Hilton Hotels Eevents – Now featuring green meetings and weddings
BlueSky Factory- Our email service provider choice
:38 Jon Trask and Mike McAllen — discuss events and meetings.
1:18 Tom Hillmer is off today.
1:33 Mike and Jon doing a session at MPI’s WEC Salt Lake City in July New Media and Podcasting. Jon is doing his AV vendor class.
2:41 John Kerry is up in arms at the Meetings Industry. Our industry fights back.
11:07 Some tips on why to have a meeting.
13:17 Ryan Air wants to charge for toliets on the planes.
15:50 SeatGuru and TripAdvisor has some new offerings for pricing and seats.
18:46 Jon may be in Dallas with Tom and Miek and are planning a meetup in Dallas.
19:20 Exercise Balls might be a fun idea for a meeting or unconference. Might keep attendees more engaged.
20:25 Jon is on Twitter.com and twistitorcenter.com Contacts via twitter for Vistior centers. Mike saw John Stewarts and Brian Williams talking about Twitter on the daily Show.
Please leave us a question or comment, which we will try to address on the show ASAP!
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Audio mixing by www.RipTideGraphics.com
Brought to you by Grass Shack Events & Media
Copyright 2009 MeetingsPodcast
Female: You are listening to the Meetings Podcast with Mike McAllen, John Trask and Tom Hillmer. The Meeting Planner podcast source for what’s new and exciting in the meetings and events industry. The information and opinions expressed in this podcast are of Mr. McAllen, Mr. Trask and Mr. Hillmer and are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of their past, present or future employers.
Please send in your question and comments to [email protected] and make sure to visit our website for pictures, video and show notes at www.MeetingsPodcast.com.
Mike McAllen: Thank you for tuning in to the Meetings Podcast. This is Mike McAllen with Grass Shack Events and Media and on the phone we have Jon Trask from Alliant Events Services. Hi, Jon.
Jon Trask: Good morning. How’s it going?
Mike McAllen: Good. I wanted to first thank our sponsors, Hilton e-Events and also Blue Sky Factory, our e-mail provider of choice. Jon, how are you doing? And Tom Hillmer, I should probably say or Tom is at the airport.
Jon Trask: Yes.
Mike McAllen: Where else would Tom be?
Jon Trask: Tom probably spends more time at the airport than he actually spends in like hotels.
Mike McAllen: Right, right. He does. Well he’s here actually today, just dropping somebody else but the time he (went back) so we decided to go on without him.
Jon Trask: And we miss him already.
Mike McAllen: We do, we do. So how are you doing, Jon?
Jon Trask: I’m doing okay. It’s still an interesting world we’re in. I guess we got through the happy show last week so we don’t have to be all happy this time, right?
Mike McAllen: No, no more happiness.
Jon Trask: No more happiness. We’re back to the real world.
Mike McAllen: Right. And I guess we found out that we’re going to be presenting to MPI. Did we talk about this last time?
Jon Trask: I think we’ve mentioned it in passing. I haven’t – but still finalizing the details but yes, it looks like we’re going to be doing – you and I doing a session together on podcasting and new media and social networking and things like that relating to the meetings industry. So I’m very excited about that and then I’m going to be doing my AV vendor class again which is sort of hopefully trying to demystify the AV vendor relationship for people. Maybe give them a few tips and ways to analyze a budget and just things like that so that they can look at to sort of make it easier to demystify this text stuff that we all talk about.
Mike McAllen: Right, right. And I guess now our podcast will turn into just total promotion of that. So we’ll have a packed house.
Jon Trask: Yes. We’re going to have like months and months of talking about this. So everybody, you know, fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Mike McAllen: So I guess we have all kinds of stuff to talk about. Mostly today about Senator John Kerry up in arms about the meetings industry now and …
Jon Trask: Yes, because we’re horrible people.
Mike McAllen: Yes, we all are terrible people. And MPI, I saw a lot of stuff on their site about …
Jon Trask: Yes.
Mike McAllen: … about this and I’ll just read off really quick what he wants to do. The title of the post which was done by Jessica States, an MPI blog said, “The Lawmaker Hopes to Ban Conferences for Bailed-Out Companies”.
