HelmsBriscoe can be the Starbucks of the meeting industry,” said Roger Helms, president and CEO of HelmsBriscoe, in a speech to the company's associates in early December. “Our long-term goal is to become a brand name with every person who has responsibility for booking meetings.”

Celebrating its tenth anniversary as a company, HelmsBriscoe, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based site selection company, gathered its 350 associates and nearly 400 hoteliers to its Annual Business Conference at the Radisson Universal Orlando.

Can HB be as prolific as Starbucks: an office in every town? Not impossible. HB has grown from five associates in 1991 to 350 today; 95 associates have joined since December of last year, the vast majority of them ex-hotel salespeople.

Helms created a new business model 10 years ago to help meeting planners find dates, rates, and space for hotel-based meetings. HB associates set up offices in their homes, find and cater to meeting planning clients, book and negotiate contracts at hotels, and collect a 10 percent commission from the hotel. Meeting management and logistics are fee-based to the client.

A new HB “preferred partner” is Marriott, which means that meetings booked at Marriott properties pay half the commission at booking and half at the time of the meeting. Fairmont Hotels and Resorts has also announced a new program with HelmsBriscoe.

Among HelmsBriscoe's other plans for the future, according to Helms: “A certification process for our associates and the industry to ensure that we will never again be thrown into a generic grouping where we do not belong. Through certification we will set the standard that the entire industry will expect every third party to follow.”

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