You Are How You Eat

As a long-time world traveler, I’ve been able to learn country customs and observe and practice acceptable local behavioral customs in order to avoid accidentally offending the locals. For example, when traveling overseas, you should never assume you can eat and drink like you do in the U.S.  Some things that we practice here in the U.S. could be negatively misconstrued overseas.

A recent USA Today article on culinary customs was very helpful and truthful.  There are many other resources available--both online and in print--that you can use as a reference before you leave on a business trip or meeting.  It is always helpful and much appreciated, too, when you can share some of these tips with travelers going overseas for business--via your travel management company or intranet portals.

One of the ways to start to change the perception of the culturally insensitive American is to be more sensitive and make an attempt at respecting local cultures and traditions.

It starts with us!

Do you have any tips on how to show respect for other cultures while on business trips? Please share your best practices here.

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Are You Tactically Excellent or a Corporate Strategist? How to Survive a Workforce Reduction

Lanyon's Kevin Iwamoto Offers Tips on Staying Relevant in Today's Travel and Meetings Industry WorkforceI just got off the phone with yet another good, industry friend who's lost their job. It’s very sad to see companies make misguided decisions about the value and worth of their employees. 

One piece of advice that I always offer as counsel to travel buyers, meeting planners and senior managers is this: the times when we were valued for tactical proficiency and for certifications from  various industry associations has changed.  Those valuable certifications mean a lot to the people who have earned them. But let’s be clear, in today's marketplace it’s not a guarantee that the certification stamp of excellence and proficiency is enough to keep your job and position. 

Companies, in an effort to reduce their operating costs, are always looking to outsource or downgrade their employee ranks.  At a former Fortune 50 company where I previously worked, senior management was actually evaluating the true cost of delivering an “A” grade travel program.  Our CFO actually asked for savings numbers about delivering a “B” grade travel program versus the existing “A” grade program! 

While companies are looking to evaluate the outsourcing expertise of travel and meeting functions to save a dime, the one thing they aren’t doing is evaluating those who are viewed as strategic managers.  They will outsource the tactical employees, but they're less ready to cut loose the strategic ones.  It also doesn’t matter what grade level these positions are; in fact, the higher the pay grade, the more vulnerable you are in terms of job scope.  People who have retained their higher level titles and accepted pay raises throughout the years without accepting more scope of responsibilities also tend to be made redundant.  In other words, if you have a high-grade title like Director or Vice President, etc. you need to constantly demonstrate your worth by overseeing more areas in order to justify the pay grade and title.

Speaking of titles, you should seriously consider modifying your titles in order to avoid being pigeon-holed as a one dimensional contributor who can only manage travel or meetings.  Some very creative folks in our business use a title descriptive like “Employee Mobility Manager.”  A good friend of mine who works for a tech company and has a high-level position uses GPO (Global Process Owner) as her title. Use the word "Strategy" in your title; it defines you as a key strategic contributor and not a tactical role that could be outsourced.  Think about what you do and how you want that to be perceived--both internally as well as externally.

The bottom line is that you can’t just work in auto-pilot mode.  Companies are constantly reviewing processes, employee staffing, real estate reduction, and other activities to cut costs and increase EBITDA for shareholders and investors.  Always stay vigilant especially if you’ve held a position or managed a travel and/or meetings department for a long period of time.  Look at ways you can stay visibly relevant and increase your scope of responsibilities.  Doing these things will go a long way in keeping you off the workforce reduction lists. 

Do you have any tips on staying relevant in today's travel and meetings industry? Please share here.

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How To Pare Your Budget in a Supplier-Advantaged Marketplace

Lanyon VP Kevin Iwamoto Offers Tips on Paring Event BudgetsWe all know that the Meetings, Events & Travel industry is a cyclical business based primarily on supply and demand.  Unfortunately for buyers, suppliers have held the advantage in negotiations for the last 3 to 4 years.  I was just going to list and share some best practices on how travel and meeting managers can stay within or even below budget, when my friend Kathy Stoodley, director, meetings & events in North America for CWT Meetings & Events, shared her suggestions recently via Ignite! Magazine

I happen to agree with Kathy’s recommendations at a high level:

1-Negotiate smarter, using total spend, not just sleeping rooms and meeting rooms;

2-Book in advance;

3-Broaden your search by considering tertiary or secondary cities, off peak days of the week, and investigate if downgrading the hotel standard is feasible;

4-Leverage current contracted space; now is the time to fully redeploy cancelled or attrition impacted space;

5-Stay closer to home, meet locally or domestically;

6-Reduce attendee counts;

7-Use technology tools like our Meeting Locator that can approximate ballpark destination cost analyses.  It will not only save you and your company a lot of time and research, but it will also document your sourcing process.

