The first and often most important question: where should your event be? Which destinations have accommodations most suitable to group corporate events? Which travel agencies offer discount for group or incentive travel? I hear these questions often, which is exactly why Incentive Solutions offers free site selection services to start you off with an ideal location.
Once you’ve identified a venue, you’ll have to book the group’s transportation and accommodations. You’ll need to identify any special accessibility needs, whether the hotel offers a block of rooms in the same area, whether room service and/or complimentary meals adhere to dietary restrictions, etc. Incentive meeting services covers all these! A company experienced in managing group travel can streamline these conversations because they know which questions to ask. They can anticipate your group’s needs based on years of planning similar events.
One of the more thorny areas of planning corporate events and meetings is contract negotiation. Large travel groups sometimes come with specific contract conditions and clauses. Hotels and resorts want to secure their profits and liabilities with contracts. Incentive meeting services should include negotiating contracts on your behalf. The major benefit of working with group travel experts is that they negotiate travel contracts all the time, and have established, trust-based relationships with various hotels, resorts, agents, and cruise lines. Some of the clauses an incentive travel company may renegotiate in your favor include:
- Cancellation fees and clauses are often included to protect establishments from losing money if you cancel your meeting or even. These clauses themselves are reasonable and common practice. But beware of extra or uncommon cancellation policies in your contract. Incentive meeting service experts can help you identify and avoid unnecessary cancellation clauses and policies, while centralizing and automating room reservation using an online registration system. This ensures that wait-listed attendees will fill in any cancelled individual reservations, keeping your room block full and fulfilling your contract obligations. Some cancellation clauses and fees are unavoidable, but incentive meeting experts should help reduce as many potential losses as possible.
- Attrition clauses are similar to cancellation clauses. The term specifically refers to the compensation received by establishments for rooms and/or cabins that are removed from the market when your group reserves them. Attrition clauses are negotiable. An establishment may amenable to removing an attrition clause, especially when dealing with a trusted, repeat client such as an incentive meeting planner. Even better than removing mention of attrition from the contract, you may be able to add a clause specifically stating there will be no attrition penalty.
If you can’t get around attrition, a meeting services provider can help you make compromises such as paying the sum cumulatively, rather than per-night. This way, you don’t have to pay full price for rooms you don’t use or food/beverages you don’t consume.
- Force majeure (French for “great force”) clauses are meant to absolve both hotel and attendees of liabilities if there is an emergency beyond their control. Natural disasters, extreme weather, government regulations, and disease threats are examples of force majeure. A meeting services provider can help you negotiate policies such as “partial force majeure,” where you don’t pay extra fees if a force majeure disrupts your trip without entirely cancelling it.
- Indemnification clauses protect one or both parties from financial loss, and place damage/neglect responsibility on the party most able to prevent it. Most contracts require you to indemnify the hotel for any claims or liabilities incurred from negligence or omission by your company or trip attendees. Meeting service providers can help you negotiate this clause. For example, you can specify that the hotel will be indemnified only for negligence or gross negligence.
Group Deals and Preferred Rates
As mentioned, meeting service providers have established relationships with hotels and resorts along with travel companies or agencies, potentially. Because they conduct regular, large-scale business with these vendors, they often get priority placement, bulk discounts, and/or preferred rates. Rather than selecting a destination then scrambling to find the best rates, meeting service providers can often hand-pick an exclusive, all-inclusive group deal for your corporate event.
Registration & Itinerary Software
For corporate meetings and events, you need to keep track of attendees to make sure everyone is follows the schedule and attends all gatherings. Meeting service providers such as Incentive Solutions can use online registration and meeting technology to track and streamline your event. This software is available to event managers, but also has attendee features. Attendees can use the software to register for events, communicate with one other, check the room list, process payments, and take post-event surveys. All these activities come with associated reports that event managers can access at any time to assess engagement levels.
Ideally, incentive meetings services run in the background like a powerful but silent engine. Their planning should be swift and efficient. They should be easy to work with, as well as helpful and friendly to attendees. You should be able to trust them to act as an extension of your company, managing a flawless trip that everyone will remember for years to come. Look for an incentive meeting services provider that has an impeccable reputation and, when you find them, hang on! Building an excellent, long-term relationship with meeting service providers will grow loyalty and engagement among your most important employees, salespeople, or channel partners.