Archive for Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting

Project Global Give Back, Ain’t No Stopping Us Now

Written by: Kristie Rogers | Manager, Recruiting & Training

If you asked me what M&IW’s biggest strength is, my answer would be simple – it’s the hearts of our employees. It is not uncommon for the M&IW family go above and beyond for our client, but they go above and beyond for our communities as well!

In the past, we have worked, as a company, for causes such as Make-A-Wish and Relay for Life. Together, we’ve granted two wishes for children in 2016 and have raised thousands of dollars towards cancer research since 2001.

As we celebrated our 50th anniversary, we brainstormed how we could push the envelope and make our 50th year Global Give Back program one to remember. We created the 50 Years/50 Charities initiative. The company was split into 50 teams based on their global location. Each team ranged from four to eight people and were given the opportunity to choose a charity that was close to their hearts. Some chose national charities, such a Big Brothers Big Sisters. Other teams chose local charities, such as the River Bend Nature Center in Racine, WI and the Chestnut Tree House in Sussex, UK. The teams had an entire year to give back to that charity.

Of course, there was also a bit of friendly competition. Teams were competing to raise the most money for their charity or contribute the most volunteer hours. Some teams raised money for their charity by selling bracelets, raffling off baskets of goodies, holding bake sales, and collecting in-kind donations such as school supplies. Others gave back by volunteering as a team, harvesting vegetables for a food pantry, spending time with underprivileged youth, and walking dogs at their local animal shelter.

When it came time to tally the funds raised and time spent volunteering, I was astonished at the results. Together as a company, M&IW volunteered 1,913 hours and raised $28,630 for charities all over the world! It gave me goosebumps to look at the numbers and think about the difference that our company made in just one year. I am so proud of the passion that M&IW has for giving back! The Fox Cities team, Big Hearts, Little Hands, selected Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley Region and were awarded the 2018 Community Partner Award. “The Meetings & Incentives Worldwide team has been a tremendous blessing throughout the past year. They have volunteered their time at BBBS events, organized a basic needs supply drive in 2017 and a school supply drive for 2018, helped to paint and organize the BBBS Appleton office, and adopted a family in need last holiday season. They barely finish completing one volunteer project before they ask for another. They are a model of philanthropic giving and we are thankful to have them as one of our key partners,” said Lindsay Felon, Executive Director, BBBS.

Our 50 Years/50 Charities drive may have come to an end, but there is no stopping us now! So how do we top that? This year, our focus is on WORLD HUNGER. More than 815 million people, or roughly 1 in 9, suffer from chronic hunger. Even in the United States, 41 million people struggle with hunger.

Our Community:
The first initiative was close to our Global Headquarters in Wisconsin. Our Co-CEO, Jean Johnson, CMP, is helping to start a food pantry in the heart of Racine, WI. At our M&IW Summit, employees were encouraged to donate hygiene items and non-perishable food which were delivered to the food pantry. The shelves will now be stocked when they open later this year. If you are interested in learning more about this give back initiative or supporting the cause, please email marketing@meetings-incentives.com.

The World:
The second initiative was global. We worked with Rise Against Hunger to pack 25,144 meals for children all over the world. That’s right, we put on some stylish hair nets and got to work! It was a really rewarding experience to work as a team to package these meals for those in need. To see our amazing team in action, check out our RISE AGAINST HUNGER video.

We invite you to join us in ending WORLD HUNGER by donating to your local food pantry, starting a food drive at work, volunteering to pack meal,s or make a donation to Rise Against Hunger at www.riseagainsthunger.org.

 

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Group Air Travel Management, Incentive Travel Programs, Pharmaceutical, Medical and HCP Compliance, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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How to be Empowered for Global Travel Safety and Security

Written by Anne Zambrano | Marketing Project Lead

Sometimes empowerment is about feeling like you are in control in situations which are out of your control. When it comes to global travel safety and security, we all know there are many things that are out of our control. Security is perhaps not the most enjoyable event management topic. But, it is certainly the most important, and one that M&IW takes seriously.

So, what is the best way to take control of situations in which you have very little control over? With managing thousands of events in more than 75 countries, we have seen a fair share of undesirable situations. It is critical to have a plan and be prepared for the unexpected. Recently, we experienced natural disasters such as volcano eruptions in Hawaii to storms in Florida that displaced entire events. In one instance, we had an employee in Costa Rica when a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast, in which we were immediately notified and able to contact them to ensure their safety.

When I asked Samantha Gerke, Manager, Global Group Travel, what M&IW does to make sure our group travelers stay safe, she answered, “We partner with one of the best organizations in the world. M&IW is an expert in travel services and meeting management and versed in emergency preparedness and planning. However, we rely on a WorldAware (formerly known as iJet) to provide a single system of intelligence, communication and assistance services to help mitigate risk and respond when necessary. WorldAware is an excellent tool to have under our belt hear at M&IW. It empowers us to communicate with our employees around the world in a quick and efficient manner in times of threat exposure.”

Because we believe that this is not a topic to keep close to the chest, we thought it prudent to share this valuable information with our community. I had the opportunity to ask George Taylor, VP Global Operations, of WorldAware, a few questions and here is what he had to say:

Q. How do you feel that your service empowers employees and organizations?

A. WorldAware helps organizations operate with confidence by enabling them to protect their people, facilities and brand. The company provides a single ecosystem that unites intelligence, communications and assistance services, so organizations and their people can mitigate the risk posed by emerging threats. WorldAware provides expertise across intelligence categories such as terrorism, geopolitics, environment, transportation and health, along with geographic and regional analysis, providing clients with actionable insights that allow them to make fast, accurate risk mitigation decisions. WorldAware’s Worldcue® solutions deliver real-time dashboard views of threats and their intersect with people, along with two-way communications and location-based alerts. WorldAware’s assistance and response services are available 24/7, ready to answer travel-related questions, support business continuity efforts and coordinate response operations if the need arises. WorldAware’s experts review business continuity plans, conduct training, test crisis management plans, and more. By providing intelligence, communications and assistance within a single, unified ecosystem, WorldAware empowers organizations and their employees to make well-informed, critical decisions to mitigate risk and ensure safety.

