Hotels That Ruin Your Event And Have You Calling “MAYDAY! MAYDAY!”

hoteleventMany companies who don’t use a NO-COST hotel and cruise partner to help them evaluate their hotel selections often do the hotel research on their own and take too many risks. They  don’t understand how a third party can actually save them considerable time and money, all while minimizing their financial risk at NO COST to them.  Every year, we get several horror story calls from new prospects who ask us to get involved and help them out of a troublesome contract they shouldn’t have signed on their own.

At all costs, you need to avoid:

·         Picking a leisure hotel that provides excellent stays for senior management’s vacations.  Only certain hotels actually “do” groups well.  You need to know which ones fall into this category to avoid a disappointing event.

·         Finding a hotel online that you feel will deliver for your event.  Have you spoken with other planners who have had events there, only to be disappointed?  There are too many unknowns, and having professional guidance can save your event’s success.

·         Repeating a booking with a hotel you haven’t used in a few years without asking all the right questions and signing the contract “sight unseen.”  We recently sent three clients on a site visit to a group hotel that we’d used in years before with raving success, insisting that they also allow us to showcase alternative hotels.  All three clients refused to sign the contract with the intended hotel and thanked us for sharing our knowledge on the changes in management, room product and service levels.  Hotels can go out of style as quickly as fashion trends.

Using our NO-COST hotel and cruise research and contracting services helps ensure you won’t end up calling “Mayday!” Find out why so many clients refer us and come to count on our unbelievable services, especially for repeat events.

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    How the Pot at the End of the Irish Rainbow Can Ruin Your Event


    International destinations continue to be hot for group business. How long will it last? Foreign conversion, forward contracts, VAT / GST processing, customs shipping—what areas of expertise and savings are missing from your “pot” that can cost you tens of thousands with your event?

    • Booking directly may result in your quickly signing off on a contract without knowing what you don’t know, including potential savings opportunities.
    • Speculating on the dollar can be dangerous. Your partner should help you understand the 15% rule to determine whether booking in this destination is the right move for your company. Making the wrong choice can ruin your event’s dynamics and future event budgets, too.
    • Failing to conduct a site inspection or going on a poorly-planned one is a waste of your staff’s time, and it devalues your trip. Know what is essential to include and which destinations to avoid.
    • Picking the right destination at the right time is critical. Some years, there are important reasons why some of the most popular destinations should not be at the top of your list. Also, sometimes it’s great to be at a specific destination on a specific day (in Ireland for St. Paddy’s Day, for example), but other times, there are special risk factors you should know about.

    When you partner with our destination experts, you get additional value-added benefits that often result in rebates and discounts that you can’t get on your own. Putting these dollars back in your event budget can often help you offset bringing more attendees, paying for your site and reducing your overall event budget. Due to the large volume of events we plan all over the world, we can help guide you to success—whether it’s in the Caribbean, Mexico or even the spectacular country of Ireland.

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      Don't book your group hotel.  Let us do it for you.


      Last minute budget approval and procrastination around the end of the year often brings frantic efforts to quickly book a hotel for your next year’s event. Doing so on your own can put you at huge risk.
      • Avoid a hotel that insists you rush through the contract to sign off on it before the holidays, eliminating the proper review channels. (The timing may only be beneficial for the hotel sales person’s year-end sales bonus.)
      • Sharing too much information can take you out of the driver’s seat. Understand what information allows you to have multiple hotels clamoring for your business and how to land that stellar deal.
      • Getting the wrong person to handle your event dynamics can make the difference between a fantastic event and a mediocre one.

      Our NO-COST hotel/cruise and speaker bureau booking services protect you from potential pitfalls you may not even know about, ensuring you have a successful and enjoyable event. We insist on contractual protection clauses that address your hot buttons, ensure you get the right meeting space (too many people skip this step only to have a terrible hotel experience) and protect your financial interests. Why not give our services a try and discover why we have hundreds of raving fans and have built our business based on referrals, even at the year-end last minute. Oh yeah, seriouslyat NO COST to you.

