Posts Tagged Hotel Sourcing

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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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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Why Certify? A Closer Look at the Value of the CIS

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Written by Anne Zambrano | Manager, Communications & Creative Services

As members of M&IW’s Global Procurement team and Incentive Buyers descend upon Las Vegas (aka Sin City) for #IMEX16, we thought we would take a closer look at the Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) and the value this designation brings our team and our clients. In my discovery, I had the privilege to interview select members of our Global Incentive & Event Services team, specifically Tracy Norum, CMP, CIS, Director; Beth Reetz, CIS, Senior Incentive Buyer; and Senior Program Managers, Cara Turkowski, CIS and Katie Wiesner, CIS.

Let’s hear what they had to say….

A More Knowledgeable and Connected Team

By an overwhelming majority, one of the first benefits served up by each team member was that the CIS designation brought with it a new and valuable network of fellow incentive travel professionals. Cara put it best when she stated, “The class for the certification was a really great way to connect with others in the industry. It is especially helpful when planning international programs, as there are many destination management companies from around the world involved. It reassures me when partnering with them that they take incentive programs as serious as we do.”

The certification process brought incentive professionals with varied experience levels and skill sets together. The group cited that they learned a great deal simply by sharing best practices with each other during the course. Additionally, the more seasoned professionals, such as our M&IW team members, were called upon to share their insights and experiences with the group. This allowed for different vantage points from all around the world.

Katie pointed out that on a day-to-day basis the resources made available to CIS designees are extremely beneficial. The reference materials and newsletters keep the team current on destinations, new hot properties, popular CSR activities and industry insights.

A Confident Client

Clients have more confidence that our team is dedicated to incentives. Holding the designation helps M&IW stand out in the global marketplace. Prospective and current clients have noticed the CIS designation at the end of their names and it has sparked conversations about the credentials and dedication to staying educated in the field and building strong worldwide relationships. Tracy explains, “Obtaining the certification shows our commitment to staying on top of the industry. It holds the industry to a set of professional standards and shows that we are pursuing relevant education and looking to the future needs of our incentive clients.”

Beth shared that it has been very helpful having the designation when sourcing incentive programs. Suppliers in the industry recognize and respect the credentials and treat you as a knowledgeable buyer. This allows the buying and negotiation process to be more effective for our clients’ programs and giving them more confidence in the sourcing and contracting process. All in all, the amount of detail and planning that goes into an incentive program takes an experienced and knowledgeable buyer and having the CIS allows the team to perform at a higher level for our clients.

A Satisfied Employee

Investing in employees continuing education goes far deeper than the benefits it brings; it creates a culture of satisfied and fulfilled employees. M&IW has always valued and promoted industry certifications for their employees illustrated by the 65% of planners and account management at M&IW who hold either a CIS, CMP, CMM, HMCC, etc. This focus helps M&IW create promotable associates leading to a more satisfied and productive team. Cara spoke from her first-hand experience when she stated, “It has really opened a lot of doors for me and allowed me to manage more elite incentive programs. The whole experience has changed the way I approach incentive program design and execution.”

“The CIS designation is important for developing incentive professionals as it demonstrates proficiency in the fundamentals of motivational programs. It is helping to raise the quality of professionals in the incentive industry. At M&IW, we believe it shows to our clients and our associates that M&IW truly cares and invests in the professional development and advancement of our team.” Tracy Norum, CMP, CIS.

A Final Thought

Obtaining designations such as the CIS take time and investment, however, the return is multi-faceted. Invest in your employees’ education and they will invest more in your clients and be leaders among their peers when sharing best practices and resources.

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

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