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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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Establishing goals essential to measuring event's success

Target

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” Tony Robbins

Events, conferences and meetings tend to be the lifeblood of associations, especially for our clients. As we approach the busy meetings season, many of us who are planners become so busy with the logistics of the event that we can easily lose sight of the ultimate goals and what defines success.

When planning an event, there can be a tendency to go into automatic overdrive. Planners may repeat processes that were done in the past because it’s efficient and familiar. Determining overarching goals of the conference, whether it be providing networking, education, business leads, or making a profit for the client, need to be clearly defined and understood for the entire team to execute successful outcomes. Using defined goals for each component of the event, which may change from year to year, drives decisions from selection of education formats to social/networking activities; from implementation of communication strategies to integration of technology.

Here are a few tips our meetings team uses to establish goals for client events:

  • Follow a goal setting model for each clients’ event to ensure you develop strong goals to be accountable for throughout the planning process. A common model used in our industry is SMART: Create Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound goals.
  • Keep your goals focused on the needs identified in your audience. These can be actual attendees, subsets of attendees, potential attendees, stakeholders, or the organization itself.
  • Ensure leadership agrees with the goals as established. There will likely be less resistance to a change in process if all leaders are included from the start.
  • Review your goals regularly to ensure they are being executed.
  • Keep in constant communication with your organizing team on progress throughout the planning process.
  • Have over-arching goals that drive the conference experience, and then set specific metrics by which achievement of the goals will be evaluated.

In summary, deciding on specific goals prior to your event will help you judge your event’s success as well as help you prioritize efforts throughout the planning process.

 

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Apple changed the rules: Here’s how it impacts our event apps

App Store logo 2

At the end of 2017, in an effort to clean up their app store, Apple announced restrictions to mobile app templates. This had a direct impact on the events app industry, as a huge draw for partnering with event app providers is that the development is already done — clients just add their content and branding into app template. This announcement changed the way some of our clients’ conference apps are structured and how our users access them. Now that we’ve begun our meeting season, we’ve been able to see the impact on our apps first-hand.

Here is the main result of the announcement on our client’s apps: our event apps will now be housed in a container app, but in different ways.

Multi-Show app: This essentially functions as a container app that is client-specific. It is premium-branded for the client, meaning the app still has the client’s branding from the app store to download. The client is an app developer and cannot have event-specific branding in the app store, but rather the organization’s branding. However, when you click into the app after download, the current event and all previous events are listed for the user to access, with specific branding for each event.

The pros:

  • The client still gets a branded app with their name on it
  • Searching for the app is very clear
  • Users only need to download the app once. They continue to get future event information for that organization in the app as it’s released

The cons:

  • Apps still to go through the Apple approval process
  • Can be more expensive

Provider container app: This is different because the mobile app provider houses the client’s event apps under their generic container app in the app store. The mobile app provider is the app developer and the container app is branded with their information. The user must download the container app and then enter an event code, search for the event name, or access it via an email sent to them for easy download.

The pros:

  • You do not need to budget time for Apple approval as the container app has already gone through the approval process.
  • It’s cost effective.

The cons:

  • The client loses some branding opportunities.

We are still learning how this change will impact event mobile apps, but we continue to learn more as our providers navigate the change and we build more apps for 2018 events.

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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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Planning a joint convention: Tips for a successful and positive collaboration

Win win

Have you ever thought about hosting a joint convention with another association to advance your industry? If the answer is yes, I want to share some lessons learned from a recent experience with two trade associations that operate in related industries.

A joint meeting is a great way to create new touch points for a large group of people at one time. It fits within the mission of most associations who advocate for their members and promote new business opportunity. Your members can save money by not having to travel to two separate meetings during the year and these companies can maximize their exposure, and sometimes invest more, due to a greater expected ROI.

It’s not that easy however, because merging two associations will have its challenges. Primarily in how both cultures fit together. Think of a joint meeting more like a business merger or acquisition instead of a meeting - the culture fit is key to operationalize the experience. Your goal should be to deliver on all of the most important aspects of your association meeting, while also fitting the experience into a larger joint program. The cultures match is paramount to achieve success, so the organizers should have a good idea about what events will fit with the norms of each group.

Here are some other things to think about.

Eliminate complexities. Culture matters.
The simpler the better in terms of program format. Remember, this is a new experience for all members. They are not going to your convention this year, they’re attending a joint event (new experience). Don’t fall into the trap of trying to re-create your convention entirely. Both associations must compromise on the format to reduce overall uncertainty of the members. If things get too complex, members will feel like they don’t have enough information and will turn off if they see others engaged who are more familiar with the process. Think strategically about the format of the meeting and how you want members to interact. It won’t work to just take each individual association meeting, merge them together, and wait for the positive reviews to roll in.