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        Guest Opinion: Picking up where IWLC leaves off

        Coming off of an energetic IWLC Central Iowa Conference just a few weeks ago lets you think, “What next?”  Michelle DeClerck

        As an organizer of events and placing speakers at big name events, typically there’s a lull that follows after any size event. It’s hard to keep the buzz going with the attendee long after the event. As one of the speakers stated, if it were easy to stay motivated, you’d just hear one motivational speaker and you wouldn’t need to hear another again.

        That’s the part about motivation, you need to hear it over and over again, each time serving as a reminder to help keep you from letting self-sabotaging thoughts creep in about your dreams and your goals, to help re-energize yourself, to inspire you to make a difference. That’s why repeatedly attending events, like the ones IWLC puts on, is beneficial for you and your organization.

        Hearing the motivational speaker is only one part of it. To truly get the benefits, within a few days of being back, zone in on a few ideas that resonated with you during the event and post those on your desk or, if appropriate, on your task list. Based on our experience, it’s not always what the speaker said, but rather what creative idea you came up with while you were in the moment. Those can be even more impactful and propel you forward, resulting in an even greater event experience.

        Both Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, and author Anne-Marie Slaughter shared a few thoughts that I wrote down that I’ll refer back to yet again this week, and they also focused on “Support other women — pay it forward by helping women.” This advice reminds me to say yes to that extra meeting request to help provide mentoring advice, even when I think I’m at my maximum capacity for my week. I always gain just as much, especially when meeting with millennials.

        Kim Martin, chief brand officer for Meredith Corp., went in depth on how focusing on what matters most to millennials is detrimental to business success. The more we are open to change, the more we realize that having these high performers in our work groups gets us even better results, just like having more women on boards makes those companies more profitable. Martin shared that this group is eager for development and growth opportunities and wants to be involved in meaningful work, and she reminds us that they often can find a better, more efficient way of doing something if we’ll allow them to.

        The next time you have an opportunity to learn from an industry or motivational speaker, remember that there’s more to it than just sitting in the audience. It comes down to keeping the experience momentum. By bringing back just one or two ideas, you make it worth hearing another motivational speaker.

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          The Dangers of Booking a Cruise…What Can Go Wrong!

          Perspectives of Dylan DeClerck, Event Consultant

          Post 5 of 5 in this series.   Dylan DeClerck

          Booking a group on a cruise, or for that fact any trip for a larger group, can be very exciting, especially when you’ve worked with a cruise expert to help you with the daunting research to locate the perfect location, received the best concessions and amenities, and created the best experiences for all of the attendees.  However, right after the trip gets booked, the overwhelming pressure of putting on an event just as well as you envisioned starts to feel heavy on your shoulders.  Let’s explore a couple of the things you need to address when planning a cruise and provide you with a way to alleviate some of the stress.

          Picking a Ship – One of the challenges in picking a ship is finding the company and vessel with everything you need for your group.  Unlike choosing a hotel and destination, a cruise ship has no room to add additional meeting space or any flexibility in set up, so everything that you need for the length of your group’s stay on board must be part of the contract or on the ship from the start.  This also raises the question of, “How do I know the ship has the right accommodations for my needs?”  Realistically you’d like to have prior experience with the ship, but secondarily there are event planner experts who can help with group planning.

          Miscommunication – While it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to construct a plan that avoids miscommunication, there are certain steps every event planner can take to make communication as clear as possible.  The first thing to do is establish a relationship with someone from the cruise company that you know will take good care of your special circumstances and needs.  Many groups complain that the cruise lines fail to address their concerns.  Working with a cruise can be completely different than working with a hotel.  A cruise expert can help align you with the right person to be your point person and vice versa, meaning that you almost exclusively communicate with each other when it comes to your group and the cruise.  Now these two steps may seem like an easy task, but unfortunately it takes time and investment from both parties to establish this clear line of communication.

