What is the greatest change you've faced in the past year? Tracey Lane manages 400 meetings a year--all with an average turnaround time of two months. On top of that, she has had to contend with the seller's market.
"In the past year, the demand for hotel rooms has often been higher than the supply. It has been difficult to find space that fits our needs at cost-effective rates," says Lane, manager of group travel and conference management for Lucent Technologies, the Murray Hill, N.J.- based telecommunications company.
To make planning more efficient, Lane has turned to technology. Her department uses e-mail to send RFPs and searches for venues on the Internet. "Taking planning online gives us immediate responses--information gets out and then back to us quickly," says Lane. "It not only makes the process faster, but more thorough. And it eliminates annoying phone tag."
Tired of the usual Danish and coffee during meeting breaks? The Hilton in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., has some answers: a "Looney Tunes" break, with snacks like M&Ms candy and Captain Crunch cereal; a "7th Inning Stretch," with popcorn and peanuts; or a break called "The Apple Orchard, " with different types of apples, apple strudel, and hot apple fritters.