Double the networking time
Associations should give members enough opportunities to meet each other at a joint convention. Members want to see their customers, old friends and colleagues first, then branch out to meet new people from the other association. The program should have double the opportunities to network than what you’re used to. This additional time will give members a chance to make their normal rounds and not feel pressured to meet new people at every opportunity. The best connections are made through friends and word of mouth, so give them a chance to talk.

More people overall also means that your members will lose out on those spontaneous runs-ins with old friends and colleagues. This will create a feeling that ‘the meeting is too big.’ Try to create a good balance in your program with large networking events and smaller more focused receptions or meet ups. Often times, we think our normal format can simply accommodate more people with a bigger space. The fact is – people are not always willing to break the ice. Make it easy for your members to feel connected to the larger group. The need to have a place and not feel like an outsider. Matchmaking events can work well in this area, but note it will involve more staff time and support to coordinate a good effort. A poorly planned matchmaking event can have greater negative ramifications than not doing it at all.

Limit the amount of separate meetings.
While each association plans their own business meeting, as well as Board and Committee meetings depending on the rotation, try to limit the one-offs which will make members choose. These events for only one group can create an environment where members of each association are attending their own events instead of actively participating in the joint programming. It’s almost like having two groups in the same space but living in their own silos. The more opportunities there are to choose, the more people will notice non-participation from the other side and think it’s a symptom of the people not wanting to be engaged. For example, host your new member and first timer events together. Another idea is to have staff from each group work together on the other’s events. The association staff can help introduce members to each other and promote a positive dialog about collaboration that helps all attending. 

Maximize your keynote speakers.
The educational program is probably the easiest part of the joint meeting, especially if the groups have similar interests, but don’t overlook its importance. Selecting a very high-profile speaker will create a unique excitement that’s not the norm. Selecting two or three really good speakers has its advantages also if you plan to do breakout sessions or deeper dives. Don’t hire more than three speakers though, or your members will feel like they are missing out. Inspiration and business leadership are two qualities to look for. Don’t get too technical or specific on content because it won’t apply to all attendees.

Control your costs, but don’t go cheap.
Make sure people get the most important parts of your convention experience, then compromise on other aspects. The members are paying the same rates to attend the joint meeting, so when they see double the amount of people, they will naturally think the convention will make double the profit. Meeting planners know this is not the case. Large groups incur additional costs for security, F&B and more, so be conscious of how everything is presented. If your members are used to plated dinners, don’t go with only reception style meals because its makes more sense for a larger group. Also, don’t have each association order their own food, make it consistent.

This is one of the hardest parts about merging cultures for a joint meeting to decide how revenues and expenses are matched. That being said, a joint meeting is a great time to try new things and innovate, so don’t be afraid to try something new where it makes sense. After you meet your basic needs, be creative in how other aspects of the event are presented.

Have fun. Be a Champion.
In the end, your members want to feel like you have their back. They appreciate responsiveness, honesty and the feeling that you have their well-being at heart. Have fun at the event and be a champion on-site for your organization. Offer help to all attendees, promote a positive and collaborative mindset, and introduce people to one another. The little things are noticed.

Joint meeting organizers have a very important role to play in supporting volunteer leaders who have been involved in planning for many years. Let them help you spread the word about what’s really important at the meeting – advancing your industry and creating new business opportunities.

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When a hurricane hits your convention city: How our meetings team prepared for the worst

Collaboration

As we enter into the month of October, the color pink is everywhere. Television, radio, newspapers, billboards, magazines, walks, fundraisers, retail merchandise… the list goes on in efforts to promote National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Talk about collaboration! This health care campaign was formed to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis and treatment and has become a global sensation with a phenomenal collaborative effort.

Collaboration inspires a sense of community and the opportunity for people to learn from each other. While the collaborative activity of promoting National Breast Cancer Awareness is huge on a global scale, collaborative activity at the workplace, on a much smaller scale, mobilizes teams in various capacities to come together and reach common goals.

The AMPED team recently put collaborative efforts to the test when Hurricane Irma was slated for a direct hit in the Ft. Lauderdale area. One of our newest clients was having a large annual conference in this area, just two weeks after the hurricane was to hit. Decisions had to be made about keeping the conference in Ft. Lauderdale as planned, not knowing what damage may ensue, or moving the entire event to a new location in a different area of the country. Through this process, we learned the value of collaboration, both internally and externally with various teams. Below are a few thoughts on effective collaboration that resonated with me as we worked together to produce a successful outcome for our client:

1. Collaboration will expand your community and your opportunities to connect with people for new ideas. When we were considering moving to a new location, our CEO happened to be at a conference with hospitality industry leaders including CEO’s from convention and visitor bureaus across the United States. After discussing our situation with industry peers, many CEO’s offered their advice, assistance and resources to help us through the process of potentially moving the conference to a new location. Ideas were presented that we never knew existed.

