Originally published Meetings Focus.
Originally published Meetings Focus.
Originally published Meetings Today
Travel is exhausting; it didn’t used to be.
My first flight was in the late ’40s, which means I’ve been a frequent flyer for more than 70 years albeit not earning frequent flyer points until the start of the programs in the ’80s, with my Dad on a prop plane from Ohio to New Jersey.
I only remember it from photos commemorating my first flight.
That first flight took place during the days when we walked on the tarmac and up steps to board planes and when we arrived, those greeting us came to the tarmac as well.
For that first trip, I didn’t have to pack and I’m sure what was in Dad’s suitcases for both of us was far different than what I later needed as an adult for my travels!
Being a prepared and well-packed traveler allows us to make one part of the experience less stressful. After months of writing about critical industry issues, this April 2018 edition of Friday With Joan is taking a break from issues that impact our industry to issues that impact us and our sanity as individual business travelers.
For those among us who are experienced; for those still acquiring business travel experience; and for the hospitality and meetings students that are in this to travel, here are some travel and packing tips.
My esteemed colleague, Marlys Arnold, has written and prepared an interactive CD-ROM entitled “Pack Your Bags: Tips and Tools for Savvy Travelers”—and it’s currently on sale!
She provides lots of information for non-business travelers as well including a reminder of “3-1-1”, the TSA travel rule for liquids and gels where each passenger is limited to one quart-size bag of 3.4-ounce containers.
Keep in mind that you may know how to travel but for your meetings and shows there will always be a first time traveler for whom basic information is useful. Note too that the rules do keep changing especially for international flights.
1. Buy good luggage: Though the initial investment may be greater and sturdy luggage may be a bit tough for all to afford, if you plan to travel more than a few times a year, it’s worth every penny.
Frequent travelers have learned that luggage takes a beating whether it’s checked or carried on. Ensure what you buy meets the carrier’s requirements and can be locked with a TSA-approved lock.
Sometimes gate-checking is required when a plane is full and your hoped-to-carry-on bag has to go below. You want to make sure your valuables (which for me includes medications, makeup, clothing, emergency radio and files) are as safe as you can make them if you cannot carry them with you.
When you consider a wheeled bag, if possible, test it first. Handles are of varying length and depending on your height, may be awkward to pull through an airport. And there are different types of wheels, too.
And if you think a bag over your shoulder is a good idea, take it from me: the damage to your neck and shoulders from years of schlepping shoulder bags is now terribly painful.
Roll, don’t carry.
The most useful device I recently acquired is a Bag Bungee. It has allowed me to attach my backpack with laptop inside to my rolling bag far more easily than I had before with the hook on the suitcase or sliding it over the suitcase handle.
2. Ticketing: Whether traveling by air or rail, booking through discount websites may be a great way to save money. I don’t. I’ve heard and read too many stories of those denied boarding or not having the seats they thought they had when doing so.
Or if a flight is canceled or changed, the inability to then change other legs of trips, including changing carriers, may not be as easy as booking elsewhere.
I prefer booking using a travel agent or directly with the airline.
For train travel, I book directly with Amtrak on their websites or by phone.
Note: some airlines charge an additional fee to book using their reservations agents. Decide if it’s worth it by checking the airline’s website or asking when you call if there is an additional fee. Amtrak now too has fare rules similar to airlines regarding cancellation or changes.
Check before you commit.
Like many business travelers, I’m very picky about seat location. The sooner a ticket is booked (on most airlines) the more options one has for flights and seats.
Caution: there are now as many classes of seats and fees for specific seats including seats allowing you to sit with traveling companions as there are airfares. Check frequently. Aircraft changes for your flights may cause seat reconfigurations.
If you are flying on a commuter jet or smaller plane, find out the ability to take carry-on luggage on board. This will also help you decide which luggage to purchase and use.
Additionally, it will help you decide what to pack.
3. Boarding: If you are in a “priority” boarding class, arrive in time to do so. This is more likely to ensure space overhead for luggage.
And if you are traveling by rail, most Amtrak stations have great Red Caps who can board you early especially if you want an Amtrak Quiet Car seat which quickly fill.
Do remember to tip those who assist you.
It was delightful to learn what colleagues pack for business trips. Each has different priorities. Of those queried, none noted required medical devices such as a CPAP machine, which is not included in the two-bag maximum for most carry-on luggage on U.S. flights. It may mean you have to schlep a bit more and you should plan accordingly.
I try to limit what I take with me. The ability to do so goes back to my dad, of blessed memory, who traveled by car as a salesperson.
Dad limited his wardrobe to easy, interchangeable items.
