"The great thing was, from the time the group got off the airplane until they were brought back to the airport, no one had to worry about anything," says John Guthrie, president, Guthrie & Co., Trenton, N.J., organizer of the second annual CEMA Goes to CeBIT, a kind of busman's holiday for computer event marketers. "Hannover Fairs really did a great job of organization. It was a real treat for people who are usually doing the organizing themselves."
The idea of having members of the ComputerAssociation (CEMA) participate in a study tour of the world's largest computer arose among CEMA members who had international responsibilities but never attended international trade shows. The first impulse of American event marketers is to stay away from international shows, says Guthrie, in the interest of "staying out of the hair of their European counterparts." Yet the educational opportunity was there.
And so, 11 participants from the U.S. (joined by four more who had to be at the show to work) arrived at the Hannover Fairgrounds in Germany for a three-day tour on March 17, in time to witness 7,341 exhibitors set up their booths on 4.24 million square feet of floor space, in preparation for more than 700,000 visitors during the course of the seven-day event.
Participants were treated to a series of roundtable discussions with senior marketing executives from Compaq, Data General, IBM, and Xerox, who contrasted European and North American trade show marketing philosophies and practices. They received an on-the-spot lesson in booth placement from Compaq managers who had to cope with a last-minute identity crisis--now that Digital was part of their company, did they still need to be grouped with PC manufacturers? There were also presentations by senior CeBIT officials on such bread-and-butter issues as freight, drayage, fairground logistics, and trends in exhibit construction and design.
A highlight of the trip was a special tour of the booth of o.tel.o, a German telecommunications company. Bob Singer, manager of corporate marketing events for Intel and former president of CEMA, "picked up so much incidental knowledge of the telecommunications business from the booth visit that he went back home and wowed Intel senior managers" with his newfound expertise, according to Guthrie.
Watch for news from CEMA regarding a study trip to CeBIT 2000, February 24 to March 1, again at the Hannover Fairgrounds. CeBIT is organized by Deutsche Messe AG and represented in the United States by Han- nover Fairs USA, Princeton, N.J.
Scratching Backs The Orange County Convention Center in February contributed $10,000 to the Educational Communications Foundation of the International Communications Industries Association Inc. ICIA produces Infocomm, an annual exposition and educational event for the audio/video/presentation technologies industry, which met at the Orlando center in June. The money was earmarked to bring Orlando-area technology educators to Infocomm workshops and exhibits without charge. Approximately 100 scholarships were made available.
In related news, ICIA has scheduled Infocomm in Orlando again in 2003 and is the first organization to book the convention center's new million-square-foot exhibit space, now under construction. The 2003 meeting is the beginning of a multi-year arrangement that will have Infocomm return to OCCC for two-year stints every two years until 2020. In other words, the group will meet in Orlando in 2003, 2004 . . . 2007, 2008 . . . 2011, 2012, and so on. Infocomm typically draws 30,000 attendees and exhibitors.
*CP TO REBRAND LUXURY LINE-UP After purchasing Delta Hotels and Resorts last spring and Princess Hotels last summer, Toronto-based Canadian Pacific Hotels has taken a bold step toward global brand recognition for its high-end properties: It's buying one of the most respected names out there.
In April, CPH completed an agreement in principle to combine forces with Fairmont Hotel Management, which manages six distinctive properties with the Fairmont name (including those in San Francisco, New Orleans, and Chica-go), as well as The Plaza in New York City. CPH will own 67 percent of the new company, called Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. The remaining interest will be held by Kingdom Hotels (USA) Ltd. and Maritz Wolff & Co., current owners of Fairmont Hotel Management.
Six Canadian Pacific hotels will be moved to the Delta brand (The Prince Edward, The Lodge at Kananaskis, Hotel Halifax, Hotel Toronto East, Calgary Airport Hotel, and Hotel Beausejour), while the remainder, those with a more upscale profile, will become Fairmonts. The 35 hotels in the new Fairmont collection will include such landmark properties as Le Chateau Frontenac, Banff Springs, Hotel Vancouver, and the Southampton Princess. The deal is expected to close by mid-year.
