HelmsBriscoe Busts Out With a laser-like intensity, Roger Helms, president and CEO of HelmsBriscoe, outlined his vision and goals at the company's annual business conference in December: "To create and communicate so much benefit and value to having HelmsBriscoe book group rooms that it will be the exception to find an organization that continues that function without us," he said to the 700 people at The Venetian, Las Vegas.

Eight years ago, Helms and his partner Bill Briscoe, both exhotel execs, booked $25,000 in hotel room nights in its first year of business. In 1999, HB associates, now 206-strong, booked $1 million a day in room nights at 4,300 hotels. And HB was the single largest producer of meetings for Las Vegas in 1999.

HB's business model: Hire former hotel salespeople and meeting planners to work for themselves under the HB umbrella. Help them set up shop in their own homes and prospect for meetings business, especially among busy corporate executives. HB does the site selection at no charge to the meeting group, but collects a 10 percent hotel commission. Preferred HB partner hotels pay 50 percent at booking, and 50 percent at the time of the meeting, plus an annual marketing fee.

Hilton is a chainwide preferred partner, and Steve Armitage, vice president/managing director of sales, said, "We consider HB-ers an extension of our sales team." Fred Kleisner, president and CEO of Wyndham International, said as his company automates room booking to give real-time access to a single inventory, "we will give a direct line to all of our booking organizations, and HelmsBriscoe is where I would start."

Kleisner was a panelist at the meeting with Eric Danziger, president of Carlson Hotels Worldwide, and Adams Business Media President Mark Adams.