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Effective Meeting Execution

"How to Create a Compelling RFP"
By Lindsay Groff, Vice President, Premier Meeting Solutions

The first, and perhaps most important step in finding the perfect location for your next conference, convention or tradeshow begins with creating an informative and desirable request for proposal. The RFP process need not be daunting, or something you push to the bottom of your to-do list. Remember, you want to create a win-win for the association and the hotel. Following these 7-Tips will help navigate you through the process and in the end your RFP should provide you with proposals from suitable hotels eager to work with your organization.

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Meeting Management Companies; Are They Worth My Time and Money?
By Kyle Fernley, Account Manager

Two years ago, in the heart of one of this country's worst recessions, the answer was invariably no. The hospitality industry was desperate for business; meeting space costs were at an all-time low and travel was viewed as more of a luxury than a necessity. Organizations and associations seeking great deals didn't need to look too far. In today's world, the answer to that same question has changed.

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President's Message - All-Company Staff Meetings... Have They Lost Their Relevance?
By G.A. Taylor Fernley, President & CEO

It is not so much about the meeting itself; rather, it is more about your company's culture and management philosophy. All of us have a different approach and/or philosophy to conducting meetings within our organizations. Finding ways to be more creative, stimulate excitement, and bring new life into your meetings will help in the successful delivery of important information. It may take time to determine just the right rhythm for your company meetings, but don't be afraid to make adjustments during the process. Whether you hold them monthly, quarterly, or annually, the agenda for your all-staff meeting should be well thought out and must have a direct link to your business plan. Keeping the plan in front of your associates will allow them all to see where the company is going and more importantly, motivate them to participate in the journey.

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Cut Costs, Not Quality: 5 Tips for Spending Less at Your Next Association Meeting
By Trish Keppler, Sr. Meeting Manager

Looking for a few fresh ideas to save money on your next annual conference? Start with a good hotel contract; minimize your risk by knowing your group's history before locking in a room block minimum. Go electronic! This option saves money and the environment. By posting materials on the association's website, timely updates can be made so that members can access the most current information as it becomes available. Work with the hotel's Chef to create menu options that fit into your budget instead of the other way around. Reduce AV expenses by borrowing laptops and projectors from members of the Board. You'll be amazed at the cost savings! Offer incentives for early registration in order to discourage last minute onsite registrations that can impact meal guarantees and room sets.

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Virtual Meetings By Angela Musial, Meeting Manager

There's no doubt the current recession has changed the business communications landscape. With less income on both sides (associations and members), organizations are being smarter and savvier in their choices about how they spend their time and money. This year alone we all saw a significant decrease in meeting attendance, some up to 50%. The standard practice of sending 5-10 people from a given company to an association's annual meeting was thrown out the window. This year we considered ourselves lucky if there was one representative in attendance. While we are hopeful that 2010 will show a brighter forecast, we need to focus on doing more with less and at the same time continue our commitment to quality programming. Virtual meetings have found a home with associations as they provide the immediate access and enhanced communications that our members demand.

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Innovative Ideas to Host Better Meetings, by Jessica Widing, Executive Director

One of the most stimulating sessions I attended at a recent ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) meeting was entitled "Knowledge Strategies for Better Meetings" lead by Mickie S. Rops, CAE. The overall concept was a simple one, engage the audience. But not just at the meeting; start to grab their attention before the meeting, hold onto it during the meeting and keep your attendees involved long after the meeting is over. The wide variety of electronic and web based communications available today enables associations to reach out to conference attendees in an efficient and cost effective manner. It also allows attendees to interact with each other.

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Are You Responding to Generational Shifts for Your Meetings? - Overview by Trish Keppler, Sr. Meeting Manager

It is not enough to plan the same meetings year after year for the same audience. The times, technology and our members are changing and so must our meetings. Audiences are now comprised of a unique group of members representing three distinct generations; Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Generation Y. Meeting planners must adapt the format and delivery of all standard components of meetings such as awards banquets, entertainment, and registration to reflect the varied preferences among the generations. Some associations are steering away entirely from printed materials and opting instead for strictly electronic communications with members. Meeting brochures with downloadable registration forms and/or online registration web links are widely accepted these days. Handwritten, manually tabulated post-conference evaluation forms are being replaced with online surveys that allow members to quickly and effectively offer their feedback with a few clicks of the mouse. These are just a few examples of how Fernley & Fernley is embracing the generational shift and responding with flexible, customized solutions to meet the needs of our client associations and their members. This article was authored by David Gabri, President & CEO of Associated Luxury Hotels International.

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Planning an Effective Board Meeting

You might think that all meeting planning is equal. Not true. While it is true that a number of the key components required in planning a meeting are similar whether you are planning an annual conference for 1,000 attendees or a six person executive committee meeting, there are unique intricacies that must be carefully considered when planning a more intimate meeting such as a Board Meeting.

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The Right Blend of Ingredients to Insure a Successful Set of Minutes

Reading and writing board meeting minutes would probably never make the Top Ten list for most non-profit board members or staff. Even though the task will never be considered fun, it is important for everyone to realize the critical importance of crafting just the right amount of detail in your meeting minutes. You might relate minutes to mixing the ingredients to make a cake. Even if you use the best quality ingredients of details and discussion, too much or too little could have a disastrous result.

Hugh K. Webster, a Washington, D.C. based attorney specializing in non-profits, has developed a useful reference document for anyone responsible for taking meeting minutes. Just remember that the key ingredients to a successful set of minutes is to incorporate just the right blend of discussion summaries on board actions to allow the reader to know what happened. This article was originally published 10/9/06 and is being reprinted by permission.

To view the Nonprofit Legal Guide to Meeting Minutes pdf file click here.