8-Reduce the time out of office. You would be amazed at how much you can save if you reduce your meetings by one day or even a half day, which reduces your need for an additional hotel night.

If anyone has any other practical and proven tips, please drop me a line and share your best  practices on staying within budget!

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New Lanyon Research: Companies Can Save Millions With Event Management Best Practices

Lanyon's new infographic shows how companies can save up to $2.2 million per year in event costsAdopting just two event management best practices puts you on the fast track to savings. That’s what a new Lanyon whitepaper concludes after studying 201 event executives at large companies.

The survey, conducted by International Marketing & Technology Solutions, Inc. (IMTS) in the fall of 2013, says that companies that centralize event planning and employ a central meetings policy can reap up to $2.2 million[1] in event savings annually.

That’s a pretty hefty number and hard to ignore! But what’s the best, most efficient way to make those best practices work? The answer: event management software. Event tech automates and centralizes planning across an entire organization. And, helps enforce a central meetings policy by including preferred, negotiated hotel partners in planners’ sourcing choices. 

But how does event tech produce savings? The study found significant majorities of those with centralized event planning processes and a meetings policy in place were able to measure their meetings/travel spend as well as track event spending against event ROI.

For more insights and findings from the survey, check out Lanyon’s colorful, easy to read infographic. And, stay tuned for more on the survey, and a link to download the whitepaper, in a new post next week.

Do you centralize event planning? Have you implemented a central meetings policy? And finally, can you track costs and measure event ROI, as a result? Please share how that’s working for you here.

 

[1] Based on Lanyon customer results: 10-25% average in annual savings with event management software

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Are You Thinking Strategically for 2014?

Lanyon's Kevin Iwamoto Urges Corporate Travel Managers to Think StrategicallyIt looks like, despite a record-breaking winter when the polar vortex and back-to-back snowstorms halted travel across much of the U.S., business travel is expected to continue its surge in 2014. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) recently increased its forecast for the year, driven in large part by healthy corporate profits, rising management confidence and increased job development – all positive signs for the U.S. economy.

U.S. business travel spending is now expected to rise 7.1% in 2014 to $293.3 billion, a substantial upgrade from the 6.6% growth that GBTA predicted last quarter. Total person-trip volume is expected to increase 2.0% to 464.7 million trips, according to the GBTA BTI™ Outlook – United States 2014 Q1. 

- GBTA’s forecast upgrade will be fueled by strong investment in international outbound travel spending, which is now expected to increase 12.9% to $37.2 billion – up from 12.5% growth forecast in Q4.

- GBTA’s outlook for group travel was also revised to increase 7% in 2014 to $126 billion – up from the 6.5% growth GBTA predicted last quarter.

So what does this mean for travel managers and meetings/events?  It means that you need to revisit annualized budgets and spend forecasting -- in order to not be “surprised” by executive directives to cut travel and meetings due to the increase in spending and costs.  These increases will affect demand as well as continue to enforce the supplier advantaged marketplace.  Negotiations with key suppliers will continue to be challenging and companies who are not practicing solid SMMP disciplines will be further behind the eight ball in terms of spend management and cost containment.

Now is the perfect time to demonstrate to your executives that you are proactively managing your business category(ies) strategically and not reacting to the marketplace.  In these challenging times, in order to survive, those who are strategic and forward-looking will prevail.

How are you thinking and planning strategically in 2014? Please share here.

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Lanyon Makes SMM Easier and Increases Event Engagement with SMART EVENTS Cloud Product Enhancements – Q1 2014

The below blog post is from Cece Salomon-Lee, Director of Product Marketing, Lanyon.

With Spring in the air, we wanted to highlight some product releases we’ve completed in Q1 2014 to get your meetings and events going. These product enhancements are part of our vision for the SMART EVENTS™ Cloud from Lanyon, which brings event marketing and strategic meetings management together into a single platform.