Like him, I have a “uniform.” His was khaki slacks or, in winter, gray flannel, button-down collar shirts and navy blazers of different weights for different seasons. Mine? A black jumper dress, good T-shirts, and shawls along with jewelry, the latter two the equivalent of Dad’s tie changes to create different looks.
I’ve learned that without a list, something is forgotten. And even with an always-packed-with-essentials suitcase, items (shampoo and soap* for example) need to be replenished.
For me, writing the list helps me think versus using a pre-printed list to check things off. I think from head to toe, literally, and what I’ll need, always planning at least one extra of most items “just in case” a connecting flight is canceled and I need to spend a night.
In addition to the usual for some (laptop, iPhone, chargers, medications, makeup, underwear, something to wear to sleep, and clothing accessories—for me, jewelry, for others, belts or ties), I take:
Above I noted that my dad was very simple in what he packed.
I’m fascinated by those who take many multiple outfits and shoes while I travel with minimal clean clothes that can be mixed and matched and try to get away with one pair of shoes that can look fine for business or casual wear.
If I worked out, I’d ship the extra items that I would need. As Reiko Tate said, a large shawl is great as an accessory and an airplane blanket or warmth in a cold meeting room.
Like others have noted and Marlys Arnold stresses, roll your clothes.
They are neater and take up less space. Use the inside of shoes, if you take extra, for smaller items like sox, jewelry, belts, and scarves.
Only when absolutely necessary.
Waiting for checked luggage is for me a colossal waste of time. Years ago, on a trip to the neighborhood dry cleaners, I ran in to a colleague who was picking up her clean clothes to be put in a box to ship to her next meeting.
I began doing the same.
There are now luggage services that ship and some airlines provide that service.
I put clothes and other items that may be too bulky for a carry-on, like a small battery operated table fan for stuffy rooms, neatly in plastic bags and directly in a box and send them by overnight or two-day service.
If you do this, check ahead to ensure the availability at hotels for accessing your box if you arrive late or on a weekend and the handling charge for their receiving (and reshipping) the box (with dirty clothes and other items not needed) for the next stop.
Hotels with in-house UPS and FedEx outlets can, even when you have an account with the service, charge a significant fee for handling and delivering the box to your room.
As a number of those interviewed said, check to see if you can do your own laundry at the hotel [for that I have to send unscented detergent and softener or dryer sheets] or the cost of dry cleaning. It may be worth it to take fewer clothes.
Although I love USPS Priority Mail flat rate box service, I learned the hard way (is there any other?) that not all mail addressed to a hotel goes to the hotel itself. Rather it may go to a post office to be picked up by the hotel … and never seen again!
Ask before you mail or ship what the services are.
Ensure your box or luggage has additional labels (to the shipping label) inside and on the outside with your name and arrival, hotel name and address (An inside label is smart for inside your checked and carry-on luggage too).
If you’ve read my blogs and comments long enough you probably wonder if I’m worried someone will see that information and have more than I want them to about my whereabouts.
Yes, I do think about it and yes, I still ship.
Lastly, as others noted, take less than you think you want. Overpacking is easy and causes overstuffed or too heavy bags. No one is going to care if you wear the same outfit with different accessories (ties, jewelry, scarves or shawls) daily.
Pack in a way that allows you some flexibility.
Now, tell us your travel, and especially packing, tips in the comments below.
We all learn from each other.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed by contributing bloggers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Meetings Today or its parent company.
Any products or services noted are for reference and do not constitute an endorsement.
Related Reading From the April 2018 Edition of Friday With Joan
Originally posted on Meetings Today Blog
With thanks to Anu Garg of A Word A Day for this:
“Most creativity is a transition from one context into another where things are more surprising. There’s an element of surprise, and especially in science, there is often laughter that goes along with the ‘Aha.’ Art also has this element. Our job is to remind us that there are more contexts than the one that we’re in—the one that we think is reality.”
— Alan Kay, computer scientist (born May 17, 1940)
Surprise and joy. These are the emotions I have felt when an educational experience, in particular one in a school or meeting setting, was creative and transitioned from the usual straight rows of chairs to a more audience-centric setting and from a lecture to an engaging, interactive experience.
These same emotions were felt in Stanley Blum’s civics class in my Ohio high school where the (awful!) tablet chairs were set in a circle versus the straight rows in most other classes. Surprise and joy are also what I felt when (the late) Lenore Clippinger allowed us to bring pillows on which to sit on the floor of her English Literature class in the same school. And when Mr. Blum invited us to his home for current events discussions and we sat on comfortable furniture and were served cocoa and cookies.
