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David Buse of Destinations Unlimited 06/09/2007 [1]

David Buse - destinations UNLIMITED

It’s good to see something written at last on mailbag. I was beginning to think the new log-in procedure had finished off what has been in the past a funny, serious, crusading and at times a little non PC look at our industry.

I do hope however that the new log-in procedure doesn’t exclude the participation of the likes of Hugo Ponsonby-Smythe, Seymour Places and Trevor Matters, especially now Santiago Fotheringil is no longer contributing to the M & I T magazine. They may have all been irreverent at times, but not in my opinion not totally irrelevant and they did prick the pomposity of some of the more parsimonious contributors.

John Keenan of CAT Publications Ltd 07/09/2007

Santiago Fothergill is very much alive and kicking. His latest piece is published in M&IT this month.

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Peter Moss of Greater Miami CVB 05/09/2007 [0]

Expect attitude improvement from US immigration

I was interested to read your Trends & Spends Survey results (M&IT, July/August).
UK travellers are continuing to visit the good old USA in large numbers. The first six months of this year show a three per cent increase on the same period last year. I am delighted to read that the UK events organisers and their clients are making a very positive contribution to these numbers.
You mention “increasingly bureaucratic visa requirements”. In fact UK passport holders travel under the visa waiver scheme, as do most European travellers, negating the need for a visa. And the days of the “surly” immigration office are over buster! Homeland Security is making sure officers receive training in customer service, even hiring Disney people to do the training in some cases.
You also make comment on the foreign policy of the USA. I do not read too much negative comment about other destinations whose human rights record towards their own populations leaves a lot to be desired.

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John Keenan of CAT Publications Ltd 05/09/2007 [2]

How much do you really value your agencies?

In this month’s issue of M&IT, Martin Lines of Nestlé argues that paying pitch fees shows that corporates are serious about agencies’ worth. Here is his piece in full:

Value! Possibly the most over used and yet least understood word in current circulation. Having spent 20 years in various corporate marketing jobs (big and small) and almost four years on the events agency side, I feel I can speak a little for both camps. I admit I do not have many answers… other than what it means for me in the events I now run.
I fail to understand why so many corporate event buyers still expect four to five agencies to pitch for their business; ask them to invest days (even weeks) of valuable time researching and pulling together that “we want something unique” solution, maybe spend some hard cash on putting together a video sting which sells the concept to “show us how different you are”; pull it all together in a highly visual, nicely-bound presentation – and then say “Oh! We don’t pay pitch fees, we expect you to do it for free." What sort of business model is that?
I know how much effort goes into winning a pitch (having won and lost many), but surely if we value the work our agencies do, we should show them that and not be afraid to invest a grand or two in pitch fees. The good agencies will absolutely invest more than their time cost in getting it right, because they see you want to build a partnership. This surely works to our benefit in the long run.
Someone once said to me “a client doesn’t value what he doesn’t pay for.” So if we want our agencies to be more strategic and add value, then start at the beginning and invest in them. Or am I alone in this odd way of thinking?

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Clive Parrish of Conference Coordinator Spain 12/11/2007

Oh the discussions we have had about this...

Peter Turnbull of Corperactive Event Business 29/03/2008

Rest assured, companies that do not charge to pitch build these costs into their fees. That is normal business practice. Everyone knows it. So pay up front or pay later - just choose. From our point of view, the customer always gets a more superior and effective end product if they pay for the pitch/development up front.

Peter Turnbull
Corperactive Event Business

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John Gallery of Great Potential Limited 22/08/2007 [355]

Online Meetings Bookings

The conclusion of the HBI Forum that buyers will not book large meetings online is out-of-date and out-of-step with reality.

Agencies and clients either already know the venues they want, or have confidence in predictable brand standards and so find it no longer sensible to spend possibly days travelling and checking facilities. Our own system makes it easy for revenue managers to adjust prices regularly to maximise yield whilst an exchange of emails prior to contract solves the issue of booking complexity.

Making rservations via the internet saves time, and hassle (all those
voicemails!) and offers 24/7 functionality from all parts of the world. The web also directs buyers towards the mid-week discounts that are available without forcing them to book days of the week they don't really want.

Today's efficiency-conscious generation of computer-focused executives actually prefer hands-on control of their planning rather than leave it to 'phone calls, face-to-face visits, or intermediaries still operating in slow and old-fashioned ways.

Agencies benefiting from commission-protecting online booking services are more likely to prosper than 'Canutes' who think the internet is a passing fad.

John Gallery
Tel: 07967 032623

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Mark Spivey of Maritim Hotels 14/08/2007 [0]

Graham Ferguson - Genesis Adoration

It is with great regret to hear today that Graham Ferguson has died.
Graham was only 52 and my/our thoughts go to the Genesis Adoration team, especially his partners David Gunther and Richard Heywood.
Graham was a very personal friend of mine and my thoughts are with Josie his wife.

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Ray Roberts of Travel Impact 14/08/2007 [128]

We are all poorer for the absence of Americans

I recently met some Swiss hoteliers who bemoaned the on-going lack of group business from the USA. Over the past few years, similar discussions on reduced American turnover have brought reactions from UK group organisers that include applauding the lack of American competition for space, while exhibiting no sympathy for adversely affected European suppliers. I find this very short-sighted.
Our business is cyclical. If Switzerland features regularly for a couple of years, our clients will eventually find it less appealing as they look for variety and move their groups elsewhere. Through our leaner trading periods with their country, we expect and need our Swiss suppliers to continue to invest in maintaining and improving their products. Otherwise, our clients won’t find the expected quality and range of product when they re-focus on Switzerland in a few years’ time.
This isn’t about increased competition for space, nor about higher prices due to suppliers enjoying boom times. It’s much more about having a healthy pool of quality hotels maintaining and improving standards, so our clients have more and better choices when they next consider Switzerland.
Although other destinations are similarly affected by the continuing downturn in American-derived turnover, Switzerland is particularly note-worthy because of its perception as politically stable, clean and, above all, safe - which made it a favourite for American corporate groups. None of this perception has changed, unlike American buying patterns.
Americans used to avoid overseas travel in their election years, but with terrorism and security worries, plus a weak dollar, it seems elections no longer pose the greatest threat to trans-Atlantic corporate tourism.
Corporate groups form an important revenue stream that helps fund product renovation and renewal. If the current trend of our American cousins reducing their group business into Europe does not reverse, we should all be as worried as Swiss hoteliers.

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