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When your hotel double books your meeting space

hotel pillow

A meeting planner’s picture perfect dream. You’ve got a record-breaking meeting in every way: registration, sponsorship and exhibit sales. Yet at the same time, your worst nightmare is surfacing. The host hotel has double-booked portions of your meeting space and there are only weeks to go before the live event. This happened to us recently. And while it was an incredibly complex situation, our goal was simple: find a solution that would deliver the experience attendees have come to expect year after year without giving the impression that there were ever any challenges taking place behind the scenes. 

Although this was one of, if not the, most challenging planning obstacles I have encountered, I’m proud to say, mission accomplished. Ultimately we found a solution that allowed us to stay at the contracted property and the meeting went off without a hitch! Here’s what we learned throughout the process: 

Engage all of the appropriate key players. Go straight to the top. We were in daily communication with the hotel leadership including the general manager, director of sales, and director of events. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having decision makers at the highest level in your court. Involve the “feet on the ground” as well, especially your convention services manager and the sales person you worked with at the time the contract was signed. Think beyond the hotel, as well. The local CVB was an extremely valuable resource as we explored the possibility of relocating the meeting. Seek legal counsel for expert advice and a factual perspective, too.

Know the value of face to face meetings. After countless hours of phone calls and brainstorming sessions without a concrete direction, it became clear that we weren’t making progress and the clock was ticking. It was time for an in-person meeting to negotiate and finalize a plan moving forward. Although it was a spontaneous decision and a quick trip, it was time very well spent. The hotel reimbursed the cost of airfare and covered accommodations for our staff. Note that all of the “key players” I mentioned above from the hotel side were part of this meeting, including the GM. Approximately 48 hours later, we had a plan and walked away confident that the new flow of meeting space would deliver. Finally, we could wrap up the numerous tasks that had been on hold: signage, pocket program, mobile app, BEOs, AV, etc. Think about it – nearly every function of the meeting depends on having specific room locations. It was time to get down to business!

Creativity talks. The majority of the space that had been double-booked was meal space, foyer space and common areas. This posed major problems as the association placed extreme value on networking, which would typically take place in these open areas. We decided to build a wall to build a hallway down the center of the foyer space to partition the space. This also became a branding opportunity. We used this new wall space to recognize the leadership and current and past award winners and highlight the membership benefits. The morning and afternoon breaks, which were originally planned to be in the large foyer space, had been relocated to several smaller common areas that in the end worked great for more intimate professional networking. We got creative with signage and floor and wall clings to make it obvious where attendees should go and when. The hotel arranged for more elaborate décor in the meal space than we would typically do since the reassigned space was a bit drab on its own. It’s amazing how a little greenery and other simple décor can transform a space! In the end, we didn’t hear a peep from attendees questioning the flow of the meeting or the new space assignments. Just exactly as we wanted it to be!

Communication with your vendors is key. There’s no doubt that this impacted timelines and agreed-to deadlines with various contracted partners. Whether it be show management, the DMC, etc., be sure to let them know the situation and keep them informed as plans unfold. For example, we weren’t able to finalize the furniture order with our DMC for a sponsored lounge area until days before the meeting because we were uncertain of the final lounge location. They were very understanding throughout the process, but had we not kept the line of communication open with all parties involved, the meeting would not have been as successful as it truly was!

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Rolling with the punches - That’s what meeting planners do best!

plan a

The end of the year is a time of reflection. And as I think about my career at AMPED, I am reminded of a number of fun and crazy adventures we’ve had while onsite at client events. No matter how big or small the meeting, there are always things that we handle quietly behind the scenes and attendees never know the wiser. Here’s a little trip down memory lane…

For starters, onsite registration numbers were higher than expected for a client meeting we held a few years ago in Scottsdale, AZ. It was the rush of registrants that arrived just before the opening reception that left us needing to replenish lanyards, badge sleeves and cardstock before registration re-opened bright and early the next day. After shuttling all 500+ attendees to the Heard Museum for the opening reception, another team member and I asked one of the bus drivers to take us to the nearest Office Depot. Keep in mind this was before the days of Uber! Just imagine a 56-passenger bus pulling in with only two people aboard desperate to restock, just minutes before closing! Meanwhile the rest of the team stayed back at the reception to make sure everything went flawlessly.