So, “Senator Kerry has announced plans to introduce legislation that would prevent companies that have received bailout funding from hosting, sponsoring or paying for conferences, holiday parties or entertainment events. The bill will affect any companies that have received government help under the TARP program or the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
So he said a couple of things, “I’m sick and tired of picking up the newspaper and reading about another idiotic abuse of taxpayer’s money while our country is on the brink. Americans who play by the rules are losing their jobs and struggling to pay their mortgages. The companies that came to Congress in desperate need of help to stay afloat become their own worst enemies when they pull stunts like this. It’s an embarrassment that this legislation is necessary, but some companies clearly need a reality check to get their priorities straight so taxpayer money is used to get their house in order and not to pay for lavish parties. Congress has a zero tolerance in this kind of excess.”
So he wants to fine them $100,000 and he also wants the – who was the one he’s going to assign the Treasury Secretary Tim …
Jon Trask: Yes. U.S. Secretary of Treasury Geithner, I believe that is.
Mike McAllen: Geithner, yes. He wants him to be on top of all the events going on.
Jon Trask: So now the Secretary of Treasury is going to approve whether a company can have meetings or not under this.
Mike McAllen: Right.
Jon Trask: Yes, that’s a good idea.
Mike McAllen: Really good idea.
Jon Trask: Yes, I mean on the plus point which is the One Magazine blogged on the MPI site. There’s a gentleman named Michael Pinchera who posted something sort of pointing out a little bit of the disingenuousness of this proposal because let’s see, Mr. Kerry spoke to AIG in September 2001 in Burlington, Vermont. He spoke to the Lux Executive Summit in October of 2008. He spoke to a group of teamsters at the annual conference in Las Vegas in 2004, at the University of Florida in 2007. So let’s see. It’s a bad idea except when I do it?
Mike McAllen: Yes. To me it’s interesting that he – it all lumped together which is the sad part like I mean, obviously we all can say that some of these lavish parties that he’s kind of referring to …
Jon Trask: Right.
Mike McAllen: … I think he’s – I mean – I think it’s harder in the right place about this stuff but he’s lumping it altogether and it needs to be separated basically. I mean, I don’t know if they really – I mean obviously in this time of – it’s a perception because we we’re on AIG when we’re talking about them before, everyone – where it’s happened. So it is a perception thing and but the real parts about this meetings was they need to keep meeting.
Jon Trask: Well you know …
Mike McAllen: He’s (off-based). (inaudible 00:06:11)
Jon Trask: I mean, he’s got some bad advice. If he’s really – it’s a great grandstand, it probably sounds good to people who don’t know how the industry works. But he’s really harming a huge chunk of the economy and I mean all of us in the meetings industry know that. I mean, this is his livelihood or our livelihood that he’s directly going after.
Mike McAllen: Yes.
Jon Trask: And I think there’s a little righteous justification and some anger right now within the people in our business because you know, if he’d come and said it’s bad to waste money, that’s one thing. But to just basically say all meetings are bad?
Mike McAllen: Right. He could be saying our taxpayer money should be spent wisely, not …
Jon Trask: Right.
Mike McAllen: … not you know, going up in arms about this whole thing especially when he’s kind of as you were saying earlier feeding from the trough itself.
Jon Trask: Yes you know, and I mean things as recent as October of 2008.
Mike McAllen: Yes.
Jon Trask: So this isn’t like he had a revelation a while back and decided it was a bad idea or you know, did he speak of all these conferences be free? Did he just come near out of the goodness of his heart?
Mike McAllen: Right.
Jon Trask: I doubt it.
Mike McAllen: Yes. And how many of these other conferences that are going on too that are sponsor-related too, you know. That they’re not – they have sponsors of these things too. They don’t always, you know, are paying for the whole thing.
Jon Trask: Right, right. Well you know, this is a couple of weeks in a row. We’ve got the President who’s criticizing meetings in Las Vegas. Now we’ve got you know, senators criticizing meeting at all and I mean, I’m glad that a number of organizations within our business are definitely stepping up. I know that the U.S. travel, I know that MPI with Bruce McMillan, they’re really stepping in to try and make a difference on it and you know get an actual accurate message back out but it’s very concerning. It should be very concerning to all of us.
Mike McAllen: Yes.
