Latest Industry/Economy News & Views...
Travel Community Praises Committee Vote on Brand USA Renewal
The U.S. Travel Association celebrated the House Energy and Commerce Committee's unanimous approval of the Travel Promotion, Enhancement and Modernization Act of 2014, H.R. 4450, which reauthorizes Brand USA, the public-private partnership dedicated to increasing inbound international travel to the United States.
"America's travel community is grateful to Congressmen Gus Bilirakis and Peter Welch for championing this vital economic measure in the House," said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow. "We are also grateful to Chairman Fred Upton, Ranking Member Henry Waxman and all members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for their strong endorsement of Brand USA—and of course to Chairman Lee Terry and Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky for shepherding the measure to unanimous passage in the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee. The bill adds valuable accountability to how Brand USA fulfills its critical mission to generate economic growth.
"With Brand USA's results-focused track record and its unique funding instrument that keeps it completely off the taxpayers' books, its reauthorization is one legislative achievement that both parties can embrace and take credit for this session," said Dow. "We hope and expect that leaders in both chambers will move it to floor action, and deliver this boon to the economy before they decamp for elections."
Since it was introduced in April, H.R. 4450 has attracted broad, bipartisan support in the House (68 Republicans, 73 Democrats)—as has its Senate companion, S. 2250 (16 Republicans,15 Democrats).
A report released recently, Brand USA: Working for All of Us, details the positive economic benefits of Brand USA for destinations nationwide. In 2013, Brand USA:
As described in the report, Brand USA is:
"Brand USA creates jobs and economic opportunity in communities in every state," said Dow.
Click here to learn more about Brand USA.
Hive Network Opens to All Suppliers
The Hive Network, the industry’s new educational hub for suppliers, announced today that it is now open to all suppliers, where previously only veteran suppliers were able to participate.
“There’s a great disconnect in our industry between what sales trainers think is effective, and what really works from a customer’s viewpoint,” said Hive founder Shawna Suckow, CMP. “There’s a lot of supplier frustration out there right now, as they struggle to understand the planner species. We realized that we were excluding an entire generation of newer suppliers, who will certainly become frustrated using traditional sales methods with planners.”
The CCSE (Customer-Certified Sales Expert) is a new designation offered by The Hive Network. Coursework is comprised of a series of on-demand, web-based sessions taught primarily by veteran planners who belong to the Senior Planners Industry Network (SPIN).
The CCSE curriculum features topics taught from the planner perspective for suppliers, such as: how to sell better at trade shows, how to form relationships with planners in today’s overly-marketed marketplace, how to prospect correctly on LinkedIn so you don’t get ignored, and how to craft proposals that get more attention and better results.
“The Hive is just for suppliers, and they can hear directly from the industry’s most veteran planners on how to sell more effectively,” said Suckow. “After all, who knows better than their prospective customers what works and what doesn’t?”
Suppliers who earn their CCSE designation will have access to SPIN’s private planner gatherings at major industry events like WEC, IMEX, ASAE’s annual conference, IncentiveWorks, and more.
Suppliers can sign up for the CCSE program for $395, which includes all the necessary coursework, and gives them a full year to complete it at their convenience, on-demand and on-line. The Hive Network is currently running a promotion: new members who sign up in July receive a $100 Amazon gift card. A la carte courses are available to non-members for a per-course fee.
To learn more about the CCSE designation or to join the program, visit www.thehivenetwork.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Hive Network is an educational resource for hospitality suppliers, offering the collective wisdom of senior-level planners to help suppliers navigate the sales process with less frustration.
MPI Publishes Latest Meetings Outlook Report
Meeting Professionals International (MPI) has published its Meetings OutlookTM, 2014 Spring Edition. The newest installment of the quarterly special report predicts continued growth in virtual and hybrid meetings and slight shifts in budgets while reporting on the overall health of the meeting and event industry.
Key findings include the following:
To view the full report, visit www.mpiweb.org/meetingsoutlook. A printed copy is included in the May 2014 issue of MPI’s award-winning magazine, The Meeting ProfessionalTM, as well.
Meetings Outlook presents future industry trends and predictions from MPI members, including meeting professionals on MPI’s Business Research Panel. Every quarter, research firm Association Insights surveys the panel, asking a short series of quantitative questions related to the economy and a qualitative question regarding the individual’s professional outlook. The survey provides a quarterly tracking of current business conditions and future outlooks. Meetings Outlook is developed in partnership with the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau, and is supported in partnership with the IMEX Group.
Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is the largest and most vibrant global meeting and event industry association. The organization provides innovative and relevant education, networking opportunities and business exchanges, and acts as a prominent voice for the promotion and growth of the industry. MPI membership is comprised of approximately 20,000 members belonging to 71 chapters and clubs worldwide. For additional information or to join, visit www.mpiweb.org.
