MPI Perspective - October 2009 - (Page 18)

P OV Answers to your questions from a supplier and planner point of view Joel Costa, CMP Area Catering Sales Leader Northern California Marriott Hotels International Laurie Sharp, CMP Manager, Corporate and Major Field Marketing Events Brocade Dear Laurie and Joel, I teach a meeting planning class at San Francisco State. I am continually being asked about ethical issues in the industry. When it comes to site selection, what is your advice to my class? What should planners expect the venue to provide when they make an appointment for a site tour? What would be considered an over-the-top request? Melissa Biele, CMP The Supplier POV From Joel The most important thing is to plan a site tour as far in advance as possible. First, availability of both sleeping rooms and meeting space may be an issue in the short term. If the property cannot formally accommodate the tour, it makes for an awkward situation. Secondly, the amount of time allotted for the site tour should be fair. It may take more than one hour to properly conduct a tour of a property, and when a planner has back-to-back appointments it makes it difficult for a supplier to provide all the appropriate information when the client is rushed. On the other hand, a proper tour should focus on the client’s specs for the opportunity and should not waste any time. The supplier should be up front about the amount of time necessary when arranging the tour, especially if a meal is being planned. When the client is from out of the area, we are usually asked for a comp room for the site inspection. I think this is totally acceptable unless the planner is visiting several venues during the trip. This creates an ethical situation and raises the question, “Will the planner favor the first property to offer the comp?” My policy has always been to offer a reasonable rate, e.g., an industry rate that would be extended to a travel agent, but should the hotel be selected, those charges would be credited to the master bill. I think any planner should realize that the hotel will be showing off their services to the planner and will try to impress them, so the planner should expect a VIP treatment, but I do not think a planner should require or ask for these services up front. It’s really the opportunity for the hotel to promote itself and the planner should experience what the hotel wants them to. In addition, I do not think an ethical planner should try to use a site or Familiarization (FAM) as a personal vacation. If they do want an extended stay at the property or if they bring family and want an additional room, they should be willing to pay for it. The Planner POV From Laurie There is no black-and-white answer to this question. There are many different opinions on what is acceptable and what is considered unethical. My personal viewpoint is that a property should provide a site inspection experience closely reflecting what your specific meeting, conference or event attendee would experience — similar to test driving a car. If several properties are under consideration the planner should spread the test drive among those on the “short list” in order to get a feel for the hotel, service levels, and overall experience. It is reasonable that the hotel, if not yet selected, would offer an “industry” rate or expect the planner to pay for their stay while considering multiple hotels. Once a hotel is selected, it is not unreasonable to spend the night to experience the comfort and amenities of the sleeping room and dine in one of the hotel outlets to evaluate food quality and service. You need to openly and honestly communicate your expectations to the hotel in regards to what you want to experience and you should have a valid business reason for that request. Planners should use common sense. For example, don’t expect a hotel to provide an extended complimentary stay or cover your lobster dinner (and your spouse’s and child’s meals) with the finest wine on the menu. In 22 years I have participated in only 10 FAM trips. These trips are hosted by hotels and/or destinations to highlight and provide exposure for their product. FAMs should only be utilized when the property hosting is a potential hotel and destination for a meeting or event you manage or if it is an emerging destination that may fall into the category. FAMs should not be used as a personal vacation and any deviation outside of what the hotel is offering should be solely at the planner’s expense. ● 18 | MPINCCperspective | VOL. 28, NO. 2

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MPI Perspective - October 2009

MPI Perspective - October 2009
President’s Message
Continental Shift
Team Building Events with a Philanthropic Twist
MPINCC – Shaping Careers Throughout the Years Getting to know … Matthew Schermerhorn, CMP
Member Pearls
CMP U — Experience, Knowledge, Support
Chapter Chatter
Team Building Activities in Winter
Index to Advertisers

MPI Perspective - October 2009