March 10, 2014
Still-Life with Fruit, Nuts and Cheese by Dutch Golden Age painter Floris van Dyck,
courtesy of wikimedia.org
If your meeting attendees value a balanced, nutritious and affordable diet, you may want to look to Europe when considering destinations. The continent dominated a ranking of countries where it is easiest to eat healthy. The United States was 21st out of the 125 countries studied.
According to the recent report from Oxfam, an international development organization, the top rankings were as follows:
March 05, 2014
Drew Barrymore gets a pour at the 2013 Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival
There are all kinds of ways to skin a cat and the same can be said for coming up with creative options for executive retreats and incentive travel. As Smart Meetings was researching destinations and properties for our April article on executive retreats, we were tipped off about the seventh annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival April 10-13.
It seems CEOs, CFOs and COOs have fallen in love with this four-day culinary extravaganza, seizing the moment to learn a little more about fine dining and wine, while unwinding on California’s stunning coastline. This year’s event is expected to draw close to 100 renowned chefs and 250 winemakers, giving attendees a chance to rub shoulders with the who’s who of the hospitality industry in small-group sessions.
February 28, 2014
Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams in a scene from American Hustle that takes
place in the ’70s-era Plaza Hotel in New York. Photo by Francois Duhamel, © 2013 Annapurna
Productions LLC All Rights Reserved.
There are nine movies vying for the Oscar for Best Picture. While we’re excited to see which one will be named the winner on Sunday at the 86th annual Academy Awards, we’re also interested in all of the luxurious locations featured in the films—and whether it’s possible for meeting planners to have their own events in the same spaces. If you watched Leo tripping on ‘ludes in The Wolf of Wall Street and said to yourself, “What a lovely country club setting…I wonder how much event space it offers,” this list is for you.
February 27, 2014
The Mallard ducks at The Peabody Memphis are justifiably famous, having held court at—or more correctly, in—the hotel’s fountain since the 1930s. But as of December, the five ducks, who are replaced every three months by another team, will no longer waddle back to the local farm from whence they came. Instead, they’ll head to the iconic Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, Tenn. They’ll spend the rest of their days relaxing in a pond just below the distillery’s cave spring, eating the same grain and drinking the same water used to make Jack Daniel’s world-famous whiskey. Someone had better remind them not to swim while under the influence. jackdaniels.com
February 26, 2014
Is there some sort of prize when you go to your first trade show? Because it’s time to collect mine. Last Wednesday, Smart Meetings attended the Meeting Professionals International Northern California Chapter Annual Conference & Expo in San Francisco, held downtown at the Moscone Center. Speaking as a newbie, I was very impressed.
My day started with a class about meeting-planning apps for smartphones, hosted by James Spellos, CMP, with everyone attending the class contributing their favorites. Suggestions ranged from travel apps (Routesy, Waze, FlightAware) to bookkeeping (Evernote, Word Lens, DocuSign) to food/drink (Delectable, Yelp) to apps that were just plain fun (Pinterest, Skimm).
February 26, 2014
Communicate your way
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram—the world of communication, both personal and professional, has changed dramatically in the past few years, and Hyatt Regency DFW International Airport in Dallas is keeping pace to ensure that it can stay in contact with guests and meeting planners. A key to success in hospitality is to maximize the communication opportunities, listen and respond. Technology makes this easier and allows Hyatt Regency DFW to be a better host for its guests and a better partner for its meeting planners. Hyatt Regency DFW uses social media to discover in-house concerns and issues, as well as for follow-up on guest and attendee requests that are communicated even before guests arrive on property. The hotel’s goal is to improve guests’ experiences and make them #hyatthappy.
Hyatt Regency DFW is out to create #InAHyattWorld, where all guests have a memorable experience that they share with others. This means helping the hotel’s planners and guests with special needs and proactively managing situations as they come up. It also means going that one extra step that people do not expect. Need a last minute change at your meeting? Hyatt Regency DFW can supply a team to help you get everything in place. Flight cancelled on your way to a romantic getaway? Hyatt Regency DFW provided some special treats for an American Airlines employee and her NBC news-anchor husband with a note saying: “We know it’s not Mexico, but we are happy that we could keep you warm during this terrible weather! Enjoy the treats, and tweet us @hyattDFWairport if you need anything else to help you pretend your romantic vacation has already started!” That’s how people become #hyatthappy.
February 25, 2014
Laura Schwartz speaking at the Smart Meeting Palm Springs earlier this month
Meetings and conference organizers now are expecting more from their speakers, including leveraging contact marketing and maximizing sponsors’ return on investment, according to the 2013 Speaker Report.
The survey, in which 175 organizations participated, provides comprehensive and up-to-date information about speakers in the meetings market. Tagoras and Velvet Chainsaw, two consulting firms, collaborated on the survey after their initial effort, The Speakers Report, which they devised in 2011 to better understand how organizations use professional and industry speakers at meetings, conferences and other events. In the surveys, they focused on how speakers are selected, what is expected of them and how their educational impact is measured, among other things.
The companies’ report, at tagoras.com, lists 10 top takeaways from the 2013 survey that emphasize new trends.
