The Big Get Bigger . . .
Consolidation is no stranger to the meetings industry. Not only did Active Networks acquire StarCite this year, now Maritz Travel, a global leader in providing full-service meeting, event and incentive travel programs to corporate clients, has acquired Experient, another major provider of meeting and event services. According to David Peckinpaugh, president of Maritz Travel, the combined company “will now lead the industry in corporate, association, tradeshow and strategic meetings management.” In 2011, the two companies represented more than $2 billion in industry volume spend and nearly 3 million travelers served.
. . . While Meeting Rooms Get Smaller
Westin announced a pilot program called Project Hive to replace at least some of its hotel business centers with contemporary meeting rooms that offer privacy for small, impromptu meetings. The brand’s research showed that travelers are willing to pay for a quiet space away from the hotel lobby. These rooms would not cost as much as a hotel room or a larger meeting room. At the Westin in Arlington, Va., the 260-square-foot space rents for $50 an hour. Inside is a square table with stools in front of two large computer screens. Users can connect their mobile devices and talk via Skype, collaborate on a PowerPoint presentation or watch a video together. For the hourly fee, they can also use white boards, and consume fast drinks and snacks. Check it out at: www.thewestinhive.com.
About Those Post-Event Surveys
“Post-event surveys usually don’t cut it. We do use electronic surveys, but they are specific about the event, not generic. Also, we look for responses in real time, not long after the event.” – Theresa Syer, Syer Hospitality Group
Keep on Truckin’
Food trucks are hyper-trendy and some venues are bringing them indoors to feed meeting attendees. At a recent meeting at the Fairmont Newport Beach, the hotel’s catering staff, executive chef and engineering department created a “custom food truck.” The truck offered small bites including lobster and fontina mac ‘n cheese; pork belly sliders with espresso barbecue sauce; saltimbocca on a stick with sage and fig glaze; and yellowtail tuna tacos. On the day of the event attendees gathered around the truck and ordered from the window – just like on the street.
“Webcasting and hybrid meetings are gaining recognition as an important part of the overall picture and is going to increase in popularity to help the bottom line, but we can never stop having face-to-face-meetings, whether standalone or as part of a hybrid meeting.” – Pat Ahaesy, president & partner, P&V Enterprises.
Conference Centers Make their Case
The rivalry of hotels and conference centers goes back a long way – and is sometimes heated. Recently, the National Conference Center in Leesburg, Va. released a white paper on “Why Conference Centers are More Conducive to Learning than Hotels.” According to Sarah Vining, marketing manager at the National Conference Center, the paper demonstrates the benefits that organizations reap when they train in a conference center – “from comfort and practicability in ergonomic chairs to the shape of the rooms.”