The size and scope of corporate meetings is rivaled only by the huge variety of reasons companies hold them. The ideas behind these events can range from corporate team building activities to full-scale conferences for thousands of employees.
With such a wide range of business events taking place, it is no surprise that the venues hosting these events are just as diverse. Companies can have meetings at Disneyworld resorts, Major League Baseball parks and anywhere in between.
As the different objectives for corporate meetings merge with the distinctive locations that host them, meeting planners and the companies they represent are flooded with options for their events.
To cut through the clutter and set themselves apart, hotels, conventions centers and event management companies continue to offer a seemingly endless parade of incentives to book this valuable piece of its bottom line.
ACCESS Destination Services, a 42-year-old destination management firm in North America, recently announced an incentive program that targets the spouses of employees attending a corporate meeting.
“Our clients count on us to help them motivate and reward their employees with off-site events,” said Chris Lee, CEO of ACCESS. “Savvy executives understand that companions can make the difference between an event that’s successful and one that’s not. That’s why ACCESS hosts activities specifically designed for guest companions.”
As part of the program for events held in Northern California, ACCESS sets up a private shopping spree to California’s largest diamond wholesaler. This experience begins with a glass of champagne, a mimosa or a bloody mary.
Activities for spouses vary in each market that ACCESS serves.
One of the larger venues that is joining the incentives parade is the Palm Beach County Convention Center located in South Florida. The property has teamed up with the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau to offer seasonal meetings incentives for meeting planners organizing large and small conferences.
“Partnering with the Palm Beach County Convention Center allows us to provide a complete, destination-wide incentive program that’s attractive to meeting planners,” said Doug McLain, senior vice president of global sales for the Palm Beach CVB. “This offer shows the value our destination is able to extend, especially during the slower summer months.”
The special offer includes free meeting and exhibit space at the 350,000-square-foot convention center and free wireless Internet for the duration of the event.
The Kimpton EPIC Hotel, a waterfront property in the heart of downtown Miami, has also put together a new incentives package to help sway planners toward its location.
As part of the Pick Your Perks experience, planners can choose the two perks that work best for their attendees. Options include a two-hour yacht cruise, 50 percent off a meeting room rental or up to five VIP guestroom upgrades.
“We understand the importance of continuing to evolve our meetings packages and offerings in order to provide both flexibility and value to meeting planners,” said Eric Jellson, area director of sales and marketing for Kimpton hotels of Florida.
In addition to the perks, the planners also receive an American Express gift card, ranging from $100 to $500 depending on the total group spend. Planners then have the choice to donate the gift certificate to the charity of their choice.
Giving personal incentives to the planners is a common practice in the industry. Some properties, like those operated by Caesars Entertainment Corporation, give all its incentives to the planner in the form of Rewards Points. The planner then has the choice to keep the rewards or offer them to their clients.
One location that has decided to go the route of giving incentives to the company holding the meeting is the Corinthia Hotel Group, a luxury collection of properties in some of Europe’s finest capitals.
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Corinthia Hotels launched a special One in Five offer for the conference and corporate events market. To qualify, a planner must book a meeting for at least five people, whereby the fifth delegate stays for free. The offer is good for up to a maximum of 20 delegates and 20 room nights.
Other incentives offered by venues to lure corporate events continue to get more elaborate.
One example is the Marina Bay Sands, a hotel and convention center in Singapore. This venue has a value added program that can include a ride on a Formula One racetrack in a Ferrari or Lamborghini for up to five attendees.
With incentives continuing to play an important role in corporate events, they may soon become just as diverse as the meetings and the venues that host them.