PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
VERY SPECIAL EVENTS FLINT, MICH.
I've gone with online registration instead of printing out the registration and mailing it. For attendees who are not online-savvy, we ask them to call the office and have a registration form faxed to them, or we handle the registration by phone. Printing costs have skyrocketed, so online registration saves money and is easier.
I've gone with local keynote speakers instead of flying people in and worrying about air, hotel, and other expenses.
I've been more selective in choosing locations to hold conferences. We have gone to second-tier cities, as opposed to first-tier. When you make changes like that, everyone's not always on board, but you have to do what's best for the bottom line.
I'm looking for places that are easier for people to get in and out of, so you don't have to worry as much about ground transportation.
I've been working with hotels. It's amazing the hotel rates that you can get now. Their revenue is down, so you have greater negotiating power. I'm going back to some of the same hotel chains that we have visited in the past and saying: “I've been a good customer in the past, could you work with me?” They are willing.
LIFE FOCUS MINISTRIES, ORLANDO
We normally hold our events at hotels. Now we're looking at having some of the events at local churches.
PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES OF THE APOSTOLIC FAITH, TAMPA, FLA.
We've chosen hotels with lower room rates. For example, we were looking to book a hotel for our March 2010 conference in Jackson, Miss., for $99 per night. I decided instead to book a different hotel in Jackson for $79 per night, with a $5 rebate to my group — $5 off per room per night. This will allow more people to come to the meeting, because they can afford the lower rate.
ARROWHEAD CONFERENCES AND EVENTS, LONGWOOD, FLA.
Arrowhead Conferences and Events is a meeting-planning organization that represents the religious market. Here are examples of what we have seen:
E-mailing of save-the-date cards, instead of mailing;
Morefor all types of events. We have seen that ministries have been experiencing recent layoffs and cutbacks. With that, in-house meeting planners are being asked to wear a lot more hats.
Outsourcing of registration, housing, and on-site logistics;
Including breakfast and Internet in the room rate;
Bringing in portable LCD projectors;
Scaling back AV production;
Borrowing AV equipment from a local church or ministry partner in the city in which the event takes place;
Hosting a brunch on the last day of the event instead of breakfast and lunch;
Getting hotels to provide airport transportation (when they typically don't); and
Renegotiating terms, concessions, and room rates on existing hotel.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts and StarCite, the meeting technology company, have agreed on a partnership that will allow meeting planners' electronic RFPs sent from StarCite's online marketplace to connect directly with Starwood's sales automation system.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has added 13 airports to its Global Entry program. The program streamlines the arrival process for enrolled U.S. travelers returning from international destinations.