Last week I wrote a blog to you about current issue of compression in the meetings and events industry, how it is affecting demand for hotels and what does it mean to your meeting planning efforts. Today I would like to write a bit about my experience during few site inspection trips and the labor shortage I have experienced - from airports to hotel restaurants. What does it mean to meeting planners who are planning conferences now and in the future? I have been fortunate to travel recently as my clients’ meeting planning activities resumed and it was refreshing to go on few sites inspections. Hotels that I have had a chance to visit were beautiful, and one of the top hotels in the country for large meetings and conventions. Here are few observations that I wanted to share as all of these will affect quality of attendee experience coming to your meetings or experiencing the venue during your meetings. Long airport lines due to not enough counter clerks caused many travelers (including my husband) to miss their flights. 1.5 hours in line to get a bag checked in, is unacceptable for any airline and the one my husband flew on is a major one. It was obvious that the airlines were not ready for the surge in travel. If my husband was going to a conference, he would have gotten there late or not at all. We do know “trickle down effect” of this - no show attendee = lost room and attrition The hotels I stayed at had 100% occupancy, which is a great sign of travel and tourism coming back. One of the hotels had a convention, which filled the rooms in the hotel for few days in a row. And there is nothing like “full house” (hotel jargon) to show where labor shortage is. I saw our sales manager and director of sales setting up amenities, standing in the lobby in the evening, with cookies and milk for those who were coming back from dinner activities and also showing us around the hotel in between all of this. That explained why I waited longer than usual for response to RFP.. or why there was few crucial things missed in regards to my clients’ requirements for their meeting. Many on-site restaurants in hotels are compensating for lack of servers, chefs, food runners with either being closed or serving their food buffet style. What does suffer in all of this, is quality of food (mediocre at its best) and aesthetics of plated dinner served by a waiter. Not to mention accommodating any special dietary needs like vegan, gluten free or others. Limited housekeeping service, long lines at the check in, unsure staff due to being newly hired - ultimately, these widespread issues do affect or will affect meeting planners and add to already stressful job. Let’s get mentally ready for breakdowns in communication and complaints from attendees, as well as get proactive with a plan on how to manage those for your fall conferences. The plan that I am implementing with my clients starts at RFP process, when I first reach out with inquiry for a quote. I make sure that RFP is thorough and informative for the venue, leaves no space for delay. Getting things faster is not always better but recent extended response times to meeting RFPs have been burdensome to meeting and event planners. Again, that comes from either lack of sales staff, sales staff wearing many hats, or reduced work hours of sales managers. However.. your deadlines do not wait. Your internal and external stakeholders do not want to wait. Here is one solution: meeting procurement agencies very often have their own, designated global representatives for destinations and hotels. While meeting planners are focused on many day-to-day tasks in their offices, event procurement agencies focus on building relationships with suppliers and vendors to serve the client (YOU) better and more efficient. What that means for a meeting planner is attention to what you need, when you need it! This includes, but is not limited to, attention and faster response at RFP process or while your meeting is taking place. Another solution to overcoming current issues is focusing on meeting procurement success, with a proven communication and risk management system of someone who has been through the roadblocks and event landscape transformations. That person knows how to avoid failing and manages risks associated with current landscape. Wouldn’t you want to have a strategic partner like that in your corner?Collaborations can carry meetings through hard times. When you cooperate with another who is working, in a non-competitive way, with your stakeholders, it is worth having a discussion with that person. I can help you right now with your future meetings and conferences. My free assessment and discovery call (sign up below) will take you on the same measured and proven journey that I have taken companies, small business owners and associations. These steps allowed me to help them tremendously in their meeting planning process in uncertain times. I am offering 60 minutes of my time for free just to help you! I want to step in, if you need me, as a thought partner and strategic advisor who can help you navigate your planning process through uncertainty that is not going away anytime soon!
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