As a trade association, DMAI is all about putting insights and tools into the hands of DMOs so that they can sell their destination better. So, it's only natural that we can look inward and lean on our own meeting planners for their perspectives on the meetings market, and share them with you today.
After participating in education sessions and exhibit hall at ASAE's Springtime Expo last week, Monique Gilliam, Meetings Manager at DMAI, and Cindy Kong, Director of Meetings and Conventions at DMAI, sit down with me to share their top takeaways from the event. We also explore how DMOs can benefit from this insight.
JL: These events are built around planner education. Did you attend any Learning Labs or Deep Dive sessions during Springtime?
MG: I attended the Future of Meetings Learning Lab, because as a meeting planner I am always looking of ways to enhance an attendees experience at a conference whether it be through the use of social media, technology, and meeting space.
JL: What made this topic particularly relevant to you?
MG: Jennifer Hsieh, VP of Strategy and Innovation for Marriott International, did an amazing job of showing us how Marriott is thinking outside of the box when it comes to meetings technology and space. It’s great to see a world reknowned hotel take a look at the industry and notice that it’s time for a change in how we look at meetings.
JL: I think you're right. When a company like Marriott is working to gain a foothold in digital technology, it shows that everyone — DMOs included — should be thinking strategically about where the opportunities are in the future. What about the General Session that took on the IGNITE format? Did you find that relevatory?
MG: This was my first IGNITE experience and I absolutely loved the concept — multiple presenters with a 5 minute time frame and only 20 slides. The fast pace and captivating presenters really kept the audience on its toes and wanting more. I can really see this as the new ‘It Thing’ in the meetings industry.
JL: It's definitely a challenge to the speakers to distill everything into a simple and short, yet memorable message. This could even be a good exercise for DMO sales pros to rethink their traditional sales pitches like this: hit the high points and leave the audience wanting more.
CK: Unfortunately, I couldn't attend the education sessions, but I did attend the tradeshow. My main purpose really is to connect with our DMO members, because I mostly look forward to visiting their destination during our meetings.
JL: Yes, the relationships are probably the most important theme you hear when planners like yourselves speak about face time with suppliers.
MG: Definitely. I really enjoy connecting with the vendors and creating a relationship with them even if it’s only a minute of face time. My favorite part is getting to see all of our DMO members as they work their magic on the floor but also talking with them about future meetings that are in the bidding process or even those that we have already booked.
CK: And you also have the opportunity to visit with numerous hoteliers regarding their properties for future meetings.
JL: That's interesting. It seems like increased collaboration between DMOs and their stakeholders provide a huge benefit to meeting planners to be able to use the DMO as a hub for other key relationships.
MG: It's true. Many of the DMOs that we work with do an amazing job of supporting our meetings and in a sense acting as the "key to the city." The attendee experience is extremely important not only at a conference or meeting but also what the attendees do in their free-time. I would love to be able to offer packaged attractions to the attendees to help create a memorable time at their destination.
Many thanks to Monique and Cindy for sharing about their Springtime their experience. Here are the top tips for DMO sales professionals along their sales journey:
- Strategically explore the social, technology aspect of meetings.
- Communicate with impact and brevity to leave your listener curious for more.
- Take advantage of any chance to gather more informaiton about a planner's future or even past meetings.
- As the "Key to the City," make meaningful connections between planners and suppliers.