*Frequent Flier Carrots Attendees who registered early for Web Attack, the June Internet marketing conference sponsored by San Francisco-based Iconocast, an Internet marketing information Web site, got more than a seat at the meeting. They also earned points toward a seat in the air. Iconocast is among the early customers of a new online corporate incentive program called ClickMiles@Work, launched by San Francisco-based Netcentives.
Whether for motivation or recognition purposes, the e-product allows companies to reward ClickMiles--redeemable one-for-one for airline frequent flier miles--to their employees, customers, or partners over corporate intranets, extranets, or the Internet. Among the pilot customers are Microsoft, which awarded ClickMiles to attendees at the iEC 1999 Show in New York who visited five or more exhibits in its partner pavilion, and EventSource.com, which plans to use ClickMiles to motivate event planners who book meetings through its Web site.
The ClickMiles@Work is a turnkey incentive product, which includes the software, custom development services, a branded interface, tracking and measurement, customer service, and 24/7 technical support. ClickMiles can be redeemed for frequent flier miles through eight major airlines--American Airlines, British Airways, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, TransWorld Airlines, United Airlines, and US Airways.
For more information on ClickRewards@Work, contact Netcentives at (415) 538-1888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*MARRIOTT UPENDS SALES STRATEGY Here's the challenge when you're as big as Marriott: How do you continue to grow while increasing your focus on the customer? Reconciling these seemingly opposing goals is at the heart of a complete overhaul of Marriott's sales strategy. The new philosophy: Sell the way the customer wants to buy.
When the strategy is fully launched, a planner should be able to book a meeting through an account exec, on the Internet, or through an Event Booking Center (for small programs). The planner decides.
Say you decide you want the one-on-one contact, but you can't remember the last time you heard from a Marriott rep. That's another part of the new strategy: It's turning the old sales landscape upside down. Instead of a large network of on-site salespeople and a smaller network of national sales reps, there will be more salespeople working in regional, local, and even home, offices all over the country.
We want to have more salespeople proactively dedicated to more customers," says Marriott Vice President of National Accounts John Parke in Washington, D.C. "Wherever the customer is, we want salespeople to be." That means reallocating some salespeople to cut down on the current duplication of effort. Today, national sales reps and sales reps from meeting properties often develop relationships with the same clients. Rather than these customers being double-teamed and the rest being neglected, what if all customers were spread out among all salespeople, now no longer based on property and selling that property, but based in an office near you and selling all properties?
It seems like simplicity itself, yet there is the question of how one salesperson can have intimate knowledge of more than 1,800 hotels. Marriott has tackled this challenge with technology. Basically, everything that on-property salespeople know about their hotels will be available to all sales reps online.
At the hotels, meetings now will be in the hands of "event managers," who are part convention services manager and part salesperson.
"This is a totally different view of how to work with the customer," Parke says. "We're no longer looking at customers as transactions, we're looking at them as assets."--Alison Hall
*NEW ONLINE HOUSING SERVICE RUNS A ROAD RACE ousing management, one of the most critical steps in the convention planning process, is beginning to see significant efficiencies with the introduction of online, centralized housing/registration database systems. Today's leaders, Quincy, Mass.-based Passkey and WynTrac, produced by Jade Technologies in Dallas, now have a Vancouver-based competitor, MeetUp.
Using MeetUp (www.meetup.com), delegates secure rooms online against an inventory of negotiated hotel blocks, making choices based on rates, availability, location, and amenities, all posted to a secure Web site. Like other systems in this market, MeetUp enables participating hotels and event organizers to track booking statistics up to the minute.
MeetUp President Edward Pereira hopes to compete on price--he charges approximately $5 Canadian per booking--and by quickly sending out hotel-issued confirmation numbers.
The product was conceived in early 1998, when Pereira began searching for housing options as co-chair of the 1999 World Airline Road Race. A first-time planner, Pereira was unhappy with the high cost of registration, so he designed and is marketing a system himself. His group has blocked about 800 rooms in six Vancouver hotels for the October race, and the first online bookings began rolling in in early January.
For attendees who want to use the phone or fax to register, Pereira is acting as a one-man call center but expects to staff up for future events. MeetUp hasn't yet booked its second meeting but is talking with potential clients, says Pereira.
*WEB UPGRADES * Santa Clara (Calif.) Silicon Valley Central Chamber of Commerce & Convention-Visitors Bureau has a new Web site (www.santaclara.com) that walks planners through the Santa Clara Convention Center, includes an events calendar and a list of Silicon Valley accommodations, and has information on attractions, shopping, recreation, and wineries.