Come to think of it, it’s similar to what Bill Host, and I created at a PCMA discussion “session” about Dan Pink’s “A Whole New Mind”: some cocktail tables, beanbag chairs, lots of windows, small vases of flowers on the tables, and cocoa, tea, coffee and cookies. [For that, thanks to Kim Peterson at Seattle Sheraton who helped create the setting].
Yes, I’ve written about some of these experiences before (here and here). Additionally, in the sidebar of the June 2017 Friday With Joan newsletter (which also includes this blog post), I interviewed the Blums’ daughter, Sarah Routman, about her work. Clearly she too was influenced by her dad’s examples of good education and learning.
Jeff Hurt, a colleague and friend since his long-ago days working at MPI, and now Executive Vice President, Education & Engagement at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting—who describes himself as “a lifelong learner trying to embrace learning, unlearning and relearning”—reads and writes extensively about learning and the brain.
Janet Sperstad, Ph.D., Program Director of the meeting and event management degree at Madison College in Wisconsin, wrote her dissertation, “Purposeful Meetings: Driving deeper meaning, insights and innovation,” on the topic of better meeting design.
Janet was also recently interviewed in this great article from PCMA about the paper she and Amanda Cecil, Ph.D, CMP, associate professor and chair of Indiana University’s School of Physical Education and Tourism Management, are writing entitled “Purposeful Meetings: How to Plan with Deeper Meaning, Innovation and Insight in Mind.”
(You can learn more here about Janet and Amanda’s work).
For years, in teaching “meeting planning 101” classes for MPI, PCMA, ASAE and others, I’ve conducted an exercise by first saying “Adults learn and participate best in pleasant surroundings” followed by the question “What makes it pleasant for you to learn?”
This is often paired with an exercise of drawing a three-panel cartoon of one’s best learning experience. (Thank you David Johnson from whom I learned, at an International Association of Facilitators (IAF) meeting, this activity that can be adapted to many situations and makes me think of the exercises in the aforementioned Dan Pink book).
>> ACTION: Try this. Identify what makes it pleasant for you to learn, and if you’re willing, add what that is, in the comments section below. <<
Were you able to quickly identify the elements of “pleasant”? Or were you, like most, in need of parameters to identify where the “pleasant experience” and the “best learning experience” occurred (at a conference? in a school setting? in the office? at home?)? Or was it difficult to remember your best learning experiences?
It may be like the (in)famous quote from the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart, about pornography: “you know it when you see it”. We know a good meeting or learning experience when we we see it or don’t.
Mine? I’ve cited some from high school. I know I don’t like straight rows of chairs or tables—even crescent rounds in straight rows. The sight lines are always awful and the rigidity of the settings sets a “bad school” atmosphere for me. I love natural light from windows, food and drink available at all times, interaction—natural not forced—with others with whom I’m learning [one day, on a plane or train, I know, after reading a great article, I’ll engage those around me in discussion!], and the ability to do what I need—sit, stand, put my feet up, or leave if it’s not working for me.
If you read the May 2017 Friday With Joan newsletter you learned I was in college full time for only a year where most classes were in auditoriums with seats with tablets. Even without the formal education of the colleagues cited and interviewed I am an avid reader and observer of people interacting and learning in different settings.
I am curious about those, who like I, abhor straight rows and lectures, find TED and all the spin-offs effective since they are, in essence, well-rehearsed lectures. I watch many “TED talks” and especially like this one of Sunni Brown on doodling. She’s engaging as are many TED-talkers and programs. They are really lectures but they are lectures with personality, right? And they are lectures with opportunities to engage with others.
When I think about what makes it pleasant for me to learn and the experiences I’ve had that were conducive to learning in meetings, I think of these:
1. ODNetwork: in working as the planning consultant with them, they set a standard meeting room as theatre-in-the-round which created a different mindset just by walking into the room. And it was low key and worked—just a short stage in the center of the room and chairs set around the stage, circled, with multiple aisles.
2. ODN and IAF both had areas for creativity where, at any time, one could color, build and use different materials to relax and use one’s right brain. Disney created similar experiences for PCMA and ASAE in rooms that I remember going to often because the spaces themselves were differently set with lots of creative materials. In one, at an ASAE meeting years ago, in a session held in the room, the first instructions were to take our shoes off and put our heads down on our arms on the table and to listen to a (children’s) story. (Yes, this can be adapted for those who are differently abled).
3. ASAE, at a meeting in Boston years ago, set all general sessions in the round. The stage was round with a rotating center on which a lectern stood and behind which a few people delivered their messages. Screens were flown from above and all around the stage, easily visible for each section of seats. More speakers—(it must have been the early ‘90s because James Carville and Mary Matalin were among them)—walked around the stage. Because, if I remember correctly, no one was more than 10 rows back from the stage, seated with lots of aisles down which there was entertainment each morning before the general session started, I looked forward to going to each general session which is not my norm! More it meant that those who like to sit on the aisle could more easily do so and not disrupt those who wanted to leave since the rows were short.