Making SMM Easier for Planners

Planners will be able to more efficiently plan, review meeting budgets and manage their meetings and events with our leading strategic meetings management solution – StarCite®. This includes:

 

 Small Meetings 2.5 - Your SMM Starter Kit from Lanyon

Small Meetings 2.5 - Your SMM Starter Kit

  • Introducing Small Meetings 2.5 – Your SMM Starter Kit: Small Meetings 2.5 is an easy-to-use tool, the perfect entry point for beginning a strategic meetings management program (SMMP). Create, source, and manage attendees for any simple meeting, while gaining full visibility into all your meetings from a single solution – the SMART EVENTS Cloud.
  • StarCite Spend Management:
    • Auto-flow Contracted RFP Data into Budget Module: Administrator-level users can set up how contracted RFP data – plus updates to contracted RFPs - will automatically be reflected in the budget module, saving users time.
    • Packaged Pricing for RFPs: If a supplier is providing packaged pricing, such as Daily Delegate Rate (DDR) and Complete Meeting Package (CMP), the packaged pricing will now be shown in the RFP response. This enables users to more easily compare RFP responses with packaged or a la carte pricing.
  • StarCite Meeting Locator: Users now have the ability to leverage their own air and sleeping room cost data to optimize the best meeting location for their meetings. This provides customers a more accurate location based on their own actual costs and negotiated rates!

Increase Audience Engagement Onsite and via Mobile

Event marketers are consistently seeking ways to increase audience engagement onsite and via mobile. Conference, event management solution designed for large, complex conferences, introduces new mobile features that will help drive this engagement:

Mobile Event Updates from Conference, Event Management Solution

Conference - What's Next (left) and Microblog (right) features

  • Microblog – a new Microblog feature lets users post comments and reply to previously posted comments. If desired, the event marketer can create a Bad Words list, use a report to hide inappropriate comments or keep all comments private to the event. Perfect for those events wanting to add “Twitter-like” functionality for private events.
  •  “What’s Next” feature - displays a list of upcoming sessions that will begin in the next two hours, as well as sessions that started within the last 15 minutes. Participants can now focus on attending the sessions they want versus trying to figure out what’s happening onsite.
  • Mobile Session Access Control (SAC) – while this feature was released at the end of last year, we didn’t have a chance to highlight it during the holidays. With Mobile SAC, session room staff can use hand-held mobile devices to control attendee access to sessions. The Mobile SAC solution uses a Samsung Galaxy Notebook II device configured to scan QR codes, 1D bar code, or NFC encoded badges, freeing your staff from plugged in hardware!

Share your ideas and thoughts on features below in the comments.

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Lanyon Makes SMM Easier and Increases Event Engagement with SMART EVENTS Cloud Product Enhancements – Q1 2014

With Spring in the air, we wanted to highlight some product releases we’ve completed in Q1 2014 to get your meetings and events going. These product enhancements are part of our vision for the SMART EVENTS™ Cloud from Lanyon, which brings event marketing and strategic meetings management together into a single platform.

Making SMM Easier for Planners

Planners will be able to more efficiently plan, review meeting budgets and manage their meetings and events with our leading strategic meetings management solution – StarCite®. This includes:

Small Meetings 2.5 - Your SMM Starter Kit

  • Introducing Small Meetings 2.5 – Your SMM Starter Kit: Small Meetings 2.5 is an easy-to-use tool, the perfect entry point for beginning a strategic meetings management program (SMMP). Create, source, and manage attendees for any simple meeting, while gaining full visibility into all your meetings from a single solution – the SMART EVENTS Cloud.
  • StarCite Spend Management:
    • Auto-flow Contracted RFP Data into Budget Module: Administrator-level users can set up how contracted RFP data – plus updates to contracted RFPs - will automatically be reflected in the budget module, saving users time.
    • Packaged Pricing for RFPs: If a supplier is providing packaged pricing, such as Daily Delegate Rate (DDR) and Complete Meeting Package (CMP), the packaged pricing will now be shown in the RFP response. This enables users to more easily compare RFP responses with packaged or a la carte pricing.
  • StarCite Meeting Locator: Users now have the ability to leverage their own air and sleeping room cost data to optimize the best meeting location for their meetings. This provides customers a more accurate location based on their own actual costs and negotiated rates!

Increase Audience Engagement Onsite and via Mobile

Event marketers are consistently seeking ways to increase audience engagement onsite and via mobile. Conference, event management solution designed for large, complex conferences, introduces new mobile features that will help drive this engagement:

Mobile Event Updates from Conference, Event Management Solution

Conference - What's Next (left) and Microblog (right) features

  • Microblog – a new Microblog feature lets users post comments and reply to previously posted comments. If desired, the event marketer can create a Bad Words list, use a report to hide inappropriate comments or keep all comments private to the event. Perfect for those events wanting to add “Twitter-like” functionality for private events.
  •  “What’s Next” feature - displays a list of upcoming sessions that will begin in the next two hours, as well as sessions that started within the last 15 minutes. Participants can now focus on attending the sessions they want versus trying to figure out what’s happening onsite.
  • Mobile Session Access Control (SAC) – while this feature was released at the end of last year, we didn’t have a chance to highlight it during the holidays. With Mobile SAC, session room staff can use hand-held mobile devices to control attendee access to sessions. The Mobile SAC solution uses a Samsung Galaxy Notebook II device configured to scan QR codes, 1D bar code, or NFC encoded badges, freeing your staff from plugged in hardware!