2. Collaboration allows you to expand your experiences and knowledge. Our team had not been through a situation like this before. Through many forms of collaboration, each one of us was able to establish new areas of “expertise” that can now be applied to future circumstances.

3. Collaborations provide a built-in sounding board and a system of checks and balances. This experience provided many opportunities for our team to bounce ideas off of one another, blend complementary strengths and recognize areas where we could improve. It made us a stronger team.

In the end, our collaborative partners made the decision to stay at the Florida destination, as originally planned. And the conference experienced a record number of attendees! Collaborative efforts made this possible.

 

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Game plan: When your meeting staff can't make it to the meeting

SWS staff 2017

After 11 months of planning for a conference hosted in Puerto Rico this week, I'm taking it all in from my office in Wisconsin and hoping that the staff handling logistics onsite has been equipped with all the details and knowledge behind each day’s events. My random text at 2 a.m. to a colleague would say otherwise, but I’m also 29 weeks pregnant and keep hearing about pregnancy-induced brain fog, let’s blame that.

Early in the planning process, with the ongoing concern of Zika in Puerto Rico, staff members were free to decide whether or not they felt comfortable attending the conference. This gave us plenty of time to ensure there were replacement staff onsite and that everyone felt prepared for their roles.

Undoubtedly, the staff representing our client onsite are doing an amazing job (see photo). Here are a few tips to help if you find your team in a similar situation:

Develop a game plan. With all of our client meetings, we prepare a Staff Roles sheet which outlines core events and responsibilities. Develop this plan early and think about who can fill in for any staff unable to attend onsite. Nail down those who will be involved in order to keep them in the loop as planning proceeds.

Brief staff from the start. Meet regularly throughout the planning process to keep staff up-to-date. Our team schedules weekly check-ins to get everyone up to speed and discuss any concerns. This will also help avoid a “brain dump” right before the meeting (although this won't necessarily prevent one…see below).

Create a staff operations manual. Equip staff with a comprehensive guide that can be easily accessed onsite. Include all meeting contracts, banquet event orders, floorplans and other important documents. Add in contact information for vendors, board members and staff. List your sponsors, exhibitors and VIPs. Use this as your main resource for event information.

Communicate with outside vendors. Once you’ve decided who will handle responsibilities onsite, reach out to vendors and introduce them. Include staff on important communications as planning wraps up and arrange a time for vendors to meet with staff once they arrive at the meeting destination.

Schedule a pre-conference briefing . . . or brain dump. Run through the meeting from day one to the conclusion to make sure all staff are aware of the schedule and their role at the meeting. This is the time to answer any last-minute questions and get the team excited for a successful meeting!

Be in regular contact with onsite staff. Maintain contact by email or phone and make yourself available as a backup if needed. There will be questions and unexpected stresses, so offer to help back at the office. You may also get a few calls from vendors that are used to contacting you. Help direct them to the right person onsite.

With the conference wrapping up today, I am eager for staff to return and hear all about the conference and its successes as well as improvements for next year. We only get a second to breathe before 2018 planning begins!

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Food and Beverage - The Other Attrition

cheesecake

For meeting planners, the word “attrition” is a pretty common industry term, most often used in reference to guest rooms. However, paying attention to food and beverage guarantees — the “other attrition” — is equally important.

Usually hotel contracts have a food and beverage (F&B) clause that requires a group to generate a minimum amount of F&B revenue through the course of the meeting. The F&B clause goes on to say that if the minimum amount of revenue is not generated, the group is responsible for making up the difference. The F&B clause will require the shortfall plus the tax. Whether it’s called an F&B guarantee or minimum, it really is an attrition clause.

Here are a few tips to avoid paying more than you need to if a shortfall occurs:

Know the profit margin
Often, clauses are based on the difference between the guaranteed F&B revenue and the actual F&B costs incurred by the group. If you can, do not agree to terms that require monetary damages based on lost revenue. Instead, try to base it on lost profit. Know the profit margin!

Last year, we were negotiating with a hotel in San Diego for a large convention taking place in 2018. The hotel incorporated an extremely high food and beverage minimum in the contract. Knowing the profit margins for F&B helped us successfully negotiate terms to minimize the potential amount owed if a shortfall would occur.

Industry standard profit margins for food and beverage are between 35 and 40%. For example, if a group signs a contract with a $50,000 minimum, but only realizes $40,000, there is a shortfall. However, it does not make sense to pay for the full amount of $10,000. Despite the shortfall, the hotel never had to order the food, pay any staff to prepare it, or serve it. Instead the group should negotiate to pay between 35 and 40% of the shortfall.

