Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category

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Monitoring Meeting Costs by J. chang

August 16, 2006

Please send feedback and comments to jchang@salesandmarketing.com

When planning a meeting, it’s usually the biggest costs—the venue, the speaker’s fee, or housing—at the top of managers’ minds. But if you put your budget under the microscope, you’ll often find that the devil’s often in the details.

Here are some tips for controlling the little costs that can add up:

1. Negotiate Fees
While vendors have to watch their own backs to make sure they aren’t losing out if your meetings go bust, those kill fees can add up—especially if your organization hosts many sales meetings a year. “One of our pharmaceutical [clients] were paying almost a million dollars a year for cancelled space,” says Cindy D’Aoust, senior vice president for consolidation business solutions at Maritz McGettigan, a Philadelphia-based meeting-planning firm. Though that figure may seem hard to miss, D’Aoust’s clients, who are primarily large pharmaceutical firms, easily spend $100 million on meetings over the course of a year, she says. To avoid swallowing those cancellation costs entirely, D’Aoust negotiated with her preferred hotel partners to use the fees as credit toward future meetings with them.

2. Scoping Out Vendors
Almost anyone can be a vendor, as Gerri Ayers, who heads up Houston-based Ayers Meetings and Events, discovered when she was trying to plan a sales-incentive kickoff meeting for an appliances company. The incentive was a trip to Hawaii, so Ayers had to turn the company’s showroom into a luau. To take care of the tropical-plant decorations, she approached some vendors who sold plants off their trucks on the side of the road, and asked if she could “rent” their wares for a night. “I told them I’d pay them a few hundred bucks, and that I’d feed them dinner,” she says. “I got an entire showroom of tropical plants”—with little cleanup afterward. The men simply hauled the plants in, and took them back at the end of the night.

3. Using Technology
While there are some meetings that simply require face-to-face interaction, Internet technology can help take eliminate some of the work, and make the costlier onsite meetings more productive, D’Aoust says. “Many companies are doing prework ahead of time via Web conferencing, or putting information on their Web site,” she says, to make important data available to attendees.

4. Be Flexible
Ayers says being flexible with your dates, even by a day or two, can also make all the difference when you are negotiating hotel rates. The hotel could have a busy time that ends at a certain date, and starting your conference a day after could mean much lower rates. “Sometimes it could be that one whole big group is leaving, and yours could come in right after,” she says. Or, “Ask the hotel when they need your business. I’ve saved groups fifty percent on their rooms” just by being flexible with dates, Ayers says.

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How to be a Hall of Fame Executive.

August 14, 2006
  1. Don’t sacrifice long-term goals just to win today’s game.
  2. Know your strength-and use it to determine your game plan.
  3. No pandering: Earn respect on the field of play.

*Fortune April 17, 2006 by gcolvin@fortunemail.com