Q. What trends are you seeing in the industry?

A. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that nowhere is safe. Enterprises are realizing that threats can occur to anyone at any time. In the past, risk management and security teams tended to focus on the traveler, particularly the traveler headed to a location typically considered high risk. However, recent events have shown us that threats occur even in locations typically thought of as low risk – New York, Las Vegas, London, Brussels, etc. This realization means that enterprises now must think about protecting all of their people, not just their travelers.

The vast majority of enterprises are up for this challenge, they just need expertise and guidance. In fact, some of the world’s largest organizations describe themselves as “paternal” – they want to do the right thing for their employees. Along these lines, the concept of “duty of care” resonates, but risk and security leadership is often quick to point out that it is not a duty or an obligation that drives them, it’s a commitment to doing the right thing. This trend continues to prioritize the need for an integrated risk management policy that covers not just business travel, but all personnel and facilities, both at home and abroad.

Q. We are intrigued by your business. Tell us about more about WorldAware. What is your history and where you are now and where you are going?

A. In 1999, WorldAware became one of the first companies to offer intelligence-driven risk management to the travel industry — a change that ultimately transformed travel and security departments worldwide. WorldAware’s Travel Intelligence® and Worldcue® risk-management software revolutionized corporate and government business travel with the promise of keeping employees safe — not just on time.

We understand that you are faced with many challenges and decisions every day. As the world evolves, we need to stay one step ahead to ensure you appropriate decision support. We subscribe to a process of continuous innovation to drive continuous improvement and value. Trust, speed, security, and innovation can’t happen independently. We are committed to creating value for all of our stakeholders, colleagues, clients, partners, suppliers, and the communities in which we serve.

Our team will be partaking in a mandatory three-hour training hosted by WorldAware at our annual M&IW Summit: Employee Exchange. M&IW puts our client attendees and associates at the center of what we do and WorldAware puts intelligence at the center of what they do. This makes the perfect partnership when it comes to risk mitigation because they prioritize the availability of fast, accurate threat intelligence, and combine that intelligence with state-of-the-art technology and assistance services. The result is that M&IW receives a single, integrated ecosystem from which we can protect our people, clients, passengers and business operations. And, this is more important to us than anything else that we do!

 

 

 

Posted in: Company News, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Group Air Travel Management, Incentive Travel Programs, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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Cvent CONNECT 2018 Recap and Highlights

Written by Dan Tarpey, HMCC | Vice President, Marketing & Sales

Our M&IW team just returned from Cvent CONNECT, one of the most well-attended conferences targeted to event professionals and geared toward user groups and system experts. We experienced essential face-to-face connections with our clients as well as potential clients, gained crucial industry knowledge, and of course, had some fun along the way!

Cvent CONNECT is an opportunity for users of any level to connect, collaborate and learn. Many of the sessions are focused on novices to provide a solid foundation for using the tool successfully. The advanced sessions, however, contain the juice! This is where our team discovers how to optimize, streamline and fine tune processes to get the most out of the platform.

As an organization, we are extremely excited to take all we gained from this event and put it back into the services we provide to our valued clients. Enjoy some of our team highlights.

What’s on the Cvent Horizon?

  • FLEX has a release date of October with full functionality slated for Q1 in 2019.
  • Direct Book Solution and Project Stargate (new Portals and MRF’s) coming in 2019.
  • Certain components of Lanyon will be integrated into Cvent for a better tool.
  • Lastly, 15 core languages are coming to an RFP near you soon!

What does it mean to be Cvent Certified?

M&IW is a Cvent Certified partner and proud to have several individuals with Cvent Event Management Professional Certifications. We are also extremely happy to share that Chip Begley, Sr. Manager, Event Technology, earned his Cvent Management Advanced Certification for Enterprise level users. The test includes everything from the admin functions, best practices for complex registration set ups, event budgets, multi-language events, advanced rules, managing speakers and sessions effectively, discounts, taxes and service fee configuration, travel/hotel modules, onsite features and more.

What is our team is most excited about?

When Kelly Moore, Meetings Management Consultant, was asked what she is most excited about, she replied “my biggest take away is the FLEX project and the general availability of the tool coming up in October. The training camp session allowed for hands-on practice with an excellent moderator/instructor. The tool itself will make things much easier for those people who need to make and manage attendee registration sites and is far less intimidating than the current tool.”

Chip agreed, “embracing the FLEX revolution, which is the latest and most modern version of the Cvent UX. FLEX is an intuitive drag and drop concept that allows you to manipulate and customize the registration experience which is fully responsive and operational on desktop, tablet or phone.  For my team, we’re excited for the opportunity to spend less time coding and more time designing.”

Marte Meighan, Meetings Management Consultant, chimed in “additionally, Cvent is making progress on adding new SMM functionality that will change the way our clients use their MRFs today. Some examples include decision tree logic, multiple levels of sub-questions and sections appearing based on previous questions/answers. This will allow companies who have existing MRFs to re-evaluate and refine their forms. New clients will now be able to create more streamlined and straight forward MRFs from the start.”

What advice would you give to a first-time attendee?