North Dakota Travel and Tourism Week celebrates state’s third-largest industry
Travel increases general wellbeing, contributes to greater productivity in the workplace and enhances relationships, according to studies gathered by the U.S. Travel Association. In addition, tourism is good for the economy. The travel and tourism industry fuels jobs, drives spending and has a major impact on the economy.
To celebrate North Dakota’s third largest industry and kick off the summer travel season, Gov. Jack Dalrymple has declared May 3-11 as “North Dakota Travel and Tourism Week.” In addition, this designated week will highlight North Dakota’s 125th anniversary of statehood by promoting the upcoming commemorative events and inspiring residents to celebrate this special time.
“North Dakota Travel and Tourism Week” is held in conjunction with National Travel and Tourism Week, an annual national salute to the tourism and travel industry that highlights the industry’s benefits and importance to communities and Americans.
“Travel and Tourism Week is an opportunity to encourage both North Dakotans and visitors to explore the great things to see and do here,” said Gov. Dalrymple. “It’s also a great time to celebrate an industry that has a significant impact on North Dakota. Tourism continues to be one of the state’s leading industries, contributing $5 billion to the state’s economy.”
“Travel is good for the soul and the economy,” North Dakota Tourism Division Director Sara Otte Coleman said. “In North Dakota, one out of 12 jobs is tied to tourism. Many people are committed to promoting and preserving our rich culture, wide-ranging events and beautiful scenery. Plus, travel has positive health benefits, stimulates students’ curiosity inside and outside the classroom, and is a time for families to reconnect outside of their busy lives.”
Research shows vacationing is a restorative behavior with positive effects on health. The most important benefit is stress reduction. Travel benefits the workplace, too. According to human resource professionals, employees who take most or all of their vacation time are happier and more productive than those who don’t.
“Research clearly demonstrates the importance of travel. So, make it a point to escape your daily life and explore North Dakota this summer,” Otte Coleman says.” This year is even more special and exciting as we celebrate North Dakota’s 125th anniversary of statehood. Celebrate at the August signature event, or celebrate in your own style by discovering the events and attractions that are uniquely North Dakota.”
To commemorate the 125th anniversary, North Dakota Tourism has developed a list of 125 ways for residents and visitors alike to LuvND and experience all North Dakota has to offer. Adventures and experiences featured on the list range from arts, food, fun, history and outdoors. The complete list can be found at www.luvnd.com.
Read more at www.ndtourism.com.
Get connected to great information about vacationing in North Dakota by becoming a fan of Travel North Dakota at https://www.facebook.com/TravelND or following North Dakota Tourism on Twitter at http://twitter.com/NorthDakota.
To see a calendar of events and learn about all there is to experience in North Dakota, request a copy of the North Dakota Travel Guide by calling 800-435-5663 or view the digital Travel Guide at NDtourism.com.
As one of North Dakota’s leading industries, tourism attracts visitors to more than 640 attractions, 357 events and festivals, and 800 accommodations. In addition, more than 38,000 jobs in North Dakota are attributed to this robust industry.
SPIN to Celebrate 2nd Annual National Meetings Industry Month
SPIN: Senior Planners Industry Network announced today that it will mark the second annual National Meetings Industry Month with celebrations across North America. In 2013, SPIN declared the month of April to be a month-long celebration in a move to bring excitement and pride back to the Meetings Industry, following five years of recession and struggle.
"It had been a rough few years for our industry, with meetings coming under fire by the government, and being cut or eliminated by corporations everywhere as a cost-saving measure," said SPIN president Shawna Suckow, CMP. "We believe it's time to celebrate again and embrace the value of the industry, and especially the individuals who comprise it."
Suckow hopes the movement will catch on with other industry associations, eventually becoming an industry-wide celebration that is also recognized by Congress. “I’ve contacted my U.S. congressman, and he is interested in drafting a bill,” said Suckow. “Canada has been celebrating their National Meetings Industry Day every April – it’s time we join the movement here in the U.S., and get the recognition from our government so people outside the industry take notice.”
SPIN will celebrate National Meetings Industry Month in each of its North American branch locations with social gatherings and service projects. For a complete list of SPIN branch cities, visit www.spinplanners.com.
With nearly 2,500 members, SPIN is the world's largest association comprised strictly of senior-level planners.
Association information: www.spinplanners.com
SPIN's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/spinplanners
Benchmark Hospitality International’s Benchmark Resorts & Hotels Announces The “Top Ten Meeting Trends for 2014”
Benchmark Resorts & Hotels, a division of Benchmark Hospitality International, announces the "Top Ten Meeting Trends for 2014" as observed by its properties. Benchmark Hospitality International is a leading U.S.-based hospitality management company, which operates 40 award-winning hotels, resorts, and conference centers coast to coast and off shore.