Or how about when you realize the name badges for a 600-person meeting have not been stuffed correctly and all need to be reassembled! This particular client had complex name badge requirements with color-coded sleeves, ribbons and even gems! We partnered with a vendor to print, stuff and ship the name badges. As we reviewed the shipment to make sure all was in order before registration opened, we realized about 20 badges in that everything was off my one. What else was there to do but un-stuff and re-stuff? That’s exactly what we did! Don’t worry, we later got a credit from the vendor for the inconvenience.

There are also times when the little things count — going the extra mile for even just a handful of attendees. Like the time an attendee was under the weather so we sent a care package to his guest room. Or the day that a spouse missed the bus for an afternoon tour so we arranged an Uber to get her where she needed to be. Or the yoga instructor who didn't show, so a colleague stepped in on a whim to lead a “chair yoga” session!

The list could go on and on. Can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store!

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First Impressions matter: 10 tips to design a killer registration experience

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No matter the size and scope of your meeting, it is crucial attendees have a positive experience from start to finish. Put yourself in your participant’s shoes. Imagine the steps the attendee will take from the moment they arrive at the venue until they check-in at registration to collect their materials. Here are a few pointers to make your meeting’s first impression “wow” your guests!

1. Invite your show decorator to attend your pre-planning meeting. They will be producing and installing your registration area, signage and any custom branding in your meeting space. Having them walk the space with you and develop/visualize the plan together in real time prior to the event. It will streamline all communication going forward and save you both time in the end!

2. Assure your guests that they have arrived in the right place. Have branding that is easily visible as guests enter the venue lobby. This can be as simple or elaborate as you like. Signage may do the trick or consider custom branding in areas like behind the hotel reservation check-in desks or other prominent areas.

3. When considering branding, keep in mind that money is not always the answer. Sure, you could sell every square foot available to a sponsor for their advertising – but hold on to some of that prime visibility to promote your organization and the event you have worked so hard to host. The possibilities are endless: project a gobo of your organization’s logo on the wall, work with your show decorator to produce wall clings showcasing the program, etc.

4. Build upon the space you have and think outside the box. For example, during a recent event our registration area was a circular space. Having standard straight counters would have looked odd in the area so we capitalized on the round shape with a round registration counter. It was a perfect fit and looked like it was made for the space!

5. Counter height registration counters are the best! Having your registration staff sitting at a counter-height stool rather than in a chair puts them at the same level as the attendee standing on the opposite side of the counter. Much more conducive to conversation!

6. Practicality is key – literally! Another pro of having counter-height registration counters is being able to incorporate counter-height storage units that LOCK! We did this recently. Essentially, the registration counters alternated between counters with open bottoms and closed storage units. It was amazing. We could store our registration materials overnight. No having to pack up, bring materials to the staff office, and haul everything out again the next day to setup again.

7. Don’t force it. If what you originally had in mind isn’t fitting with the space, get creative! One of our programs historically incorporated a traditional exhibit hall entrance unit into their design. However, this wasn’t an option in the space during their most recent event due to the numerous doorways and various bump outs along the entrance hallway. We brainstormed with our show decorator, Freeman, and came up with the solution of tower light boxes. Think 3D double-sided vertical banners (but bigger!) that light up. It was eye catching and a great way to display meeting information such as instructions for accessing the conference mobile app.

8. Badge on demand printing. AN. ABSOLUTE. MUST. Trust me, once you do, you will never go back to the old ways of manually printing name badges. We recently partnered with Expo Logic for this service for a client event and the result was even better than we had hoped! Attendees received a final confirmation that included tips and tricks for travel and making the most of their attendance, as well as a custom QR code to print or download to their smart phone. Once they arrived at registration they could go straight to the “pre-registration” counters and scan their QR code to print their badge. No problem if they forgot to bring their QR code! Just enter the last name on the touch screen. That’s it. Just like magic. The badge printed in about three seconds. No lines and it frees up your meetings staff to focus on the event and registrant needs. Win, win! Plus first-time registrants can register onsite and print their badge, too!

9. Layard trees are a must. No more tangled messes. Hang the lanyards neatly on the trees, attendees grab their lanyard after they print their badge at the badge on demand station and that’s that!

10. Is all the registration swag needed? Of course each group is different, but I would encourage you to evaluate if your attendees are really the clientele that will bring the registration bag and all the other gear home with them to actually use it after the meeting. We moved away from all of the giveaways for many of our groups. We had great success when we introduced a notebook that outlined the program, recognized award winners, provided instructions for accessing the meeting wifi, etc. and also featured several notes pages to document all the great takeaways of the meeting education!

