by Shadia Cook
Q: What are resort fees, and what am I really paying for?
A: Most planners who have booked events at resorts are familiar with a little thing called the “resort fee,” which can range from $10 per day on up. Generally, resort fees are non-negotiable, unlike other expenses such as room rates, meeting room rental, and so forth. Those who are unfamiliar with these fees - or who simply don’t understand them - may find them to be unreasonable or consider them just another source of revenue for the resort.
In reality, resort fees are designed to cover the costs of many onsite services offered. Most resort fees include expenses such as internet access in guestrooms, daily newspapers, telephone calls, in-room coffee service, and use of pools, fitness centers, etc.
by Shadia Cook
Q: Thanks to current economic conditions throughout the industry, I keep hearing about CVBs that are experiencing budget and funding issues. What can I do to support the CVBs that support me?
A: With city and state budgets being scrutinized, funding resources for CVBs are a concern for planners, suppliers, and visitors alike. Without locals’ understanding of how important a CVB is to a respective community, it’s up to the city’s visitors and suppliers to support bureau efforts.
Q: Can I hold my meeting at a resort and still stay within my budget?
A: Absolutely! In fact, many resorts can offer you even more for your money than traditional hotels and meeting facilities.
The first step is creating a detailed Request For Proposal (RFP). In addition to the standard logistical information such as the sleeping room needs, meeting schedule, meals, breaks and budget, be sure to include who is attending the event, including any demographics of the attendees and your overall meeting goals. Why is this so important? Resorts have the unique ability to offer a variety of onsite activities and amenities that may be able to tie in perfectly with your organization’s goals. They can also provide options for guests during any off time, allowing even more networking and teambuilding in a relaxed environment.
This column is especially for you! Here we feature commonly asked questions from meeting and event planners. We hope to answer your question soon!
Q: Where can I find colleges or universities that offer courses in meeting and event planning?
A: Fortunately, many schools now offer undergraduate degrees and certificates in meeting and event planning. There are many opportunities available throughout the country.
Before you make any decisions, check out all of your options. Begin by looking into the different schools and programs available. A great place to start is the Meeting Professionals International (MPI) website at www.mpiweb.org. This resource provides a listing of schools and links to their individual sites. While the listed schools are not endorsed by MPI, they provide a great starting point in investigating your options.
Q: What are the main differences among association, corporate and independent planning?
A: Not all meetings are created equally. While these planning segments have many things in common, from marketing the meeting or event to choosing the perfect location to contracting with vendors and making sure your attendees are happy, several differences exist.
Let’s look at associations. Most association planning is done by in-house staff members or outsourced to a third party. Since association members typically have the choice to attend events vs. being required to attend, association planners are tasked with marketing to gain attendance from their membership. For this reason, planning an association meeting can be tricky.
Attendance might vary from year to year depending on several factors: location, cost, meeting focus and content, etc. Many members might pay for registration and related costs out of their own pockets, so cost and location can be key.Budgets can also be an issue. Most budgets are based on attendance, as registration fees cover the majority - if not all - of the meeting costs. Often, sponsors are sought to help with costs. This is yet another component to an association planner’s job.
Q: What are the benefits of obtaining an industry credential such as the CMP or CSEP?
A: Let’s begin by defining what these acronyms represent.
• CMP: Certified Meeting ProfessionalCreated by the Convention Industry Council (CIC)www.conventionindustry.org
• CSEP: Certified Special Events ProfessionalCreated by the International Special Events Society (ISES)www.ises.com
What’s the difference between a certificate and a certification? Emma Wallace, marketing manager with CIC, defines the two.“A certificate is usually awarded by an educational institution after the completion of courses with a specific professional focus,” Wallace says. “The curriculum is determined by individual programs or institutions.
Q: I’m considering starting out as an independent planner. How do I market myself to potential clients?
A: So after the countless hours of daydreaming about your new company’s letterhead and the benefits of being your own boss, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty.
Becoming an independent planner requires time and dedication. Yes, being your own boss has benefits, but it also has responsibilities.
First, just as if you were planning a meeting or conference, you need to create a plan. Assuming you are already involved in the meetings industry, put your networking skills to work. Make a list of potential clients and colleagues, and contact them. Let them know what you have to offer and see if they have projects that require your expertise.
There are many different positions available in the sports events industry. When it comes to sports management programs, many people aspire to work for a professional sports team or university. Many overlook the opportunities available in the tourism and hospitality industry, which can also offer great networking, volunteer jobs and internships.
Joel Everts, CSEE, Sports Sales Manager, Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau sees first hand the continued growth and job opportunities within the sports market. “When I started I was in Eau Claire in 2002, there were two dedicated sports sales managers in the entire state at CVB’s, now there are a half dozen dedicated full-time sales people. More cities are focusing on city-wide events.”
Your pressing questions…
• Planning a virtual meeting.
Q: Where do I start in planning a virtual event?
A: The economy is on everyone’s mind these days, but in the midst of rising costs, stagnant and declining sales, lay-offs, bankruptcies and budget cuts, meetings are still a necessity.
Several years ago, when the onslaught of travel tools and websites came about, many travel professionals worried their jobs might be eliminated. Creative thinkers knew otherwise. Technology is not the enemy. Embracing it can help your organization move forward.
Your pressing questions… • Casinos and waterpark resorts
offer benefits for meetings
This features commonly asked questions from meeting and event planners.
We hope to answer your question soon!
What are the benefits to having my event at a casino or waterpark hotel and conference center? Will it be a distraction for my attendees?
Holding your event at a destination resort, with a casino and/or waterpark, can prove to be a plus for you and your attendees.
First, it will save you money. Casino properties tend to offer entertainment, generally at no cost or at a discounted rate for your group. This will save you the time and transportation costs to either bring in entertainment or take your attendees to another attraction. Talk to your sales executive working with you on your event to see what kind of entertainment is available. It’s a good idea to ask if they can arrange to have something during your event. In the worst-case scenario, they may go in with you and pay for a portion of the entertainment you want to book. Waterparks often offer group rates that include wristbands and/or other discounts for their onsite attractions. This can be a plus for your attendees, as they can bring in their families for a mini-vacation, which is particularly attractive during the current economy where vacations are more of a luxury. Try to negotiate special rates pre- and post-conference, so your attendees can extend their trip and spend time with their family.