As the 20th century comes to a close, the meeting industry--like other industries--is being affected by three major trends: globalization, automation, and consolidation. In opening the McGettigan Partners Exchange conference in Philadelphia last week, John Pino, president and CEO of the newly renamed McGettigan Partners (formerly McGettigan Corporate Planning Services), touched on those trends and promised two days of learning, networking, and "unlearning"--giving up ways of operating that might not work anymore.
The Exchange brought together more than 200 corporate meeting planners, suppliers, and McGettigan representatives at the Philadelphia Marriott.
Pino said business partners in the meeting industry are no longer operating under volume-driven price agreements. "Now we're operating under long-term relationships, and building trust, confidence, and dependence. The really big news is that companies are talking to each other. They're taking the long view while still performing hectically in the short term."
As for McGettigan, Pino said the firm "does have the ambition and the need to grow." The communication, motivation, and project management company expects its revenues to grow 25 to 30 percent this year and already has opened new sales offices in Chicago and San Francisco. In line with the consolidation trend, Pino said the company is investigating possible acquisitions "all the time."
Highlights of the two-day meeting included ain Philadelphia's stunningly refurbished Wannamaker Building; a fireworks display viewed from the steps of the Philadelphia Public Library; a musical lesson in teamwork given by Maestro Boris Brott, a symphony conductor; and several education sessions involving expert panelists.
One such session touched on the idea of the "intrinsic incentive," a way to tap into employees' internal motivation. McGettigan is seeing corporations offer selfdevelopment programs across departments, encouraging sustainable motivation even among employees who usually are not touched by the typical incentive program.
"It's time to look beyond travel rewards," said Lori Martin, vice president, business development for McGettigan Partners. "After 20 years of developing the ultimate in incentives, I hear [attendees] asking for something else."
That something else is what McGettigan is now offering as Personal Empowerment Programs. "This is not in place of incentive travel programs," Martin emphasized, "but companies are asking, 'When people leave the workplace unfulfilled day after day, what will make a difference in motivating them?'" The answer is a program that helps workers balance their life and work.
During the conference McGettigan Partners also offered a demo of CORE Discovery 5.0, the new release of the company's meeting management software. The new release will run on corporate local area networks (LANs), the Internet, and corporate intranets. In addition to helping corporations budget, plan, and negotiate meetings, and register, track, and report on meeting spending activity, the new release will include a passenger management system, providing meeting departments a seamless system for managing air and ground travel.
SITE Meeting:Qualifiers Want Choice The Society of Incentive & Travel Executives (SITE) this year for the first time split its University, an education-oriented midyear meeting, into two events, one for Europe and for the Americas. The concept got off to a strong start in March when the European University drew 100 people to Gstaad, Switzerland, and its continuation has been secured with a successful University of the Americas in late June in Charleston, SC.
More than 300 attendees--a mix of incentive house executives and their suppliers from hotels, destination management companies, convention bureaus, and airlines--met at Charleston Place for three days of seminars and networking. Educational topics ranged from an update on the airline industry by Fay Beauchine, CITE, vice president of reservation sales and services for Northwest Airlines, and a session on cross-cultural planning challenges to a simulated ethics trial, which played out a case between an incentive sales person and her former employer.
In a panel discussion of incentive travel trends, several panelists said choice is a major issue for today's incentives. Citing a greater diversity in the workforce, Richard Weinstein, director of incentive sales for Carnival Cruise Lines, said incentive planners are finding that "within one program, attendees want different options." They are also looking for more adventurous travel, he said. Anne Wold- Graham, senior vice president for EGR International in New York, NY, agreed. "Attendees want free time and an enormous ability to choose. They want more adventure and more opportunities for individual expression," she said.
SITE plans to add a third University in Asia next year. "We used to have just one University, but we learned that one size does not fit all," says Bob Vitagliano, SITE executive vice president and CEO. "These Universities offer better, targeted education." The 1998 Universities will be in Istanbul in March, Palm Springs, CA, in June, and Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, in September.
Before then, SITE will hold its 1997 International Conference in Singapore. For more information, contact SITE at (212) 575-0910.