubes.

When I first started thinking about this I thought it was all about how sugar was becoming a huge part of our diet since each new product seems to be sweeter and sweeter. But then I realized it was all about Choice. We are a country that demands choice. Just look at cheesecake. Here is a product that is already sweet that now has 27 varieties; from peanut butter cup fudge ripple to coffee heath bar crunch (can this also count for a different way to have your coffee?). Even Sugar itself has a variety of choices, there is regular sugar (refined), raw sugar, organic cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, molasses, honey, (and for our friends overseas golden syrup) and even choices for fake sugar like sweet and low or equal.

And maybe that is how you feel when it is time to decide “where in the world” for your next meeting or incentive. If that choice was not tough enough when you were just looking at hotels, what happens now when you learn about how you can convert your land program to be effective (both in cost and achieving business objectives) on a Cruise? Even if you already know you want to pursue a cruise option, how can you determine which cruise line is right for you?

That is why I hope to cover three main topics this week, but that is really up to you. You have to respond, that is, I write, you respond, I write more. If you don’t respond what incentive is there for me to keep writing? So for today I thought we would start, well, at the beginning and why you might make this choice and consider a cruise at all?

Why Cruise?

1. It is a growing industry which means more new products and significant investment in existing products to keep pace with the entire travel marketplace
2. Cruising holds one of the highest consumer satisfaction ratings among all travel options
3. All inclusive pricing makes it easy for the meeting planner with one stop shopping and fixed budget guaranteed up front
4. You get several destinations in one experience. Not just the ship itself but also the ports visited and all this only unpacking once.
5. A cruise is highly desirable for both an incentive and as a destination for a meeting program guests will look forward to, often finding this program as their first cruise experience. (only 16% of the North American Population has taken a cruise)
6. Cruises have come a long way in their sophistication and ship design taking meetings and incentive program needs into consideration when adding dedicated meeting space and the design of flexible event venues.
7. A cruise is a great way to answer the challenge of, where do we go next? How can we make our event or program unique, what will make attendees excited about this, how can we do something different that appears we are stepping out of our comfort zone, but in reality is often easier to manage then a similar program on land.

Want to know how to make a sweet choice for the right Cruise? Post your comments and interest here today and I will add a listing of considerations on how to choose the right cruise tomorrow right after I finish breakfast. I will be the one sitting in the Deli with a pile of scooped out dough on my plate eating a plain bagel with a nice slice of Swiss cheese on top.

Proud to BE


September 15, 2006

Truth is, working as a hotelier or meeting planning professional are two very big career undertakings.  We take care of people away from home, create an experience for them to be all they can be, and help companies, organizations and educators accomplish all kinds of successful ventures. In addition, we do all this while making our employers and/or ourselves profitable (really key).  Frankly, our role deserves all the respect that we in our business know it earns.

Let’s begin with the hours. As far as I know, most rocket scientists sleep in their own bed most nights and their hours are not 24/7 (by the way, I use “rocket scientists” figuratively here, so I hope they take no offense).  After considering the multitude of hours, consider the environment where our role takes place – a vocation that puts balancing values at a pinnacle; where pairing family and endless travel with long hours make for a constant tug. That includes trying to control and deliver when much is beyond our control.

Preparedness, thoroughness, and creative competence are givens, even considered second nature to successful planners and hoteliers. When things go well, it just happened.  When they don't, it was our fault. The objectives and demands that are steadfast must be achieved even when an act of god intervenes. 

The next is “change,” a steady date for all meeting planners and hoteliers, and one that requires a lot of maintenance. Flexibility is by far manifested in its highest form with hoteliers and planners. Most professions allow for a little crankiness.  But not ours.

I hope that now you are respecting yourself volumes and know that what you do is as important as rocket science.  When the Monday morning quarterbacks chime in (and they will), take all the input with a grain of salt. My wife says it best when we are out together – “You can drive if you have any more suggestions."

By Bill Heaney

Rodney Dangerfield said, "Just can't get any respect." And you’ve heard, "This isn't rocket science" many times over.  Then there are the backseat drivers and Monday morning quarterbacks who share all their suggestions with you, all the while making everything about your job sound just SO simple!

The Internet & Meeting Space


September 14, 2006

By Bill Heaney

While the Internet has had very positive effects for hotels and meeting planning, it has also created some "new" issues.

When I first began planning programs in large hotels with enormous amounts of public and meetings-dedicated space, I assumed that this space was part of the hotel and "no extra expense" for the hotel to provide. Having a room for a reception and another for gathering was never an issue. In time, as we all know, things changed, and now planners’ expectations are that using the hotel’s space will cost something, either a fee, the purchase of catering, or both.

As the hotelier, there are definite views towards space and that is a revenue driver. The revenue is earned directly or by using the space to draw more customers to use sleeping rooms (usually both). In fact, for hotels, the return on investment in the public/meeting space is a strong consideration of viability for the project. When planning a meeting or event, this is always a negotiating point: how much for the space and what is the relationship to sleeping rooms?

The internet has provided a way for hotels to sell hotel rooms, albeit transparently, because when a hotel is fortunate enough to book a large meeting and the competition hasn't, a potential issue comes into play. When a hotel books a meeting, the rates reflect the use of the hotel’s total space so they, in fact, will sometimes be higher priced than the few rooms that are offered as a discount on the internet. And just because one hotel in a market has booked the meeting, competitors may not be as fortunate and it could be a downtime for them. Thus, the competitors are offering discount rooms at rates that may be lower than those negotiated at the hotel holding the meeting.

You know the rest of the story: the planner wants attendance at the meeting, the hotel wants its sleeping rooms filled, and the attendee wants to save money.

In the case of citywide conventions, some cities suggest there be a surcharge for attendance if the attendee does not use one of the convention-prescribed hotels. For individual hotels hosting meetings, if the attendee is not staying in the hotel, they could be asked to pay their share via a surcharge. Obviously, it is incumbent on the hotel to work with the planner and ensure that attendees cannot book lower rates outside their block.

The internet is slowly moving from a discount distribution channel to one that is viewed as convenient, thorough and user friendly. The transition will help alleviate this problem, but for now, it is an issue to recognize.

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