          Challenges and Obstacles – As with all group trips there are going to be challenges and obstacles for the event planners to manage.  Most event planners know the best way to solve problems is to anticipate them and plan for them even before they occur.  If your group has never done a cruise before this can be incredibly difficult, but a good place to start is by talking with someone who has cruised with a group before.

          Fortunately for your group, a good way to alleviate some of this stress when planning a cruise is to work with a partner that knows your group and the cruise options available.  Conference Event Management can help you pick a ship because our cruise President and her cruise team have been on almost every ship that can accommodate a group.  In addition, we have established relationships and a single point of contact at all major cruise lines and won’t hesitate to reach out to them immediately as a problem arises.  Conference Event Management has the experience to make your group’s trip a smooth sailing!

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            Why you'll be thankful you didn't book the speaker or hotel on your own

            Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. We’re familiar with this popular saying, yet too many companies keep booking their hotels, cruises and speakers on their own.

            When you find a great speaker online and book them directly, not only do you have to handle the contracting, but also the moment when they call the day before your event to say they have a family emergency. Then what will you do? You can avoid this type of disaster by having a partner that can save the day for you.

            • Using a speaker’s bureau can result in getting a last-minute replacement speaker–forget putting your head actuary on stage to motivate the producers.
            • Take the risk out of signing the contract with an advocate on your side.
            • Receive additional concessions and favor rates on certain occasions. You don’t know what to ask for, but your partner goes to dinner and spends time vacationing with these speakers, so many times, favors can come into play.

            Using our NO-COST hotel / cruise and speaker research and contracting services removes many stressors from your event-planning process. We’ll ask the right questions to get you in contact with the best speaker–and often for less than you budgeted.


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              Princess Cruises Provide More Intimate Experience

              Perspectives of Dylan DeClerck, Event Consultant

              Post 4 of 5 in this series.

              Although Princess Cruises does not have the largest ships in the world with passenger capacity upwards of 4,000 or 5,000 people, they are considered one of the four cruise companies in the mass/contemporary market.  The contemporary market also includes Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean International, which can accommodate the largest number of passengers on their ships.

              For the 2017-2018 sailing year, Princess Cruises will utilize 18 ships to sail to destinations ranging from Alaska, where the company has its strongest presence, to the Mediterranean.  The largest ships in the Princess Cruises fleet host 3,560 guests at double occupancy, which is perfect for groups that are looking for specialty restaurants, many dining options, meeting and conference space, and a variety of high-quality entertainment.  On the smallest scale, the Pacific Princess ship accommodates a maximum of 672 guests.  This type of ship is ideal for the group the wants to have a more intimate experience with their attendees.

              Despite the generalizations made above, every group will have unique needs that are difficult to determine if they can be met without clear communications with cruise experts who understand the individual ships.  Ensure every accommodation your group needs fulfilled is met; count on Conference Event Management to help navigate your next cruise.

              Dylan DeClerck, Princess Cruises

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                Seafood – The Best Way to Eat on a Cruise

                Perspectives of Dylan DeClerck, Event Consultant


                Post 3 of 5 in the series

                While a healthy diet is good for us most of the time, there are certain places where a deviation makes sense. One of those places is during a cruise get away!

                This last week, I had the opportunity to cruise from Vancouver to Los Angeles on an educational site inspection and had the chance to enjoy some cuisine delights, in addition to some of my favorite guilty pleasures. This blog explores some of the most interesting ways I witnessed guests enjoy their food on an all-inclusive cruise.


                The Plus One
                This technique is relevant for any sit down meal at an all-inclusive restaurant. First everyone orders their own entrée and in addition to everyone’s own meal, the table receives another entrée together. Usually this extra entrée is something exotic or new that they normally wouldn’t try individually, or maybe it’s just an entrée to compensate for the small portions they often serve.

                The Triple Double
                If one appetizer, one entrée, and one desert aren’t enough for your large appetite then this technique could be the go-to for you. This dining strategy involves ordering two of every course on the menu, and it’s one way to ensure that you’re more than full at the end of a meal. Your server may secretly be hoping your gratuity is a bit larger for their generous favors they’ve provided.

