We negotiate with a hotel but when we receive the, some of the points we had won (and the sales manager verbally agreed to) are mysteriously missing. What do you suggest?
A negotiating checklist. Check each priority item off as you negotiate it, and insert a number (e.g., for comp rooms) or price (e.g., for room rate), as appropriate. Sign and date it. Have the sales manager add his or her signature. Be sure to initial any items that have been crossed out or erased. Give the sales manager a copy, keep the original, and later compare the contract you receive with the checklist. Call immediately about discrepancies, requesting that a corrected document be issued promptly.
We've had little success in getting the local press to use releases about our annual meeting What are we doing wrong?
Target your efforts toward the media in which you're interested. Find out who on the business beat is likely to be assigned the material you send. Talk to those reporters, calling between 10 a.m. and noon local time, since most morning paper's deadlines start around two o'clock in the afternoon.
Find out what it is they consider newsworthy. They'll probably tell you new trends, new products on the horizon, exciting research just completed, controversies that exist in the industry, and relevant anecdotes that are funny or sad. Research these subjects. Send details as well as a press kit, complimentary registration, and perhaps a ticket to one of the meeting's social events. Follow up to arrange interviews with notables on the program.
Record the reporters' numbers and call from time to time, since you may have other material that will interest them. Save clips of news reports and use them to market story ideas on the same or similar subjects to other media.
Our older members say the "kids" (young Baby Boomers and Generation X-ers) exclude them by selecting destinations for meetings that are remote, program subjects that have little appeal, and social events inappropriate for those in their fifties and sixties. How do we respond?
Get your senior members more active in the convention creation process, possibly naming one of them to chair the meeting for next year.
When are hotels going to stop approaching the Americans with Disabilities Act with the attitude, "What do we have to do to comply?" and instead ask: "How can we better accommodate that customer segment with disabilities?"
Some already have. They've learned that incorporating barrier-free design from the point of concept adds only about one percent to construction costs instead of the several hundred dollars per room a complete retrofit can cost. The secret, as you imply, is to look at this as a marketing challenge to develop a product to fit a real-and apparently growing-need.
Next year's annual meeting is in europe, and our officers are nervous about terrorism. How do I calm their fears?
Tell them that many major overseas terminals, whose already stringent measures have been improved, are ahead of U.S. facilities. However, considerable improvements are under way at U.S. airports, too. For example, New York's three major airports now require ID badges for all workers, issued by the airport, not just the airlines; ten-year employment checks for those assigned to baggage-screening equipment; outside experts hired to review security on a regular basis; and patrolling teams of bomb-sniffing dogs.
So far we've resisted cruise ships as a venue for our smaller meetings because of the cost, but should we reconsider?
Welcome aboard! For the first time in 25 years, cruise line business volume shrank in 1994 to 1995, and the industry is anticipating a 40 percent growth in capacity by 1999, with Disney one of the big names entering the business. Now might be a good time to consider the cruise option, but be sure to check out the latest IRS regulations covering the treatment of members' expenses with your tax attorney.
We keep stubbing our toe in selecting a car rental company. How do they rate in terms of service?
Consumer Reports rated the car companies in this order: Hertz, Avis, National, Budget, enterprise, Dollar, Thrifty, Alamo, and Value. Ratings were based on more than 50,000 responses to the magazine's 1995 annual questionnaire about users' overall experience with rentals.
How do we stop nonmember suppliers from "ambushing" our members-with hospitality suites and invitations to sports events and swanky restaurants-during the annual meeting, thus depriving dues-paying member suppliers of exposure?
Ambush the ambushers. Arrange to allocate hospitality suites with the hotel. Use your clout to get blocks of good seats at sports events and reservations at top restaurants, which member suppliers can obtain through you. Use the association magazine and newsletter to encourage buying dinner for member vendors. Create a committee of suppliers and regular members to work on the problem for next year.