NBTA Mtgs. Committee Recommending Group, Transient Leverage
The groups and meetings committee of the National Business Travel Association recently issued a new installment of their series of white papers on building a strategic corporate meetings management program, focused on strategies for leveraging group and transient volume with hotels, said the committee's co-chair.
The paper focuses on leveraging a company's entire meetings program, rather than individual events, in yearly rate negotiations, said Kari Knoll Kesler, global manager of meeting solutions for Honeywell International Inc., whose term as co-chair of the NBTA groups committee ends this week at the association's annual conference. "It's very timely. We coined some terms that haven't had a name before."
Leveraging combined volume in transient negotiations differs from leveraging in meetings negotiations, Kesler said, and the paper offers strategies on how to do both. The committee also aimed to develop strategies that would be useful in a variety of market conditions. "These strategies are designed to withstand the ebbs and flows of the market. These are long-term leveraging strategies," she said.
Even though the hotel industry has enjoyed a stellar year, they "want and need to reap the benefits of these synergies" inherent in leveraging, Kesler said.
The committee also created two group modules to include in the association's hotel request-for-proposals template, available to members as they head into 2007 hotel negotiations this fall. One module is static and the other is client-specific, Kesler said.
Rather than aiming at individual meetings, the new modules are geared toward the opportunity to place meetings volume with transient partners, Kesler said, and therefore gathers basic information about the property and overarching offers, such as discounts offered to a company for committing group volume.
"It's to put together a 'program' rather than a specific meeting," she said.
The distinction also means the modules are different from the contract templates in development through the Accepted Practices Exchange project of the Convention Industry Council, Kesler said. As the NBTA committee develops RFP templates for each installment of its critical meeting components series, it will ensure that it does not encroach on templates developed by the CIC.
"If Apex has a good template done, we would link to them and not redo it. What we develop is so different. They undertake years of research and due diligence. We're just trying to put a tool out there that helps people understand the kinds of questions they should be asking if they want to bid any of these components," Kesler said.
Templates are in place for air and hotel components, and a ground transportation template is expected to be released this week, according to Kesler. Members can expect templates and papers on venues, destination management companies, production and media and speakers in the coming two years, she added.
The next white paper the committee plans to release is focused on the valuation of a strategic meetings management program. "We believe that right now this is the best thing we can to do for the NBTA audience: continue to really aggressively get some documentation out there to help them," she said.
The expertise of the committee members and the work they have done since it was formed in 2003 have made a significant impact on the industry, Kesler said. Committee members often are asked to speak about findings and the group has decided to create a library of presentations and educational tracks to facilitate speaking engagements.
"The committee is asked to speak at so many events that we're taking all of the classes that we've done so far and turning them into a library with notes for each slide, so that any member of the committee who is comfortable and allowed to speak publicly can use that presentation," Kesler said.
The committee also has two new co-chairs: Debi Scholar, director of meeting and event services for PricewaterhouseCoopers; and Lee Ann Adams Mikeman, assistant vice president of planning and special events for Science Applications International Corp. Former co-chair Joni Miyashiro, travel manager at Amgen Inc., stepped down from the committee this year after her job responsibilities shifted away from meetings.