Upcoming Events

July 11: MPI-CAC/GMC PCMA/IAEE Program

July 26: Off The Street Club Summer Event

September 25: GMC PCMA September Education Program

Monday,July 9th, 2012 Leave a comment

Is This the End of the Room Block?

I love Michell Beer’s commentaries in Association Meetings. One called Is This the End of the Room Block? struck me. With attrition being such a fear, and estimating your block years ahead of time being so difficult, not having to deal with all that seems like it would be so much easier. In fact, I, too have guiltily stayed at a hotel outside the room block, when staying there meant the difference between being able to attend the meeting or not. Your attendees probably don’t feel as guilty as I do.

Beer quotes Doreen Ashton Wagner, managing director of Alexandria, Ontario–based Greenfield Services, as saying, “By making discount rooms available through an array of online booking sites, the hotel industry has eroded organizations’ ability to direct participants into their room blocks.” You can’t argue with that!

Is this the way things are headed? I can’t help but hope not, at least for a couple of reasons. If a solution for those questions comes up, I might well change my tune. It’s not that I’m against change.

My questions are:

  • What about events that take place in one hotel? If you reduce the room block, you will be paying for meeting space instead. Since attendees pay for their rooms, and organizers would pay for room rental, registration fees would have to be raised to pay for it. Attendees don’t care about these issues. They would still be paying for a hotel somewhere, so overall they would pay more — and NOT be happy about it.
  • In the end, any time there was a sizable convention in town, wouldn’t all hotels raise their rates? Because they could. They would not have a contract with anyone limiting the rate to a certain amount.
What are your thoughts about this topic? Do you think ditching large room blocks is a good or bad idea? Do you think that is where things are headed? Do you have any ideas on how to handle these issues?
Thursday,June 21st, 2012 Leave a comment

Equations for Success with Labor Unions

The Greater Midwest Chapter hosted its June quarterly education program yesterday at the American Dental Association’s Conference Center in Chicago.  The session, entitled, “Labor & Delivery:  Getting It Right for ALL Meetings” was a hit as nearly 300 people attended the event.  “With over 200 members and non-members in the audience including more than 80 planners, and over 70 virtual participants from nearly every other PCMA chapter, we feel we really planned a compelling and timely event,” noted the GMC Chapter’s Program Committee Chair, Angie Silberhorn.

The program was moderated by Brad Lewis, executive director of the PCMA Education Foundation and included panelists: David Causton, general manager at McCormick Place; Jim Ellsworth, vice president, national sales at Freeman Company; BJ Enright, president of Tradeshow Logic; Kathy Heneghan, CMP, director of events/assistant executive manager at Hilton Chicago Hotel; and Karen Malone, vice president of meetings at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

The program focused on current labor issues common in the meetings industry. Panelists offered suggestions on how planners can maximize their show experience while minimizing expenses incurred by their organizations, and exhibitors.

History of Labor Challenges and Reform in Chicago
Causton set the stage for the presentation by recapping historical labor challenges at McCormick Place, while not exclusive to that convention center and common across North America.  He then recounted the timeline of events leading to the recent history-making labor changes at McCormick Place and Navy Pier.

One major change in the labor landscape for Chicago, stage hands now handle all production. Hourly rates for stage hands are much more economical versus unionized electricians.  This creates a better system for doing business at a lower cost dynamic.  Some additional but compelling changes in Chicago that benefit show organizers: exhibitor rights have been expanded and exhibitor personnel can now set much of their own exhibit with no limitations set by booth size. In addition, electrical is no longer exclusive as a service; a new catering company is in place, food prices have been reduced by 10% and the building must operate all foodservice at cost; parking fees were reduced.  These changes and many others have helped Chicago regain lost and maintain existing convention business.

Bringing a more personal perspective to such changes, Malone recounted, “We were behind on rigging and the electricians showed up, but couldn’t do their work until the riggers were finished.  Transitioning much of the work to stage hands who also have skilled electricians will keep production moving – no need to pay for waiting electricians, and work flows without interruption, which creates more efficiency”.

These changes were prompted by several key groups, HIMSS among them, making decisions to not return to Chicago with their events. And, as Causton noted, “a loss that would cost the city $150 million.”  The discussion was compelling and showcased the power that show managers truly have to influence positive change.  One notable outcome of the changes is that HIMSS has since made the decision to return to Chicago.

Causton indicated that it was only with the support of Illinois’ governor, the state legislature, and the city’s mayor, coupled with choosing the path of negotiation with the labor unions, instead of litigation or legislation that these changes were able to materialize.

Key Messages
The messages among all the panelists was consistent … once the site is chosen, or even before, planners should consider a number of factors in their meeting planning process: they should know their event history to have higher-level conversations with suppliers and facilities. They should collaborate across all levels – planning organization, venue, decorator, show management and labor unions – to find creative solutions to save money and enjoy shared success.

With an emphasis on creativity, Heneghan and Ellsworth both made recommendations on how to minimize costs. Among the suggestions: marrying A/V sets with other groups to reduce setup, labor and shipping costs, and setting rooms on Friday for Monday programs to avoid labor union overtime charges for weekends and holidays. Heneghan suggested that there is a wealth of ideas like this, and that planners need only to ask for assistance on finding solutions to keep costs minimized.

Enright emphasized the importance of keeping exhibitors happy, “Think about 8-hour minimums when doing your show set.  Know the business rules and what is required in the union contracts.  Find where your exhibitors are experiencing the highest costs, identify their pain points at your show and target those items when negotiating with the decorator on fees for services. All parties must take care of the exhibitors – the group, the center, the hotels and the unions.”

Also a key point in the presentation was the importance of talking with suppliers about the different trades necessary to deliver production.  “You, the planner, have control over the schedule of your show,” noted Malone, who continued, “sit down and meet with union heads before your event.  Ask the right questions …who does what?  What is negotiable?  Educate the unions on not just your needs, but your organization and the impact it has for them personally.  Hold exhibitor meetings with labor contacts and keep open communication with the local trades and the city – prior to, during and after your show.”  Malone shared insights about how she set a more personalized landscape between HIMSS and the labor unions. She underscored her success in forging inclusive and respectful relationships with laborers servicing her event.

Causton too, commented on the importance of seeking a more personal business relationship with the unions. “They hear a lot of complaints, but they do a lot of things well and don’t get a lot of gratitude.  Expressing appreciation will go a long way towards building a productive and successful relationship with the trades that service your event.”

If you missed the GMC June program, it is available for viewing at http://swankav.mediasite.com/mediasite/Play/bbbf2963b658489fa0f4d55d8811d1b71d and the passcode is  PCMA8422.

The Greater Midwest Chapter would like to thank the American Dental Association and Swank Event Services for their support of the program.

Thursday,May 24th, 2012 Leave a comment

Register Today for the GMC PCMA June Education Program!

Registration is now open for the GMC PCMA June Education Program: Labor & Delivery: Getting It Right for ALL Meetings on Wednesday, June 20, 2012, 7:30am at the American Dental Association.

How can meeting planners effectively manage all the labor rules, regulations and expenses at both convention centers and hotels to ensure cost-effective and successful events? From our diverse panel of meetings industry labor experts, you will learn how critical investment in the pre-planning stages of an event will deliver a worthwhile end product for both the audience and organization.

Brad Lewis, Executive Director
PCMA Education Foundation

David Causton, General Manager, McCormick Place Jim Ellsworth, Vice President, National Sales, Freeman Company BJ Enright, President, Tradeshow Logistics Kathy Heneghan, CMP, Director of Events/Executive Assistant Manager, Hilton Chicago Hotel Karen Malone, Vice President, Meetings, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society

Have a question or topic you would like to see addressed by our panel?  Post them below!

Tuesday,May 22nd, 2012 Leave a comment

Did you know? PCMA Convene Offers Free CEU Opportunities!

I’m not sure how I missed it but I just discovered that PCMA’s Convene magazine offers complimentary CEU opportunities by reading specified articles and completing a self-assessment.  Dating back to 2010 a complete series of articles based around core CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) knowledge areas is available online through the PCMA learning center.  For those looking for affordable learning activities and/or those seeking Continuing Education Units (CEU) to qualify for the CMP exam or re-accreditation this looks like a fantastic option.  Check out the Convene CMP Series for details.

P.S. Read any great Convene(R) articles lately and want to submit a write-up to The Pulse blog?  Send us a line by contacting Danielle Roesmann.

Monday,May 21st, 2012 Leave a comment

IMEX and PCMA Deepen Partnership

IMEX becomes Diamond Sponsor for GMC PCMA & IMEX America 2012 to Feature PCMA Education, Co-Located Event and Hosted Buyer Guests

Extending its already strong partnership with PCMA, IMEX America has become a Diamond Sponsor for the Greater Midwest Chapter of PCMA.  You will learn more about IMEX America at the June Quarterly Education Event from an IMEX representative.

After unprecedented success in 2011, PCMA and IMEX are once again partnering for a bigger and better IMEX America, returning again to the Sands Expo, Las Vegas on October 9-11, 2012. IMEX America is now the largest trade show for the US meetings, events and incentive travel industry.  Bringing together over 2,000 hosted buyers with 2,000 exhibitors from across the US and around the world; plus thousands of other industry professionals and buyers, IMEX America delivers unmatched business opportunities, extensive free education, and dynamic networking.

As a leading show partner, PCMA offers you a variety of ways to get in on the action:

Members are invited to attend as part of the PCMA-IMEX America Hosted Buyer Program, which includes complimentary travel and accommodation. This program is open to planners organizing events outside of their home country. As part of their commitment to the program, hosted buyers schedule and attend a minimum of 8 appointments per day – either with exhibitors of their choice, or arranged on their behalf by their intermediary. They are in control of their own schedule and, using IMEX’s exclusive online appointment software, are able to search exhibitors and schedule meetings with exhibitors they are most interested in meeting with. Apply here.

If you aren’t sure the hosted buyer program is right for you, apply as a buyer attendee and get the same access to networking opportunities, free education, IMEX America’s online exhibitor appointment scheduling system, excellent rates at the headquarters hotel The Venetian®|The Palazzo®, and airline discounts.

In addition to these flexible buyer formats, the extensive free education program at IMEX America delivers over 100 sessions, with PCMA sessions taking place at the LearningCurve Zone and at the PCMA booth.

Even before the show floor opens you can also participate in Smart Monday—a jam packed day of free, cutting-edge professional education and networking on October 8th where PCMA, along with other associations, will provide valuable learning sessions. PCMA’s involvement will center around the highly popular Association Focus Day & Evening – an exclusive ‘conference within a conference’ especially for association planners.

Finally following the show, PCMA members can stay on for the 2012 PCMA Global Professionals Conference (formerly the International Summit) which will again be co-located with IMEX America in Las Vegas October 11-12, 2012.

Quick Links:

Apply to be a PCMA Hosted Buyer here.
Apply to be a Buyer Attendee here.

Sunday,May 20th, 2012 Leave a comment

Celebrating the 5th of May in Style

Take some salsa and chips; mix in some Margaritas and Coronas; add some planners, suppliers, and guests. What do you get?
You get the GMC PCMA pre-Cinco de Mayo Member Mixer.

On Thursday May 3rd, approximately 30 GMC PCMA members braved the storm and invaded Maria’s in Rosemont for an evening of socializing, great food, delicious drinks, and fun discovery games. We learned who has been the longest standing member of PCMA, the newest student member, and which member has served on the most committees within the PCMA organization. Matt Hourihan of Visit Pasadena and Vice-Chair of the Membership Committee donated prizes to all game winners.

The event was attended by 40% planners, 55% suppliers, and 5% guests. We are looking to increase our turnout at the next event this coming summer. Be on the lookout for more information coming your way on the Summer Member Mixer. We look forward to seeing you then!

Wednesday,May 16th, 2012 Leave a comment

May 21 ADA Deadline Nears: Chair Lift Mandates for Pools & Jacuzzis (Travel Weekly)

Travel Weekly reports, “A looming deadline for hotels to install permanent lifts on all their pools and Jacuzzis to accommodate disabled guests is becoming a growing source of aggravation for many U.S. hoteliers.” Although the lifts are not the only solution they appear to be the most practical as other solutions would require additional construction.  Read more.

Source: Travel Weekly

Tuesday,May 1st, 2012 Leave a comment

Bowling Event with Off The Street Club

On Friday April 13, 2012 the Community Services Committee hosted 25 kids from Off The Streets Club for a fun bowling afternoon at 10Pin Bowling Alley in Chicago. The kids were accompanied by Mr. Ralph Campagna, Executive Director of OTSC and committee volunteers.  After enjoying a pizza lunch with cookies and milk for dessert, a friendly bowling tournament commenced. 

Each of the eight teams consisted of volunteers and kids.   The winning kids received a $35 AMC gift card and a $10 McDonalds Gift card, as Grand Prize Winners.  The kid with the higher score in each of the remaining teams received a $10 McDonalds gift card. Before heading back to the club, each one of the kids received a goodie bag filled with candy, school supplies and a $10 McDonalds gift card.

Stay tuned for more news on our OTSC Summer Event. To volunteer, contact Troy Tarnoff, Community Service Committee Chair via email, tkarnoff@sanjose.org.


Tuesday,May 1st, 2012 Leave a comment

Congress Votes for Government Travel Freeze – Sign ASAE Petition by May 4

Will the vote by Congress affect you? Conworld.net reports that government travel spending to be capped at 80% of the 2010 level through 2016. Recent spending scandals have resulted in a public outcry for more government oversight.  Read more.

Take Action to Keep Meetings Alive!
Joan Eisenstodt wrote on the MeetingsFocus Blog, “While the stated intent of the [amendment] language would be to prevent wasteful spending on government sponsored conferences, the actual language would prevent many federal employees from attending and participating in private conferences.

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) is collecting signatures for an open letter to Congress to ask them to amend the language.  Take action by signing the letter! (Deadline is Friday, May 4, 2012).

Monday,April 23rd, 2012 Leave a comment

GMC Member Mixer on May 3, 2012

Attend the GMC PCMA Member Mixer!

Join us Thursday, May 3 from 5:30 – 7:30 PM at Maria’s Mexican Restaurant, located at 9440 Foster Avenue in Chicago.

Start celebrating Cinco de Mayo a little earlier this year!  Dress up in your red, white, and green and join fellow planners and suppliers at this informal, fun and festive gathering.  Food and drink is available for purchase, but the valuable networking opportunities are FREE!  Prizes will be awarded to lucky randomly selected attending planners!  We hope you will join us on May 3rd.