*The International Association for Exposition Management, based in Dallas, has upgraded its Web site (www.iaem.org) to allow registrants to its Mid-Year Meeting to build their personalized schedules online. Visit the site to see how users have a choice of having a schedule created for them based on their choice of track and level of experience or to create a completely customized itinerary. Another feature of the site: Registrants can sign up for a blood drive that will take place during the meeting.
* The Puerto Rico Convention Bureau planned to launch an ambitious Web site in June. A meeting criteria form, which planners can submit to the online accommodations database; an online Request for Proposal (RFP) submission form; and downloadable collateral materials are some of the features planned for the convention bureau's new www.meetpuer
* The fourth iteration of the International Association of Conference Centers' Web site (www.iacconline.com) launched in May. Included in the upgrade is a new service that allows meeting planners to create, edit, and archive the RFPs they send to IACC member facilities.
* Looking for an inexpensive promotional push for your meeting in Irving, Texas? The city's convention bureau has added a feature to its Web site (www.irvingtexas.com) that allows you to send digital postcards to any online address. Choose among 20 images, from Mandalay Canal to the Players Course at the Four Seasons.
*PEOPLE IN THE NEWS Michael J. Fiorentino has been appointed executive vice president at Live On Line, an Internet broadcasting company based in New York City. Fiorentino had served as senior vice president of sales & marketing at the New York Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Seth Kerr has joined the Dallas office of PGI (Production Group International), the Arlington, Va.-based event and communications agency, as senior vice president, client services. Most recently, Kerr was senior vice president, client services, at Corporate-MAGIC.
Phil Summers has joined the Nashville Convention Center as national sales manager. Summers was previously a partner with Techworks, an audiovisual provider in the middle Tennessee area.
Nancy Lewis has been named convention manager with the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau. Lewis previously served as account executive for AVW Audio Visual Inc.
Brian Landers, CMP, has been appointed vice president, western region, for ConferenceDirect, a meeting planning company based in Los Angeles. Landers had been director of national sales administration for Hilton Hotels Corp. in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Robert A. Scherbarth has joined Meetings USA, Centreville, Va., a full-service meeting management company, as president. Scherbarth had been director, national sales, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts.
At Meeting Professionals International, Marsha Veach has been named director of partnership marketing. Her responsibilities include developing a tracking system for measuring event sponsors' returns on investments.
New Fees on Foreign Purchases Planning a meeting outside the U.S. means you need to give attendees a lot more guidance. One regular piece of advice has been to use a credit card for overseas purchases to get the best exchange rate. Now that advice may have to be revisited. According to consumer advocate Ed Perkins, some banks that issue MasterCards and Visa cards have started to add an extra fee to billings that originate in a foreign currency. Perkins says the MasterCard and Visa networks have always charged a 1 percent fee to cover these transactions and calls the banks' additional fees "an outrage." You may want to amend your meeting guidelines to suggest that attendees contact the banks that issue their cards before they travel and bring along the ones that don't charge the extra fees.
*A REWARDING ASSOCIATION If employee recognition is part of your job description, there's a new association for you. The National Association for Employee Recognition (NAER) provides forums for sharing methods to improve employee performance through recognition programs. NAER President Kimberly Smithson says the idea for the group began a few years ago when a Walt Disney executive had trouble finding information on employee recognition. The executive sponsored a conference to share ideas on the subject, and the organization grew from there. NAER now has 200 members, publishes a quarterly newsletter, and organizes a national conference and regional events. For information, call (312) 641-0575, or visit www.recognition.org.
Due to an editing error in the "Cool Tools" article that appeared in our May/June issue, we incorrectly stated that Peopleware customers should not expect regular upgrades for its MeetingPro and PeoplewarePro products. Peopleware has been offering regular upgrades to its software products for 18 years and, at the time the article appeared, had just delivered a major upgrade to its installed base of FoxPro users. Technology Meetings regrets the error.
Hyatt Hotels Corp. is taking some of the headache out of event planning by hiring 60 meeting concierges for its major U.S. properties. The new position grew out of a Hyatt survey of 1,000 planners. The concierges help with the full range of preparation and on-site meeting tasks.