Earlier this year, Destination Marketing Association International launched empowerMINT.com, a new Web site that allows meeting professionals to shop for and compare meeting destinations through a new user-friendly search tool. By filling out a simple “FastTrack” RFP, or attaching a planner’s own RFP, planners can quickly distribute their meeting requirements to one or several destination marketing organizations (DMOs, or convention and visitors bureaus). Using their expertise and the platform’s filters, the DMOs help the planners identify the right group of hotels or meeting accommodations, check rates and availability, and ensure that proposals are returned by suppliers in a timely manner. The tool helps avoid days of research, phone calls, and e-mails to multiple hotels and venues.

EmpowerMINT.com, which is free to meeting planners, can be used to source any meeting, large or small, says Christine “Shimo” Shimasaki, managing director of empowerMINT.com, DMAI, which counts 600 DMOs as members. “We want to dispel the myth that DMOs are interested only in citywides. Small meetings often represent between 60 to 80 percent of bookings for many DMOs,” she adds.

Another myth that the association hopes to put to rest is the belief that every lead that goes through a DMO is blasted to all of its hotel members. “The DMO experts’ value proposition is to be consultative to the planner and qualify each business opportunity for their respective destinations,” says Shimasaki, adding that empowerMINT.com gives “high-touch follow-up in today’s landscape of high-tech and electronic RFPs.”

In addition, empowerMINT.com provides a new functionality that gives planners access to their post-event reports, information that DMAI members have collected for many years in a central database, called the Meeting Information Network, or MINT. The maintenance of accurate historical data is critical to planners in the negotiation of their meetings, says Shimasaki, as it is for hotels and DMOs.

For example, if an event’s historical room pickup is considered excellent relative to the room block, planners are in a better position to negotiate meeting requirements. Conversely, if an event’s historical room pickup is poor, planners need to manage that risk. To gain access to post-event data, recorded only for meetings sourced by DMOs, planners simply register to have the ability to review and discuss their meeting information with their host DMO.

The empowerMINT.com site also features destination and hotel special offers, air access, meeting event facilities, and a list of destination experts. For more, visit empowermint.com. related links

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