4. ASAE again created a novel setting also in Boston (hmm…was it Boston?) years later where there were different seating configurations in the ballroom foyer and lots of screens on which you could watch the general sessions without being in the large dark room set in rows. I’d started in the ballroom and was driven out by the size, dark, and “usual” set to the foyer.
What didn’t work: the foyer set was conducive to, and I believe intended for, conversation, perfect for Aural learners. (One could even get a shoeshine and still watch the programming in the general session in another area of the convention center).
A colleague and I sat in the foyer and talked about what we were hearing and seeing, and were “shushed” by others. When doing something different, explain the how and why and how to use it to the best advantage. Different for the sake of different doesn’t work unless we educate those in attendance.
5. PCMA, at one meeting, set general sessions and breakouts in theatre-in-the-round. A lawyer colleague and I presented our session in one of those breakout rooms. Outcomes?
6. When PCMA first experimented with “Learning Lounges”, and other interactive areas for those of us who prefer learning with each other (like the hallway conversations many love and the “peer learning” that MPI’s Foundation discovered years ago was really what most of us call “networking”), it was far more intimate than it has become.
Remembering the first year, a colleague and I sat in the area behind the stage where we could watch and still talk with each other. I tweeted with someone who was in front of the stage wishing she weren’t “stuck” and not permitted to talk during the session and for whom leaving felt awkward and rude to the speaker.
Maybe what we need are more “norms” or ground rules that allow people to move as needed without feeling they can’t leave like what, in Open Space Technology used to be called “The Rule of Two Feet” (“If it’s not working for you, you may leave”) and which has been renamed “The Law of Motion and Responsibility” to be more inclusive of those who may not have or use two feet.
7. MPI has experimented with different designs including using Open Space Technology where the audience, with some subject matter parameters, sets the agenda. Having used Open Space (for which I am eternally grateful to Harrison Owen, initially, and later to Lisa Heft) for a variety of clients, it’s one way to accommodate different types of learners and peer learning. It’s not for every person or meeting. With World Café it’s one more option in one’s toolbox of design.
8. Loretta LaRoche, the capnote (closing) speaker at an IACC meeting years ago, did just what Sarah Routman suggests in the sidebar: her very being and work created laughter, great big tear-rolling, doubled-over laughter. She allowed us to leave feeling good about our work, ourselves, and the conference with her style and words. I can’t remember leaving a conference ever feeling so good. (This, a Loretta LaRoche YouTube clip about “wearing your party pants,” should make you feel the same now).
9. Recently at ExhibitorLive, I presented back to back sessions about creating different meeting settings and delivery methods. I asked for and through the understanding of Dee Silfies, responsible for education, and of CORT Furniture for the different furniture—not all of which was too low for those who may not be able to get down to or up easily—we created an example of what can be done. At the break (30 minutes versus 15 or even the back-to-back-to-back with no time between sessions at too many meetings), some participants who’s not signed up for the second session, did so.
They liked my style of teaching, the creative tools used, the “norms” and permissions given, and the set that was more relaxed and comfortable and included some crescent rounds for those who wanted more traditional seating.
Here’s the thing: it is messy and more difficult to design conferences and meetings to accommodate different learning preferences and comfort levels, and adding genuine laughter, for and from those who are participating and delivering.
As we continue to learn more about learning and interactive—”audience-centric,” experiential, community-focused—gatherings, we will need to change what we do. And to do so means involving our partners (aka “suppliers”) and those responsible for the fire laws and other safety and security issues, and policies governing spaces. Having suggested that many years ago after being told “no rounds” in a convention center unless we were serving food, I’ve not yet seen that the industry is meeting with all the right participants to make massive changes.
There are enough researching and talking about changing learning models at meetings that the revolution to create better conventions and conferences is upon us. ASAE just completed XPD about which the reviews are still coming in. I’m hopeful you’ll join in and tell others the creative ways you’ve designed and delivered events and meetings and more, suggest ways we can better truly partner with venues and vendors rather than just looking to them for underwriting. I’m convinced they are the key to making it work by understanding education and how their spaces and work can contribute. Share this with each other and your partners. Let’s move meetings forward. Really!
This blog post and the June 2017 Friday With Joan newsletter are dedicated to the people and organizations noted below because they want people in sales to learn more about how to help market, sell and service more creative, comfortable, conducive-to-outcomes, experiences. It seems our industry has relegated “suppliers” to a category of “sponsors” and “underwriters” versus full partners in learning and creating (or co-creating if we’re still using that buzzphrase) and suggesting different uses of their spaces.
