Nine New Year’s Resolutions For The Motivated Conference Professional

Times SquareAs we look at closing the books on 2016 and starting a fresh new chapter in 2017, have you given any thought to making some resolutions for your conference and event business?  It’s fun to reminisce about your past successes, but it can be a bit more challenging to identify what needs tweaked or revamped to continue to build onto your success into the future.  Here are a few ideas that you might consider adding to your list of business resolutions:

1) Share the Workload by Delegating

There are so many things to do when you’re running a conference office, it’s easy to delude ourselves that we need to do all of them. Then we wonder why we’re so tired and frazzled and have no time to do anything else! Let someone else do some of the tasks for a change. Delegation is the key to a healthy work-life balance.  Need some tips on the best way to delegate?  Check out this story and learn some simple steps that will help ensure you can delegate successfully.

2) Promote, Promote, Promote

Too often the task of promoting a business slips to the bottom of the to do list in the press of urgent tasks. If you want to attract new customers, you have to make promotion a priority. Make a New Year resolution to hire a marketing expert, or take the time to create a marketing plan on your own and follow through.  Check out our friends at Unique Venues for some expert advice and guidance on this topic.

3) Make business planning a weekly event.

Planning is vital if you want a healthy, growing business. Business Planning lets you take stock of what worked and what didn’t work, and helps you set new directions or adjust old goals. So why do it just once a year or once a quarter? Set aside time each week to review, adjust, and look forward – or even better, make business planning a part of each day. Not only will this help you avoid costly mistakes and stay on track, but you’ll feel more focused and relaxed.

4) Join a new business organization or networking group.

There’s nothing like talking to other business people for sparking new ideas, refining old ones, and making contacts. Whether it’s a group specifically designed for networking or an organization dedicated to a particular type of business, in person or over the internet, making the effort to be a part of a group will revitalize you and your business.  We recommend the Association of Collegiate and Conference Events Directors International or ACCED-I as a resource to expand your professional circle within the collegiate conference community.

5) Give something back to the community.

There are all kinds of worthy organizations that make a difference in your community. Make a New Year’s resolution to find a cause that matters to you, and give what you can. Make this the year that you serve on a committee, be a mentor, volunteer, or make regular donations to the groups in your community that try to make the place you live a better place. And those that give get.

6) Put time for you on your calendar.

It’s so important to take the time to recharge and refresh yourself; a healthy work-life balance and your business’s success demands time out. All work and no play is a recipe for mental and physical disaster. So if you have trouble freeing up time to do the things you enjoy, write time regularly into your schedule to “meet with yourself” and stick to that commitment. If you won’t invest in yourself, who will?

7) Set realistic goals.

Goal setting is a valuable habit – if the goals lead to success rather than distress. Resolve that the goals you set will be goals that are achievable, rather than unrealistic pipe dreams that are so far out of reach they only lead to frustration.

8) Don’t make do; get a new one.

Is there a piece of equipment or software in your office that’s interfering with your success or something that you lack that’s making your working life harder? Whether it’s an old fax machine that’s a pain to use, or the need for a new software to automate your work load, stop putting off getting what you need. The irritation of making do just isn’t worth it. Event Guru Software can help you keep this resolution, so check out their website to learn about their cloud based solution.

9) Stop Beating a Dead Horse…

All marketing campaigns aren’t going to be perfect, all sales methods aren’t going to work for everyone, and all suppliers aren’t going to be ideally suited to your business. If a technique or a product or a business relationship isn’t working for you, stop using it. Don’t invest a lot of energy into trying to make the unworkable workable. Move on. Something better will turn up.