To calculate the amount owed, take the total shortfall amount and multiply it by the agreed upon profit margin percentage.

Know if F&B damages are subject to sales tax
Before agreeing to pay taxes on shortfalls, check with the state in which your meeting is being held to see if taxes are required by law. If a portion of the F&B minimum guarantee is never purchased, then usually no sales tax is owed because nothing was sold in the first place. Know this before you sign the contract.

Consider ordering more food rather than paying the shortfall
If there is a shortfall, consider purchasing enough extra food to make up the difference. This could mean enhancements to a menu, upgrading a reception or ordering a fancier dessert.

Attendees will likely have a more favorable impression of the event and the group will avoid paying F&B damages to the hotel without getting something in return.

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Crisis management: What to do when a speaker cancels at the last minute

panic button

If you’re a seasoned association conference planner, you’ve undoubtedly experienced some sort of last-minute disaster at your conference, or shortly before it. If you haven’t, don’t worry; the conference powers-that-be will surely test your sanity at some point. It’s only a matter of time!

Last week, our team of experienced conference planners was faced with possibly the worse situation I’ve heard of in my time in the association industry. There we were, in the middle of a three-day technical seminar and everything was going fantastic. Attendance and participation were on target. The speakers were doing a great job during our general sessions. The food and beverages were delicious. Nothing could stop us at this point, right? Wrong.

The night before the final day of the technical seminar the phones started to ring. It was our speakers, sitting in airports, trying to find a flight to our location because theirs had been cancelled due to inclement weather. Not one, not two, but three of our speakers for the final day had to cancel. Mind you, they were the only three speakers that day. There we were, just about to head to dinner, and now we had try and Houdini our way out of this mess. Somehow, we had to come up with three speakers to fill three to four hours of general sessions the very next morning. Over the next five hours, via countless emails and trips to any available outlet to charge our phones, our able team lined up three new speakers to fill the entire day’s agenda.

Here’s how we pulled it off:

1. Tap into those already onsite
One of the first things we did was reach out to those on the Board of Directors who were attending. We knew that they would have a vast knowledge of anyone onsite who might be able to present. Keep in mind that in nearly every industry, and at nearly every conference or seminar you’re going to have other professionals who have done speaking engagements. Get the word out that you’re looking for speakers to fill a spot and you’ll be amazed at how many people have access to presentations they have already prepared, and are willing to help.

2. Reach out to your local contacts and resources
No matter where you are, more than likely there are professionals from your industry who are based near the event. Reach out to them to see if they or anyone from their organization would be willing to speak. This can be quite fruitful because little to no travel is required. Make sure to let any potential speakers know that you are open-minded to the topic (keeping in mind, of course, your association’s guidelines for speakers).

3. Use available technology
If your speaker isn’t able to make it due to travel glitches, see if he feels comfortable giving the presentation electronically. One of our stranded speakers was able to present remotely using GotoMeeting.com. It actually worked pretty seamlessly. One thing to note if you go this route is to make sure your venue has the technical capabilities to pull it off. We were extremely lucky to have the expertise of onsite A/V professionals. They were able to get things set up about an hour before the presentation was scheduled.

All in all, we were very fortunate things turned out so well. Having an amazing team like we do, who didn’t panic in the face of adversity, was key. We were also lucky enough to have a great Board of Directors willing to help at a moment’s notice. Their experience and their contacts in the industry really opened up the pool of possible replacements. If you plan enough conferences and events, something like this will happen to you. Just remember to keep calm, and plan on.

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

 ACTRIMS 197

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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How to grow and retain event sponsors

we love sponsors

If you don’t like “cold-calling,” consider these tactics to help you get sponsorships:

  1. Get the most popular person in your organization to help you solicit sponsors.
  2. Call up last year’s donors.
  3. Post sponsor logos prominently on all correspondence and event materials. This will prompt non-sponsors to think about benefits of exposure.
  4. Announce new sponsors on social media.
  5. Treat every email, phone call and contact as a potential sponsor.

Other things to consider:

Keep the sponsors in mind during the planning phase. When doing your event planning, recognize that corporate sponsorship is a form of brand advertising. The basic intention of sponsorship is to conjure up positive associations between the corporate brand and clients. This is done by naming events or showcasing corporate logos in promotions leading up to and during the event.

Create a sponsorship prospectus. Always be sure to document, in detail, how each sponsor will benefit from their level of commitment.

Write your proposal highlighting the type of people who will be participating in the event, the theme, and the potential sponsorship and marketing opportunities available. The prospectus should be styled to appeal directly to the type of companies who will sponsor.

