Dilemma of the Day

Q: In the wake of the two recent bus tragedies in the New York area that have killed 15 and wounded many others, how can I help to keep my attendees safe, when bus travel is a necessary evil? 

First, don't book departures too early in the morning. Keep in mind that a driver must wake up 2-3 hours earlier than your departure time to allocate time to get ready, get to the garage, do the mandatory safety inspection and drive to your starting point.  A 5 a.m. departure time might mean the driver isn’t fully rested.

Second, don't offer any overnight trips. As a policy, Groupize.com, and many respectable coach operators refuse to do any trips, which involve overnight transportation. It’s good business.

Charles de Gaspe Beaubien, president of Groupize.com 
 

Q: How can I tell a reputable bus company from a less than reputable one?
 

 
Educate yourself.  With 3,500 motorcoach coach companies in North America, not all companies are equal. Visit the FMCSA’s website to see their safety profiles and insurance records. 
 

 
Charles de Gaspe Beaubien, president of Groupize.com

Q: How do I make sure my attendees are protected when I contract with a bus company?

Companies must carry a minimum of $5M of insurance.  Any company who carries $10-$100M indicates an operator who has large volume and expertise dealing with professional organizations. You should also ask to be added as a certificate holder on the carrier’s Certificate of Liability.

Charles de Gaspe Beaubien, president of Groupize.com

Q: How can I be sure a bus company is safe?
Take the time to visit a bus company’s garages and you will learn a lot.  We trust the DOT experts for the vehicle inspections, but as travel experts, we need to make the effort to visit their facilities.  If we take the time to do hotel site inspections, as an industry, we should also do garage inspections.  Groupize.com visits about 100 garages a year throughout the USA and Canada and keeps a photo library of their vehicles and garages.

Charles de Gaspe Beaubien, president of Groupize.com  

Q: How can I combine local in-person meetings with web meetings to keep my membership active and involved? 
 

 
A: Hybrid meetings can be accomplished in multiple routes. HD video conferencing to bring in speakers, video conference panel discussions, screen sharing to show applications, etc.

- Corbin Ball, meetings technology expert, speaker, author, and consultant


Q: With shrinking corporate budgets, more groups are looking toward online meetings and webinars. What segments will be most affected by this shift in 2011? 


A: Sure [this shift makes sense], especially for short information exchange. They are not particularly good for relationship building and brainstorming. Face-to-face will remain very important. [Online offerings] will affect all meeting industry market segments for different reasons. SMERF markets for saving money. Technology meetings for increasing the wow factor, etc.    
Q: How do I negotiate free wireless for my event?

A: There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for negotiating free wireless, but here are two ideas to try to get cheaper or free wireless. First, ask for a package rate for the entire meeting rather than negotiating per-person. You can also try negotiating with a national sales rep instead of a local one.

Source: MeCo Google Group
  
Q: What is the return on an average meeting in the Gulf Coast following the oil spill?

Good news! Richard Forrester of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau says, “The spill had little if any affect on our long term meeting business.  We did not have any cancellations of scheduled meetings that we were involved with during the spill.” 

Q: How much effort should you put into a "Plan B" to be prepared and avoid logistical nightmares in case something happens? 
A: Think about the causes, but know the effects. Know the resources available in the location, and their capabilities. Know your timelines and deadlines—know when you must make decisions, which will be based on when something happens and how long it will take to implement the solution. Keep in mind that you can not control what happens, only your ability to react should it happen.
   
- Julia Rutherford Silvers, author of Risk Management for Meetings and Events (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2008) and Professional Event Coordination (Wiley, 2004) 
 
Q: In this economy, how do I convince prospective and past clients that our services provide an excellent ROI?

