arlene_sheff Understanding Apex

APEX - Something for Exhibits

August 18, 2006

While much of the work around the APEX initiative has been focused on meeting planners and hotels, there is great benefit for those working in the exhibit industry as well.

What’s In It For Exhibit Organizers:
- Ease in the bidding process and providing work orders saves time and frustration
- Ease of ordering for exhibitors (catering, utilities, A/V) saves time and assists in accurately meeting their needs
- Truncated negotiations with suppliers/hotels/facilities
- Get a better grasp of the value of an event to a city and venue by using the PER
- Get a better handle on the attendees and what they are contributing to the overall value of an event
- Being able to better access venue specification allows faster, easier site selection and enhanced efficiency and productivity in event planning and implementation
- Accurate information that doesn’t have to be re-typed or re-entered gives more time to provide personal service

What’s In It For Service Contractors:
- Proper use of the information will add efficiency and reduce cost while supporting cross communication with facilities
- The ability to transmit and receive data in a standard format simplifies planning and aids in understanding of info and implementing it
- Apply the accepted practices in “booking forms,” ID Signs and updates to them, utility and other forms from facilities, and service manual forms
- A database of accurate information for pre-planning of production
- A savings in T&E would result from accuracy that allows for production efficiency and cost savings
- You could find the information you need without at visit (e.g. marshalling yards, docks, building dimensions, utility capacity, etc.)
- A standard format assures apples to apples bidding and minimizes confusion
- Affords ability to better determine the value of business

APEX - What's in it for Suppliers?

August 17, 2006

Yesterday, I listed some benefits of APEX for planners and their organizations. Today, let’s talk about how APEX benefits suppliers:

What’s In It For Hotels & Other Housing Facilities:
- Most service delivery issues occur because information was not shared, or it was communicated in an unacceptable format. Use of standard event specifications will help customers focus their requirements around the information that you require so that you can deliver a zero-defect experience
- Customers often make decisions based on incomplete information about your hotel. They may not know all the questions they need to ask, resulting in much back & forth prior to presenting a proposal. By completing and keeping current your property’s site profile you will be open to capturing more opportunities (leads) for your hotel, keeping your sales force focused on moving business opportunities from inquiry to tentative to confirmed
- Much time is spent currently collecting information of what the customer needs, in terms of specific requirements rather than understanding what could help you make the sale. By having planners use a comprehensive, consistent RFP, you will better understand the opportunity and make specific recommendations for dates, meeting rooms, and F&B activities which will help you become a consultative sales professional rather than just a processor of dates, rates, and space
- A critical component of sound business evaluation is usually based on three years of historical information. The current state is this information is time consuming to retrieve, and once received so inconsistent that it makes year-to-year comparison rather dangerous. By adopting a standard PER, you can make sound business decisions based on accurate and consistent information, in a fraction of the time.

What’s In It For CVBs and CVB Sales Professionals:
- Accurate updated information will create professionalism in the selling process for future business
- Greater credibility of leads to hotels will provide better member value and demonstrate professionalism
- Time-savings for sales managers (from not having to chase down past history from other cities and hoteliers) leads to better productivity
- When the PER system is in place and hotels “get it,” it will be an easier process for all sales managers to get the room blocks clients need. And, it will be an easier process to get actual numbers on pick up once a group leaves the city
- Housing process should be easier and smoother as databases exchange information, creating a better flow from hotel to client which leads to cost savings in terms of time and manpower
- Terminology is a great tool for new sales managers to be consistent and professional when talking to clients
- Accurate information on clients saves time when setting up sales calls/blitzes. It also demonstrates professionalism and knowledge when sitting across from a client
- Standardization of processes within a bureau’s staff
- Minimization of error
- Allows for faster response to leads
- Capture true economic impact picture for all shows, including “home” shows

APEX - What's in it for you?

August 16, 2006

There are a lot of questions about what value APEX holds for the meeting industry. The short answer is that it will save both planners and suppliers incalculable time, which will allow them to spend time on other more important responsibilities and/or save money because they don’t have to hire extra people to do the repetitious work.