“Choose your sessions wisely, but don’t be overwhelmed by the number of them,” said Kelly. “Whatever you choose, you’ll learn something valuable. If attending with a coworker, divide and conquer to get the most out of the content being offered. And, make time for the Innovation Pavilion to get one on one time with product experts.”

What other trends emerged?

On the key components of the event is the Leadership Summit which was comprised of 285 industry leaders within the meetings and hospitality industry. Lisa Palmeri, our Vice President of Global Enterprise Solutions was in attendance and shared the following four key trends:

  • Personalization (the power of live in a digital world)
  • Experience (to be remembered)
  • Privacy (GDPR, it’s a human right in the EU!)
  • ROI (Cost per attendee going up, all the above costs more money)

From a sales and marketing perspective it is a great show to connect with many of our current clients and potential clients. We have been exhibiting at the event for the past five years and this was certainly the largest in terms of overall attendance. A big thanks to our M&IW team – Lisa, Chip, Marte and Kelly for sharing their expertise and experience.

All in all, the Cvent CONNECT provided a valuable networking opportunity with clients and potential clients as well as a good view into what is on the horizon with the Cvent platform.

 

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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A Proven Strategy to Increase Meeting Engagement

Written by Anne Zambrano | Marketing Project Lead

We have all been there. Attending a daylong meeting or training event in which we know what to typically expect – hours of sitting and listening to presentations. Some may even joke at times that it is “death by PowerPoint.”

According to recent surveys, adult attention spans have shrunk by up to 50% in the last decade. There are varying statistics on the length – everything from 7 seconds to 10 minutes. Despite the actual figure, it is no wonder the meetings industry has been uber-focused on how to increase meeting engagement, especially when presenting from the stage. Couple that statistic with the fact that meeting engagement helps participants not only learn, but also retain the information. And, it is critical for fields such as healthcare or finance professionals that rely on continuing education (CE) credits for their professional licenses.

At M&IW, we are faced with the same opportunity every year at our annual event on ways to deliver an amazing event experience. What’s more, we also push to demonstrate industry-leading meeting engagement techniques with the use of unique presentation formats and cutting-edge technology for our clients throughout our very own and exclusive annual meeting. It is for that very reason, we design the agenda to include different presentation formats, TED-style talks of 20-minute presentations, panel discussions, storytelling and hands-on workshops. Additionally, as a technology-driven organization, we use some of the best event technologies that aid with presentation engagement.

For the past three years, we have used a live meeting engagement and analytics technology. It is an interactive tablet solution that is one of the best in the industry. What makes it so different from other event technologies such as audience polling or audience response systems, you ask? While ARS is great for engagement, and we use it on a regular basis, it is typically for just few minutes or sporadically polling the attendees during a presentation. ARS does increase engagement during that session, but not the entire program. Whereas, second screen technology, EM Array, provided by our partner, Educational Measures takes it to the next level. EM Array is proven to capture audience attention and increase meeting engagement through the entire day by allowing participants to directly interact with the content on the tablet in front of them.

The best part is that the EM-Array analytics that measure and improve the effectiveness of the meeting are top-notch. They illustrate how the technology increases audience engagement 10x more than traditional learning. Furthermore, the analytics can be utilized for continuing education, compliance and reporting. I have personally found this technology to amplify my own experience during our daylong meetings. The fun participant features that keep you engaged includes the ability to ask and answer questions; take notes directly on the presentation slides; participate in surveys, simulations and games; capture and save slides and resources; and rate slides, content and speakers. That is only the beginning, from a meeting stakeholder perspective the features become even more exciting with the ability to engage with surveys, simulations and games; dialogue with live and virtual audiences; capture every click and comment; and compare both live and remote meeting impact.

A while back, we caught up with Ryan Mazon, the Senior Vice President, Business Development at Educational Measures. We asked Ryan to give us a few tips on where to start when implementing a meeting improvement program. He replied, “before chasing meeting greatness, you must first define what exceptional meetings look like to your organization. Start with the end in mind; don’t hold back. What would the most amazing meeting look like? What would impress your audience? How should people feel when they arrive, participate and leave the meeting? What do you want people to say about your meetings and events? Having an end in mind will keep you on a track toward excellence.”

We also asked what types of meeting improvements are occurring because of data analytics? Ryan said, “data is the lifeblood of meeting improvement programs. It can guide to improvement and guard from unnecessary expenditure. To determine what to measure remember that every metric can be tied to a business process. Every business process can be measured. Every business process can be improved based on time savings, cost reduction, resource allocation and innovation acceleration. The values of each component of the meeting will lead to a set of key performance indicators that can be tracked over time.”

Since being introduced to EM-Array several years ago, we have not only incorporated it into our signature event, but also brought it forth to our clients. Many of these clients have said that the use of the technology has increased audience engagement, provided more business intelligence, and delivered ROI for their meetings.

All-in-all at M&IW, we are excited to finally see a technology come along that turned a second screen into an engagement-driving tool. Perhaps it will help audience participants to put away their own second screen and absorb the important messages coming from stage that are designed to help them grow in their professional careers.

For a closer look at the technology, consider joining us for our 2018 M&IW Summit: Client Connect taking place in August. We will once again be partnering with Educational Measures to assist with increasing audience participation and engagement. If you are interested in learning more about our upcoming event or Educational Measures, email us at marketing@meetings-incentives.com.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Program Management & Event Design

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Is your Organization GDPR Compliant?

Written by Marie Johnson, CMP | Director, Marketing & Strategy

We live in an increasingly digital world where the value of personal data is immense. At M&IW, the safety and security of our customers, employees, and attendees has always been a priority. We have long understood the importance sensitive and personally identifiable information (SPII) and have taken steps to ensure its protection.