A: For prospective clients, I would show them a forecast ROI on a conference, and follow up with an actual ROI calculation in the post-conference timeframe.  This is extremely credible, and can develop an important competitive edge.  For previous clients, I suggest a follow up to show the ROI of a conference, if it has already been conducted in the not-too-distant past.  If you have ongoing conferences, I would suggest that you show the value of one of their future conferences.  Ideally it is best to make the decision to calculate ROI before the conference is scheduled.  This allows you to adjust the objectives, and get everyone involved in getting results and providing data. In summary, it is possible to do both, and for a very powerful, competitive advantage, I would recommend pursuing both strategies.
- Dr. Jack Phillips, Chairman, ROI Institute  
  
Q: How do you quantify and measure ROI for both exhibitors and participants? 
A: For the exhibitor, it is usually very easy.  The exhibitor must follow up and determine the sales that are derived from the exhibit.  This means tracking the individuals who visited the exhibit, finding out what they actually do after leaving the exhibit, and following through to the actual sales. The influence of the exhibit must be isolated on the sale, the profit of the sale is calculated and extrapolated to at least one year of value, and the result is compared to the cost of exhibiting – that’s the ROI. 
   
- Dr. Jack Phillips, Chairman, ROI Institute 
  
Q: How are we going to reeducate the client and return to charging the right price for our services after several years of deep discounts?

A: Unfortunately, there are several issues causing this dilemma.  The recession caused an increase in cost-cutting and discounting on all types of products and services.  This in return squeezed profits and margins, and even pushed some service providers into a loss position just to keep the business.  The other issue is the value for what the client is receiving.  For every meeting or event, there are benefits and costs.  If the benefits are not clearly expressed in monetary contribution from the event, then the approach is to lower the cost.  
  
- Dr. Jack Phillips, Chairman, ROI Institute 

Q: What impact will the new health care plan have on companies' and organizations' plans to hold meetings?  
 
A: Although the health care reform bill was signed into law earlier this year, meetings won’t really be affected until several years down the road, in late 2013.

Medical and pharmaceutical meetings will be bound by the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which requires health care professionals to disclose all payments received from pharmaceutical companies. A searchable public database will be created to document this spending.

Since spending will be tracked so carefully, SMMPs will be an essential for medical meetings down the road. One exception to the rule – at least for now – is CME.   
 
Q: What information should a planner have on-hand about their attendees in order to handle an Act of God or terrorist attack during an event? 

A:  Four things! 
1. In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact information and on-site contact information (hotel, cell phone, etc.). 
2. Event agenda including locations for specific components (including off-site and optional activities). 
3. Manifests of those scheduled to attend the various components (to track last known or expected location). 
4. List of accompanying persons, if known.

- Julia Rutherford Silvers, author of Risk Management for Meetings and Events (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2008) and Professional Event Coordination (Wiley, 2004)
 
Q: 
With shrinking corporate budgets, more groups are looking toward online meetings and webinars. What segments will be most affected by this shift in 2011? 
A: Sure [this shift makes sense], especially for short information exchange. They are not particularly good for relationship building and brainstorming. Face-to-face will remain very important. [Online offerings] will affect all meeting industry market segments for different reasons. SMERF markets for saving money. Technology meetings for increasing the wow factor, etc.
 
 
- Corbin Ball, meetings technology expert, speaker, author, and consultant.
 
 

Q: What government rules will impact the trucking industry in 2011?
  
In 2011 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) plans to more fully implement its CSA 2010 program, a complete reboot of enforcement and compliance procedures. First and foremost CSA 2010 “decouples” safety ratings and compliance reviews. New ratings are based on roadside inspections and crash data rather than periodic compliance reviews and will take more factors like fatigued driving into account. 
 
The agency will release a Safety Fitness Determination Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) early in the year, and enforcement staff will be trained and new interventions will implemented state by state.

The federal government has also recently passed legislation banning texting by truck and bus drivers. Offenses are punishable by fines running up to $2,750. The new law does not prevent truckers from using computers while driving, though Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has previously pledged to crack down on all forms of “distracted driving.”
 
Q: Should planners be aware of any changes the government will or might expect them to make to their business practices in 2011? 
 
Independent planners will want to familiarize themselves with tax changes for small businesses on the horizon. Beginning in 2012 the IRS will require a 1099 form to be filed for any business to business transaction exceeding $600.


Q: At minimum, what must I do to protect my meeting against the unexpected?

