Meetings to Long-Haul Destinations Are on the Rise
by Harvey Chipkin /

Meetings Returning to Long-Haul Destinations
Long-haul destinations for meetings are growing in popularity, according to Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. Meetings had been staying close to home for the last couple of years, due to concerns both about budget and perceptions. But holding meetings offshore can enhance return on investment, so it’s a positive shift, said Mark Sergot, vice president, global sales, for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. “Whether it’s bringing together colleagues spread over the globe for a strategy rollout or rewarding top team members, face-to-face interactions in a new setting definitely yield results worth taking home. When planners expand their horizons to include destinations like China, Africa, Hawaii or Europe, they can create an environment that brings people together and draws the best out of them.” Among the offshore destinations Fairmont sees returning are: Hawaii, Europe, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates.

Institute Plans Certification for ‘Digital Events Strategists’
The Virtual Edge Institute is introducing a certification program for Digital Events Strategists that it says is the first such program for event marketers, meetings and learning professionals, trade show and conference managers. The training program will teach the skills and strategies necessary to plan, build, design and execute a virtual events program that achieves business objectives. Subjects will include: creating a digital engagement strategy, virtual vendor selection, monetization strategies and more. The certification program will be introduced in June at a PCMA conference in Baltimore. “Many of our members are exploring virtual options to their meetings, events and conferences,” said Deborah Sexton, CEO of PCMA. The new training gives PCMA members the opportunity to “gain the expertise they require, not only to take advantage of all the opportunities that virtual provides for their organizations, but also for the advancement of their careers.” For information, contact Michael Doyle at

Vegas Factor Holds Down West Coast Meeting Prices
“What we are seeing nationally is literally a tale of two coasts.  Meeting group rates on the West Coast will not recover until Las Vegas does. Las Vegas has dumped so much inventory into the market that any planner going to the West Coast, except perhaps Los Angeles, will have to explain to their boss why they are not going to Las Vegas and paying less. The East Coast recovery as far as meeting group rates is dramatically different, because it does not include the Las Vegas factor.” – Michael Dominguez, vice president, global sales, Loews Hotels
Even for Gen Y, Face to Face Still Rules
The social opportunities and the experience of attending live meetings still holds appeal for young people. Six student panelists at the recent Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) conference in Las Vegas said they would attend meetings and conferences, because there’s no substitute for meeting with industry leaders, mentors and peers. That’s true even though they may be able to learn more by combing the Internet for information, they said. “You can get a lot out of a webinar, but I much prefer the networking that occurs face to face,” said Sam Lee, a student at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. “It’s more enjoyable and memorable.”

. . . But Gen Y Questions Cellphone Etiquette for Meetings
The wisdom of turning off cellphones during meetings is not a given for Gen Y attendees. Student panelists at the PCMA conference said they had mixed feelings about the practice of turning off cellphones at meetings. They acknowledged that a ringing cellphone is a distraction during a presentation. But they also noted the environmental value technology can provide. “Why write down questions on paper to forward to a speaker?” asked Renea Anderson, a student at the University of Central Florida. “We could be texting questions instead. I think attendees would love being on the cutting edge. And it’s all about business.”

‘Jersey Shore’ Look-Alikes in Demand
“This is going to sound odd but I need any info anyone has for hiring Jersey Shore look-alike characters for a private party in NY.”  – Meeting planner request to colleagues on the MPI LinkedIn forum

Meetings Suffer a ‘Major’ Loss
State and school budget cuts have resulted in the elimination of a degree program in meetings and events at the University of Las Vegas William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. Most meetings and events-related classes will still be offered, and students can still declare a major in hospitality management with a concentration in meetings and events, according to the university’s public affairs office. About 300 students currently are enrolled in the major, which is the fastest-growing major at the university, according to professor Patti Shock, who helped develop the program. “I spent over 20 years of my life creating and developing the M&E major, so as you can imagine, I am bereft,” Shock wrote in a meetings industry online forum.

Las Vegas has dumped so much inventory into the market that any planner going to the West Coast, except perhaps Los Angeles, will have to explain to their boss why they are not going to Las Vegas and paying less.

Michael Dominguez, Loews Hotels