A Simple Way to Attract New Conference Business By Bundling

bundle_0With another year almost under our belts this is a good time to reflect on the good things and not so good things that have occurred over the last 12 months.  This is also the perfect time to consider looking at different ways to attract new customers to your venue.  One method is to look at your business and see where you have the ability to make some minor tweaks that could turn into major gains.  One solid idea is to consider adding a complete meeting package to your pricing options.  What is a complete meeting package or as the industry insiders call a CMP?  Basically, it is a per person rate that combines the meeting, eating, AV, and/or sleeping costs together into one convenient package for your customer.  It is similar to the tactic used by those large satellite TV companies such as Dish and Direct TV where they give you 800 channels with the premium channels thrown into the deal.  Another example is Subway’s meal deal where a customer can grab a six inch sub, soda and chips for one low price.  Regardless if your are a sub shop or a conference center the secret to introducing a successful meeting packaging strategy involves bundling your resources/services together in a way that clearly offers your customers a special incentive such as a price break they wouldn’t get by purchasing the items separately.  Here are some reasons why the CMP is worth considering:

  1. Most professional meeting planners prefer this option since it makes the billing simpler and all around is more convenient when planning an event
  2. The perceived value is higher since you are packaging multiple services together into one
  3. Many organizations that plan conferences will only look at venues that offer this type of package pricing which could open your venue up to new customers and market segments you’ve not been able to break into previously
  4. It virtually eliminates the nickle-and-diming perception some customers tend to gripe about because everything is included in the per person price
  5. You will experience a jump in revenue because more items are getting purchased all in one go
  6. This is a business strategy that doesn’t cost you anything to introduce, so what do you have to lose?

Now just because you start offering a CMP don’t think your phone will start ringing off the hook.  You need to make sure you promote this offering through social media outlets, B2B functions, website, and your blog of course.  Also, for those existing customers that are unfamiliar with the package option it’s worth educating them on some of the benefits this new option offers that the more traditional A la Carte pricing doesn’t.  You may find that your existing customers might also prefer this option which indirectly increases your customer satisfaction levels.  Finally, if you are a venue that only offers day meetings you may opt for a DMP or a Day Meeting Package which simply removes housing from the pricing equation. For more information about the CMP check out this article posted on the Meetings and Conventions website.

Playing the Procurement Game: Using Sole Source Contracting To Get The Software You Need

Check Mate!
Check Mate!

When looking at making any sort of purchase at your venue, especially software, it can be a daunting endeavor no doubt.  The purchasing process is like the game of Chess, strategy is key to winning and knowing the rules are critical to your success.  The hoops you need to jump through or committees that need to be convened in order to secure a software system can dissuade even the most seasoned professional.  A typical request for proposal or RFP can take months or years to organize providing you with little time to implement a system once, or should I say if, a decision is ever made.  Are there any other options that exist when it comes to avoiding a painful requisition process at your institution?

You might consider investigating a sole source as an alternative for a few reasons.  First things first what the heck is a sole source anyways?  A sole source is usually defined as any contract entered into without a competitive process, based on a justification that only one known supplier can fulfill the requirements. For example, only one particular vendor can meet the business needs of the organization.  When it comes to information technology in particular, it is one of the most common sole source procurement contracts awarded due to the unique nature and business compatibility of the solution.

I realize a sole source may not work in every single situation.  For example, if the product/service you desire exceeds a certain threshold established by the organization or institution, you may not have any choice.  However, if you have done your due diligence and know there is really only one solution that meets your needs and falls under a cap this is a solid option.  Besides getting what you want, the other benefit is that a sole source can significantly reduce the time to secure the product or service.  As they say time is money and if your business is struggling to manage its growth the months and months that it takes to go through a formal RFP could have some serious consequences.  It also requires less work for the procurement manager making this a win-win for everyone.

Now that we covered the basics, what is the next step?  Contact your procurement department and ask about sole sourcing.  You will want to find out what, if any, threshold may exist as this will be important to know before you get to far down the road.  The procurement manager may have some sample sole source contracts on file to help get things moving.  Finally, make sure you do some homework as you will likely need to provide justification for the sole source.  The vendor you want to work with is a great resource, so get them involved as they can provide a good amount of information that will improve your chances of getting the contract approved.  If you follow these few simple steps the procurement game is one you will master and walk away a winner.