Thus, this blog post is dedicated to Michael McQuade, Director of Sales, Washington State Convention Center, and founder of Emerging Sales Professionals, an organization committed to helping those in hospitality sales learn more to aid them in making meetings and events—and those who sell space and services—more rounded in their knowledge beyond “rates, dates and space”, and to Convention Sales Professionals International. I had the privilege this Spring of presenting sessions to both organizations on how to be consultative sales professionals by understanding the elements of good education at meetings.
Additional thanks goes out to Brent Grant, CMP, for patience to create the right audience-centric room set. Also to Jane Kantor of Visit Bellevue and the Meydenbauer Center and Julie Deweese of the Oregon Convention Center, for their creativity in programming.
Shortly after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), I was an MPI delegate to the board of the Convention Liaison Council—the previous name of what is now the Convention Industry Council (CIC). Speakers were invited to address and inform the board about topical issues, such as music licensing and the ADA, that impacted our industry and each organization. Cricket Park, then deputy executive director of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), and now, the Rev’d C.B. “Cricket” Park, rector, The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Bethesda, Md., addressed us about the ADA and its impact on the meetings and hospitality industry.
Cricket was the only person to ever write a book and, for PCMA, a white paper, on the ADA and meetings. Alas, both are out of print.
Like many of you, I was blown away by what we hadn’t paid enough attention to and what we needed to learn and to implement in regard to the ADA. Not many years later, my company was responsible to help plan and execute a meeting conducted in the U.S. by the U.S. and Canadian governments on issues of accessibility around the world.
On a site visit with representatives of both governments, I observed how clueless the hotel salespersons were about the ADA and compliance and general accessibility issues. Illustrative of that: the clients were in the guest room bathrooms taking measurements and there the sales people were telling us about their turndown service and wonderful spa and pool, the latter two which were totally inaccessible for someone with a disability and had no materials or people to help those with hearing or sight needs.
To date, not all countries have disabilities acts. This blog and the accompanying newsletter specifically address laws in the United States. For those who are in or do meetings outside the U.S., these resources will help: U.S. State Department “International Disability Rights”; Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DRED); Disability Rights International; and International Disability Rights.
Alas, none of the above noted resources, unlike this from the U.S. Department of Justice, specifically address meetings. Reading further into this blog post and referencing the somewhat limited resources from our industry—thanks to Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA), formerly ACOM, for their work creating an accessibility toolkit—will help make our industry more accessible, in addition to asking participants what they need to fully participate and experiencing some of the obstacles they face firsthand.
That and common sense on the part of meeting professionals—planners, professional development designers and suppliers to our industry—can help guide us to better inclusion practices and simple adjustments.
I am not an expert on the ADA and all the components of helping to make meetings and facilities inclusive. Niesa Silzer and I, with assistance from Kristen McCosh (here’s a profile and a short bio) who is the Boston Mayor’s Commission for People with Disabilities, at a PCMA’s Convening Leaders in Boston in 2014, lead an experiential session in which attendees participated in several hands-on exercises. This will be somewhat replicated again, as they did a few years ago, at this year’s SGMP NEC on June 7, for more than discussion about disabilities and inclusive hospitality and meetings.
And why this is personal: I took my unassisted mobility for granted. Yes, I’d broken bones necessitating crutches, but somehow I managed. Even after back surgery, I was immobile for a bit but eventually regained my ability to walk and move about well.
Until I couldn’t.
The need for a mobility scooter came long after my knowledge of the ADA. By the time I needed assistance, I was already aware of and in tune with the extreme difficulty of being a person with a different ability or with a disability when traveling or even just getting around in my own city (Washington D.C.)! Others may not be.
These are ways to begin thinking and planning differently in order to have more inclusive meetings. They are by far not all you need to know or do and do not include sensory and other areas of disability. It’s up to you to do more research by starting with a list of questions for your meeting participants and hotel guests.
1. Conduct site inspections using a wheelchair or power chair or mobility scooter.
2. Conduct a site inspection wearing an eye patch or with cotton or ear plugs in your ears. NOTE: for safety, just like in commercials for cars with a professional driver winding down a mountain road where it tells you not try this at home, it is advised you not do this on your own.
3. Check guest rooms for accommodations.
4. Check meeting and public space for more inclusive features.
*I learned long after I wrote the foreword for the book—I was and am not compensated for the foreword I wrote or for “plugging” the book except to hear great things from people like Gail Hernandez who used seating from Paul’s book and how successful it was!—that Paul worked with Interpreters and the Deaf community on seating to ensure good sight lines.