However, a lot is happening in the world of the internet and data security. As a result, the EU government has been working on a new legislation known as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that goes into effect on May 25, 2018. This reform is intended to help EU Residents to improve control of their personal data.

“Even though this regulation only applies to citizens that reside in the European Union (including the United Kingdom), we believe it will become a new global standard for data privacy,” said Jean Johnson, Co-CEO and Chief People Officer at Meetings & Incentives Worldwide. “We are approaching GDPR proactively by applying these EU digital communication standards both domestically and internationally.”

M&IW is Privacy Shield certified, and we have worked with Radius Worldwide to complete our analysis of our processes and systems for the GDPR. This analysis and creation of an action plan ensures that we will be compliant with the GDPR regulations by the required deadline as set forth by the EU/UK. To learn more, please check out our report entitled, GDPR 101: The Basics. You may also view our Website Privacy Statement which describes the current policies and practices of Meetings & Incentives Worldwide with regards to Personal Data.

Additionally, we are happy to share that our Data Protection Officer, David Guse, CPA, has achieved the ISO 17024-accredited EU GDPR Foundation (EU GDPR F) qualification from IBITGQ.

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Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Group Air Travel Management, Incentive Travel Programs, Pharmaceutical, Medical and HCP Compliance, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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7 Secrets to Professionally Managed Meeting Procurement

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Written by Denise Farrell | Director, Global Procurement

Many meeting stakeholders have a general understanding of how outsourced meeting procurement works, but there are things that can happen behind the scenes that may surprise even savvy meeting managers. I have unveiled a few of those “secrets” below to show how these activities may benefit your organization.

Before we reveal the secrets, let’s explore what we mean by “professionally managed meeting procurement.” It can easily be defined as letting someone else, such as an event management company, handle the procurement of your meeting venue. Third parties bring expertise gained from experience in various industry positions and with numerous clients to your meeting. They employ buyers who are specialists, solely dedicated to that craft.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right into the secrets of professionally managed meeting procurement!

Secret #1: Chances are, third parties have BEEN THERE AND DONE THAT… At least, someone at their organization probably has.

You probably know that there are millions of worthwhile destinations and venues around the world. You can find them just by Googling a location. But then what?

But did you know that it takes an enormous amount of knowledge just to sift through all the possibilities to find the venue that’s right for your event? In fact, a database like Cvent, built for planners, has more than 245,000 venues!

The secret is third parties bring the cumulative knowledge of their entire team to the selection process. Chances are, someone has been to that location, even to that venue.

For example, on average corporate event teams place between 2-100 meetings a year. Whereas, the average third party books thousands of events per year. That’s a lot of knowledge and experience in one place. They have a set of tools and skills that they use to perfect their ability to easily evaluate destinations and venues. Some are external, and others are internal, such as the working with the sales team in the initial contracting process all the way though the onsite experience and billing experience. The third party knows how to communicate to deliver a mutually agreeable contract considering what matters most to the client and marrying that with understanding how those requests will be executed at the hotel level. They can bring both parties to an understanding that provides a smooth execution.

Secret #2: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PACKAGE. What do we mean by that? Well, it’s important to have ALL the information before deciding which venue will best suit your needs.

You probably know that there are many pricing options available to host your meeting.

But did you know that there are many factors beyond room rates that can have a huge impact on the success of your meeting? How do you choose the venue that is the “best” for your meeting?

The secret is that third parties evaluate a venue based on tangible and intangible factors, such as space, rooms and quality. They also read the fine print.

For example, third parties will confirm if the venue can accommodate the needs of the program, including factors such as; will the meeting space be conducive to the meeting objectives, can the attendees easily access the venue, and will they feel well taken care of once they get there. Additionally, some intangible ways they assist is in their ability to consult and look at the entire package. Does the meeting have to take place in 1 ½ days so near the airport? Is this a group that shares rooms so are enough doubled bedded rooms available? Does the meeting need quiet or space to move? Is it more about aesthetics or function, will pillars in the middle of the meeting room hamper the attendees being able to see or hear the content?  These are the things a third party can help you look for and evaluate.

Secret #3 – Third parties SPEAK “EVENT” IN MULTIPLE LANGUAGES… and it’s more than just having translators.

You probably know that it is challenging to book a program at an international destination.

But did you know that many third parties have people on staff who not only speak the language, but also understand the business customs, terminology, common contract terms and potential risks of working pretty much anywhere in the world?

The secret is that third parties book international destinations on a regular basis, and have “boots on the ground” around the world.

For example, things are ever changing and if you have not worked in an area for several months or years you need someone who can provide you the knowledge. A new Russian law declares that all contracts must state that Russian language must prevail.  A third party will have run into this situation and be able to tell you when this would apply to your event. They will be able to work with the venue to have English and Russian terms and conditions listed side-by-side to compare them.

Secret #4 – They RUN A TIGHT SHIP and can help your department be more efficient as well.

You probably know that working with a procurement department includes providing a lot of details, from contract terms, to data points, to funding limits.

But did you know that good third parties keep tabs on all that critical information and can help you with that paperwork? They can also improve your relationship with your procurement department.

The secret is that third parties will not only save you money through efficiency gains, but they can also help procurement better understand what you do.

For example, a third party can evaluate your internal process and procedures using their industry and technology experience. Some third parties can share best practices to help you streamline processes to gain efficiency. They often act as a buffer between the numbers people and the meeting planner, and during that process, help procurement better understand the meetings industry.

Secret #5 – THEY’RE A LITTLE OCD and that level of attention to detail is a good thing sometimes.

You probably know that there are regulations in certain industries that meeting planners need to know.