Share your ideas and thoughts on features below in the comments.

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GBTA Reveals Best and Worst Travel Taxes Across Top 50 U.S. Destinations

One of my favorite industry annual reports comes from my good friends at the GBTA Foundation.  If you don’t use this report in your annual forecasting and industry overviews, you need to. 

In the report, the Best and Worst Travel Taxes in the U.S, the list of shame is definitely the top 10 U.S. cities with the highest discriminatory travel tax rates and the top 10 cities with the highest total tax burden. 

For meeting planning, you should take the cities and locations on this list very seriously, as it can add significant attendee costs to the overall budget.  In contrast, you should support cities on the lowest total tax burden and the top 10 cities with the lowest discriminatory travel taxes. 

You can send a strong message to the politicians and bureaucrats that consciously target and add travel taxes to their cities by booking business somewhere else -- where the tax burdens are not such an issue.

Happy reading!

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My Webinar Recommendation: Essentials of Hybrid Events on April 25th

One of our strategic partners we often collaborate with on client events is doing a client case study webinar on Hybrid Events (in-person meetings that are live-streamed to remote audiences) on April 25th.  Sonic Foundry is hosting the webinar, and it will feature one of their clients, BankersHub. 

They’ll address the hows, whats and whys of planning your next hybrid event, including:

- How to navigate the hybrid world by selecting the right format and the right streaming partner;

- What’s the best way to prepare your speakers and designing content that works for a remote audience;

- How to make your remote audiences feel engaged and special;

- Why streaming your event will NOT cannibalize the face-to-face audience;

- How product launches, corporate training and user conferences can all be enhanced by going hybrid.

Join the team at Sonic Foundry and BankersHub as they discuss how going hybrid is helping meeting and event planners achieve their goals of increasing networking opportunities, building better brand awareness and ultimately creating an archive of sessions that can be accessed by audiences anytime, anywhere.

Sign up for the webinar! You'll be in great hands. And, if you get the chance, please let them all know that Kevin from Lanyon sent you. 

Here are the details for the 45-minute webinar:

Essential Hybrid Event Lessons to Drive Revenue & Boost Awareness

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Central

Register here! 

 

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China Business Travel Spend Outpacing Slow Adoption of Travel Management Tech, Process Improvements

I’m just returning from the 2014 GBTA China Conference in Shanghai, and I'm so delighted that Lanyon could partner our RegOnline® technology with GBTA Asia Pacific  to improve registrations and payments for the conference in Chinese (Mandarin).

It was also great to see the GBTA Board, lead by President & CEO, Donna Kelliher, attending the conference in a show of support. 

Based on the excellent sessions and agenda that were especially tailored for the local Chinese corporate marketplace, the show’s numbers are a direct reflection of its success. The Chinese corporate marketplace is exploding, but Chinese travel and meetings managers need to  modernize their ways -- especially with regards to technology utilization, integrations and process refinement.

GBTA BTI™ Outlook – China, is a semi-annual analysis that spotlights unfolding economic events at home and abroad and shows how they impact China's business travel market. The report, sponsored by Visa Inc., includes the GBTA BTI, an index of business travel spending that distills market performance over a period of time. Some highlights of GBTA BTI Outlook – China:

- China's total business travel spend is forecast to grow 16.5% in 2014 – more than double the rate of the country's GDP growth;

- China's recent announcement of 2013Q4 and full year GDP growth of 7.7% paints a picture of slow (by China standards), but steady growth.

What was most interesting to me is the projection that the Chinese will surpass the U.S even sooner than the anticipated 2016 projected time frame, in terms of overall traffic and volume generated for business travel and meetings.  Clearly there’s a lot of work to be done education-wise for the Chinese marketplace, and I have no doubt that GBTA Asia and GBTA Global will lead the way to help the Chinese members and suppliers up their game and modernize their practices and processes. The Chinese are ready and hungry for best-practice sharing and technology!

GBTA members can get free access to the study via the GBTA Foundation web portal, http://hub.gbta.org/resources2/view/profile/id/27828, and non-members can get access to the report for a fee. 

Congratulations to GBTA and their leadership for an excellent conference!

Were you at the show? What were your impressions? Please share here.

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