Archive for Incentive Travel Programs

Benefits of Attending IMEX America 2018

conferences, attending, benefits, IMEX, 2018

Written by Anne Zambrano | Marketing Project Lead

Offering dozens of brilliant speakers, days of fresh ideas and continuous inspiration at 180-plus educational and networking events over four days, IMEX America is a must attend event in the industry. M&IW had a large team of meeting industry professionals within various disciplines attend this year’s event. We couldn’t wait for their return to dive in to discuss their experience, biggest take-aways and how they can use their newfound knowledge to better serve our clients. And, of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t share it with our community.

Here is what our team had to say about IMEX America 2018:

Q. What were your biggest take-aways?

“Networking! It was so great to meet hoteliers that I book business with regularly and meet new friends at different properties/chains.” – Brianna Barclay – Associate Buyer, Hotel Procurement

“Face to face communication is still and always will be the best way to do business. In this time of increasing efficiencies, email and phone are going to be our primary modes of communication, but it is fundamental to build relationships and live meetings help us to better communicate the needs of our client, as well as sharing our issues, concerns and successes.” – Natalie Spacco, HMCC – Sr. Buyer & Team Lead, Hotel Procurement

“It was amazing to see the respect our partners and colleagues have for our organization. I felt a lot of love for M&IW. It was priceless experiencing the interactions our entire team had with other attendees and suppliers.” – Christine Matias, MA – Director, Program Management

Q. What were the newest trends or hot topics that were widely discussed?

“Busy, busy, busy. All hotels, especially US hotels, expressed that the industry is busier than ever and have very little availability for large programs through 2020. Some hotels could name only one or two weeks in the entire 2020 calendar year where they knew they had availability.” – Natalie Spacco, HMCC – Sr. Buyer & Team Lead, Hotel Procurement

“It was apparent that wellness and self-care are definitely an emerging event trend. There was a dedicated meditation and self-care room that was available during the entire conference. There were two rooms with low lights, essential oils and sound-proofing. One room featured padded mats and pillows. The other room featured quiet stations that allowed for intimate discussions. An amazing moment of calm to escape the event chaos for a moment if needed.” – Sarah Piggott, CMP – Meeting & Tradeshow Specialist, Attendee Registration
“I loved the cool custom-made gifts. They displayed amazing samples at IMEX and were super impressive with the level of customization that we do for our clients.” – Christine Matias, MA – Director, Program Management

Q. What was your favorite moment during the event?

“The concert put on by Marriott! All acts were amazing – but Journey was my favorite!” – Brianna Barclay – Associate Buyer, Hotel Procurement

“I greatly enjoyed having a special dinner with my host group and learning about hotels in special destinations in Asia and Europe. Several in which I will have a chance to visit in person over the next year.” – Natalie Spacco, HMCC – Sr. Buyer & Team Lead, Hotel Procurement

“Being invited to toast the anniversaries and success with two of our valued partners. It was very cool to be considered a special partner and be valued to be present at those moments.” – Christine Matias, MA – Director, Program Management

Q. How did the event help you grow in your area of expertise?

“This event helped me grow because it allowed me time face-to-face with hotels that I do not see on a regular basis. It gave me time to create a deeper partnership with that hotel/sales manager that will benefit both my client and the hotel. We also were able to brainstorm ways to make the small meetings fit within the hotel as well as work for my client.” – Brianna Barclay – Associate Buyer, Hotel Procurement

“Making face-to face connections and shaking hands really solidifies many of my partnerships. Now we are able to communicate and work together on a more personal level which makes business that much easier and more effective. We have a better sense of TEAM and partnership.” – Christine Matias, MA – Director, Program Management

“I came home with much more information than I had when I left. It helps to sit down with a hotel and see visuals of the property and how that property could be a potential good fit for my groups. Learning about location of the hotel and what is nearby for groups for offsite events, dinner, and shopping was an added bonus!” – Jennifer Kamps – Buyer, Hotel Procurement

“By meeting face-to-face with so many of our supplier partners and expanding my relationships and connections in the industry, I feel this will directly improve my ability to find good availability and negotiate on behalf of my clients. I also expanded my knowledge of legal issues on Smart Monday and learned about some new destinations.” – Natalie Spacco, HMCC – Sr. Buyer & Team Lead, Hotel Procurement

In Closing:

M&IW is committed to the professional development and personal enrichment of our team members. The focused nature of learning at a conference gives our team members tools and skills which cannot be taught in-house or online. The recurring theme we hear is the ability to network. There is no direct message, Skype, email or tweet that can rival a face to face meet up. Social media makes it easy for us to stay connected with our current network, but it also hinders branching out and expanding our networks.