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10 Tips to set your event up for success: Pre-planning meetings 101

preplanning

You’ve contracted with the perfect venue for your next big gig. Let’s be honest, in this hot market, that contract was signed years ago. Now it’s next up on your calendar and it is time to get serious. With countless details to organize, a running list of questions to ask, decisions that are best made in person and a myriad of fresh ideas that can only be brought to life by seeing a space live – do yourself a favor and setup an in-person pre-planning meeting with the various key players that will be instrumental in the success of your program. After many productive site visits, here are my top tips to maximize this face-to-face time and promise a smooth planning process when you return to the office.

  1. Budget for pre-planning meetings. Make this an automatic line item in your meeting budget!
  2. Pick a date when all parties are available and focused. Give your Convention Services Manager (CSM) plenty of advance notice to ensure the dates you are considering for your pre-planning trip also work well for your key contacts. After all, what good does it do if your CSM has another group in house and isn’t able to be attentive to your needs?
  3. Communication is key. Paint the overall picture for your CSM. Describe your meeting goals and objectives. Discuss the profile of your attendees. Are they a social group or are they all business? What are the takeaways they expect by participating in your program?
  4. Have a set agenda of things you would like to review and share it with those you plan to meet with well in advance. Allow your meeting partners to prepare ahead of time so that everyone is fully equipped to tackle the big stuff!
  5. Create a grid of contracted space — or as I like to do, color code the venue floor-plans and identify the functions that will take place in each meeting space. Whatever your method, develop a system that will allow you to make informed decisions about room assignments, because odds are that your meeting has evolved since you contracted the venue several years back.
  6. Share your meeting specifications well in advance. This includes audiovisual, food and beverage, a program outline, etc. The more your partners know prior to your arrival, the less time you'll spend explaining the meeting basics. For instance, review the banquet menus prior to your site and share your top selections with your CSM. If you don’t see exactly what you’re looking for and want to consider a custom menu, your CSM can engage the chef and the three of you can select the best meal options for your group during the pre-planning meeting.
  7. Checkout a current onsite event. If there are any events taking place at your venue during your trip, set aside some time to scope them out. Seeing how others use the space can go a long way in helping you visualize things like your registration setup, signage plan and more.
  8. Put yourself in the attendee shoes. Use the same transportation system that your guests will as they travel to and from the airport. If your event involves offsite activities or tours, sample those same happenings during your pre-planning meeting to guarantee that it fits your attendee’s expectations.
  9. Review all types of sleeping rooms, not just your upgraded rooms. Of course it’s important to inspect the VIP suites, but these spaces only reflect the experience of a small percentage of your attendees.
  10. Take notes of action items. What do you need to do and what follow-up items do your planning partners have?
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Bye-bye pipe and drape: Kiosks are welcome upgrade for expo

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The exhibit program of AMPED's partner client, CSIA (Control System Integrators Association), has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, nearly doubling the number of exhibitors since 2009. How, you might ask? Well, much of this success can be attributed to staff’s commitment to building relationships with new exhibitors and sponsors while continuously strengthening long-standing connections. Sure there are plenty of articles out there with tips for evaluating exhibition effectiveness, but the fact is that a strong meetings team is engaged with attendees and therefore is naturally in tune with how the participant experience is shaping up onsite. Listen to your exhibitors and, when considering a change, get their buy-in first. We did just that with CSIA’s exhibit program earlier this year.

Year-after-year, CSIA’s conference attendees say that the number one benefit of attending the annual meeting is networking among business leaders from all aspects of the industry. Well, if networking is one of the prime reasons to attend, shouldn’t the exhibit program reflect that, too? Anyone who has ever been on the exhibitor side understands how easy it is to become distracted by the entire process of setting up and dismantling your booth — making sure that all your shipments have arrived, tracking down someone to help you find any missing packages, unpacking, setting up, etc. Before your know it, it’s time to take everything down! The window for networking is closed all too quickly. That’s exactly why, this year, we proposed a kiosk-based exhibit model and it was a HUGE hit!

We pitched the idea to the volunteers of the partner committee who represent the exhibitor demographic at the annual conference. As soon as they heard the benefits, they were all in! We told exhibitors to keep it simple: bring your business cards, laptop or tablet for “virtual demos” and marketing collateral/giveaways if desired. Everything else would be there waiting for each exhibitor when they arrived, including a personalized prefabricated kiosk with custom graphics. Say goodbye to shipping costs, too! Leave the bulky demo equipment and booth displays at home. No need for the hard sales pitches either – just focus on making connections in a casual happy-hour type of atmosphere. Of course not every exhibitor was initially jazzed about this change; however, you know you've made a wise decision when even those who were skeptical compliment you on your brilliance during the show!

