While this seems to be something hotels agree to quite easily these days, it is still imperative to include in the contract. These few words are especially important when you are booking into a destination that has compression which reduces the number of rooms available.
While we have discussed history a number of times, it can’t be stressed enough that knowing how many delegates typically come early or how many board meetings happen before the main conference is important as you then need to secure the space.
This week we are working in a compressed Canadian city where one pre night over the conference rate is a staggering 181% increase. The rate difference is over $300 if you wish to come in prior to the conference. In this case, the hotel is not going to extend the pre/post rates because they do not have inventory. Thankfully this is an anomoly and extra communication to delegates will help mitigate the potential disruptive pattern pickup. It is another reminder of the risks organizations take when we are booking two and three years out.
Communication and education to delegates once again will be key to the success of the pickup within the block. Roger that! Over and out…
There is nothing better for me than to lie under a sky filled with stars on a warm summer evening in August and count at least six falling stars in an hour. About ten years ago for Christmas, I bought Rod a ‘Backyard Astrology’ package at the local museum and for eight weeks we learned of the lore in the night sky. On graduation night, we had the chance to go into the observatory and use the large telescope. When it was my turn to step up to the eyepiece, I peered down and was in absolute awe to be able to see Jupiter and its magnificent rings. It was quite a feeling and an experience that left me without words. (Hard to imagine I know!) Since that day on, I am not able to look up at night and not connect the dots and tell the story of the constellations.
By the time you reach this section of the contract, you are often eleven pages deep; your eyes are a bit fuzzy and details like this may seem like something you can accept. And you may but consider this before you agree to the fees. Not all of our ’101 things to consider when signing a hotel contract’ make the final document as there are clauses that are low risk and others that are simply deal breakers. Each contract is different even for the same program, year over year.
To follow our ’fair and logical’ thinking one has to consider how leaving early impacts the hotel? With many of our clients, they run their own practice or business and there is a possibility that they would be called back to their office. Maybe 2%. The instances when the gala dinner is on the final night and folks leave early, has a higher possibility of financially impacting the pickup as you may have upwards of 10-25 delegates who leave early.
Location also makes a difference in determining the impact on the hotel. If you are in Montreal during Formula 1 or in a resort destination such as Banff, the resell of these two rooms would be much different. It is just simply harder to resell a room when you don’t have the ‘walk up’ traffic of a metro destination. Island locations like Hawaii and Prince Edward Island also have micro climates and most folks know to have a confirmed reservation before stepping on to the island as you risk not finding availability. Reselling these rooms in these markets do not tend to ‘flip’ as frequently and so the hotel would also expect a discussion on compensation for early departures. This is when knowing your delegate patterns and itinerary becomes key to evaluating your risk.
A little help from our friends…
During a leadership retreat a few years back, there were a dozen or so of us sitting in a circle with a very large bowl of fruit in the centre. We were asked to describe what we saw from where we were sitting. As we moved around the room, it quickly became clear that each of us had a different vantage point to describing the contents of the bowl. Some views overlapped but I could not see the jack fruit or the lychees while my view included the papaya, grapes, a sliver of apple and the top of a banana. Together we identified all of the bowl’s contents. Had this experience been a solo adventure, there would have most certainly been missing pieces.
That ‘takeaway’ has stayed with me ever since. In the age of finding any answer in a few key strokes, we quickly learn that there are multiple answers for our questions. It is my feeling that we are in the most collaborative time of our history. Knowledge is certainly power but so often we don’t have the ‘entire picture’. The impact of the internet and the collaborative means of the content have most certainly not yet reached their potential which is very exciting.
As many of you know, I love anything related to the TED conferences. A few days ago the organization gave away the first $1 million dollar TED prize. In order to win, the recipient must be working on an idea to ‘spark’ world change. The money is then invested into their wish for the world. Sugata Mitra, an educational researcher, has been fascinated with how children learn and teach themselves. Here is the link to what contains a kernel of inspiration to all of us who work on educational streams for conferences. It is a most interesting collaborative project to learn about how we learn.
Collaboration and working together to bring about the answers is the foundation of our world of meetings. The work that we do everyday engages many stakeholders to come together for an advantageous result. Ms. Brown, my kindergarten teacher would be proud to know that I still enjoy playing well with others.
Heads in Beds, written by Jacob Tomsky is an interesting read. I just finished the book and appreciated an honest account of what it is like on his side of the front desk. Would love to hear your thoughts! firstname.lastname@example.org
Each group and organization that we work with has a different way of managing cash flow. By the time we reach the actual exchange of deposit requirements, all sides have agreed to the conditions within the contract and this task is essentially an action of commitment. With the amount of time that takes place from the time of signature to the program execution, it is only fair that a hotel ask for a deposit, while how much and when to pay are important details to clarify. A 5% deposit is quite typical if you have a typical program.
Cash flow for most groups begins once delegates start to register for the conference. Many organizations prefer to structure their conferences to be independent of external funding, so the scheduling dates to which they will agree to, are timed to match when they know their cash flow will begin to cycle.
While the dates for the deposit are often clear, more detail is often required for the conditions of the deposit. The questions to clarify include: Who holds the deposit? What happens in the case of a cancellation? How does the hotel wish to receive the payment? How will this deposit be applied?
Similar to saving money for our own futures, having specific targets ensures that schedules are followed. During the reconciliation, the advance payments are always a welcome line item to apply to your master account.