5. Know what the Amendment to the ADA included.
6. Make no assumptions!
7. Prepare for everyone.
As you read the stories from D’Arcee Charington Neal, Shane Feldman, and Stacy Patnode Bassett in the accompanying April 2017 Friday With Joan Q&A sidebar, think about what you would have done in their situations and more, what you will do now to ensure others at your facilities and your meetings do not endure these types of incidents.
When a venue says they are “in compliance with the ADA” ask them how they know. Then take it the next step to see if they go beyond compliance to real inclusion.
Originally posted Meetings Today Blog
Originally published Meetings Today
We’re all busy. The news is often painful to read, watch and/or listen to, but our work is so impacted by what’s in the news and the potential consequences that if we are not paying attention, we are negligent in our duties. It’s all part of life-long learning*, which many, after they secure degrees or any letters after their names, forget.
Here are five areas of conducting meetings that are impacted by what’s in the news and why you should pay attention. In the comments, add yours and your sources—newspapers (print or digital), periodicals and other media go-tos (including social).
1. Destination Selection and Use: The greatest buzz (groan … I know!) is about the Zika virus, its origin, where and how it’s spreading, and what is being done to stop the spread of the virus. Airlines are issuing waivers to passengers and changing some employees’ schedules of those who are afraid of traveling to areas where Zika-carrying mosquitoes are prevalent. PCMA’s Convene had this to say about it.
Knowing what airlines are doing and the impact that may have on the accessibility of all destinations, especially second and third tier ones, matters to our selection and use of those destinations. Cleveland, that was for years a Continental hub and then a United hub, has cut back more nonstop flights to numerous destinations. One wonders what the impact will be on the Republican National Convention to be held in Cleveland this summer. Perhaps, if gas prices continue to be low(er), more will drive.
(I’m not saying don’t go; I’m saying be aware, informed, and plan for contingencies … whether they are health related or otherwise).
2. Site Selection: Will our choices narrow because of the mergers noted in No. 3 below? Will you have the information you need about labor contracts? What about the impact of fire safety if you hadn’t read about the fire and investigation of a hotel in Las Vegas? Or if you had not read my blog about safety, you might not have asked about the presence of AEDs or other safety features. You might not know that many hotels are considering eliminating in-room phones (you’ve noticed how there are fewer in rooms now, right?), which may be a safety hazard or are considering using robots versus people to serve.
3. Hotel Contracts: IHG (InterContinental Hotels) merged with Kimpton; Fairmont and Raffles merged. From what these hotel CEOs say … there will be more. What is the impact on contracts in place of these mergers and those upcoming? Or future contracts? Are you aware of who owns the hotels (the buildings) and who manages them as well as the brand on the door?
What are you following to keep up with all that may change and the impact on your contracts and contract negotiations? (On April 27 and August 31, I’ll do webinars for Meetings Today—the first on site selection; the latter on contracts for accommodations. You can also find past webinars at that link). Clearly the industry press is covering these mergers just as they are with the airlines. (After UA and Continental, American and US Airways, who will be next?) Follow the business press too. I subscribe to the print editions of Bloomberg Businessweek and Fortune, local business journals for cities to which clients are considering or taking meetings, hotel-related reading, Crain’s for various cities, and more. You can read online or in print. Just read!
And then there was this that should be a concern for all planners, Starwood employees, and individual hotel owners about what Starwood’s new CEO says about the safety of most Starwood brands under a Marriott merger.
4. Meeting “Stoppage” and Individual Cancellation Plans and Policies: If, because of a pending snow storm or other weather issue, the airlines start to cancel flights days in advance (follow Joe Brancatelli, @joesentme, on Twitter) … or if because of the Zika virus people decide it is not safe to attend a meeting you’ve planned or one you plan to attend … or if, like in Cleveland, an airline pulls flights and it’s no longer easy to get to and from the destination without multiple plane changes, a person says “enough” and wants to cancel attendance, what are your policies? What’s in your contracts with venues and vendors about stopping the meeting?
Is it force majeure if a storm hasn’t hit and you cancel a meeting? What about Zika which reports say is spreading, but like SARS, may not actually impact the meeting? All the things that could impact a meeting being stopped—by the venue or by weather or by an individual who just doesn’t want to schlep more than she’d planned—are impacted by what’s in the news. To not pay attention means to be caught off-guard or to make assumptions and we know what that does!
5. Liabilities and Meeting Risk: What if you had been, as part of your job, responsible to send people on an incentive cruise and they’d been on this ship? What if you book a group into a Zika-infested area and someone needs, for reasons unrelated to Zika, a blood transfusion? What must you consider when updating your risk and emergency plan for each meeting? What in that destination or facility might cause harm for which you must plan?