The longer answers are specific to each segment within the industry, so I’d like to share some of the WIIFMs (what’s in it for me) that have been identified by people working in those segments. Today, we’ll start with the benefits from the perspective of the planner and the organizations that employ them:

What’s In It For Planners:
- Demonstration of professionalism & knowledge which can lead to better potential for raises, promotions, and credibility within the company while demonstrating strategic value, not just tactical application
- It is easier to “learn the ropes” within the industry
- Looks good on your resume
- Saves time
- Allows you to spend your time on things like creativity, marketing and strategic thinking
- Consistent information allows for better site selection decision-making by comparing apples to apples, especially in the site profile and RFP areas
- Time is spent with sales people who fit with your business needs

What’s In It For Planners’ Companies & Organizations:
- Standardization within company, particularly if the planning function is decentralized
- Resource savings (e.g. planner time, head count, etc.)
- Quicker, more consistent personnel training
- Consistency in forms and processes will be more likely to protect company because there will be less room for gray areas
- Standardization of the PER helps in defining and tracking ROI
- Benefits attendees by having accurate information on them and a focus on the reason for attending.

August 15, 2006

Thanks for your comments Joan. I agree that in order for APEX to be successful, it absolutely must have the participation of both planners and suppliers. The good news is that the suppliers who really get this are very enthusiastic about what APEX can do for them in terms of savings in personnel time and other resources. The challenge is that they have some hesitation about making significant changes in their systems for something they're not yet sure will stick. However, as more planners become aware of APEX, start to incorporate it into their planning process, and it becomes the norm, the successful suppliers will certainly accomodate their customers. It is not unlike our transformation over the last couple decades as our "rush correspondence" has gone from air mail to overnight mail to fax to email and instant messaging.

APEX - That Thing

August 14, 2006

Recently, the Convention Industry Council did some market research to determine the level of awareness about APEX. It seems that many people in the meeting industry are aware of APEX, but when those people were asked to describe what APEX is, the most common response was, “its that thing”.

I really couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to explain what that thing is!

APEX is...The Accepted Practices Exchange. APEX is an initiative of the Convention Industry Council. It has brought together stakeholders from every segment of the meeting industry to develop and implement industry-wide accepted practices that will create and enhance efficiencies.

Some of the results of accepted practices implementation are:
· Time & Cost Savings
· Eased Communication and Sharing of Data
· Enhanced Customer Service
· Streamlined Systems and Processes
· Less Duplication of Effort and Increased Operational Efficiencies
· Better Educated, More Professional Employees

In short, accepted practices will make the industry more efficient, freeing up valuable time to devote collaborative energies to broader, more strategic industry issues. Can you imagine what you would do with more time to think creatively, less repetitive work to complete, and better relationships with your customers and suppliers?

How can we not love a thing that does all that?? Well, I know that some readers of this blog may not agree that its all that, or maybe you didn't realize what the thing was supposed to accomplish, but I'm hoping that this description might shed a little light.

Will APEX really make a difference?

August 14, 2006

By Terri Breining

I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with the APEX initiative since it formally began in January 2001.  At that time, the idea of APEX was very exciting to me, although I was skeptical. The possibility of people in the meeting industry utilizing the same language, referencing documents with the same formatting when planning or reviewing a meeting, and creating tools that enable us to communicate more effectively was always a great idea. But could we really make it happen?

Well, yes, its happening.  Its not done yet, and we certainly have more work to do, but we have accomplished much. Our first tangible product is an APEX toolbox that is being distributed to thousands of planners around North America, and it is quickly building plenty of excitement.  In Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, he talks about the flywheel that begins to move very slowly as a result of great effort.  As the effort is sustained, however, the flywheel starts to gain momentum, and eventually, it is flying at high speed and with relatively little effort.  I believe this analogy fits the process that the APEX initiative has undergone.  In the beginning, there were a few people who believed it was possible.  Through their hard work and persistent turning of the APEX flywheel, others came to believe it was possible and joined in.  The result to date is the identification of best practices in several areas, and a set of tools that help provide consistency in how those best practices are utilized by both planners and suppliers.

And while the flywheel isn’t spinning at top speed quite yet, it is certainly moving with some velocity.  Next up is the refinement of existing tools with better technology and the introduction of new tools.  Soon, those tools will be web-enabled, making them more available and easier to use for everyone.  At the same time, software developers are right now working on new programs that incorporate the APEX tools and processes.  Very cool stuff.

So, this week, I’m going to be addressing APEX.  I have some obvious bias, but I’d really like to hear what the rest of the community – particularly those not quite as involved – is thinking.  I do know there is great diversity of opinion about this topic, and here’s an opportunity to share it.

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