Social Technologies and Cost-efficient Planning Hot Topics at HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings® Mid-America

  • 04.23.10
Social technologies and budget-friendly planning were among hot topics at the 10th annual Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International’s (HSMAI) Affordable Meetings® Mid-America Exhibition and Conference at Chicago’s Navy Pier April 14-15, 2010.

“The floor was buzzing with talk of new technologies and services that help make planning meetings much more cost-effective and time-efficient,” said Fran Brasseux, executive vice president of HSMAI. “While the economy is starting to slowly recover, meeting planners have changed their priorities for the long term. It’s still important to keep quality while lowering cost, but now planners focus more on engaging their attendees in dialogue to help effectively tailor each event and deliver a strong ROI.”

Exhibitors and meeting planners gather at HSMAI’s 10th annual Affordable Meetings Mid-America® to learn about best practices, trends and services in the meetings industry.

The nearly 1,200 meetings professionals attending and exhibiting at Affordable Meetings Mid-America represented nearly every field in the industry. Planners from the corporate, association and independent sectors visited exhibitors representing hotels, resorts, CVBs, convention centers, conference centers, transportation companies, trade publications, DMC companies, unique meeting sites, software providers, entertainment companies, event rental companies, audio visual companies and other suppliers who service the industry.

Exhibitors said during the show that they were seeing a very high quality and quantity of planners. “We’re having a great show. We have definitely noticed that traffic is very strong at the show this year,” said Chuck Salem of Unique Venues. “Probably the most noticeable thing is the quality of the planners coming to visit us - you can tell it’s a much more qualified group, so there’s some very serious business in our section.”

“Affordable Meetings has been a great opportunity to further promote and market Kimpton Hotels,” said Giovanna Slaughter of Kimpton Hotels. “We had a lot of traffic yesterday, we had at least 98 planners come by and swipe their cards for us, which is a great thing.” 

In order to deliver the highest possible ROI for exhibitors and attendees, HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings Mid-America was also the site of successful pre-arranged appointments between planners and exhibitors. HSMAI conducted a trial of this new service which matched qualified buyers with exhibiting sponsor organizations, including Mexico Tourism Board, Let’s Meet Mexico City, Disney Destinations, and Freeman Decorating. The program will be expanded at the upcoming HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings West and National events.

A broad range of timely topics for planners were covered in the 19 educational sessions, including “The Top Meetings Technology Trends for 2010 – Making the Right Technology Choices” and “Social Media & Events – Get Beyond the Hype,” which were part of the Event Technology track. And new to the conference program this year were sessions on medical meetings, plus tracks on intermediate and advanced planning topics. 

Also, nearly 70 attendees took part in the first CMP and Senior Leaders Breakfast program at Affordable Meetings. Linda Byars Swindling, JD, CSP, owner and CEO, Journey On Speaking and Training, presented "Walk, Talk and Negotiate Like a CEO." She advised meeting planners to “approach chief decision makers with bottom-line language in all negotiations to actually have them hear you.” The CMP and Senior Leaders Breakfast was sponsored by Let's Meet Mexico City, Mexico Tourism Board and Smith & Wollensky, and was held in conjunction with the Convention Industry Council.

In addition, Vicky A. Betzig, CMP, led the first Meeting Planner Boot Camp on the day before the show. Nearly 100 meeting and event professionals turned out for the inaugural workshop which provided an in-depth review of how to master the various aspects of meeting planning and management.

HSMAI also honored exhibitors with Affordable Meetings’ Booth Awards:

- Best Booth Overall (for the outstanding creation of an effective, attractive environment that communicates their message.)

  • Great Wolf Resorts – Best Single Booth
  • DMI Hotels – Best Multiple Booth

- Best On-site Booth Promotion/Marketing (for original and effective promotional and marketing materials.)

  • Kimpton Hotels – Best Single Booth
  • Morton's The Steakhouse – Best Multiple Booth

Other HSMAI Affordable Meetings for 2010 include HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings West, scheduled for June 16-17 at Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, Calif., and HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings National and Event Technology Expo, set for Sept. 8-9 at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings is a top exposition and conference for meeting planners to attend each year.

HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings Mid-America offers attendees the opportunity to meet and do business with exhibiting companies during a unique exposition that showcases venues, products and services to help produce various types of meetings and events.  Year-after-year, the highly acclaimed trade exposition is a main attraction for attendees looking to meet and network with knowledgeable suppliers who are determined to help produce valuable meetings and assist with purchasing decisions.  Exhibitors represent hotels and resorts, university conference centers, unique meeting sites, convention and visitor bureaus, transportation companies, trade publications, software and audio/visual businesses, and other meeting and convention suppliers. HSMAI’s Affordable Meetings is owned and presented by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International Americas region and managed by J. Spargo & Associates, Inc.

HSMAI is a hospitality industry source for knowledge, community and recognition for leaders committed to professional development, sales growth, revenue optimization, marketing and branding. With a strong focus on education, HSMAI has become the industry champion in identifying and communicating trends in the hospitality industry, and bringing together customers and members at annual events, including HSMAI's Affordable Meetings®. Founded in 1927, HSMAI is an individual membership organization comprising more than 7,000 members worldwide, with 40 chapters in the Americas Region.

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