I know that there are those who think I overthink it but here’s what I know: to under-thinking and under-planning puts people, the meeting sponsor, and you at risk. And if you’d like the table of contents to a risk plan, go to the “Resources” section of my website or email me at FridaywithJoan@aol.com for a copy.
Another thing you might also like: if you don’t read, you wouldn’t know about the wearable chair, which seems a perfect thing for exhibitors at tradeshows, or that two songs in popular use finally settled a copyright case (Hint: one is sung at least once a year to or by most of us).
And an asterisk to the title: learning from lots of different sources enhances your life. You are able to start and continue conversations with almost anyone, enabling lots of opportunities; you gain insights about your life and you continue your education.
*In the February 8-14 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, quoting Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel-winning economist at Columbia. “He says societies need to emphasize life-long learning not just school.”
Originally published Meetings Today
It’s tough to separate the political from the professional whether in last week’s Friday With Joan blog post on professional development, the linked Q&A with Sekeno Aldred, Charles Massey and Jean Riley, or in this previous blog post “When the Political Becomes The Practical.”
While many are many speaking out—including these legal opinions—I look to our industry for a voice against what Donald Trump has said about restricting Muslims from entering the United States for any reason including as tourists. Can you imagine being a Muslim who works for a Trump property?
Or can you imagine being invited to attend a meeting at a Trump property … especially if you are a Muslim or someone thinks you are? Will activities or discussions of those attending your meetings have to be reported if this new law goes through?
Will we or will we not be as inclusive as the policies of all our industry associations say? Even The Washington Business Journal is asking the question about boycotting Trump properties, services and products with, to me, surprising results.
Where are the voices in our industry speaking out against hate? Even if it means using the “business case” as has been done to promote multiculturalism and diversity and inclusiveness.
Originally published Meetings Today
I moved to D.C. in 1978 and in early 1979, discovered the newly formed chapter (Potomac) of Meeting Planners (now Professionals) International.
At my first meeting, while wall-hugging—such an Introvert, I was observing the scene!—(the late) Bill Myles introduced himself and immediately got me involved in a committee. From that initial involvement, I became active: serving on and chairing committees, then to the Chapter Board where I served as President twice, and then to serve our chapter as one of two representatives on the MPI International Board before being elected by petition to the re-tooled, smaller Board.
I had experiences, especially on what was then called the “Program Committee” planning education that, in my work to that point, I’d not done. I honed my leadership and speaking skills. And I made friends for life.
Since then, I’ve maintained memberships in, and served in many capacities for, MPI and its Foundation, PCMA, HSMAI, DMAI, GMIC, and ASAE. I’ve also been a contributor by writing for and presenting at the meetings of ESPA*, IACC and SGMP. I’ve paid personally for my memberships and involvement, never, in 37 years, calculating the outlay of time or money. It was the smart thing to do.
The reasons I joined and why I continue to be a member of a number of these organizations include wanting to:
There’s not been a year when I’ve not been involved; I’m not a good ‘check-book member’!
(If you’re attending ESPA, come to the session I’m moderating on Saturday. PCMA student? I’ll moderate a program for you the Sunday of PCMA).
From my memberships and, more from active engagement, I’ve gained experience and knowledge, friends, a support network, and clients, paid and pro-bono.
Today, opportunities for professional involvement abound:
Like a number of veteran—older? more years of experience?—colleagues, I’ve begun to question the financial commitment because of disappointment when industry associations, with winks and nods, work against their own codes or standards of ethics, when there are fewer opportunities for involvement; because of the dependence on supplier/vendor dollars; and when, as I’ve seen too often, long-time, active (and honored) members drop their membership and never receive any follow up.
In addition to many informal conversations, I asked three respected colleagues—all of whom I met because of our industry involvement at different stages of their careers—what they see as reasons to be members of industry associations and what they expect from that involvement and the associations themselves. Interviews with Sekeno Aldred, CMP, Charles Chan Massey, CMP, and Jean Riley, are part of this month’s Friday with Joan newsletter.
I want to know about you—planner, supplier, student or faculty: please respond to the poll and tell us more in the comments about why are you a member—or are not—of any of the CIC-member organizations. If you were a member—and I know many of you!—and are not now, what caused you to drop your membership? What would you advise for those new to the industry? Those at mid-career? To those “veteran industry” planners and suppliers (or as my friend, Charles Chan Massey refers to himself, “Supplanner”), about being part of an industry association?
Note that once you vote, you can view the poll results here.
*If you know an event service professional, also known as a CSM, encourage them to join ESPA. More, tell their GMs and corporate offices why we meeting planners want CSMs who are active and involved.