But did you know that these regulations are not uniform for all industries or destinations? Attention to detail can save your organization a lot of time, money and headaches

The secret is that third parties should be familiar with these regulations, so they can ensure that you’re following the laws.

For example, a third party should use a consistent sourcing approach and contract language that dovetails with your company’s compliance standards and load all critical items into the systems at the end of a meeting. This will save your compliance department time in locating documents for an audit.

Secret #6 – They PINCH EVERY PENNY for you.

You probably know that there are negotiable items when reviewing a hotel contract.

But do you know all the items that are negotiable, which ones bring the greatest value, and which are easier for hotels to agree to than others?

The secret is that third parties do this all day, know the hotel’s market and the pressures they’re under, often have leverage with hotels because of the number of events they book, and know how to negotiate a win-win contract for the client and the venue.

For example, a third party is able to leverage multi-year agreements to help clients realize additional savings on room rate and enhanced concession packages; package a smaller meeting with a larger one to enhance savings; stay on top of cancellations that might put a hotel in a position to be more open to negotiations; understand which concessions bring value to the client and which ones may not cost the hotel as much.

Secret #7 – THIRD PARTIES CAN SEE THE FUTURE. How? You ask…

You probably know that BIG data is a hot topic in the meetings industry.

But did you know that data is only BIG if you know how to use it?

The secret is that third parties can help you gather data accurately to discover trends that can help you make buying and process decisions.

For example, at M&IW our business intelligence tool and data told us that larger clients with multiple procurement teams were having difficulty managing all the moving parts. To address this need, we developed a consolidated single sourcing program that provides essential governance yet allows the flexibility of multiple sourcing providers. We also determined that small meetings often don’t have the same tools available to be as efficient and as they could be, so we’re investigating new technologies for small meetings.

To learn more on this topic, please enjoy our Industry Insights Webinar on Demand: 7 Secrets of Professionally Managed Meeting Procurement. Or, if you are interested in connecting with our procurement team regarding an upcoming program, please email sourcing@meetings-incentives.com.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Incentive Travel Programs, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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Give Your Event a Competitive Edge with Technology Integration

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Written by Marie Johnson, CMP | Director, Marketing & Strategy

Events are a great place to learn about the latest innovations, network with colleagues and other industry professionals, and hear from leaders in the field. Event technology is the lynchpin that connects you to all these things. From apps to check-in software to virtual and augmented reality, event tech keeps attendees in the know before and during conferences and keeps them engaged long after the event has ended.

M&IW knows how important tech is to your event. We also know as more and more technologies are introduced in our space, it can be overwhelming to determine which ones are the best fit for your event and organization. And, more importantly, how to best integrate them for an optimal attendee experience.

That’s why we’re very excited to introduce our new EVENT TECHNOLOGY team. Several departments are joining forces with a focus on researching, implementing and servicing new event technologies that will help our clients grow their business and demonstrate ROI. By bundling services and offering a more strategic vantage point – our clients can make the most of their event technologies.

Tim LaFleur, CMP, is the Director of Event Technology and will lead this team. Tim brings more than a decade of experience in the meetings and event industry as both a meeting planner and technology expert which is a powerful combination. He truly understands event technology and mobile strategy. He designs, builds and manages mobile apps in a variety of platforms including CrowdCompass and Attendify.

Joining the EVENT TECHNOLOGY team is Chip Begley, Manager and Senior Web Designer. Chip is Cvent Certified. Chip has been with M&IW since 2011. He leverages his experience to ensure event websites and mobile apps provide an unparalleled user experience, from branding to features and more. Together with their talented team members, Tim and Chip will consult with our clients on innovative technology solutions that will help them inform, engage, and delight event attendees.

“M&IW has long been at the forefront of the meeting and events industry because we’ve understood the importance of changing tech trends and have used them to address our clients’ needs,” said Tim. “Tech like mobile apps benefits both attendees and clients who put on the event. If offers attendees real-time updates and a convenient, personalized experience, which increases engagement. For clients hosting the event, it offers real-time reporting and analytics, so they can adjust as needed Clients no longer have to wait for post event surveys to determine if their event is successful.”

M&IW’s most popular and trending services offerings include:

Event Websites. Your event site should offer attendees the information they need without digging and provide a pleasing user experience. Your digital touch points should offer consistent, relevant content and branding from registration through the app onsite. M&IW works with you to ensure your users will have a seamless, cohesive experience from registering on a desktop computer to checking event updates on their phone or tablet.

Mobile Apps. Today, mobile apps are a necessity, instead of a novelty. They enhance attendees’ event experience, increase engagement, and deliver measurable results. Users have all the information they need at their fingertips. This may include a personal welcome message from leadership, personalized agendas and targeted feature sections, immediate alerts regarding sessions and/or schedule changes, and more. In addition, mobile apps offer extra engagement features, such as live polling, instant messaging, “gamification,” such as trivia and scavenger hunts, and photo galleries to build and sustain excitement.

ARS Moderation. Questions and polling is a great way to get valuable feedback in real-time. Our ARS moderation service works directly with speakers to educate them on the polling/Q&A Crowd Sourcing Moderation service, as well as building the polls and executing it onsite. In addition, reporting will be available post-event, making the data actionable quickly.

Matchmaking (appointment scheduling). When you have information, a product, or service that the client needs, it’s important to make a connection to answer questions and ensure conversions. M&IW’s appointment scheduling will create the business rules needed to facilitate the right match based on the client’s requirements. This makes it both effective and efficient for both our clients and their customers.

Incentive Reclamation Website. Our team will work with you to build a website that can track points and give visibility rights to participant progress based on role definition within a hierarchy. This point tracking can be a simple leaderboard user interface to track who qualifies for a trip or for a cash payout, or it can qualify the participants to be able to select certain items in an online catalog. It’s a clean, easy-to-navigate interface will help ensure engagement.

