As I write this, 2015 is drawing to a close and 2016 is only a day away. It seems traditional at this time of year to look back on what has occurred in the previous 12 months and see what learnings you can take forward into the future.
If there was one huge learning for me this year, it was that that hotel owners and revenue managers are much more focused on financial returns than on building strong relationships with incentive and meeting planners. The traditional incentive process includes a client-issued RFP, submission of proposal(s), a stand up presentation, and a final decision by program stakeholders.
In the current sellers’ market, many of venues I dealt with would only hold space for a few days or a couple of weeks, making it very difficult for planners to develop a proposal, obtain client approval, and sign a contract in the time period allowed. Several times I had very suitable destinations advise me that someone else was ready to sign for space that we wanted long before some of our clients were scheduled to have a decision from their event stakeholders.
Connecting & Communicating
Another lesson learned was that events are continuing to evolve to meet the needs of a “connected” attendee audience. The use of mobile apps is becoming increasingly popular at many events (if not absolutely necessary), and social media walls are being employed at an increasing number of programs. Presentations are often being shortened to better suit a video-literate audience, and more time is being built into event agendas to allow for attendee networking so participants can exchange ideas and learn from each other.
A third lesson is that meetings and events are really no different from any other business – we are connected constantly to our peers and clients unless we advise them that we are not available because we are away on business or have personal commitments. Certainly most people understand that we need to be focused on certain tasks at certain times (just as they want us to be focused on their needs exclusively at certain times). Effective communications always has been and will remain the key to success.
My final lesson from 2015 – people still need and want to interact on a personal level. Yes, we can video conference and be involved in virtual meetings, but most of us still want to meet and interact with others in person. In a world that provides almost unlimited information on line, we human beings still crave one-on-one and small group interaction. Making business personal is still the best way to be successful. That should be hugely comforting to those of us whose business focus is on designing and delivering successful events.
I am sure 2016 will bring us all new challenges and opportunities. Our own attitude will often be the defining factor on whether the upcoming year will be successful or stressful.
– Les Selby is the Director of Meetings & Events for Aimia’s Channel and Employee division in Canada. He has been a corporate, third party and independent event professional for over 25 years. Les has earned both his Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation and his Global Certification in Meeting Management (CMM). Inducted into Meeting + Incentive Travel Magazine’s Industry Hall of Fame in 2009, he is an active member of Meeting Professionals International (MPI). He served on the Toronto chapter’s Board of Directors, and was the 2000-2001 chapter president. In 1997, Les was recognized as Planner of the Year by the MPI Toronto chapter, and received the President’s Award for 2009. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.