**Among the honors I’ve received are MPI International Planner of the Year; PCMA Teacher of the Year, PCMA Foundation honor for lifetime achievement as an educator; HSMAI Pacesetter Award and two from IACC (Mel Hosansky Award and Pyramid Award) all three for contributions to education. CIC inducted me into the CIC Hall of Leaders in 2004.
Funniest thing ever: When MPI honored me in 1990 or 1991, another industry professional came to me and said “Well, now you don’t have to volunteer any more since you’ve been honored.” Stunned, now as then, I said “I’ve never done it for the honors.”
I come from a history of grassroots activism: my parents were active in our neighborhood in the ’50s organizing against redlining and blockbusting. I listened closely to news and read newspapers and got involved, campaigning for presidential candidates on my playground!
Later, I was active in Y-Teens (through the YWCA), the Junior Human Rights Council, and Community Chest (now United Way) and other community organizing and grassroots efforts for wide-ranging causes, in my home town of Dayton, Ohio, on my college campus (Drake University) and then when I moved to D.C. in ’78, inspired by the late great Josephine Butler, an early proponent of D.C. statehood, active for our rights.
I was active in the civil rights movement and saw how individuals, alone and together, could make a huge difference if they’d just step up.
I’ve seen and always believed that one person—one vote—does make difference.
In our industry, I think we could do so much more to explain and influence those who hold office and make policies that impact our industry, directly and indirectly.
Sure, there are lobbyists constantly “on the Hill” (in D.C.) and in state capitols working for the hospitality industry. If you search, using “hospitality industry lobbyists” you’ll see the who and how many, almost all of whom are big companies that supply goods and services for our industry.
If there is so much influence and money expended on hospitality lobbying, why is it meetings are still questioned? And why do so many of my colleagues, especially on the meeting creation side, take a back seat? It’s not that we’ve never done anything! There was action years ago when New York City raised the hotel taxes to over 20% and we wanted it lower!
When ASCAP and BMI learned there were meetings and started fining those organizations that didn’t pay licensing fees (for people to listen to music at meetings and tradeshows), the industry associations banded together to negotiate flat fees (Thanks, Corbin Ball, for a great timeline).
I’m guessing there are newer planners who don’t know, and more senior planners who don’t remember, the brouhaha over music licensing.
I served on the CLC’s (now CIC’s) Board for MPI when this was a hot issue and remember sitting, on the return flight, next to one of the lawyers who’d spoken at our board meeting. I learned much more, though planners continued to fight the idea of paying for music to be heard.
Recent history gave us Muffingate (2011) and the uproar that erupted in local and national media criticizing what was spent on continental breakfasts. After that, the GSA-Vegas meetings “scandal” (2012) where I thought meeting professionals would be so outraged at what was done—apparent unethical behavior on the part of the meeting organizers and the hotel partners that colluded to meet the demands—and written that they’d use that angry passion to write to their local and national representatives and the media. Clearly too little was done to correct the images of meetings and our industry! Look what was written in April of this year, still criticizing meetings.
On July 10, 2013, Meetings Focus (now Meetings Today) published this blog—“Who speaks for our industry?”—that I thought might move people to action.
Meetings Mean Business was formed to provide a framework and tools for organizations and individuals to take action. MMB has been promoted at various at industry events and, I’ve been told, promoted the many toolkits (scroll down on its site) offered for advocacy by organizations and individuals.
The events held on 2014’s North American Meetings Industry Day (NAMID) are pictured here and there is information about what you can do in 2016 as the event expands to be Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID).
Good work and yet, here’s what we’re missing:
So who speaks for our industry? We all do. We cannot depend on the CIC or each of the CIC member organizations to talk about meetings and the process of planning them, the value of holding them. We each have an obligation to understand our work’s complexity and to speak out.
Actions You Can Take:
I know that my examples are U.S.-centric. This is where I live and where I do the majority of my work. I’ve tried to find examples from Europe, especially now during the refugee crisis, and was unable to find those of the industry working together to solve a serious problem that impacts many lives. I hope you’ll post examples of what’s been and is being done in Europe, Asia, and elsewhere around the globe.
If you’re reading this in another area of social media, please also post responses at the Meetings Today blog site so we can consolidate for greater impact and action.
Here are some recent blogs to help you think through issues impacting meetings and the hospitality industry:
And here’s some related Friday With Joan e-newsletter content to go with this post:
You can also view the 11.06.15 Friday With Joan newsletter in its original format.
Got comments? Add below or email me at FridaywithJoan@aol.com. If you’d like your comments posted anonymously, I’m glad to do so.