Connect with sponsors after the event. Send a thank you letter or email, brief them on the activities that their sponsorship funded, or detail how their contributions were used and how you promoted their support at the event.

Post photos of the sponsored events on social media in real time, then, send these photos to the sponsor as a follow-up.

Ask for suggestions on improvement for future events.

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Enhance your attendee experience with an offsite event

MIlw museum

A great way to mix up your meeting and energize attendees is to plan an offsite event. By taking a break from the everyday meeting space, you can recharge your attendees with a fun, relaxed atmosphere to network and learn from peers.

Immersing your group in local attractions can take your attendee experience to the next level and give them a chance to enjoy the destination, which most attendees don’t plan for outside the meeting. And as the demand for face-to-face meetings continue to grow, the expectation for experiences to make valuable connections will become the norm.

So how do we find those one-of-a-kind venues for a memorable event?

Partner with your meeting destination’s Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). Instead of the go-to Google search, ask your CVB for venue and activity recommendations. With groups in and out of their destination, CVBs can offer possibilities that other groups have experienced and found successful.

Ask a local planning committee participant or valued member. A resident of the destination can offer worthwhile insight into a venue from the perspective of an attendee. If you’re fortunate, they may have attended an event at a possible location and can give you a sense of the atmosphere and service.

Heading offsite can bust your budget but be up front and work with the venue to maximize your dollars. Think of creative ways to reduce equipment rentals and audio visual fees and watch out for hidden expenses. If you have a good partnership with the CVB, offer exposure incentives or sponsorship benefits to offset costs. I’ve found that most venues will work within your means and want events to be successful.

A great example of an offsite event and partnering with a destination is the Wisconsin Society of Association Executives Awards Celebration that was part of the 2016 Innovation Summit. We took attendees offsite to the Milwaukee Public Museum for a brief awards presentation and strolling reception. To maximize our budget, we chose to skip presentation slides to reduce audio visual costs and had inexpensive pop up banners made of each award winner to display during the awards ceremony. The banners not only served as decoration for the event but also nice gifts for the award winners. After the quick ceremony, attendees were transported back to a fall evening in Milwaukee at the turn of the 19th century as they enjoyed hor d'oeuvres and cocktails through the Streets of Old Milwaukee. We couldn’t have pulled off the event without the support from Visit Milwaukee as well as our partnership with the museum.

What offsite events have been successful for you? What have you done to enhance your attendee experience? With a few creative twists and fun elements, you can generate a meeting that will keep attendees coming back year after year.

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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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What makes or breaks the deal: Five things I look for on a site visit

chef impression

The success of your meeting may rely on a carefully planned and well executed site inspection. Having been on the hotel side of things and now as a planner, I see the site inspection as a unique face-to-face opportunity to kick off a lasting relationship between the planner and sales team.

A few of our AMPED staff recently went to San Diego to check out a hotel for a large client event in 2018. Based on the particular needs of this medical conference, the property was selected because it was in a great location, was symbiotic with our client’s goals and attendee personalities and had the appropriate space and guest rooms to comfortably accommodate all the various space requirements. However, what really clinched this property for our conference was our sales manager. From our first conversation, Jennifer was very easy to establish a rapport with and took the time upfront to fully discuss the meeting goals, objectives and purpose, and the demographics and meeting behaviors of our attendees. In summary, she nailed our site inspection experience! Early dissemination of conference information allowed the property to demonstrate on-site how they could best meet our needs and appeal to our attendees. This customized experience instilled confidence with us that she was truly our partner in the complete execution of our event and not just a sales rep trying to close business.

While onsite, what are some factors to be considered and can be influential when conducting a site inspection?

1. First Impressions: ….Go a long way so make sure the hotel properly represents your own expectations and branding of the conference to successfully execute them. Sometimes, it will not matter how well the meeting itself goes, if the hotel has an inadequate feel or attendees are not experiencing good customer service, that will be their lasting impression. We arrived at this hotel the day after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The lobby was abuzz with all kinds of activity and we knew the staff had to be exhausted. All staff we encountered were extremely pleasant and genuinely ready to assist, despite coming off a very hectic week.

A few things to consider observing upon arrival at the hotel:

  • How you are greeted by the front desk and bell staff?
  • Is this area well-staffed and there are plenty of employees greeting guests and carefully driving cars through the valet area?
  • Are their uniforms updated, clean, and fitted?
  • Are they pleasant and friendly

2. Hotel Management: In my past hotel days, we were trained on the “meet and greet” technique. Well-trained sales managers should be ready and prepared to meet you upon your arrival at the hotel. Nothing goes further than feeling that your arrival was anticipated and planned for. When our team arrived on this particular visit, hotel staff were enthusiastically waiting to welcome us to San Diego and the hotel. Our room keys were provided to us so we could proceed directly to our upgraded, expansive suites in which we each had a customized in-room welcome amenity. This little, but effective, touch reassured us that the hotel was eager to earn our business.