Mobile App Video Production. Make your event electrifying with video! It’s easy and cost-effective with M&IW. With our video production “lite” package, we’ll send a specialist onsite to record, edit, and create a 4k quality video that can be shown at closing ceremonies or divided into snippets that can be shown throughout the week to give the event an extra boost of excitement. This is a great option for clients who want the cutting-edge production element, but have conservative budgets.

On Arrival. Using Cvent software, this service offers attendees the freedom to check themselves in using a tablet device and a wireless printer. It’s a high-tech way for attendees to self-register and cut down on long lines, helping to improve attendees’ overall event experience. (Note: When using On Arrival, clients will need to provide hardware.)

Event in a Box. Offering the ultimate in convenience for smaller events with less than 500 attendees. Cvent’s Event in a Box includes the check-in tablets, printers and will ship all the hardware to your event. Minimal set up and assembly required.

EM-Array / Educational Measures. Gain valuable insights from your attendees with live meeting engagement technology. Capture and keep audience attention with the most usable interactive system. Engage attendees with more than 25 interactive features. And, measure and improve the effectiveness of your live event.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Give your event a special, fun edge with this cool new tech. Use the AR (augmented reality) portion as a high-tech passport program. Or, use VR (virtual reality) to transport your attendees to alternate locations. The possibilities are virtually endless!

Through innovation in design and skill, M&IW’s event tech team will help our clients:

  • Create high-impact, engaging and memorable technology experiences that are complementary and seamless with the overall event design.
  • Provide attendees a streamlined event experience, mitigating confusion and hassle and increasing engagement.
  • Easily integrate new trends and features into established platforms, helping clients move forward and stay ahead of the pack.
  • Providing thoughtful consultation by truly embracing and understanding the event design and offering innovative technology solutions that make sense.

Learn more, stay connected, and get started:

Interested in hearing more from Tim? He will be presenting Epic Technology Approaches that Create REAL Immersive Experiences at NEXT ’18 hosted by MPI-CAC in Chicago on March 8, 2018. This is a can’t miss one-day educational conference bringing together meeting planners, event producers, and design and experience gurus, to learn from the leading authorities in areas from planning techniques and strategies, to the latest cutting-edge tech trends. Visit NEXT’18 to learn more and register.

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Using the latest technology can help your event go off smoothly and ensure attendees have a memorable event experience. With so many new offerings, our EVENT TECHNOLOGY team will work with you to develop strategic solutions and the tech tools you need to boost your ROI and make your event a success. Receive the latest news about emerging event technologies directly to your inbox, SUBSCRIBE to our mailing list. Or, CONTACT US and let us know how our team can be of service.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Incentive Travel Programs, Program Management & Event Design

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What You Need to Know About Apple’s App Rule

Apple App Store Container Rule

Written by Tim LaFleur | Director, Event Technology

If you have used a branded mobile app for your event, or are considering one for a future program, you have most likely heard about the new Apple App Store container rule that is shaking up the industry. More and more of our clients are incorporating mobile apps for a richer and more engaging experience for their attendees. So, understandably, they have asked us what this means and what can they expect? The simple answer – it depends. But, let’s break it down.

What does the rule say?
In June, at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference, they announced changes to their App Review Guidelines. Of specific interest was Section 4.2.6: “Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected.”

What does the new policy mean?
There continues to be debate as each app company has their own take based on their reading of the rule and/or subsequent conversations with Apple. On the face, it appears providers will no longer be able to submit “one off” single branded event apps into the App Store. While this rule is broad and far reaching it in part touches all app development companies in some way.

As it pertains to our industry, it is widely believed this was put into place to clean up the App Store from many outdated or orphaned apps in preparation for the launch of their new store and have more control (i.e. not unlike the Play Store “Cover Letter” policy from earlier this year). Conference app companies are responding in a variety of ways based on their understanding of the rule. Most of the thoughts swirling around fall into one of three buckets.

Thought 1:
The most common thinking is that event apps now publicly distributed in the App Store will have to go into a larger container app. And, it would need to be a container app branded by the development company versus the event host. This has led some to proclaim that the death of the white labeled single event app is at hand. Additionally, there are concerns over the loss of event branding and security since all apps are placed in one container. In response conference app companies are working hard to mitigate the security concern with shortcuts directly to your specific app inside the container. However, the loss of event branding remains a very real concern for event marketing professionals.

Thought 2:
Some app companies have interpreted this rule less about whether the app is created by a commercialized template or app generation service, and more about whose Apple License is being used. There is a thought that if the app is being published from the event host’s Apple Developer License it will be allowed as either a multi or single event branded app. Others, while they agree in theory, they do not see it as being as broad as this. They feel there are boundaries to this approach.

• App must be published from company or organization’s developer account
• Needs to be a container app and have at least five (5) events included
• May only have one (1) container per organization
• After a few are published, organization will start seeing rejections from Apple

Thought 3:
And, last thought is “our apps are customized and they all differ.” They believe there is enough customization and uniqueness so their apps to not be affected by this rule. However, I am unsure if this philosophy holds true. As I understand it, there will be three main checks Apple will do make sure an app is not coming from a commercialized template or app generation service.

So, what now?
The deadline for this rule to take effect was initially September 30, 2017. However, Apple extended the deadline to December 24, 2017. This is a very nuanced and evolving situation so I would encourage anyone who already has an agreement with an app company to engage with them regarding their interpretation and how they are handling it. Even if you have already spoken with your app company, you might want to re-engage regarding what might have changed since your first conversation to see what other options exist for distribution such as private distribution versus public distribution. Have a backup plan should they be wrong in their interpretation of the rule.

