In Late December, reading through the contents of this issue just before going to press, it struck me how quickly things can change in our industry — and how vigilant meeting planners must be when it comes to keeping up with new realities and new ideas. So, with the caveat that 2007 will likely add unexpected challenges to the mix, here are (in no particular order) six new ideas for the New Year:
- Look out for the new sheriff in town — the hotel revenue manager
Revenue man-agers are not a new player on the hotel staff, but in the seller's market, planners have begun to feel their sting. Revenue managers set the rules when it comes to assessing the value of meetings business to the property, and they are often not flexible, noted Jennifer Brown, CMP, partner, Meetings Sites Resource, during a packed breakout session at the recentannual meeting in Las Vegas. Go to page 9 for her suggestions on how to best leverage your meetings business. And consider asking to meet with the revenue manager during site visits. Face-to-face communications could help you both to understand each other.
- Get a handle on new gift and entertainment rules
If you work for one of the 5,000 financial services companies that fall under the regulatory arm of NASD, expect to be hearing from your compliance department about new gift and entertainment rules. It is likely that your company will be implementing new policies: NASD and the SEC recently fined one securities firm $9.7 million for inappropriate gift-giving and entertainment. To learn more, turn to Michael Bassett's article on page 20.
- Consider a new model for incentive rewards
Instead of rewarding financial advisors for sales production alone, how about recognizing them for ethical behavior and for taking into consideration the best interests of their clients? This is a radical concept, but one that makes total sense in an industry whose business practices are under intense regulatory scrutiny. And execs are already beginning to talk about rewarding producers for good behavior. Check it out on page 33.
- Negotiate package deals
How to get the biggest bang for your buck will be a continuing mantra for planners in 2007. Whether it be multiple programs at a single property, a year's worth of incentives at a single brand, or multi-year deals with hotel companies, insurance and financial services meeting planners are beefing up their room blocks to make their business more attractive to hotels, notes Alison Hall in our cover story, beginning on page 22.
- Try a new — or newly renovated — property
Billions of dollars are being spent to elevate the design and the infrastructure of new and existing hotels, both in the U.S. and abroad. We asked a sampling of national sales offices to tell us what's hot for financial services and insurance meetings in 2007. For a roundup of some properties that should be on your radar screen, turn to page 10.
- Take ownership of your job
Even if you don't work for yourself, thinking like a boss will reap rewards. Especially in a field such as meeting management, “the future of business is people taking ownership of what they do,” said businessman and former “Apprentice” television show alum Wes Moss at FICP's annual meeting. Go to page 14 to learn more about his theories on how you can benefit from an entrepreneurial mind-set.
Enjoy the issue, and best wishes for a peaceful and fulfilling New Year.