3. Presentation: Has the sales manager prepared in advance to show you exactly where your meeting and banquets will take place, as well as the variety of guest rooms and suites you need for your guests? So often hotel sales managers don’t take the time to go through your agenda prior to the visit and you end up seeing meeting spaces you’d never need and room categories you don’t want. Our sales manager, Jennifer, did her homework prior to our arrival through the many conversations. She also took the time to research our client to completely understand the dynamics of our conference. Our tour started with a relaxing lunch that set expectations for how the rest of the day would go. We were able to discuss in greater detail things that make our conference successful, get an understanding of the overall “lay of the land” before we began the tour, and also get to know their team a little better.

4. Hotel Quality: How recently was the hotel renovated? If there have not been recent renovations, be sure to ask about future renovation plans. Are the guestrooms, suites, meeting rooms and public areas updated? Are the bathrooms clean? How fast are the elevators and are they clean? This area in particular, is where the hotel has complete control to ensure the property is properly being taken care of. When it comes to cleanliness and working order, there are no excuses. While onsite, I built in some time to wander the hotel on my own to experience the hotel as our attendees would and to really pay attention to these details. Remember, the hotel will be part of your branding for this event and you should be assured the hotel meets your standards.

5. Food Quality: Food trends have come a long way from the clichéd “rubber chicken,” making planning meal functions a more engaging experience. In an effort to meet the changing needs of conference clients, hotels are transitioning from traditional banquet service to more, specialized opportunities like healthy, local fare and customized menu options. To see if the hotel is true to its word on these trends, visit the various restaurants onsite and note their differences in cuisine/gourmet experiences and price points. Order room service to evaluate delivery time and quality of food. If time allows, arrange a chef tasting to create menus and experience what your attendees will experience and also to ensure various dietary needs will be met.

A successful and productive site inspection, such as we experienced in San Diego, is fundamental in establishing confidence during the planning and execution process of your event. Considering our experience, our team at AMPED is looking forward to working with our new hotel partner for the upcoming conference in 2018!

 

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It’s called meeting “planning” for a reason. Use post-meeting time to prep for next year.

today

Spring is a busy season for meetings and events in the AMPED office with one association’s annual meeting ending and another just a few weeks or even days later. For some meeting planners, the much-anticipated summer months allow a minute (only a minute) to breathe before the planning process starts all over again for the next year’s meeting.

During this time, what can we do as planners to start off on the right foot and plan an even better meeting the following year? Here are a few tips to get you started:

Take a look at your post-event survey to find out what your attendees loved and didn’t love so much. What do your attendees really want? Are there areas that should stay the same? Are there changes that should be made right away? Many of these factors could impact your meeting budget or may need a vote from leadership, so it’s a good idea to run through the survey responses as soon as you get a chance.

Update your planning timeline right after the meeting ends to keep details fresh and plan more time than you think you need on big items. Things often come up but accounting for these incidentals can help relieve tight turnarounds and stressful deadlines. If you have a team working on the meeting, make sure to assign roles and walk through the timeline together. Also, check other meeting timelines in your office to make sure major deadlines aren’t hitting at the same time.

Plan your marketing strategy while you are planning meeting details. Note important dates in your timeline and plan communications around these. If you want to notify your attendees about important launches (registration, abstract management system, mobile app, etc.) or upcoming deadlines, work this into your timeline.

Go back to your meeting contracts and review. Look at your hotel room block compared to your most recent pick up report. If it's written in the contract, you may have room to renegotiate your block. Go through your concessions and make sure to incorporate into your planning timeline so you don’t miss out on the added benefits.

Reach out to vendors early. If you haven’t seen your meeting venue for a while, schedule a pre-planning meeting to refresh your memory on the space as well as to meet the staff that you will be working with over the next several months. If your budget doesn’t allow for a site visit, ask your venue to give you a virtual tour to see the space and meet the team along the way.

If you work with a committee to plan aspects of your meeting, schedule a committee call as soon as possible to begin tackling items that need their input and feedback. This also may help alleviate email trails that fill up your inbox.

How about you? Do you have any tips for starting off on the right foot?

 

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Name badge ribbons. You love ‘em. You hate ‘em.

For some organizations, name badge ribbons are a necessary tool for networking at meetings – an immediate way to recognize new members, sponsors or those with particular professional interests. They have their place, for sure. But they can get out of hand . . .

badge ribbons

And what about the logistics of distributing the ribbons?