Conduct a risk assessment. Identify the threats and vulnerabilities associated with the goals and objectives for the event. Identify those outcomes that you can not afford (financially or operationally); then rethink, redesign, or reinforce the strategies for preventing those outcomes. 

- Julia Rutherford Silvers, author of Risk Management for Meetings and Events (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2008) and Professional Event Coordination (Wiley, 2004)
Q: How can I tell a reputable bus company from a less than reputable one?
 

 
Educate yourself.  With 3,500 motorcoach coach companies in North America, not all companies are equal. Visit the FMCSA’s website to see their safety profiles and insurance records. 
 

 
Charles de Gaspe Beaubien, president of Groupize.com

Q: How do I make sure my attendees are protected when I contract with a bus company?

Companies must carry a minimum of $5M of insurance.  Any company who carries $10-$100M indicates an operator who has large volume and expertise dealing with professional organizations. You should also ask to be added as a certificate holder on the carrier’s Certificate of Liability.

Charles de Gaspe Beaubien, president of Groupize.com

Q: How can I be sure a bus company is safe?
Take the time to visit a bus company’s garages and you will learn a lot.  We trust the DOT experts for the vehicle inspections, but as travel experts, we need to make the effort to visit their facilities.  If we take the time to do hotel site inspections, as an industry, we should also do garage inspections.  Groupize.com visits about 100 garages a year throughout the USA and Canada and keeps a photo library of their vehicles and garages.

Charles de Gaspe Beaubien, president of Groupize.com  

Q: How can I combine local in-person meetings with web meetings to keep my membership active and involved? 
 

 
A: Hybrid meetings can be accomplished in multiple routes. HD video conferencing to bring in speakers, video conference panel discussions, screen sharing to show applications, etc.

- Corbin Ball, meetings technology expert, speaker, author, and consultant


Q: With shrinking corporate budgets, more groups are looking toward online meetings and webinars. What segments will be most affected by this shift in 2011? 


A: Sure [this shift makes sense], especially for short information exchange. They are not particularly good for relationship building and brainstorming. Face-to-face will remain very important. [Online offerings] will affect all meeting industry market segments for different reasons. SMERF markets for saving money. Technology meetings for increasing the wow factor, etc.    
Q: How do I negotiate free wireless for my event?

A: There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for negotiating free wireless, but here are two ideas to try to get cheaper or free wireless. First, ask for a package rate for the entire meeting rather than negotiating per-person. You can also try negotiating with a national sales rep instead of a local one.

Source: MeCo Google Group
  
Q: What is the return on an average meeting in the Gulf Coast following the oil spill?

Good news! Richard Forrester of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau says, “The spill had little if any affect on our long term meeting business.  We did not have any cancellations of scheduled meetings that we were involved with during the spill.” 

Q: How much effort should you put into a "Plan B" to be prepared and avoid logistical nightmares in case something happens? 
A: Think about the causes, but know the effects. Know the resources available in the location, and their capabilities. Know your timelines and deadlines—know when you must make decisions, which will be based on when something happens and how long it will take to implement the solution. Keep in mind that you can not control what happens, only your ability to react should it happen.
   
- Julia Rutherford Silvers, author of Risk Management for Meetings and Events (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2008) and Professional Event Coordination (Wiley, 2004) 
 
Q: In this economy, how do I convince prospective and past clients that our services provide an excellent ROI?

A: For prospective clients, I would show them a forecast ROI on a conference, and follow up with an actual ROI calculation in the post-conference timeframe.  This is extremely credible, and can develop an important competitive edge.  For previous clients, I suggest a follow up to show the ROI of a conference, if it has already been conducted in the not-too-distant past.  If you have ongoing conferences, I would suggest that you show the value of one of their future conferences.  Ideally it is best to make the decision to calculate ROI before the conference is scheduled.  This allows you to adjust the objectives, and get everyone involved in getting results and providing data. In summary, it is possible to do both, and for a very powerful, competitive advantage, I would recommend pursuing both strategies.
- Dr. Jack Phillips, Chairman, ROI Institute  
  
Q: How do you quantify and measure ROI for both exhibitors and participants? 
A: For the exhibitor, it is usually very easy.  The exhibitor must follow up and determine the sales that are derived from the exhibit.  This means tracking the individuals who visited the exhibit, finding out what they actually do after leaving the exhibit, and following through to the actual sales. The influence of the exhibit must be isolated on the sale, the profit of the sale is calculated and extrapolated to at least one year of value, and the result is compared to the cost of exhibiting – that’s the ROI. 
   
