Three days after corporate, association, and third-party meeting planners with expertise in global programs got together for the Beyond Borders Summit at the JW Marriott Essex House in New York, a Malaysia Airlines was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing 298 people. It points up one of a planner’s most vexing challenges—and one of the hottest topics of the BB Summit: risk management. With so many geopolitical hotspots in the world, the conferees at the second annual summit agreed, site inspections are a must, as is continual monitoring of government travel warnings and advisories.

“The whole area of risk mitigation, keeping up with those geopolitical trends, is the single biggest shift in our jobs over the past 20 years,” said Gregg Talley, president and CEO, Talley Management Group. “That’s where partnerships can come into play.” Finding the right people and companies on the ground in your meeting destination can help you mitigate risk. Of course, risk management is also a critical part of budgeting and contract negotiations as well. Talley covered a wide range of tips in a Beyond Borders Summit presentation:

Financial Risk Mitigation
“There’s never been more competition, and never more supply,” said Talley of the countries and venues vying for meeting, incentive, convention, and exhibition business. “The challenge is how to keep up.” So much choice requires more due diligence on the part of planners, but it also means more competitive prices.

“It makes sense to look for local partners who can help mitigate your risk,” said Talley. Both convention and visitor bureaus and hotels can give referrals. He recommends planners start with the tourism board, or better yet, a convention bureau if it exists (and many overseas convention bureaus have U.S. offices), for advice on who to rely on for local support.  He also recommends attending IMEX, a worldwide exhibition for meeting planners, in Las Vegas in October or Frankfurt in May.

Talley noted that “subvention,” the practice of governmental bodies giving money to win meeting business, is becoming more popular among tourist boards. When a tourist board sweetens the pot and offers you incentives to bring meeting business to its destination, the financial risk is not as great.

Subvention: A Closer Look
Many tourist boards have begun posting incentives and discounted packages for meeting groups on their Web sites. Here is a press-time sampling:
For events, conventions, or conferences with a minimum of 100 foreign participants, planners can choose one of the following options to add to the general services: Traditional Korean performances for the welcoming dinner, farewell dinner, opening or closing ceremony; or pre-convention or post-convention tour service. Also available: financial assistance with program design or welcome kits to be distributed to attendees upon arrival at the event. For events of more than 1,000 participants, the Korea Convention Bureau provides additional support on a case-by-case basis. Some examples are a Korean tourism promotion and information desk or partial subsidy for a welcome dinner or coffee breaks. Click for the latest offers.

London, U.K.
London & Partners, the official London Convention Bureau, includes special offers from many of its partners on its Web site. Click for the latest offers.

Through March 2016, events are eligible for funding support, and will be selected based on content, brand, and delegate profile (foreign visitorship). Funding support is awarded based on the scope and merits of the project and after a highly competitive evaluation process. Funds are given on a reimbursement basis and upon completion of project deliverables. Click for the latest offers.

Shanghai, China
Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration lists packages and promotions on its Web site. Click for the latest offers.

Some tourist boards or convention bureaus will also offer currency guarantees, taking the risk out of currency fluctuation. Always ask.