Jon Trask: And you know, we need to be stepping up and letting our elected officials know where we stand and the importance of just how much meetings mean within the country as far as the dollar volume has generated.
Mike McAllen: Right. Yes and that’s been happening too. They actually is kind of flipping out. I saw a Wall Street Journal article called The Secretary of Golf which I thought was interesting and they’re kind of saying this is silly, you know, that he – John Kerry wants to do this because you know, the government doesn’t have time to go to every single meeting and figure out if it’s okay or not, you know. It’s slowing down the economy …
Jon Trask: Right.
Mike McAllen: … get it coming and getting back, you know. Obviously you know, again I understand what he’s saying but …
Jon Trask: Yes. Well …
Mike McAllen: … in this article they were saying, you know, we just don’t have time to do that. I saw another letter from Barb Taylor Carpender. She actually posted it on our website, on the Meetings Podcast site that she had written this letter to him and I thought it was pretty good.
It said, “Dear Senator Kerry: It has come to my attention that you are proposing legislation that would prevent companies that have received bailout funding from hosting, sponsoring or paying for conferences, holiday parties or entertainment events. Meetings and events are responsible for 15% of all travel-related spending in the U.S., creating nearly $40 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state and local level and generating more than 1 million jobs. Industry experts project that without the jobs generated by these meetings and events and incentive travel, the current unemployment rate of 7.6 percent would rise to 8.2 percent and cost the average American household an additional $136 in taxes annually.” which was great, great.
Jon Trask: Yes.
Mike McAllen: So she wrote this letter to him, another meeting planner that I meet their friend, Julie Hewitt. She wrote, “Maybe if Congress stop (meeting) the problem would just go away.” She states very sarcastic. So you know people are starting to get a little bit angry about this stuff.
Jon Trask: Well I’m happy to see that because …
Mike McAllen: Yes, they’re talking about it. As we keep saying, we have to keep educating other people. So that’s great.
Jon Trask: … so well – so yes, there’s a righteous indignation for the week.
Mike McAllen: Exactly, exactly. So I saw another thing from a – on the HarvardBusiness.org was, Don’t Cancel That Meeting and it’s by John Baldoni. And kind of some good things he put in here about why do have a meeting which I think probably we should be focusing on more than the negative part.
Jon Trask: Right.
Mike McAllen: Though this isn’t the happy show, I understand.
Jon Trask: Right. No, but I think you’re absolutely right. We do need to be making a case for the value of meetings.
Mike McAllen: Right. So he says, “Winter is a prime time for corporate meetings; these include meetings with dealers, the vendors, the franchises, as well as with sales teams. These meetings are used to get perspective on the year as well as prepare for the future but these times with tight credit and plunging revenues are hardly traditional.” and he thinks that the communication business, meetings are being scaled back or canceled to a large degree but the scaling back makes sense but canceling meetings doesn’t. So I think that’s a good point right away.
Jon Trask: Right.
Mike McAllen: And he gave a couple of things that you know, he thinks that you know, sales people and other employees need to know what they should be doing to keep the company going for the short term but and then he had some things about saying that you should be focused. You know, meetings are an important opportunity for senior people to address the economic situation as well as reveal plans on how they are coping with it.
To tell stories. Talk about how people are coping with these times. Share the stories from the field which is a great thing, you know, get people talking about how their handling it.
Jon Trask: Sure.
Mike McAllen: Hear from the field. Create panel discussions and breakout sessions for attendees. Allow the sharing of best practices as well as detailed planning. These get-togethers can provide sales people and vendors with insights into their customers. In turn, customers need to have the opportunity to talk about how they are coping and surviving.
So, a couple of kind of cool things that he gave and up in a link to that, up on our site too if you want to read more about what John says and actually after I read his article, I sent him an e-mail saying, “Hey, I should interview you for your podcast.” So I would do an interview with him. So …
Jon Trask: Oh very good, very good.
Mike McAllen: Yes, I thing that’ll be kind of cool. So that’s that and …
Jon Trask: Well …
Mike McAllen: … the one thing that you would sent to me – do you want to comment on that? I’m sorry.
Jon Trask: No, no. Just go ahead. I was just going to say we had some airlines stuff, didn’t we?