                The Delicious Dozen
                On most cruises there will be informal dining, such as a buffet, formal, and anytime dining options. This featured eating strategy is specifically for the anytime dining option and requires a ginormous appetite. After dinner you go to the anytime dining option and order a dozen of your favorite deserts to chow on for the rest of the evening. While your chance of stomachache increases exponentially, there’s no doubt that this dining plan will make sure you get the most out of your all-inclusive investment.

                The Sampler
                The options for food in an all-inclusive situation are numerous, and this plan is designed to take advantage of the amount of food available. In this plan diners get the chance to try a little of every restaurant, every food, and every desert available on the ship. Be careful, make sure that you’re eating small amounts of everything, otherwise this plan can go wrong very quickly, as I’ve personally experienced.

                Once you book an all-inclusive trip, one of the most important things to think about is your plan to conquer all of the dining options. The most important things to remember is to find a plan that works for you and remember that everything is healthy when traveling!

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                  Why Executives Get Spooked About Group Hotel Bookings

                  Conference Event Management can help you with group hotel bookings






                  It’s no wonder why executives have concerns about their staff members booking group events directly.  When a staff member contacts a hotel and signs a contract on their own, only a few times each year, executives often question whether they’re getting the best possible deals.  It doesn’t have to be Halloween time to know the hotel or cruiseline contract can be scary to navigate on your own—and can put your company at financial risk.

                  Top Haunting Concerns:

                  •Leaving money on the table. Find a partner that touches numerous hotel and cruise contracts every day and knows how to request the clauses you need in your contract to protect you.
                  •Spending more than you need to. Without a consistent presence in the hotel buying market, you’re probably not getting your fair share of savings and yummy treats.
                  •Choosing a hotel that ultimately fails to meet your customer service and/or style expectations. Never select a hotel based on its website photos, as they can be very misleading, and never select a hotel simply because it worked five years ago. Frequent changes in hotel management means your experience could be much different this time around. Up-to-date, expert advice on the hotels that should be avoided can be the biggest factor in your event’s success, as top-booking hotels often move to the “black list” and vice versa.

                  Using CEM’s NO-COST hotel and cruise research and contracting services removes the spooky concerns and puts you back in the driver’s seat when we sit on your side of the table. Find out why so many clients refer us and come to count on these unbelievable NO-COST services, especially for repeat events.

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                    Cruising Trends – CUBA Here We Come!

                    Dylan DeClerckPerspectives of Dylan DeClerck, Event Consultant

                    Part two of five

                    In the constantly evolving world of cruising the destinations change almost annually and the amenities change even more frequently.  This blog will explore two emerging destinations and a new trend among ship amenities.

                    The first destination with increasing popularity is Cuba.  For years Americans were not allowed to set foot on the Caribbean nation’s shores, despite being just a short trip from Florida’s coast.  In July 2015 this changed when the United States reached an agreement to re-establish diplomatic relations with the nation.  Since then more tourists have been coming into Cuba and cruise companies feel increasingly comfortable taking American passengers to the nation.  Since the land-based infrastructure is not yet built up for group comforts, a cruise is the perfect way to explore this country.

                    The other destination more people are traveling to during the warmer months of the year (May through August) is Alaska.  There’s likely many reasons for this, but for a long time Alaska has been a popular bucket-list destination that people want to check off.

                    When looking at ships’ amenities, more and more companies are differentiating themselves via specialty restaurants.  Gone are the cruises that force everyone to eat at one of two times in the same dining room, and new are the restaurants that provide you with flexibility when you dine and provide a new experience.  This includes restaurants set up by celebrity chefs and restaurants featuring exotic and luxury cuisine.

                    What’s popular in cruising is up to the passengers, with cruise lines understanding the need to continue to innovate in order to bring more business on board.  Share your hot buttons with your Conference Event Management cruise team to determine what options are on what ships.

                    Cruising Trends, Conference Event Management

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