You are now reading the small print: As an update to our January blog, the Smartphone debate has been settled with a pledge to the BB10. In the weeks to come you may jeer or cheer that decision. Thankfully the worst case scenario is easy to fix!
If you catch a mistake moments before it is about to ruin the magic for hundreds of children, does it count as an error or a near miss? Early in my career during my shopping centre marketing days, I was tasked to help Santa respond to the hundreds of letters that he received in the North Pole mailbox. With a fresh English literature degree under my belt, I set about this important task of drafting the message that hundreds of letter writers would receive that year. The words were carefully chosen and when I felt I had a good draft, I took it to my colleague to ensure it would pass the final inspection of her five and seven year old children. During the inspection it was noted that the paper was a good density of 17 bond weight, the typeface was festive, the glitter perfectly inserted, the merge label was setup correctly, the stamp value was accurate and the words were jolly while also comforting to the children because this letter would confirm that their message was received and that they would be paid a very exciting visit in just a few more sleeps.
The final inspection was going well until my colleague reached the bottom of the page. Her eyebrows lifted, the corners of her mouth began to curl and she began to laugh so hard the jolly elf himself would have been impressed. Then the tears soon followed. After what seemed to be a very long time, she shared with me her discovery. It turns out that all was going very well until the signature area. The letter was not signed by Santa but rather Satan. To this day, it continues to be my best personal learning that the ‘devil is most definitely in the details’.
As per our January topic for the newsletter, to those from outside of our industry, it would not appear that much work was being accomplished. For those of us in the industry, this is a tremendous week to connect with folks and to get updates on the hotels, renovation schedules and where folks are these days.
In the last two weeks, there have been four senior folks from three brands in Toronto who’s positions have been eliminated. This alone will have folks discussing the implications and affects.
There is never doubt in my mind that we will continue to meet face-to-face and this week is the perfect example of how our industry functions. We meet, discuss and work with a healthy dose of personal conversation for good measure.
Our industry is ever changing and it takes this once per year event to have us all catch up for the year ahead. Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines!
Over the holidays my head cold made sure that I rested and this also ensured that the Netflix subscription we have had for almost a year was well used. What was most amazing is that I was able to work the four remotes ‘by myself’ that it takes to enter this world of entertainment. The show that held my interest for a number of hours is called MadMen: a story of an advertising agency in New York City, set in the sixties surrounded with smoke and lots of whiskey. Not unlike their counterparts of 2013, the better they perform – the less like work it appears to be.
For those outside of our industry including our family and friends, our work is often viewed as fun. Especially after the ‘holiday season circuit’ it is hard to deny that we do not have a significant injection of enjoyment pumped into our industry. The reason we find it fun is because we are good at it and hard wired to enjoy the social aspect of our work. For many, networking and collaborating is an arduous task best left to others.
Often we hear folks within our industry say that what we do is not rocket science. For the record, I’m going to say, ‘it is more difficult.’ In the world of science and computers, the answer has one of two options: 1 or 0 or black or white. There is no debate on whether the answer is correct as they know it is precisely what it is predetermined to be. In our world, there is no one answer – the solution is based on an infinite number of possibilities. We are dealing with unknowns, risk, perceptions, careers and visions. The really fun part for us is when we have the opportunity to bring together the rocket scientists into an engaging atmosphere and ensure they have all they need without them even precisely knowing they need it. It allows the delegates to focus on their task of innovating and changing our world while we stay one step ahead anticipating potential outcomes. The higher the delegate response scores, the harder we know we have worked to ensure folks believe that we are simply having fun!
It has taken me seventeen years to freely admit…I work from home. There – I said it! Thankfully the times have changed and the social stigma has come a long way as more folks are taking the plunge to telecommute. Today it has even become more ‘earth friendly/budget friendly’ with some organizations encouraging folks to work offsite. My first home office was a room that doubled as an off-season clothing closet in our basement. Let me just say that it was a grand day when I ‘came out of the closet’ and moved to the main floor into a space with natural light. Technology in my 1995 office has come a long way. It is more stable and has become more effective. My technical service guy (aka electrical engineer husband) is a much happier person these days as his day is not peppered with my panic phone calls. When I think back to the early days of this emerging trend, it is funny because it was common practice for folks to play ‘office sounds’ audio in the background to ensure no one learned of their secret.
This past summer, my technical dream came true when I found the new Bell air card that allows me to work anywhere in 4G.The device is ready for the new LTE platform while some areas I work from are not quite there yet.(I’m patient.) As an early adapter to the Rogers Rocket stick over four years ago, I thought life was good then as I was able to get rid of dial up. Interesting how along the way, it has become an expectation that we have the technology we need, to do the things we need to do.It is no longer a luxury but a necessity to have access to the internet. When Facebook is the #1 way folks keep in touch with family and friends when they are away from home – you know things have changed.
In the last two years, the hospitality industry has come to understand that it is no longer a ‘luxury’ to have internet connection – everywhere. Soon paying extra for internet will seem as odd as having to pay extra for a TV in the hotel room. The new trend this moment is detailed usage plans while that (oops!) is now already – normal. Visit our Facebook page and let us know the trends you are noticing.
PS. Great website on the progress and innovation of how and where we work: http://www.newwow.net
Today could not come and go without an official notice of our 1st Anniversary! While seventeen years of entrepreneurial experience and seven years of site selection, it has only been one year as The Howes Group!
What a fast, amazing year of collaboration and reaching new heights!
The best is yet to come…