How we can help…
As a third-party event planning company who specializes in mobile design, we are in a unique position because we work with and have been in conversations with many different app providers. They all believe theirs is the perfect solution. Yet, no two companies have the same interpretation. Ultimately, the goal is to mitigate risk of app rejection by crafting a plan to cover several different scenarios. If you have questions, concerns, comments or just want to know how we believe this rule may affect your event, based on all of the differing philosophies and approaches, contact me directly at tlafleur@meetings-incentives.com.

 

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Program Management & Event Design

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Negotiated Hotel Group Rates versus Online Deals

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Written by Lisa Palmeri | Vice President, Global Enterprise Solutions

It’s the thrill of the chase, and ultimately the deal, that leads one to scour the internet for the best possible price on a hotel room. I admit to thoroughly enjoying this challenge which often leads to prolonged research, not unlike that of a scientist researching a new theory or invention. With a myriad of hotel booking sites from which to capture that holy grail of accomplishments – the cheapest room rate – it’s no wonder group rates are often perceived as overpriced. So why are professionally negotiated rates sometimes higher than a room rate any consumer can readily book online?

It boils down to simple math and sophisticated revenue management. Online pricing applies to limited inventory which fluctuates hour by hour based on the volume of internet booking activity. Hotels offer different prices based on the type of room (single, double, suite), the view (ocean, parking lot), weekday versus weekend, and other factors. Hotel revenue managers are constantly monitoring their daily income and inventory. Revenue management software works behind the scenes looking at past history and predictive behavior to determine how many rooms will be offered at a discount either via the hotel website or online booking channels.

Guestrooms are a perishable commodity so hotels don’t want to miss the opportunity to put “heads in beds.” They want their hotel rooms available for sale in as many online outlets as possible and will offer early-bird online specials. Likewise, as the check-in date draws near and if the hotel has excess inventory, they might offer a deal to stimulate demand. Keep in mind, the most favorable online rates are restrictive; usually non-refundable, need to be purchased immediately and paid in full at the time of purchase.

“While it’s quite easy to find a competitive room rate for one or two rooms, the exercise becomes more difficult when searching for ten or more rooms,” said Denise Farrell, Director, Global Procurement. This is because these group blocks often need meeting space, special amenities, concessions (cost waived items and/or discounts on hotel-provided group services). They also require preferential business and legal terms governing the transaction (company specific hotel addendum) which are especially important for risk mitigation and duty of care. “We had a client incentive program near Naples, Florida the week after Hurricane Irma. The property was not damaged, but the area was severely flooded and their offsite activities impacted. Because of our solid relationship with the hotel and protection clauses in the contract, we were able to reschedule for a later date at no additional cost. Plus, our buyer and program manager, will take care of all the details,” said Denise.

In addition to evaluating the requested dates and space, revenue managers also score the potential group booking based on several factors including, but not limited to:

  • Ratio of guestrooms to meeting space requested – if rooms are few, but space is heavy, room rates may be increased
  • Value of the concessions – every upgrade, waiver and discount has a cost factor
  • Revenue generated by other services – group food and beverage functions, meeting room rental, and spending in other hotel outlets
  • Percentage of the property’s overall inventory that the group booking constitutes
  • Group’s performance history – filling rooms blocked and meeting revenue targets
  • Seasonality and pattern of stay – high demand dates and preferred days of the week
  • Potential to book another, more lucrative group over the same period

Group rates are the result of a rather complex algorithm based on the overall scope and revenue potential of the meeting. It’s a delicate balance. As procurement professionals, we’re also negotiating for favorable terms relating to attrition (reduction of rooms), cancellation policies, payment terms, cut-off dates for rooming list submission, competitors in house, force majeure, mutual indemnification, as well as other business and legal terms.

Professionally sourced group room blocks provide many benefits that a guest may not realize at first glance, thus an explanation of these is recommended when sending out meeting invitations. Common benefits include an upgraded room if the group block was booked in an upgraded category (internet rates are typically offered for standard room types), better amenities (complimentary WiFi, breakfast, parking, late check-out), more flexible payment terms (or billing to a master account if company paid), and heightened duty of care in the event of an emergency, by being associated with a group in which onsite support resources may be available. In the end, the value of professionally procured group room blocks far outweigh the discounted room rate one or two attendees might be able to book online.

It is difficult to make a direct comparison, but important to consider the ease of use, overall value and total cost, not just the room rate. Our award-winning procurement team has unparalleled experience and is results driven. “We maintain a focus on superior site selection/sourcing to secure the optimal venues and best-in-class contract negotiation to ensure your event budget produces the highest value to meet your expectations. We leverage our depth of experience, rigorous processes, superior technology, industry relationships and buying power to contract the best rates and terms for your program and organization,” said Denise. Interested in learning more about how our team can save you both time and money, contact us directly at marketing@meetings-incentives.com.

Posted in: Company News, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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The Art and Science of Data for Meetings Management

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Written by Marie Johnson, CMP | Director of Marketing and Strategy

Data is key to a successful meetings management program. But the larger question is how to make sense of the data and gain insights to drive decisions that can positively impact your organization. This is where the art and science aspect comes into play. Data science is about methods, processes, and systems to extract knowledge from data in various forms. More sophisticated analytical skills also require more sophisticated visual presentation skills. It is important to combine elements of design, such as harmony, rhythm, flow, balance, and focus, together in appropriate proportions to convey the messages in interesting and informative ways that grab and keep the attention of your audience.