Mike McAllen: Yes. I was going to go right to that. Do you want share a little bit about it?
Jon Trask: Yes. No, go right ahead. Let’s talk about that proposal we both read about.
Mike McAllen: So I think you sent me that. I kind of went and looked around on the internet. It’s Orion Air, it’s thinking about making their passengers pay for toilets. So they want to have basically, you have to pay to use the bathroom and I thought it was funny because isn’t Orion Air, they’re like a Irish airline.
Jon Trask: I think they are. I know they’re European-based.
Mike McAllen: Oh because I thought as an Irish been myself, I thought, wow they we’re going to stop people from drinking probably at the (airport) which would probably a good revenue stream. So I think I don’t know if it balances out.
Jon Trask: Well and admittedly the article that I saw did mention that it could have been said tongue-in-cheek, you know, that not even (inaudible 00:14:05) if you were serious but he does have a habit of making this sort of decorations and getting some free publicity for Orion Air. And so you know, hey we’re talking about Orion Air.
Mike McAllen: We are, we are.
Jon Trask: But yes, they said that there was a possibility of putting a coin slot on the toilet door.
Mike McAllen: So he says passengers using train and bus stations are already accustomed to pay and use the toilet so why not on airplanes? Not everybody uses the toilet on board of one of our flights but those who do could help reduce the airfares for all passengers. That’s kind of funny. I thought that stadium buddy, you know, have you ever heard of a stadium buddy?
Jon Trask: Yes, yes.
Mike McAllen: Because I always tell my crew guys when I’m working on site that if they have to work, that you know, I’m getting them stadium buddies because they want to have a bile break during the, you know, this long haul sometimes.
Jon Trask: Right, right.
Mike McAllen: If they couldn’t get away from their seats and I thought, well you know, you all get the stadium buddies for Christmas, don’t worry. But they’re a little bag that attaches to your leg that you can fill with – while you don’t have to go to the bathroom, I put it that way. Is that the nice way to say it? I don’t – I can’t sort of (inaudible 00:15:18). But I thought they could do now, the kiosks also in Orion Air kiosks of those in the airlines.
Jon Trask: Well – and in sort of a related note last week, US Airways reinstated complimentary beverages. So maybe these two proposals could go hand in hand. All you can drink but you pay for the toilet.
Mike McAllen: And it’s $50 to use of bathroom.
Jon Trask: Yes, we’ll be reinstituting a $10 fee …
Mike McAllen: Very, very funny.
Jon Trask: … lots of coins, you know.
Mike McAllen: Very funny. So …
Jon Trask: Yes.
Mike McAllen: … I also had a couple of – did we have more airlines stuff? Did you have anything else?
Jon Trask: Well I have one thing that would sort of related too and that was just on – I know we’ve talked about SeatGuru before. It’s been a long time ago and I think it’s all sort of under that brand of TripAdvisor. I think they actually control SeatGuru and TripAdvisor just came out with just a new search feature that I thought was kind of interesting. They had a press release on it.
But they’ve got kind of a integrated fees estimator built into when you’re looking up costs and that allows you to see the total cost with all the surcharges or fuel surcharges and taxes and things like that, landing fees that come in, so that you’re getting more of an accurate price for the final cost. You don’t have any surprises as you get further down into booking a ticket. And they’ve added a couple other things like they’re apparently linking it with SeatGuru now. So when you’re doing your flight search engine, your color coded maps with details on the leg room and amenities that are offered.
Mike McAllen: Oh funny. That’s great.
Jon Trask: And they’ve got a tip alert that tells you in business or first-class tickets are available for a price close to the coach fare that you’re considering. And even some real time availability charts for seating and things like that. So …
Mike McAllen: Yes, have you been using your TripAdvisor a lot lately? I have – I didn’t (inaudible 00:17:13) on that because I don’t …
Jon Trask: I talked in there actually to review the place that we stayed on our vacation when we were out in England because it was at smaller property, you know, one off place that coach – an old coaching and actually a little wonderful experience and I actually wanted to go on in there and make sure they had a nice positive recommendation because they were just really good hosts as far as a small (inaudible 00:17:39).
Mike McAllen: Oh that’s great. Yes, because I know that people that are on top of that are usually – I think people that are up to date with that you know, kind of – I like to see the hotels that are for, you know, venues are responding to people on there too.