"With 33 years of history and experience delivering exceptional meetings, we are honored to share our 2014 meeting trend insights with the industry," said Alex Cabañas, president & CEO of Benchmark Hospitality International. “The good news is...there's good news! Booking pace is very strong and the economic hangover is mostly worn off, and companies are spending again on training and development. We look forward to 2014 and beyond.”
Trend #1 Lightening Speed! Free, FAST, and it better be reliable -- highly effective WiFi is the #1 issue for planning professionals and conferees in the meetings business today. Conferees often come with up to 3 wireless devises per attendee so greater bandwidth is a necessity to drive multiple devices. Planners are expecting adequate bandwidth to keep meeting guests not only connected and engaged, but happy as well.
Trend #2 Content Leads to Discovery How do planners and conferees discover and learn about properties in 2014 - primarily through good old fashioned Google searches. Targeted exposure on the Internet has never been more important, or more utilized by planners. What drives this? Meaningful web content.
Be visible and connected, but never forget that well executed, timely, and informative website content is king when trying to communicate a message, delineate one's brand and engage meeting professionals.
Trend #3 Demand Trends UP! Meeting Demand & Booking Pace is consistently on the upswing. As the economy picks up momentum, so goes meeting demand. Short term bookings are still prevalent, but the booking demand window is increasingly stretching into 2015, 2016 and beyond. Not quite the good old days….but getting closer!
Trend #4 Creating The Experience Just as with consumer travel today, the demand for out-of-the-ordinary unique experiences is increasingly factoring into meeting destination decisions. Those properties partnering with local assets, such as wineries, historic & natural wonders, intriguing adventure resources, and unique off-site reception & dinner venues have a strategic advantage in the pursuit and the capturing of meeting demand.
Trend #5 Green is Good, But … Though it sounds enticing, and feels like the right thing, being green is not seen by most planning professionals today as a critical factor in property selection, and no one is losing business because of the lack of it. This isn't to say properties aren't doing their upmost to be good green citizens; it's just that other issues are often paramount to the success of a meeting.
Trend #6 Select Social Media has a place in Meetings Social Media has minimal impact on securing corporate meetings business, with the possible exception of LinkedIn. During meetings, however, planners and conferees use Twitter and LinkedIn for communicating with each other, and also with moderators.
On the horizon; the rise of meeting-specific property apps tailored to optimize communication during the planning & implementation phases -- and these may soon supersede the role of social media. Facebook is rarely utilized to bring in meetings business or communicate during a conference, as it's seen to be a personal communications tool for staying in touch with friends & family.
Trend #7 Meeting ROI Meetings & Budgets are finally increasing following over six years of recession. This is especially true in the Association market, with larger meetings growing in attendance. As corporate purse strings slowly loosen, meeting professionals are increasingly becoming more firm with demands of flexibility, including the negotiation of attrition clauses. The demand for value in their investment has never been higher. It all ties back to more accountability for meeting ROI.
Trend #8 Health Conscious! Food & beverage in 2014 is all about health & variety -- for refreshment breaks and meal menus. Planners and conferees want healthy choices verses pre-ordained menu options, and they want value. Creative Spa breaks may substitute for refreshment breaks at those properties that offer this service. A 10-minute 'lift your spirits' Yoga session can be an energizer as well. Planners and attendees want breaks that perk them up; not the opposite.
Trend #9 Teambuilding Climbs Back Groups that have the budget are looking for unique ways to motivate, inspire, and build camaraderie as the business environment continues to improve. Socially conscious groups or those with a more streamlined budget tend to look for other camaraderie-building opportunities, such as developing fellowship through teambuilding volunteerism initiatives, like building bikes for kids in the local community.
Trend #10 Who's Meeting in 2014? Across the country, the traditional industry segments are once again delivering business to meeting properties, including the Financial, Pharmaceutical, Insurance, Association, and increasingly Healthcare industries. Silicon Valley and the High Tech Northwestern U.S. are on the rebound too, significantly benefiting properties in this market.
About Benchmark Resorts & Hotels®
Benchmark Resorts & Hotels® represents the finest in lodging, dining, recreational and meeting accommodations. Many are certified by the International Association of Conference Centers, the leading professional organization governing the multi-billion dollar conference center industry on five continents, and many have also been recognized with the coveted Benchmark Conference Centers® certification of meeting excellence. Benchmark Resorts & Hotels deliver highly specialized service that anticipates guests’ needs and ensures a hospitality experience unsurpassed and long remembered. www.benchmarkresortsandhotels.com. To become a fan on Facebook, visit www.facebook.com/BenchmarkResortsandHotels, or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BenchmarkHotels.