Yesterday, October 9, 2012, at IMEX America 2012, Cvent and Meeting Focus teamed up to conduct a panel discussion and live video cast from the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, entitled Going Global: Experts Reveal Their International Meetings Secrets. Reggie Aggarwal, Cvent CEO and founder, was briefly introduced by Meetings Focus' Chief Content Director Tyler Davidson, moderator for the panel of featured industry experts:
- Charles Massey, President, Synaxis Meetings
- Joost DeMeyer, President, First Incentive Travel
- Cherryl Brazier, Director, Global Sales, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group
- Meredith Jursnick, SMMC, CMP, Director, Managed Meeting Solutions, American Express Meetings & Events
Tyler Davidson guided the panel in a discussions of a number of issues and best practices for planning international meetings and events.
Some specific areas covered included alleviating fears, partnering with local DMCs to navigate cultural nuances, shipping and customs, visas, and food and beverage.
Negotiation and Contracting:
- European venues are not always familiar with attrition clauses or used to receiving a long list of requested concessions. It is important to customize and simplify how you present these requests.
- Send your proposed agenda with the RFP so that local DMCs, GSOs and venues can have them vetted by their legal departments.
To reduce the risks associated with currency fluctuations, consider:
- Implementing "forward/future" contracts with suppliers, in which they agree to sell their goods (rooms, F&B, etc.) at a locked-in price.
- Having the client set up a foreign currency account to hold the funds for a specific meeting or event.
(You may also want to discuss the possibility of locking in exchange rates with your financial institution.)
- Some countries have a requirement that there be a minimum number of blank pages in passports or individuals may be denied entry.
- Letters of invitation or letters of introduction are required by some countries. Letters of invitation can be provided online and pre-signed ready for attendees to fill in their names, download and print.
- Some embassies have templates and suggested formats for letters of invitation.
Food and Beverage:
- All day coffee and beverages are not standard in some destinations. You will likely have to provide detailed information about how this works so that venues can calculate associated costs and work out logistics.
- Gluten-free menu options and menus to accommodate food sensitivities and allergies are not familiar in some destinations. Be sure to provide details about how accommodating food restrictions may work.
- Consider vegetarian options for the main selection. In some countries, the veggie meal might be better than the steak.
- Determine when the public holidays are taking place and stay clear of those dates.
The panel identified Vietnam, Myanmar, Croatia, Budapest and St. Bart as destinations that are becoming popular.
Throughout the discussion, panelists also recommended using online resources like Facebook and LinkedIn, and associations like SITE and MPI, as ways to reach out to contacts at all stages of negotiation and implementation.
To view the video cast Going Global: Experts Reveal Their International Meetings Secrets in its entirety, visit the Meetings Focus Webinar Club.