In practice, the art of data for meetings management is often a team sport. The creative process includes divergent thinking, which involves the generation of multiple answers to a problem; conceptual blending, in which solutions arise from the intersection of different frames of reference; and, honing, in which an acceptable solution emerges from iterating over many successive unacceptable versions of the solution. The art is the ability to bring together individuals with diverse backgrounds, look at things differently, and solve real business challenges.

Then there is this idea of “big data.” But, what exactly is it and how does it relate to meetings management? In 2001, Gartner analyst Doug Laney came up with the famous three V’s of volume, variety and velocity of data that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. In 2011, Gartner expanded this to definition of data management. “Big data” is high-volume, -velocity and -variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing for enhanced insight and decision making.

But it’s not the amount of data that’s most important. It is what organizations do with their data that matters. Business Intelligence (BI) technologies can handle large amounts of structured and sometimes unstructured data to help identify, develop and otherwise create new strategic business opportunities. They also provide a historical, current and predictive view of business operations. Whereas business intelligence comprises the set of strategies, processes, applications and technical architectures used to support the collection, data analysis, presentation and dissemination of business information.

Recently, Lisa Palmeri, Vice President of Global Enterprise Solutions with Meetings & Incentives Worldwide and Linsey Giant, Technical Event Consultant with Anthem, presented on this topic at Cvent Connect 2017. Specifically, they focused on leveraging BI tools with Cvent and shared their knowledge of meeting management applications such as; team management and workload distribution, benchmarking and strategic decision-making. They discussed the business information that can be gained from meeting data and how to apply those insights and make an impact in your organization. They stressed that acting upon the insights is imperative.

So, the question we are often asked by our clients is how to get started, connect data, tell a story and benefit their organization’s meetings management goals. “In response to an ever-increasing need for business insights, BI software has flooded the market. And, with the benefits of BI being numerous and the cost of not having BI growing, it is easy to want to quickly adopt a solution,” said Mona Lebied, Online Marketing with Datapine. But, she also cautions this approach could be disastrous and investing in BI shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Understanding what drives success in your organization is tough stuff, and you should not expect to get it right the first time. It is an iterative process. And, before you get started you need a strategy and roadmap if you are looking to launch and manage your business intelligence. Even the best BI software needs some initial heavy lifting to maximize its potential. It involves stakeholders, sponsors, technology, data cleansing, KPIs, the right tool and/or partner, and a phased approach according to Lebied.

M&IW was on the verge of working with a third party to create a data warehouse. However, what we learned is that the effort is always in construction. ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) is a process in data warehousing responsible for pulling data out of the source systems, normalizing the data, cleaning, applying filters, loading it into the data repository for other reporting applications and then pulling data to run queries,” said Lisa.

Duplicating the data in a DW and transporting data from multiple sources to a centralized repository eats up network bandwidth and time and consumes endless CPU cycles in the transformation process. Whereas, in a BI system, you leave the data in the sources where it exists. BI without a DW is a valid approach for some organizations if you trust the raw data in your systems. You are then essentially creating a virtualized data warehouse environment that allows for continuous data loading for dynamic elements that can render real-time dashboards and scorecards. You are not dealing with huge volumes of data. You are extracting only what you need to answer the business question at hand.

There are a lot of BI technologies in the marketplace and this is not an endorsement of any one tool. We determined DOMO to be the best solution based on our needs and requirements. One of the benefits of using DOMO is early “dirty data” detection. We can apply business rules to a meeting request and see if the results don’t look right at the time of extract. This helps to ensure the data is going in correctly.

Columns and rows are great for storing data, but not for telling stories. Whereas the Domo card builder interprets the data and suggests how to visualize it for maximum impact and clarity. Or, a multitude of other options for charts, cards and more are available essentially making complex data sets consumable and meaningful for answering a specific business question. Dynamic cards allow for instant filtering, date range updates and can be readily shared.

By way of example, let’s say we want to answer what was the average hotel rate for programs held in the United States in 2016? We source thousands of hotels representing hundreds of thousand contracted room nights annually. For this exercise, Domo is connected to three data sources, two through Cvent and one flat file in a financial system. Those three data sources are 579 MBs of flow. And, after the output it represents only 21MBs which is much more manageable.

Because it notifies us of missing data points, null values, or invalid data, nothing falls through the cracks. In our example above, the average negotiated domestic rate was showing as $277. But, a quick look at the data revealed that one rate was not divided by the number of individuals so the real average, once the anomaly was fixed, was $198. That is the beauty of having that level of data transparency. There is lots of information we can glean to make decisions. When we look at cost savings, we save the most on sleeping rooms. However, we can dig deeper to see where are the best opportunities for additional savings for our clients.

Another benefit for us as a third-party is scheduling and assigning workload. We can get a view of our team to see when we have multiple resources out and time constraints to work around. This helps us ensure we are responsive to our clients by assigning an individual that has the bandwidth to fully support the request and meet the deadline. Domo also assists us in continuing to provide world class sourcing services and outperform our competition by using it as a performance monitoring tool in looking at the number of projects per buyer, average hours to contract, cost savings achieved, and more to ensure they are exceeding established goals. “Our clients expect us to be as efficient and productive as possible. And, having a BI strategy and software platform helps us drive results based on facts. It is an iterative process. The more you learn, the more application it has and the more opportunities you have to use it,” said Lisa.

Because of interest we received at Cvent Connect regarding this topic, Lisa presented a follow up webinar in June. It was the first of a two-part series and will be available on demand soon. Or, if you are interested in receiving copy of the presentation or connecting with Lisa, email us at marketing@meetings-incentives.com. The second webinar will take place in September so stay tuned for more information.

 

Posted in: Company News, Data Analytics, Business Intelligence & Consulting, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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