As an innovative organization, it is imperative for us to stay on top of emerging trends and positive changes in our industry. So, keep an eye out for our team at other industry-leading events. Upcoming conferences are posted on our homepage. If you want to set up a time to connect with any of our team members attending, email us at marketing@meetings-incentives.com.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Event Marketing & Communications, Incentive Travel Programs, Program Management & Event Design, Sourcing, Negotiating & Contracting

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Group Airline Tickets: Cost Versus Value

Cheap Group Airline Tickets Versus Value

Written by Staci Simmons | Manager, Marketing Communications & Creative Services

Booking flights seems easy enough for an experienced traveler, but what about booking group airline tickets? Those who commonly travel for work know a thing or two about shortcuts and “road warriors” may have some ideas on how to manage the process:

  • Setting up flight alerts to find the best travel routes
  • Researching more than one online platform for the lowest rate
  • Going directly to the airlines to take advantage of unique offerings
  • Booking through your organization’s online travel platform or preferred portal

These are all great front-end tactics for booking flights—the internet is a powerful tool. It takes a bit of time and logistics to build the best flight itinerary for the price—but it’s worth it. And, we agree.

Managing group airline tickets, on the other hand, is a beast unto itself. Professional travel agents will tell you that organizing multiple itineraries, arrivals, and departures around fixed events takes patience, dedication and a lot of coordination. It is a time-consuming affair, and the event will start whether your team is there or not.

Consider the time invested in building the perfect flight itinerary using online tools for just you and a guest. Now multiply that by 100 or 1,000 attendees. It’s safe to assume that your time is better spent on other endeavors; marketing, sales, operations, management, compliance. And again, we agree.

This is where the need for value quickly overrides the lowest price available. Value is not about booking the cheapest airfare for a few individuals, it is about:

  • Managing and booking your entire group’s flights within budget
  • Coordinating multiple connections from multiple locations
  • Ensuring your guests arrive safely and on time
  • Problem-solving when flights are over-booked, delayed or canceled
  • Communicating with on-site staff regarding air changes
  • Updating hotel accommodations and ground transportation with arrival and departure information
  • Hands-on care and personal support for each traveler
  • Accurate reporting on air expenses and cost savings for your group

Coordinating flight arrangements for your meeting, conference or incentive program can take considerable effort. Luckily, M&IW’s group air department has you covered. All of our group air coordinators have previously worked for an airline, and collectively, average more than 10 years’ experience. We’ve built the relationships needed to manage the intricacies of group travel successfully. Let us show you how.

Visit www.meetings-incentives.com or contact a team member at (262) 835-3553 to learn more about M&IW’s group air services.

Posted in: Company News, Conferences & Tradeshows, Event Marketing & Communications, Group Air Travel Management, Incentive Travel Programs, Program Management & Event Design

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M&IW’s Alexander deHilster Joins BizBash Hall of Fame

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

Alexander deHilster is one of the most talented event designers in the industry. His list of accomplishments, customer accolades and awards spans more than 20 years. In 2011, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Illinois Meetings & Events Magazine. And, fast forward to September 12, 2018 live at the BizBash Hall of Fame ceremony in Chicago, I was able to catch up with Alexander to ask him about his humble beginnings, favorites design projects, and how it feels to join an elite group of professionals.

In response to what contributed most to his success, he replied “thinking out of the box, coming up with crazy stuff and working with amazing vendors who help me bring my visions alive.” Read the full interview below.

Q. When did you first get started in the events industry? Was it a calling or did it happen by chance?

My first “event” was organizing a 5K run/walk at the age of 15 when I didn’t know that event planning existed. I worked as a volunteer at a youth organization who wanted to host an event to raise money and they needed someone to plan it. Event planning has been a natural fit for me. I’m sure I got it from my parents (well, not the cooking part as I can’t cook, but do love food) as they hosted large parties at our home for 50 or more guests. Each party had a different theme, my dad would cook for days a meal that fit the theme, my mom managed all the logistics, and guests would arrive dressed the part. But, the first real event I planned was 22 years ago when I moved to New Orleans and worked for a DMC, Travel New Orleans.