  • Do you go through the tedious process of cross-referencing multiple spreadsheets?
  • Do association staff peel and stick them on each badge?
  • Are they stuffed in the back of the badge so that attendees can stick them on themselves?
  • Or are they laid out in piles at registration for self-selection?

One solution to never-ending ribbons is to print designations right on the badge. One of AMPED’s clients does this, identifying member type, board member, speaker, or sponsor in different-colored banners at the top of the badge. This works most of the time. Although there are always special circumstances, like when a board member is also a speaker or a speaker is also a sponsor. We deal.

This same client has never used ribbons. But a few years ago, they started requesting that staff stick gold stars to badges to identify first-time attendees – yep, the same ones your kindergarten teacher gave out for good behavior. Problem was, very few attendees knew exactly what that gold star represented. Additional requests came in to identify certified members, or those who used the insurance plan, or still others who were part of peer groups.

In search of a creative way to satisfy all the requests without resorting to ribbons and without the time-suck of having to apply stickers before-hand, AMPED staff devised a make-your-own badge solution.

badge stickers III  

We designed the badge so that the bottom 1” of the card was left open. Then we produced a half-dozen separate 1” square logos and had them printed on roles of stickers. Next, we set up badge stations on tables near the meeting registration area and directed registrants to step over and complete their badges. We built traffic by putting big bowls of M&Ms and Swedish Fish on the same tables.

The badge stations were a hit! Attendees enjoyed self-designating themselves and the whole process saved time and money. No ribbons. No labor.

Do you have a creative badge idea? We’re always looking for suggestions that save time and money at the meeting registration area. Let’s hear from you!

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Bye-bye pipe and drape: Kiosks are welcome upgrade for expo

expo

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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Not Everyone Gets the Spotlight

But behind-the-scenes roles are equally important to pulling off a great event!

Wicked at the Omaha Orpheum theater


I was in Drama Club in school and one thing I remember our advisor telling us over and over is that every role is important. Whether on stage or behind the scenes, everyone has a part to play to create a successful production. Over the course of my career I have helped manage numerous client meetings and conferences. It is exciting and challenging work and an aspect of association management that I truly enjoy. There have also been many times when I have not been directly involved in the planning or on-site management of an event. Instead, I’ve found myself in more of a “behind the scenes” role back at the office. No matter what, I always want to be as helpful as possible so even if I am not directly involved in planning or traveling to the conference, I have found ways to contribute and help make an event great.


Stay informed: An upcoming client event usually means an increase in inquiries from potential attendees. Knowing as much as possible about the event is important in order to effectively and efficiently answer questions. In particular, make sure you are familiar with aspects of the event that are most likely to generate inquiries. Examples include registration policies, schedule highlights and sponsorship and exhibit opportunities. If there is an event website make sure it is bookmarked on your browser for easy access and that you are familiar with the information and where it is posted. If you are going to be processing registrations over the phone, familiarize yourself with the process and be aware of different registration options, fees and deadlines.


Offer assistance: Leading up to a conference there are numerous tasks to be accomplished, and the simple act of offering assistance or support can be incredibly helpful. Maybe you can help print name badges or pack up supplies. Even running out to grab lunch or a cup of coffee for a stressed colleague might make their day a little easier. During the event, make it a priority to stay in contact with colleagues who are on-site in case something comes up. Also, remember that the time immediately following a conference can be hectic, too. Catching up after having been away and dealing with the event wrap-up is a lot of work. If you have the time and opportunity to assist with post-meeting tasks such as unpacking or organizing and archiving conference files, definitely do so.


Take notes: Throughout the meeting planning and management process you may find yourself making mental notes about things that have worked exceptionally well or things that could be improved next time. Perhaps it’s a suggestion or comment you heard from multiple callers. It might be your own observation while navigating the website or processing registrations. Write these down! If you do end up with a list, make it a point to share it with your colleagues after the event is over. This is a useful exercise for everyone on the team and your notes may provide valuable insight when planning the next event.


Conference planning and management is a group effort and the advice my drama coach gave me definitely applies - every role is important. Whether on site or “behind the scenes” at the office, the ultimate goal is a successful event and everyone’s contribution matters!

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Destination known: How to maximize your partnership with a CVB

DC CVB

As an association management company, successful outcomes for our client meetings and conferences are often the result of partnerships forged across many industries. One such partnership that our organization places high value on is that with local convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) in destinations that are being considered or have been selected to host our client events.

There are a plethora of resources available to planners in support of the skills necessary to execute a successful meeting, but few of them combine destination knowledge, local expertise and connections to leverage in-market relationships. CVBs offer a wealth of resources and are the experts of their destinations, making a planner’s job more efficient.

