Maritz is developing relationships with companies on four e-meeting platforms — telepresence videoconferencing, Web collaboration, satellite broadcasting, and what they term totally virtual environments — as part of a new suite of services called Maritz LIVE (Local Interactive Virtual Events).
The first two partners are satellite broadcasting company Velocity Broadcasting and virtual environment provider InXpo.
The new suite of e-meeting tools is a direct result of customer demand, says Chris Gaia, vice president of marketing, Maritz Travel, St. Louis. Last month, 15 percent to 20 percent of all Maritz Travel proposals included some virtual element, compared to only about 5 percent in April 2008, Gaia said. And in a survey conducted in January, Maritz asked customers what they were doing “to replace the communication that would otherwise take place through meetings and events.” Respondents, who could select more than one answer, said they were replacing some meetings and events with e-mail (69 percent), webinars (61 percent), virtual meetings (60 percent), newsletters (33 percent), intranet postings (30 percent), and blogs/social networking (12 percent).
Pittsburgh-based Velocity Broadcasting produces custom television programs and broadcasts them to a network of more than 100 sites. These include 80 boardrooms at Morton's The Steakhouse restaurants around the country.
InXpo's technology creates a virtual environment for users to attend webinars, get downloads, and chat with colleagues. Based in Chicago, the company has recently announced an integration with microblogging tool Twitter.
Maritz's added-value, Gaia says, will be to wrap its meeting services expertise — on issues such as attendee management, speaker training, and content delivery — around a client's broadcast event, webinar, or other e-meeting.
Fight the Flu: Revise Your
Meeting cancellations as a result of the swine flu were rampant in May. Most had been planned for Mexico within two months of the outbreak, but some groups booked late in 2009 and into 2010 canceled because the destination was temporarily ineffective as a motivation tool.
Lucy Eisele, CITE, owner of Integrity Incentives, Big Lake, Minn., has a client with that dilemma. The program is planned for Cabo San Lucas next spring. “Of course this whole thing will have passed by then,” she says. “The problem is they feel they can't market it — the promotion was supposed to have started by now.”
Todd Zint, CMP, CMM, vice president, meetings and, NFP Insurance Services, had just one June meeting in Mexico that canceled because of swine flu concerns, but he plans a more lasting policy change to protect himself in the future: “We are revising our clause to add ‘disease outbreak.’”