Prevue asked Sherri Lindenberg, VP Marketing FICP for her thoughts on value programs and events.
Q: How can planners use F&B in innovative ways to increase value?
A: I’m seeing a trend toward family-style meal service, which tends to have favorable pricing. More importantly, it creates an intimate, and often elegant, dining experience like plated meals, but with the selection more comparable to a buffet.
We’ve also been cutting back on desserts, both in the size of the portions and the quantity ordered, as we’re finding a lot of people are not choosing to eat it, or else just want a taste-size portion. So this way people can sample bite-size pieces, we’re not wasting as much food, and we’re saving money.
Q: How can planners use technology in innovative ways to increase value?
A: We’re using technology to reduce our costs in a variety of ways. We’re reducing printing costs by sharing presentations electronically posted on websites, versus having a lot of handouts; finding vendors who can print our signage locally versus shipping it all there; negotiating to have wireless access available on site so attendees with smart phones can easily access meeting materials; setting up online meeting agendas so we can reduce the number of printed pieces we hand out; and incorporating more video into our presentations, of many varieties, including professional pieces, YouTube posts and home-grown work. We’re also more fully leveraging the features of our online registration tools to integrate with hotel/airline reservation systems and other vendors for ground transportation management, etc.
Q: What are some primary requests coming from meeting planners to help lower costs?
A: As a corporate planner, we’re constantly asked to lower our spend by revisiting the following: attendee lists each year to make sure we’re truly including only those who need to be at each event; meal selections, to see where we can scale back but still keep people hydrated, fed and happy; and event locations, to find venues that minimize transportation (air and ground) costs.
Q: Are there any parts of a program you’re seeing where groups are willing to spend a little extra?
A: Our groups always seem willing to spend on some type of local experience, versus keeping the entire business meeting in a hotel. Having dinners in museums, ballparks, aquariums, boats or even just iconic local restaurants helps people feel like they have seen the city, rather than been cooped up all day and night.