Q. Of all your events, which one was your favorite or stands out from the rest?

I’m always asked that question and it is hard. It’s like, who is your favorite child, or in my case, which one is your favorite dog. They are all my favorites for different reasons. However, there are three or four that do stand out the most in my long career. And, two were for the same client.

1. A fundraiser at Finkl Steel, a working steel factory. While trucks came through delivering steel and cranes and saws would move the steel and cut them in pieces, we were setting up our event. It took about a week. We built a 30’ volcano out of wood, with build-in screens for projectors and dancers behind them and fireworks coming out of the top. 40’ doors to separate one space from the next space. Hanging sushi buffet stations of ice for cocktails, a never-ending flow of entertainment on a multi-level stage, with a gospel choir, Dave Brubeck and others.

2. Same client, but now at Green Dolphin Street. The club is open each day till 2 am. On a Friday I had moving trucks ready outside till the last guests left. Our event was to be on Saturday night at 7 pm. All tables, chairs and banquets (yes, they needed be unscrewed from the walls), all existing light fixtures and chandeliers removed. The bar was covered with a stage for additional seating, custom chandeliers with florals hanging at the bottom of each chandelier strategically placed above each of the 6-tops and the existing stage covered in white vinyl. The Green Dolphin Street sign covered with a custom sign and the entire building covered in red silk – ala Christo.

3. The Library Club was transformed into a very elegant room with one long dining table seating 60 guests. Over a dozen projectors were used, evenly placed on the left and right side of the room, to project still and moving images onto the curved ceiling. Each projector only showed a portion of the image and all images had to blend together to make it look like one. It took forever to get them all focused correctly. The theme was a culinary journey through France with different imagery for each portion of the night and with each of the 7 courses being served. From full day time, to sun set, champagne cellars for the toast, a display of the windows of the Notre Dame in Paris, lavender fields for the dessert, ceiling covered in roses while “la vie en rose” was performed and a ‘fireworks’ display after the awards program was over.

4. My last one was at the Geraghty and the theme was “Under the Cosmic Sea.” It was a blend of “space” and the bottom of the “sea.” All very organic. Floor to ceiling projections surrounded the entire room, with constantly changing images, a 55’ round and 15’ tall aluminum structure placed in the middle of the room through which guests could walk through, covered in stretch fabric, underneath it hundreds of feet of ropes through which video imagery and lights were sent, over-sized sea anemones and a humongous octopus enveloping the aluminum structure. With the shiny floors and all the tables covered in mirrors, no matter where you were in the room, lights and images were constantly changing and reflected onto every surface. That’s probably my most favorite event.

Q. How does it feel to inducted into the BizBash Hall of Fame?

Amazing. I was speechless when BizBash called me. I don’t like being in the spotlight, unless I’m the one asking for it. I’m the behind the scenes person to make it all happen. Most of my very décor driven events, I’ll stay to the side at the entrance to a room and listen and look at how guests respond to see how well I did.

For more information about BizBash and the Hall of Fame inductees, CLICK HERE. Please join us in congratulating Alexander DeHilster, Event Design Manager with M&IW, and the other honorees for their contributions to our industry.

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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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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How Great Gifting Experiences Elevate Incentives

Written by Anne Zambrano | Marketing Project Lead

One of the things we are so passionate about at M&IW is creating amazing experiences. We are always on the search for partners who bring the very best and help elevate programs and the incentive experience. Hence, when our Director of Incentives, Tracy Norum, CMP, CIS, thought of the idea of showcasing an incentive gifting experience at our annual M&IW summit, our team didn’t hesitate! M&IW Summit is now just over a week away and we are beyond excited that one of our valued gifting experience partners, Cultivate, is joining us and showcasing a fun, unique and custom gifting experience. We wish we could tell you what it is but it is a surprise! (Stay tuned for a post update after the event to find out or follow us at #miwsummit to see it revealed live next Wednesday, August 8th.)

What we can share with you is how adding a gifting experience to your program makes the program meaningful for guests and partnering with the right partner makes all the difference. We chose Cultivate because they shine at making the process easy for planners with a turnkey service and featuring brands that the attendees and guests love. To dig a bit deeper, we asked the President of Cultivate, Tom Romine, three simple questions to help us showcase how great gifting experiences elevate events and incentive programs.

Tell us about your mission and how your gifting service elevates events and incentive programs?