–Organizations use professional speakers more and more: In 2013, organizations surveyed reported using 14.6 speakers per year, compared with 11.2 in the 2011 survey.
–Speaker bureaus are one option for do-it-yourselfers, not a sole source: 74.2 percent used a speaker bureau frequently or sometimes to find a speaker, but only 7.3 percent say they always use one.
–Hiring decisions are shifting from C-suite to the education department: In 2013, the organization’s vice president or director of education or professional development decided which speakers to hire 22.7 percent of the time, a leap from 13.5 percent in 2011.
–Organizers expect more from their professional speakers: 66.1 percent of respondents said they are looking for speakers to contribute more than just their time on stage, compared with 56.6 percent in 2011.
–What in a name? Maybe not much: Just 28.3 percent of respondents believe that a big-name speaker is very or extremely important for attracting registrants.
–Proposal review is too nice: 33.3 percent report that they accept 60 percent or more of submissions that come in through their call for proposals and 29 percent accept between 40 and 50 percent of them. Organizations that want to be industry leaders probably need better filters, the report concluded.
–Compensation for industry speakers is soft: Since they have tight budgets, conference organizers often offer complimentary registration rather than paying for travel, lodging or honoraria.
–Shifting evaluations to digital isn’t a layup: Moving to mobile and online evaluations appeals to meeting planners for several reasons, but low response rates and technological headaches dampen enthusiasm.
–Content capture hasn’t taken off—yet: Use of streaming and content capture to amplify the best meeting content has remained stable since the 2011 survey. The 2013 report predicts that more organizations will embrace content capture with scheduled replays, but doesn’t anticipate much growth in live streaming.
–Education still isn’t getting the respect it deserves: Similar to the 2011 findings, the 2013 report shows that the title of the most senior member of their organization’s education or professional development unit is a director (46.7 percent) or a manager (8.9 percent). The report concludes that a top-ranking person needs to be involved with an organization’s high-level education strategy.
February 21, 2014
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre’s Plenary Hall stage
It seems Smart Meetings’ world reports get better with every issue. In January, we kicked off our new and improved monthly coverage with our Top 15 International Meeting Cities. Since then our expanded global emphasis has ranged from British Columbia to Ireland to Singapore.
Our upcoming March issue will highlight Australia and Tahiti. We are especially excited to provide updates about Melbourne, which has just announced that it expects a 37 percent increase in international events.
Based on numbers for 2013 and 2014, the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) is on track to secure 70 international conferences that will draw an estimated 85,000 delegates for a financial impact of $377.7 million.
February 19, 2014
Screencapture from the Jamaica Tourist Board’s video for “The Bobsled Song”
“Feel the rhythm! Feel the rhyme! Get on up, it’s bobsled time!”
These were the empowering words shouted by the Jamaican bobsled team just before their ill-fated run near the finale of the ’90s classic Cool Runnings. Looking to capture some of the of the scene’s drama, gin up support the world’s most famous bobsled team at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and shine a little light on their destination, the Jamaica Tourist Board recently released a Jamaican Bobsleigh Team video.
“We wanted to amplify all the love already out there for the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team and give the fans something to share,” says Donnie Dawson, deputy director of tourism for the Americas with the tourism board.
The production, entitled “The Bobsled Song,” was meant to be played just as the team started and mimics the course turn-by-turn with a catchy song and entertaining eight-bit graphics. Take a look below:
The story of driver Winston Watts and brakeman Marvin Dixon’s road to this year’s Olympics is every bit as dramatic as the film that made the team famous. The duo initially paid for training time, coaching and equipment on their own, but lacked sufficient funds to make it to Sochi. That’s where they turned to crowdsourcing, or online fundraising. The duo asked for $80,000, and the online community responded in a big way, raising more than $184,000—$30,000 of which came from Dogecoin, a company providing Internet currency. While Team Jamaica didn’t have the results they were looking for, finishing 30th with a combined time 6.5 seconds slower than the gold medal winner, they represented their country in style and inspired aspiring and underprivileged athletes everywhere.
“Since the Jamaican Bobsled Team’s debut in the 1988 Winter Olympics, they have continued to make the Jamaican people proud,” Dawson says. “We admire the dedication of all the athletes, and especially the resilient spirit of the bobsled team, as they prove that teams from warm-weather destinations can compete on the same level as athletes from colder climates. The team is a true inspiration, and for that reason they will remain popular not only in Jamaica, but on a global scale.”
The words uttered by fictional character Derice Bannock from Cool Runnings could not be more appropriate: “Peace be the journey.”
–By Diego Vallejo
February 11, 2014
Social media expert Don Power speaking at the Smart Event Palm Springs
If there were any Twitter skeptics heading into the Smart Meeting Palm Springs, Don Power undoubtedly changed their minds. He is, after all, the author of Twitter for Skeptics. Power just finished up delivering the final education session of the three-day event at The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Here’s some of what attendees had to say—via Twitter, naturally.
— EvntGrrl (@EvntGrrl) February 11, 2014
— Louis Moubarak (@LouisMoubarak) February 11, 2014