* WEB TRENDS Skip the Search Engines: Go Straight to the CVB Web Site When Susan Corcoran, CMP, needs to find hotel and meeting facility information for a conference she's planning, she goes straight to a city's CVB and convention center Web sites.
The executive vice president of Larson WorldWide Inc. in Norwell, Mass., Corcoran plans conferences and exhibitions for the tool and die industry in the United States and abroad. "Before I book a destination, I always check out the CVB site first, then the convention center," she says.
It's a smart move to skip the search engines and go straight to the CVB site if you need to find travel-related information on the Web. According to a recent study by Omega World Travel's TOP9.com subsidiary, 11 popular search engines performed poorly when asked to provide information about travel topics.
The study covered airlines, airline tickets, cruise lines, hotels, and car rentals. The searches--on Yahoo, MSN, Lycos, Netscape, Excite, AltaVista, Iwon, Snap, Direct Hit, Google, and Ask Jeeves--yielded inconsistent or irrelevant results.
On the other hand, it's a no-brainer to surf to a CVB Web site for handy travel information. (Go to www.iacvb.org for links to more than 400 bureaus in the United States and abroad.) Corcoran's strategy saves her time on hotel selection, she says, because the CVB Web sites enable her to work quickly and accurately. For her May 2000 Diecutting Symposium Educational Conference and Exhibition in Milwaukee, she used the city's Web site (www.milwaukee.org) to search for a hotel. "It was easy to find a hotel that fit my requirements: I just filled in the dates and the room blocks I needed and got a response of appropriate properties within 24 hours." She adds that another up side to using Web information is that the contact data for hotel sales managers are up-to-date.
Convention center Web sites can also be helpful. Before Corcoran booked the Northern Kentucky Convention Center for a 2002 meeting in Covington, Ky., she checked out the meeting room and exhibit space specifications on the center's Web site (www.nkycc.com).
"I always study graphic layouts on the Web for the location of entryways, exits, freight elevators, and any obstructions in the space," she says. "The layouts are much more accurate than salespeople's estimates."
* BUDGET BUSTERS London, New York, and Moscow Lead the Pack as World's Most Expensive Cities Meeting organizers planning events in London, New York, or Moscow need to allocate big budgets: Per diem costs (lodging and three meals) for business travelers are $445, $403, and $391, respectively, according to Runzheimer International, a Rochester, Wis.based management consulting firm.
Other pricey cities include Tokyo ($383 per day ); Hong Kong ($362 per day ); and Paris ($359 per day). "The strong U.S. dollar against many foreign currencies determines, in part, where it is less and more expensive to travel," says Runzheimer Senior Travel Consultant Rolfe Shellenberger. "That explains why New York has moved into the number two spot."
Canada, South Africa, Australia, and Costa Rica are good choices if you are looking to save travel dollars. The Runzheimer Guide to Daily Travel Prices notes per diem rates of $122 for Edmonton, Alberta; $127 for Johannesburg; $138 for Adelaide; and $154 for San Jose.
But these rates aren't likely to hold steady. A recent forecast in Runzheimer Reports on Travel Management anticipates a record 7 percent increase in business travel costs during 2001, the biggest increase it has ever predicted. Cost projections by category are air travel, up 6.8 percent; lodging, up 8 percent; meals, up 10 percent; and car rental, up 10 percent.
Where are the Per Diems Highest? * London, England - $445
* New York, N.Y. - $403
* Moscow, Russia - $391
Where are the Per Diems Lowest? * Edmonton, Canada - $122
* Johannesburg, South Africa - $127
* Adelaide, Australia $- 138
What Can a CVB Do For You? Need to arrange a last-minute site inspection or print brochures to promote your meeting to attendees? Just call the local convention and visitors bureau or national tourist office. Those are only two of the many services they offer--and best of all, they're free.
Also consider calling the CVB for help with: * getting permission or special permits from local governments for an event
* providing welcome signage for attendees at the airport
* cutting through union red tape
* arranging for a special welcome from the mayor
* helping with special assistance for the physically challenged
* arranging pre- and post-event tours for attendees
* promoting your next meeting by displaying promotional material at the prior meeting
* helping to create attractive spouse and children's programs
* scheduling airport shuttle services or limo pickups for VIPs
* providing supplier contacts.
Mr. Potato Head Pawtucket, R.I.-cbased Hasbro Inc., maker of Mr. Potato Head, has helped Rhode Island's convention and tourism industry by using the star-studded spud in advertising and marketing campaigns and by planting 6-foot-tall Mr. Potato Head statues all over the state. The Newport County Convention & Visitors Bureau, covering an area legendary for its gilded mansions, the famous Cliff Walk, and America's Cup yachts,and the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau often use the toys as meeting planner giveaways. Visit www.GoNewport.com or www.VisitRhodeIsland.com for more information. --Betsy Bair
Cool Convention Center THE HAWAI'I CONVENTION CENTER in Honolulu works hard to keep "Blue Hawaii" green. Conservation has been part of the center's culture since it opened two years ago. "We wanted to blend in with the community; we didn't want people to think this big concrete structure was dropped in the middle of their city with a life of its own," says director of operations Mike Polovcin. The center's design reflects this philosophy: The glass-front structure has won an award from its local utility company for energy efficiency.
With limited space for landfills on the island, behind-the-scenes recycling is also a priority. The center recycles cardboard, white paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum and uses beverage cups, napkins, menus, lunch boxes, pens, and note pads made of recycled materials. Unused food is donated to a local food bank.
From June 14 to July 3, the facility carried its recycling program to the exhibit hall floor for Kinko's national convention, providing labeled trash receptacles throughout the exhibit hall that enabled some 2,200 attendees to recycle. Center staff collected, sorted, and transferred materials to recycling containers.
"Kinko's is a very environmentally friendly company, and it wanted to practice what it preaches," says Polovcin. --Robin Amster
* BEYOND BORDERS International Summit Sets Goals for Meeting Industry
More than 100 delegates from 21 countries and 21 international meeting organizations gathered at the Millennium Summit for the International Meetings Industry conference, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in June.The Summit was a first-ever event sponsored by the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC), a body of 13 multinational meeting industry organizations. The rotating chairmanship is currently held by Meeting Professionals International, with Italy's Vito Marzo as president. Although JMIC has no legal structure and no funding, Marzo feels the organization can begin to address the issues identified at the conference.
During the two days of working sessions opened by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's prime minister, professional facilitators helped attendees to address issues related to globalization/regionalization, industry recognition, education/professional development, technology, and standards/best practices. Participants split into five teams, with each team rotating through all five areas.
At the final session, group findings were summarized using an electronic DigiVote system to quantify support for outcomes. Ed Nielsen, president/CEO of the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, analyzed each result.
Eighty percent of the attendees felt that the meetings industry worldwide needs a central body to coordinate its activities and present the unified face of "an industry" to the public, with 61 percent stating their individual organizations would provide financial support. Attendees were almost unanimous in wanting a steering committee to start work within six months. --Virginia Lofft