Our core purpose is to work together to appreciate and inspire amazing people. In other words, we want to make sure those attending an event or who earned that fantastic incentive trip truly feel appreciated. One way we believe this can be accomplished is through gifting. Here’s how. With the right amount of choice on-site (of course guests should be able to select their own gift), to brands guests aspire to own (but wouldn’t necessarily purchase for themselves), to an item(s) they will use frequently – these types of gifts will often remind guests of the program they attended or incentive trip they earned, long after the event concludes.

How do you feel that your gifting service adds value when motivating employees and creating amazing experiences?

When guests arrive at our gift experience, they instantly feel transported to a beautiful boutique where the level of service is top-notch and the atmosphere is fun and inviting. When it comes to gift programs, it’s as much about making memories as it is the gifts given. Yes, we have a second to none brand selection, bold and modern displays, but what we do best is create the experience for everyone in attendance.

How do you feel that your gifting experience empowers employees and organizations?

When the gift experience is memorable and guests return home, we’ve learned they’re often asked by their friends and family, “Hey, where did you get those new sunglasses?” It’s in this moment where they can talk about the hard work they do for a great company, the incentive trip they earned and why they earned it, and how proud they feel to belong to an organization that appreciates and inspires them. Appreciation and inspiration are the cornerstones of empowerment after all!

With the experience economy still in full effect and coupled with the fact that today’s consumer wants everything brought right to their fingertips instantly, either through online shopping, meal and grocery delivery services and the like, today’s incentive experiences need to bring all of these dynamics together to create a great experience. It is becoming more challenging to elevate and WOW the incentive attendee. However, that is where creativity, service and presentation come into play. These are factors that will never go out of style when creating the epic experience!

We are excited to bring our attendees and clients this experience at our M&IW Summit. Stay tuned for an update on the experience! We can’t wait to share it with all of you!

Posted in: Company News, Event Marketing & Communications, Event Technology & Mobility Solutions, Incentive Travel Programs, Program Management & Event Design

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M&IW Destination Spotlight – Puglia, Italy

Written by Mary Enke | Creative Lead & Senior Buyer, Incentive Services

The M&IW Global Incentive Services Team recently completed an extremely well-received and successful sales incentive program for a large pharmaceutical company in Puglia, Italy. Our team was so impressed with this unique and emerging destination that we wanted to highlight it for our community.

About Puglia
Relatively untouched by tourism, the beautiful region of Puglia is located in southeastern Italy. This area, the “heel” of the peninsula, is known for its wealth of beaches, olive gardens, orchids, blue sea, friendly locals and long sunny days with an average of 300 sunny days per year.

Some notables about the area include:

  • The area combines culture, leisure, architecture and resort beaches
  • Situated between the Ionian and Adriatic Seas
  • Largely unexplored landscape of unique villages and undiscovered culture
  • Access via two airports: Bari and Brindisi with under an hour transfer via coach

Best Time to Visit: 
The best time to visit is between May and September when the average highs range from 71 – 78 degrees. The area experiences relatively low precipitation all year long with only 2-3 inches per month.

M&IW Recommended Property: 
The Borgo Egnazia which opened in May 2012 is modeled after a traditional Apulian village with its striking architecture and unique, contemporary style. Its central piazza, the Borgo, is the heart of the property. Onsite activities include golf, bicycles, horseback riding, tennis, yoga, spa, beach and water sports.

M&IW Recommended Off-site Activities: 

The area boosts a unique opportunity to experience the Italian way of life and culture. Some of our favorite activities to do just that include:

  • Castellana Grottos Cave Tour
  • Cooking classes with world renowned Italian Chefs
  • San Domenico Golf Club
  • Locorotondo with Olive Oil Tasting
  • Ostuni White City Adventure
  • Ancient Egnazia Ruins Excursion
  • Ancient Matera Adventure – “City of Stones”
  • Castel Del Monte Castle | Winery Lunch
  • Explore Roman Castles and Cathedrals

Looking to take it up a notch? Consider adding another destination to the program for an added experience! Options for Dual Destination Programs include the Amalfi Coast, Rome, Tuscany, and France. Our Global Incentive Services team is happy to assist you with your next destination search or answer any questions you may have about a location. To connect with one of our incentive team experts, please email us at marketing@meetings-incentives.com. And, be sure to stay tuned for more Destination Spotlights!

Posted in: Company News, Group Air Travel Management, Incentive Travel Programs, 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

Blog - 7 Secrets to Professionally Managed Meetings.png

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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