You’ve sold a large program and worked for months to plan every detail from the largest group movement to the tiniest accent color on the trim of your napkins, but there are so many simultaneous events and only one of you to make sure they go off without a glitch. This is when you stop and realize that you need a team of professional Travel Directors to help oversee your program’s food and beverage, hospitality desk, transportation, rooms, activities, meetings and executives. When you staff your program with experienced Travel Directors, you can trust that they will follow up on all of the details, leaving you time to focus on the big picture and your client.
TDs know how to coordinate your group movements and to successfully manage your budgets in addition to the following areas:
The Program Lead is the main on-site contact between the TDs, planners, clients and vendors. The Lead TD typically oversees and delegates all of the tasks on a program, including the scheduling of travel staff to provide coverage on all program areas such as meetings, transportation, activities, etc. The Lead TD usually comes in earlier and goes home later than the rest of the staff, follows up on all of the billing, and has the ability to see the big picture and assist his or her fellow TDs in coordinating their various areas.
The Transportation TD anticipates all group movements, constantly updating program arrivals and departures, bag pulls, and transfers to and from events by advising hotel staff and Destination Management Companies (DMCs) of the changes. The Transportation TD knows how to determine the size of the vehicle needed, and if a change should be made to a particular movement, as well as how to generate program materials such as departure notices for attendees.
Food and Beverage
Once a program is complete, be it a meetings heavy pharmaceutical launch or an excitement filled automobile reveal, the aspects most commonly discussed afterwards revolve around food. This makes the Food and Beverage (F&B) TD an integral part of what makes or breaks a particular program. The F&B TD manages the details of every function from knowing how early the venue will pre-set an event to the exact percentage of extra food that a venue adds onto the guarantees, and the dietary needs of each participant. The F&B TD manages your BEOs and collects your Banquet Checks making sure that every event is billed according to your specs.
The Rooms TD works hand in hand with the hotel rooming coordinator, housekeeping, and the front desk. The Rooms TD knows the hotel occupancy for program dates and makes sure that rooms are ready for check-in based on participant arrival times, cleaned based on program meeting times, and billed according to your signed hotel contract.
From the day participants arrive until the day they depart the “Desk” TDs are the face of the program. They assist the guests throughout the duration, providing the welcome materials and answering overall program questions such as “when does the noon shuttle really depart?” The Desk TDs quickly learn about the hotel and the surrounding areas, as well as the program itinerary, so that they are a well informed source of knowledge for your attendees.
Executive or VIP TDs basically run a program within a program. They work with a pre-selected group of special attendees, from speakers to company executives and entertainment, and manage their day to day itineraries. While all travel staff is on-call 24 hours a day, Executive TDs may actually work 24 hours a day. They cover all program areas for these specific attendees and allow these participants to focus solely on the meeting or program content that they are there to discuss with the overall group.
The Activities TD works closely with the DMC, the Transportation TD, and any additional venues such as golf courses or spas. The Activities TD manages all attendee appointments, tours, and tee times relaying all changes to the necessary counterparts and advising the group of special requirements such as attire. This TD is essential to managing the program budget, and knows to be very precise on the guarantees billed to each event.
The Meetings TD is responsible for the successful setup, execution, and breakdown of the meeting room environment. He or she advances the meeting space to make sure it is set according to your program needs, monitors that all Audio Visual equipment is correct for the presenters, and that all signage is properly placed leading the attendees to the room. The Meetings TD knows to make sure the room is refreshed between sessions, that program materials are collected and shredded when the information is of a sensitive nature, and to update fellow staff if the meeting is running early or behind schedule in case it might affect the next event be it lunch or a tour.
Even the best planner in the industry cannot anticipate all events that could disrupt the flow of a program from a rainstorm causing a dinner to be brought indoors, to airline workers going on strike. This is why it is essential to have TDs on-site to handle these situations and efficiently resolve them in such a way that a general program attendee believes the program operated without a flaw. Travel Directors are constantly in contact with you the planner, each other, the hotel and venues involved in the program as well as the participants, and they are able to provide instantaneous feedback and solutions to always improve even the best laid plans.
Kim Korhonen is the General Manager of Chicago-based Executive Travel Directors, which has been providing on-site meeting management both domestically and abroad for 24 years. ETD understands the unique constraints on a planner’s time and that each program has very specific needs. Whether a business meeting, incentive trip, or a one-day airport assist, ETD has successfully benefited programs by taking the complexities and liabilities of recruiting, staffing and paying on-site professionals off of meeting planners’ plates. ETD is constantly recruiting and building its database of experienced Travel Directors, many of whom spend more than 200 days each year on the road. Be it a product launch in Hong Kong, a Congress in Chicago, or an incentive cruise in the Mediterranean, ETD has experienced TDs for any and every need.
For more information, visit www.traveldirectors.com.