Moral of the story: be engaged, know your audience and get their buy-in. It’s a win-win for everyone in the end.

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Buyers beware, seller’s market is here to stay…

hotel room door

Is your association seeing the impacts of the seller’s market when it comes to finding a hotel partner to host your next event? Don’t expect this trend to fade in 2016. Hotel demand in many destinations around North America has surpassed supply. Although the 2016 Global Travel Price Outlook indicates that hotel construction is booming in the United States with nearly 100,000 new rooms added in 2015, the report also suggests that hotel demand continues to grow at up to quadruple the rate of supply.

If supply and demand concerns aren’t enough to get you fired up, how about this? According to the 2016 Meetings and Events Forecast from Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) Meetings & Events, room rates will grow by 4.3%.

How can you tackle the issues of supply and demand plus increasing nightly room rates head on? Plan ahead. Contract lead time continues to shrink and often hotels in high-demand markets will no longer hold space when responding to RFPs. Increased lead time can increase you negotiating power.

Channel your inner Francis Bacon who once said knowledge is power. Be fluent in the value your meeting brings to the venue and be prepared to readily talk stats such as pick-up history, food and beverage spend, required square footage of meeting space and so on.

Keep your eye on the numbers. Food and beverage costs will continue to be a significant driver of per-attendee costs. The 2016 Global Travel Price Outlook also predicts a 4.5% increase per attendee, per day! The pressures of keeping up with the latest trends and rising ingredient prices are major contributing factors. In fact, the National Restaurant Association says that wholesale food prices have surged nearly 25% during the past five years!

All of this said, the most important piece of advice is to negotiate with care, as attrition and cancellation clauses are becoming more and more strict. Good luck!

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Partner up! 5 tips for selecting third-party vendors for your next meeting

partner up

Nearly every event requires a partnership with a third party vendor: registration system, tradeshow management, show decorator – you name it! Finding a vendor that jives well with your team and views your success as their success is vital. They truly are an extension of your team. Here are a few tips to guide the selection process.

1. Ask local experts or colleagues within your own professional network for recommendations. For example, if you plan to partner with a destination management company (DMC) to coordinate local tours or offsite activities during your event, ask your convention services manager (CSM) at your contracted hotel for their preferred DMC partners. Convention and visitors bureaus are also a fantastic resource.

2. Develop a comprehensive RFP to share with multiple potential vendors. Include historical meeting information and clearly define your expectations for the upcoming event. A detailed RFP will translate to a thorough proposal response, saving you time and energy in the long run by eliminating the leg work of going back to ask for clarification or collect more information.

3. Ask for references and specifically request contacts that had needs similar to yours. We have found email to be the most efficient method for reference checks, although a phone conversation would work just as well. Develop a handful of standard questions to ask each reference. Asking the same questions to each reference will make it easy to compare apples to apples. Consider questions like: Were you satisfied overall? Did you experience any challenges? What would you have changed, if anything? Was the vendor’s staff friendly and professional? Would you work with the vendor again?

4. Interview the top candidates via conference call, Skype, GoToMeeting, etc. Take the time to get to know the people you could be working closely with. It’s important to understand their approach and communication style.

5. Consider the long term possibilities when making your selection. Is there potential for this partnership to continue year after year? Perhaps this is an opportunity to “test the waters” and, if all goes as planned, you may feel comfortable skipping the RFP process the next time around and going directly to the selected vendor – possibly even arranging a multi-year agreement. We are great advocates of developing strong professional relationships and have worked with the same vendors in multiple instances including abstract management providers, mobile app suppliers and AV contractors. As the saying goes, if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

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5 quick tips for healthy travel – recipe included!

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Many of us have packing for business travel down to a science. We know how long it will take to organize our luggage with all of our essentials and never forget our must-have gadgets like phone chargers and the like. What about enhancing your packing strategy to include items that will keep you feeling in tip top shape while on the go?

I recently wrapped up an eleven day trip with two back-to-back client events on opposite coasts and, while both meetings were successful, I came home feeling a bit sluggish after eating out for every meal. Here are a few tricks that I will definitely be more conscientious of when preparing for my next trip!

Snack smart
Skip the muffin or donut at the airport bakery and pack snacks for your flights and layovers. Bring protein and nutrient-packed dry food that won't easily leak or get smooshed in your bag. Veggies, granola bars, trail mix, or my latest obsession – healthy peanut butter balls – packed in a small durable tupperware, of course, so as not to get smashed!

BYOB: bring your own bottle
Water bottle that is! Whether you pack a reusable water bottle or grab a water bottle during your travels, staying hydrated is key to looking and feeling healthy. Craving bubbles? Drink sparkling water during meetings instead of soda to save calories.

Order small plates
Avoid the temptation to overindulge and select simple appetizers and entrees that offer lean protein and fresh ingredients. Split larger portioned entrees with a colleague or request a half order.

See the sights while staying active
Often, we meeting planners are so focused on the coordination of the event that we don’t get to see the local sights for ourselves. Grab a co-worker and go for a morning walk before the festivities begin. Just be sure to pack your tennis shoes!

Celebrate in moderation
A toast is absolutely in order for a job well done. Watch out for alcoholic beverages with extra sugar such as margaritas and other fruity cocktails. Go for drinks with club soda or on the rocks, or opt for a glass of wine. Cheers!

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Top 4 reasons to attend your professional association’s annual meeting

PCMA

Are you debating whether or not to attend your professional association’s upcoming meeting? Perhaps a long to-do list at the office or a tight budget is making you question your participation? Don’t make excuses. Go. You won’t regret it.

I recently joined the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and attended their Convening Leaders meeting in Chicago earlier this month. I found this to be an incredible experience on so many levels and here’s why.

Education
It was top notch. In fact, there were so many great sessions to choose from that it was hard to pick! The opportunity to learn from my peers was priceless. I walked away with countless key takeaways and simply felt inspired overall. What a great feeling!

Networking
There was a perfect mix of both educational and networking opportunities. Becoming aware of the importance of building a professional network of fellow meeting industry gurus was quite possibly my most valuable takeaway. The educational sessions themselves are crucial, but developing relationships to eventually have a “go to” group of peers to bounce ideas off of and learn from on a day-to-day basis is just as vital as attending the educational sessions.

Professional Development
It was very interesting to experience an event from the attendee perspective rather the planner side. For example, seeing how other groups utilize the latest technology or manage the overall logistics increased my motivation to positively impact attendees in the meetings I organize. Obtaining CEUs that will count toward my aspirations of earning the CMP designation was an extra bonus, too!

Personal Growth
It goes without saying that attending a 4,000+ person meeting can be intimidating, but as you can see it was a very worthwhile “push” out of my comfort zone.

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Growing pains: What happens when your meeting outgrows the venue?

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Record-breaking registration numbers is every meeting planner’s dream. But what if attendance grows so much that the contracted meeting venue is no longer the ideal location? Put on your thinking cap because it’s time for a creative backup plan that will appear flawless to the participants.

AMPED recently encountered this very situation when hosting the world’s largest single gathering of multiple sclerosis physicians, clinical researchers and scientists in Boston. The convention center contract was signed years ago, prior to our full-service management, at which time a realistic growth goal was 6,500 attendees. This attendance projection made for the perfect match between the venue and the program. However, when we saw a huge surge in registration numbers just weeks before the kickoff of the live event, it was time to think outside the box.

The convention center auditorium could not accommodate our nearly 9,000 registrants. Thankfully, technology made an overflow plan possible. We were able to stream video of the keynote presentation from the auditorium to the largest ballroom in the convention center. In the event we needed another overflow room, we were prepared to stream into a second ballroom.

We had originally planned to have all food and beverage in the exhibit hall to drive traffic to our valued exhibitors and supporters. Unfortunately, the packed exhibit hall could not handle the 38 percent increase in attendance, so we had to rethink our menus as well as the food and beverage placement. It would be impossible for all attendees to go through a buffet line one by one; the length of time for decision making and serving would create unacceptably long lines. Boxed lunches were the best solution fulfilling our need for a “grab and go” scenario.

The sheer volume of people meant we also needed to reconsider the staffing plan. Having additional team members on hand to direct traffic to either an overflow meeting room or the nearest food station was key.

Make no mistake, finding the best solution for your attendees is not a one-person task. You’re going to need your entire team behind you to make this successful. Bring in your logistics professionals, audiovisual crew and catering team, in addition to your program experts who truly understand the heart of the event.

Although stressful at times, I am so proud to have been a part of a passionate team that was fully committed to producing an outstanding event. The compliments and positive feedback continue to pour in. Congrats to all!

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The importance of understanding client needs and planning ahead

 low rez CSIA 2014-Day 1-4

It was another record-setting year for the Control System Integrators Association's 2014 Executive Conference,
in terms of attendance, sponsorship dollars and registrant satisfaction.