“I not only use the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.”  — President Woodrow Wilson

A CVB’s role is to promote the long-term development and marketing of a destination, focusing on convention sales, tourism marketing and services to meeting planners and leisure travelers. They work with groups of all sizes and are a go-to resource for helping to connect with the right venues and businesses for successful events. In the initial phase of planning, they can also advise their customers about potential conflicts related to other events, major construction projects in the city and traveling into the destination. Especially helpful for long-term planning, CVB’s have a great understanding of which development projects are in the pipeline that could be an asset to an event.

AMPED recently engaged Destination DC, the local CVB in Washington DC to assist in the planning process for one of our client’s large citywide conferences taking place in 2020. This event will draw 12,000 attendees worldwide and use over 6,000 rooms on peak night — quite a large undertaking, even for our experienced planning staff! Meeting in our nation’s capital has multiple unique attributes no other city can offer. Here are a few valuable way in which we partnered with the CVB to assist us in the initial planning process:

Request for proposal distribution
Instead of doing research ourselves in an unfamiliar city, we sent our RFP to the CVB and asked them to distribute it to all hotels that would be willing to host the event based on specifications like location to convention center, meeting space requirements, hotel room accommodations and guest room rates. Their sales team understood the value of this meeting to the city and served as our advocate to the hotel community. They prepared a detailed RFP which generated over 30 responses from hotels interested in working with us.

Site inspections
After committing to hold the meeting in DC, we were ready to conduct a site visit to become familiar with the destination, visit potential hotels and meet with vendors. The CVB saved hours of planning by coordinating our itinerary for four days, including transportation to and from the airport, meeting with convention center staff, touring 15 hotels and off-site venues, showcasing area restaurants and arranging a city tour to see the highlights. Additionally, CVB staff arranged for multiple vendor interviews to assist us in our decision to find and work with the best suited partners based on our service requirements. In the end, the CVB staff provided us with undivided attention for our trip and arranged this visit with our priorities and needs at the forefront.

Services
There are many other valuable ways to use the consultative services of the CVB to help succeed in other aspects of planning. They include services such as:

• Marketing of the conference
• Supply of promotional materials such as their visitors guides
• Printing and mailing services
• Sponsorship assistance
• Discount coupon programming
• Attendance-building
• Social responsibility
• Customized attendee website
• Housing and conference registration
• On-site staffing
• Access to image galleries

In summary, a good CVB is a true partner, an extension of our staff, and can become a great resource about a destination. CVBs want events to be successful in their city and engaging them as a strategic partner from the beginning helps puts us on a great path to success.

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Packing hacks for meeting planners

packing

Spring is full of travel for several members of the AMPED team. With client meetings across the country and site visits to future locations, our bags are packed frequently, and we’ve gathered some great travel tips along the way.

At our last client meeting, I received important advice for staff working onsite at a meeting: Eat before you are hungry, drink before you are thirsty and use the restroom before you have to go. It is easy to feel run down when you are constantly on the go but keeping this mind can help you stay energized and prepared for a long day.

And when it comes to packing, remember a few of these hacks:

  • To maximize space in your luggage, roll your clothes instead of folding them.
  • When packing clothes that wrinkle easily, lay the clothing flat inside a dry-cleaning bag, and then fold as normal. The plastic will prevent creases from setting in.
  • Pack a dryer sheet to help keep your clothes smelling fresh.
  • Space is premium in your suitcase so fill your shoes with socks or other small items.
  • Keep the dirty soles of your shoes away from your clothes by sticking them inside a shower cap.
  • Attach a binder clip over the blades of your razor to keep them protected.
  • Keep smaller jewelry in a pill container to keep them from moving around and organized.
  • Keep all your gadget cables in a sunglass case to keep them neat and tidy or use the case for necklaces and bracelets.
  • Pack a reusable, compact tote bag or plastic bag to stuff your dirty clothes into and keep away from clean clothes.

Other travel tips for your flight and hotel:

  • Leaving your car at the airport? Take a photo of your car’s location to help you find it when you return.
  • Pack an empty bottle and fill it up with water once you’re through security. It’s important to drink plenty of water before and during your flight.
  • Pack earplugs for your flight and hotel in case your neighbors are noisy.
  • To help stay germ-free, use disinfectant wipes to clean the airplane tray table, seat belt buckles and overhead air vents at your seat.
  • Use disinfectant wipes to clean your hotel room- especially spots like the remote control, alarm clock, sink and toilet. Or, for those of us who are extreme (like me), wrap the remote control in the ice bucket liner.
  • Pack a flashlight and check your hotel bed for bedbugs.
  • Bring flip flops or slippers to avoid picking up dirt on your feet from your hotel room floor.

With a little bit of planning, you can take the stress out of traveling and be prepared to enjoy your next trip. For even more packing hacks, check out this article and read Brittany’s blog post form last summer for healthy travel tips.

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