Black Meetings and Tourism

July / August 2021

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B M & T ••• July/August 2021 ••• 12 In the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying travel bans, the travel and tourism market has taken it on the chin. However, better days are on the horizon as aggressive vaccinations in the U.S. are increasing consumer confidence in traveling and attend- ing in-person meetings and confer- ences. For many meeting planners that means getting back to basics — both old and new — when it comes to planning their next event. Here is some advice from seasoned meeting planners to help you get back in the swing for 2021 — and beyond. We spoke to three experts, David Jackson and Karin Aaron, managing partners at KKD Tourism Advisors in Doylestown, PA; and Katrina Ruff, CMP, CIS, owner of Forum Meetings and Events in Denver. Choosing the venue Ruff advised, "When selecting a venue, make sure you know your program upfront. Consider all of the nuances like early check-in, late check out, small meeting or board rooms, and shoulder dates, etc. before the contract is signed. These asks are typically honored before the contracting process is completed and can save you a bundle." According to Jackson planners should also, "Seek out a non-traditional venue such as a conference or training center that offer a complete meeting package. This bun- dled pricing includes guestrooms, F&B, and onsite activi- ties, and can save you a significant amount of money. Aaron added, "Consider unique venues such as wed- ding or social venues. They are typically empty midweek and during the day, which could offset the cost of a lower priced hotel with shuttle to save you money." Quotes & Negotiating When negotiating Jackson advised, "If using a hotel, lower your comp room ratio to 1 per 25 instead of the preferred 1 per 50. This will give the hotel more invento- ry to use for another group. Also, apply the value of your comp rooms to the final bill instead of giving them away to VIP's if unused." "Preparing a formal RFP is always the best way to request a quote. This shows that you are serious and puts each of your minimum requirements in writing," said Ruff. "Before signing a contract, cross-check the terms with your initial RFP to ensure that everything you need, and extras are in writing. Consider adding an addendum if the vendor contract doesn't have a place for a hearty list of concessions." Karin Aaron Katrina Ruff. David Jackson BY PATRICE A. KELLY

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