Monday, April 26, 2010

Meeting and Conferences Professionals vs. The Idiots

meeting professionalsAfter the well publicized extravagances of AIG meetings, ENRON parties, and a worldwide recession one would think that people arranging and participating in conferences and meeting would tone it down.

You would think.

Unless you are the International Swaps and Derivatives Association. They recently met in San Francisco. The New York Times was kind enough to report ( that they held their conference at a high end, San Francisco based hotel...And for entertainment spent the evening being pampered and entertained at an S&M club.

Now I don’t want to be snarky…. but it may be that the International Swaps and Derivatives Association figured a night of expensive kinky partying could only improve its image. Idiots.

This behavior doesn’t help any of us in the world of conferences and meetings.

As we all try to climb out of the recession there are many indicators that by and large meeting planners and venues are paying attention.

Event planners today consider the public relations impact of where meetings are held. There’s been an increase in conferences taking place at Universities for cost and PR reasons.

Convention and meeting site managers now increasingly focus on meeting value and ROI rather than comfort and amenities alone. As competition for meeting dollars heats up, the ability to deliver improved meeting experiences – that can be evaluated and measured – is essential.

Face to face meetings have tremendous value. As an industry we need to develop the capability and the data to show that value. If we don’t do that we’re …well… idiots.

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager

Monday, April 19, 2010

MPI's Annual Technology Day

meeting technology
This week MPI will host its Annual Technology Day on Thursday, April 22nd at the Oakland Marriott City Center in Oakland, CA. It will be an all day event where event planners can come together to learn more about the impact of technology in the meetings and events industry. One thing that has always remained a constant no matter what field you are in is identifying ways to win over your audience with fewer resources. How do we make a profit while saving both time and money? Ah, the million dollar question. This event will help answer these questions in the world of event planning and the MeetingMatrix software will play a large role in this.

The Annual Technology Day will focus on how to effectively connect your team and clients through cutting edge technology (where we come in), expanding your project management capability and increasing the success of your meetings. There will be seven different workshops throughout the day, topics will include: virtual meetings (make sure to check out our previous blog entry on this topic), mobile computing, social media for events and audience participation technologies.

Corbin Ball, CSP and CMP of Corbin Ball Associates, will deliver a luncheon keynote presentation on high impact meeting technologies. Ball, who we have heavily worked with, is extremely knowledgeable and will provide some excellent insight on the industry and valuable cutting edge technologies.

For planners who pre-register and attend the event on Tuesday will be eligible to receive the Gold level upgrade to our MeetingMatrix software for free, allowing you to create event setup diagrams for any function space – an $890 value! Yours just for attending this education packed event. We always give our Silver edition to planners for free, but for this special event we will provide the upgrade to Gold for free as well.

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cloudy with occasional bookings

travel forecast

With many industries beginning to see the light after what has been a bummer of a year, one might ask – How are hotels doing?

Glad “one” asked.

Forecasts vary depending on the source, but there seems to be some promise in the market. Here it is reported that “Hoteliers in London could see double – digit revenue per available room (RevPAR) growth this year, according to the latest Hotel Market Outlook, a quarterly report issued by Deloitte.” This upturn in London is expected to last all year and slow during 2011. Is the grass greener on the other side of the pond?

The U.S. market appears to be no different with solid signs of improvement. Demand should increase 4.1 percent and supply should grow 2.2 percent with the recovery picking up its pace through the second and third quarters. This bounce back is expected to continue into 2011, but with lesser results, which seems to be trait found in most of the hotel and travel reports. A fast start and slow finish, like an over caffeinated marathon runner who has yet to discover the importance of pace.

Some sources predict many changes in travel over the course of the next year due to frugal spending, complex packages including higher rates, more boutique style hotels (less luxury), increased social media integration, and a boom in mobile travel technology. Yes, there’s an app for that. These all produce the challenge to hoteliers – plan accordingly and adapt to the changing market.

Online marketing is another area of optimism. Internet bookings grew by 6.6% in 2009’s third quarter, compared to 2008. Marketing avenues such as the aforementioned mobile platform, social media sites, and evolving search engines, poise the online marketing forum in the hotel industry for continued success.

In addition to overall market optimism, competitive markets are seeing a rise in sales. Orlando saw its RevPAR increase almost 2%. Occupancy rose to 71.2% this year overshadowing last year’s 66.8% increase. More families plan to take at least one vacation this year (92% of them to be exact, which is up from 88% last year). Let’s not forget - international trips are also back in the mix. This should lend to a rise in concealed money pouch purchases and stellar suitcase-bike sales.

For the first time in what has seemed to be a long time things are looking up. Even though the climb back to the summit will be gradual, the view from the top should be nothing short of spectacular.

Scott Sanker
Graphic Designer

Monday, April 5, 2010

Virtual Technology - GET REAL

virtual meetings
“It’s the end of the world as we know it…..”

OK. We get it. Everyone’s going virtual. See Report: 39% of firms to increase virtual events spending

In the brave new world of virtual meetings, the trend is going up. Soon we’ll all be happily sitting in front of our computers -- or better yet with our “virtual 3-D glasses” -- attending meetings, conferences, and trade shows. Or, maybe we’ll just send our avatar instead.

Or not.

I use all the technology I can get my hands on. I’ve swapped newspapers and magazines for the internet. I’m getting ready to bid farewell to printed books. I use internet conferencing every day to work within our globally distributed company.

But there’s more to it. A face to face meeting can give you more in five minutes than you can get in hour or six of internet interaction. Relationships can be started or expanded easier in person. Body language, eye contact, and all the subtle clues we give and receive in person are difficult – at present – to replicate using remote technology.

I also believe we humans still like a shared experience. Hollywood box office numbers continue to grow each year. This in the face of Netflix, cable, and service such as Hulu –all of which encourage remote (single?) viewing.

Recently at MeetingMatrix we had our annual staff meeting where everyone comes together for three days of business and social activities. In those three days people who work around the globe meet, share meals, and work together. It is irreplaceable in terms of company unity and cohesiveness—it could not be replicated by interactive technology.

No doubt there’s high value in virtual technologies. At MeetingMatrix we build systems that make it easy for people to get a feel for a venue’s meeting spaces over the web.

Someday – maybe with holography – we’ll be able to reproduce face to face interaction. Until then as the song says, “I just want someone to talk to, and a little of that human touch.”

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager