You may have heard that with the Memorial Day and IPW putting many of us on the road, advanced registration pricing has been extended by one week to Tuesday, June 9.
While there's plenty to see and do and learn, I've taken the liberty of filtering out a short list of things DMO sales pros really need to look out for at the Annual Convention in Austin, Texas.
If you're not attending, be sure to follow the journey on social media. Just search #DMAI15 on Twitter, and you'll be sure to get highlights and major takeaways from attendees as they get crushed by the sheer weight of knowledge that will be dropped every hour on the hour.
Tuesday, July 14
It's almost imperative you get into Austin the afternoon before the official kick off and take advantage of the dedicated peer-to-peer Exchanges going on. Previously known as "Shirtsleeves," these exchanges are your chance to exchange business practices, creative ideas, and trending experiences; with your peers. You'll want to attend the solutions exchange for Convention Sales, which goes from 3:15 to 5:15pm.
Wednesday, July 15
If you're a golfer, start the morning off with an early tee time to beat the Texas heat at the Destination & Travel Foundation Golf Tournament, followed by a lunch and live auction. The Foundation has invested in key research and resources like the Event Impact Calculator, the empowerMINT initiative, and the DMO Group Channel Impact Study -- all benefiting DMOs and your value in the meetings market. Be sure to take this chance to lend your support.
If your destination focuses on a particular niche market, don't miss out on Niche Market Exchange on Wednesday morning starting at 9:00am. There are rooms dedicated specifically to marketing and selling beach destinations, healthcare hubs, sports-focused destinations, rural or quaint locations, and university towns.
Thursday, July 16
This is the biggie. Grab a seat early at the first Town Hall on Thursday at 8:00am, where we will unveil the much-anticipated DestinationNEXT Phase 2 on-line self assessment tool and NEXTpractices. Here, you will get a first-look at the evolution of what we identified last year as transformational opportunities to actual practices and hear from experts on how disruptors are affecting your organization and our industry as a whole.
Are you just relying upon the contracted room blocks to communicate to your hotel community, to apply booking guidelines, and quantify the overall impact of the event, especially as planners block less hotel rooms or in some cases, not at all? We all know that in this day and age room blocks often only tell a partial story. Step into The Power of Quantifying Event Room Demand: Getting Beyond the Room Block session to explore the next step in quantifying overnight attendance numbers with Event Room Demand Analysis (ERDA).
If you're looking to expand your destination's facility inventory, come learn from DMOs that are expanding their roles beyond sales and marketing to impact destination development through collaboration. In the session Destination Hotel Development: A Community of Partners, you'll explore the role that a DMO can play in hotel development, what are developers looking for from a city and how to market your destination to convey that message, and weigh the pros and cons of investment versus public-private investment.
Learn about the "perceived" destination experience that meeting and event attendees have in this landmark PCMA, IAEE, and TEI Decision to Attend Study in the session, Maximizing Attendance: Behaviors Comprising the Decision to Attend. Examine behaviors relative to the wants, needs and expectations of attendees before they get there, as well as how attendees are eager to talk about you -- positively or negatively -- once they leave.
The Business Exchange will offer significant time today to explore the multitude of solutions, tools, and research that will help your DMO in a variety of areas. If you're interested in any industry standard solutions and research from DMAI, I know that the empowerMINT team is launching some robust enhancements to the MINT database this year, and available to provide you more ways to connect with meeting planners, so bring your marketing colleagues along and find out what's in store.
Friday, July 17
If you're struggling in this age of technology, time constraints and aggressive market conditions, to find buyers that hide behind a wall of electronic RFPs or third-party meeting brokers, you're not alone! In the session Reaching the Invisible Customer, discuss how DMOs get beyond the traditional sales methods and influence this invisible customer that holds expectations of split-second responses to their group business opportunities without being accessible to provide additional details about themselves.
Back to the Business Exchange, DMAI is also holding scheduled Live Demos and Workshops for the industry's various solutions like the Event Impact Calculator. We'll post a full schedule and list of topics, so feel free to contribute any burning questions for our experts in the comments below.
Stay tuned for more updates as we draw closer to the actual convention in Austin. Our friends at the CVB have given us a great top 10 list for your visit, lined up a Culinary Crawl and Hill Country BBQ & Wine Tour, and provided recommendations for their favorite haunts. (So please, get out there. Don't let them do all that work for nothing.)