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Helping Meeting Planners Understand the IACC Value

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Closing Reception at IACC 2011 in The National Conference Center Ballroom

As a 30 year veteran of the meetings industry and a recent honoree of the Mel Hosansky award, Joan Eisenstodt has a true passion for conference centers. When honored with the award Joan said, “…[She hopes] IACC conference centers would continue to be true to their mission, that they would be places where true learning would happen” (Hotel-Online).

At the 2011 annual IACC conference, we learned more about our mission as an IACC member. Here are the most interesting findings – you’ll be surprised to know some are sitting in front of us on a daily basis:

  • Define a Conference Center – Don’t assume all meeting planners understand what a conference center is because there are many who don’t and choose to book at hotels instead. Joan best said it during the Customers Panel on the opening night, “A small portion of meeting planners and particularly Generation Y planners don’t book at conference centers because they don’t understand conference centers. Explaining the conference center concept and the value of productive meetings at an IACC conference center is our job in educating the meetings industry.”

  • Utilize IACC – Use IACC to help meeting planners understand certified IACC conference centers. Explain the 32 point universal criteria to being a IACC conference center from a personal conference planning manager on staff to the Complete Meeting Package. In a case study, there was a division of meeting planners who understood the certifications of an IACC conference center and those who didn’t know what it was. The study found that meeting planners who weren’t explain the 32 criteria of an IACC conference center could care less about meetings at a conference center. However, the case study found of meeting planners who were explained the 32 criteria of an IACC conference center loved hosting meetings at a conference center.

  • Focus on the visit or site-tour, THEN the meeting. According to a session at IACC 2011, explaining membership as an IACC conference center and the value extended the meeting planner will help sales managers in bringing the meeting planner to the property. At that point, the sales manager can then focus on bringing the meeting to the property. “Sell the visit, THEN sell the meeting.”

  • Return on Investment – As mentioned in “11 Takeaways from IACC 2011,” ROI is not necessarily reducing cost but the value delivered. If meeting planners understand the product more, then that’s also a form of ROI. In this case, helping meeting planners understand conference centers, Complete Meeting Packages (CMPs), and the 32 criteria of an IACC conference center are all part of the daily ROI for your conference center.

If you’ve hosted meetings in the past at a conference center, what influenced your decision? As a meeting planner, what do you value the most from the 32-point IACC criteria?

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