Summer at AMPED is an important time for building a strong foundation for our clients’ upcoming spring annual meetings. Although venue contracts are typically signed several years in advance, the meeting framework including detailed logistics and content is often identified a year before the event kicks off. While the big picture work of successfully planning a meeting is similar from client to client (preparing budgets, identifying speakers, securing AV, etc.), it is key to understand that each client is different and therefore every meeting is unique. Some groups are more adventurous and desire designated times for field trips and workshops. Others are family-oriented events, at which entertainment for spouses and guests must be arranged.

No matter the client's needs, AMPED has proven success in raising the bar in regard to increased registration numbers, sponsorship growth and positive attendee feedback, year after year. This starts with preparing the venue RFP and negotiating the contract and continues all the way through the execution of the live event.

Taking the time to get to know each client and understanding their current and future needs immensely improves the quality of the program. Spring of 2015 may seem like a long ways off, but any meeting expert knows is it right around the corner. Let the planning begin!

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Six tips for stretching your F&B dollar

food money

Looking for ways to stretch your meeting food and beverage budget while exceeding your attendee expectations? Give these ideas a try!

The simpler, the better.
Often, hotel and convention center break packages are very “heavy,” not to mention pricey. Consider lighter options from the a la carte menu. For example, we’ve had great success with offering a variety of protein bars and fresh fruit for morning breaks. Simple, yet filling, and it won’t put your attendees to sleep!

Less is more.
If fancy break packages are your thing, consider guaranteeing less than your actual headcount. Often, extravagant breaks have a variety of options with large servings and attendees rarely sample everything. Don’t waste the food or your money.

Hold the dessert.
For smaller gatherings, request the dessert included in your lunch menu be brought out during your traditional afternoon break time.

All-day packages equal big savings.
A number of venues offer half or all day break packages, meaning one flat fee per person for all meal and break function(s). Meeting planners know how quickly the cost of bottled soda or water adds up, so if the package includes beverages for your program you’ll really save the green!

Schedule extended lunch hours.
This allows time for attendees to explore the host city and try the native cuisine while buying their own meal at a local restaurant. Or work with your destination’s CVB to arrange meal vouchers at area eateries. Say your budget allows you to spend $10 per person. You’d be hard pressed to find a venue that can accommodate such a budget, especially after taxes and service charges. However, a $10 coupon for guests to use at the restaurant of their choice means you stay within your budget your guests save money.

Drink responsibly.
Offering a cash bar rather than hosted bar is an easy way to save your dollars. If that doesn’t work for your event or client, consider drink tickets. Give each attendee a limited number of drink tickets and switch to a cash bar once the tickets are gone. Of course, give your VIPs a few extra tickets!

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Make sponsorship dollars work for sponsors AND attendees!

With each New Year at AMPED comes the thick of meeting planning – budget management, exhibit sales, BEOs and, of course, sponsorship recruitment! While each client meeting is different, sponsorship support is vital to the success of any event.

Here’s a unique sponsorship idea
Attendee needs are constantly evolving, so it is important to remain open to new opportunities to enhance the overall meeting experience. These are busy people who are likely feeling the pressures of keeping up with business back at the office while they are away. What better way to put sponsorship dollars to use than helping attendees maximize their time out of the office?

Many registrants heavily rely on their phones or tablets to keep up on office activity. Don’t make participants go back to their hotel rooms to charge up. Recruit a sponsor for a charging station! Not just any charging station – get creative. Design a kiosk that will be similar to a coat check system. Let attendees walk away from their phones and hire an associate to manage the station so they feel secure in leaving their “lifeline” in trusted hands for a few minutes. How will I pay for a station attendant, you ask? Build the cost into the fee of the charging station sponsorship!

Attendees will be wowed at the convenience; meanwhile, sponsors will be thrilled with the opportunity to support a true registrant service. Make your meeting a wise investment for your sponsors! Feature the supporting company’s logo at the charging kiosk, display branded signage to guide registrants to the charging station, allow the sponsor the opportunity to run a video in the station throughout the duration of the event, or consider giving them an area for product literature.

This is just one example of the numerous things meeting planners can do to create a win-win situation for attendees, sponsors and clients. Increased sponsorship dollars means more flexibility to offer a high quality program. Quality programs equal higher attendance and continued growth makes the meeting an easier sponsorship “sell” the next time around.

Building sponsor relationships is not a simple task, but is definitely time and energy well spent. Ready, set, go!

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