- Dr. Jack Phillips, Chairman, ROI Institute 
  
Q: How are we going to reeducate the client and return to charging the right price for our services after several years of deep discounts?

A: Unfortunately, there are several issues causing this dilemma.  The recession caused an increase in cost-cutting and discounting on all types of products and services.  This in return squeezed profits and margins, and even pushed some service providers into a loss position just to keep the business.  The other issue is the value for what the client is receiving.  For every meeting or event, there are benefits and costs.  If the benefits are not clearly expressed in monetary contribution from the event, then the approach is to lower the cost.  
  
- Dr. Jack Phillips, Chairman, ROI Institute 

Q: What impact will the new health care plan have on companies' and organizations' plans to hold meetings?  
 
A: Although the health care reform bill was signed into law earlier this year, meetings won’t really be affected until several years down the road, in late 2013.

Medical and pharmaceutical meetings will be bound by the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which requires health care professionals to disclose all payments received from pharmaceutical companies. A searchable public database will be created to document this spending.

Since spending will be tracked so carefully, SMMPs will be an essential for medical meetings down the road. One exception to the rule – at least for now – is CME.   
 
Q: What information should a planner have on-hand about their attendees in order to handle an Act of God or terrorist attack during an event? 

A:  Four things! 
1. In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact information and on-site contact information (hotel, cell phone, etc.). 
2. Event agenda including locations for specific components (including off-site and optional activities). 
3. Manifests of those scheduled to attend the various components (to track last known or expected location). 
4. List of accompanying persons, if known.

- Julia Rutherford Silvers, author of Risk Management for Meetings and Events (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2008) and Professional Event Coordination (Wiley, 2004)
 
Q: 
With shrinking corporate budgets, more groups are looking toward online meetings and webinars. What segments will be most affected by this shift in 2011? 
A: Sure [this shift makes sense], especially for short information exchange. They are not particularly good for relationship building and brainstorming. Face-to-face will remain very important. [Online offerings] will affect all meeting industry market segments for different reasons. SMERF markets for saving money. Technology meetings for increasing the wow factor, etc.
 
 
- Corbin Ball, meetings technology expert, speaker, author, and consultant.
 
 

Q: What government rules will impact the trucking industry in 2011?
  
In 2011 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) plans to more fully implement its CSA 2010 program, a complete reboot of enforcement and compliance procedures. First and foremost CSA 2010 “decouples” safety ratings and compliance reviews. New ratings are based on roadside inspections and crash data rather than periodic compliance reviews and will take more factors like fatigued driving into account. 
 
The agency will release a Safety Fitness Determination Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) early in the year, and enforcement staff will be trained and new interventions will implemented state by state.

The federal government has also recently passed legislation banning texting by truck and bus drivers. Offenses are punishable by fines running up to $2,750. The new law does not prevent truckers from using computers while driving, though Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has previously pledged to crack down on all forms of “distracted driving.”
 
Q: Should planners be aware of any changes the government will or might expect them to make to their business practices in 2011? 
 
Independent planners will want to familiarize themselves with tax changes for small businesses on the horizon. Beginning in 2012 the IRS will require a 1099 form to be filed for any business to business transaction exceeding $600.


Q: At minimum, what must I do to protect my meeting against the unexpected?

Conduct a risk assessment. Identify the threats and vulnerabilities associated with the goals and objectives for the event. Identify those outcomes that you can not afford (financially or operationally); then rethink, redesign, or reinforce the strategies for preventing those outcomes. 

- Julia Rutherford Silvers, author of Risk Management for Meetings and Events (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2008) and Professional Event Coordination (Wiley, 2004)