Jon Trask: Right.
Mike McAllen: Need to see that they’re looking to see what people are – their experiences are.
Jon Trask: Yes, I have to say, I spent a lot of time on there myself before I went to Montreal because on the – when I went to WC Montreal at the back end of it, I took a week and my wife joined me. We went up to Quebec City which I had never been there. And so I researched a lot to find the hotel by reading people’s recommendations and things there. And I found it pretty useful and we ended up with a place that we really liked in a location we liked and, you know, it was useful information.
Mike McAllen: So are you – this is not about that but I wonder, are you going to be down in – when we had some talk, you’re going to be in Dallas next week. Are you going to be going or not?
Jon Trask: I don’t know.
Mike McAllen: You still don’t know?
Jon Trask: It’s going to be one of those last minute things. I’ll probably find out in the next day or two if I’m going to be there.
Mike McAllen: Okay because you know, I’m going to be down there in Dallas …
Jon Trask: Right, right.
Mike McAllen: … next week and I thought, Oh we can have a little – maybe a little meet up for people who are listeners there or you know …
Jon Trask: Yes.
Mike McAllen: … to a lot of shows with maybe some of our listeners.
Jon Trask: Yes, I think we’re actually at the same property if I do end up going.
Mike McAllen: Yes, so look for that. We’ll put it up on the website this week if we’re going to do that. So – and I guess we had a couple of other things. We had the exercise balls. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Jon Trask: It was just another thing off the Plus Point blog where they were talking about a Colorado teacher who started using exercise balls instead of chairs because it keeps you a little more focused. And it’s an idea that makes sense to me. I mean, you use them at the gym because you’re using various muscle groups and it keeps you sort of completely engaged not just working one side of muscles. And I could see the same thing working for somebody sitting in a meeting, you know, you can’t doze off on one of those.
Mike McAllen: No, I use one for a long time in my office.
Jon Trask: Did you?
Mike McAllen: I had on – yes and it was great. I really liked it. It didn’t make my butt sore but then I do as I was working too long like it would make me get up, feel like I would start, could you (inaudible 00:19:58) happen to balance yourself. You’d you know …
Jon Trask: Right, right.
Mike McAllen: … you can really spin around and do things and it really was kind of I think, okay I’ve been sitting here, you know, I’ve been here for 12 hours. It’s time for me to go.
Jon Trask: Yes, I need to stretch.
Mike McAllen: And I think I also had a couple of things about Twitter. I know now you’re on there, Jon. We’re going to have to do a little more – you and I Twittering back and forth but …
Jon Trask: Yes, just got on there.
Mike McAllen: … and but there was a thing. I saw – called the Twisitor Center like visitor center but twisitor center of Twitter. And it’s all these local tourism people in all these different cities all over the place. I was amazed at how many are on there. Twitter is really like getting very popular and I guess if you’re going to that town or you’re thinking about going to town, you can Twitter that person and get right away get a contact there which I thought was kind of interesting.
Jon Trask: Yes.
Mike McAllen: I was watching the Bill Maher Show yesterday – was it Bill Maher? No, it was the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and he had Brian Williams on there and they were talking about Twitter which I thought was so strange. It’s really everywhere now. So it’s kind of interesting.
Jon Trask: Yes, it’s – I’m still getting my head around it and looking for how it’s going to be useful so I’m really interested to do some exploring of the content and on there over the next few weeks.
Mike McAllen: Yes. I was hoping maybe we could kind of incorporate it into our talk when we’re doing our talk.
Jon Trask: Yes, I think it’s got to be one of the things that we bring into that along with LinkedIn and some of the other social networks that are out there and yes that’s definitely going to be something that we’ll be looking at as we put this together.
Mike McAllen: Okay well, that’s all I got. Do you have anything else?
Jon Trask: Nope. I think that’s a good week for me.
Mike McAllen: Yes. Great, great and I want to encourage everyone again to e-mail us at [email protected] or make comments on the site. We’re getting a lot of comments going on there which is kind of fun to see and I guess that’s it, huh?
Jon Trask: Well my only thing is I’d also like to encourage folks to be more vocal about the industry because obviously we need some advocates on our side of things. We need people getting an accurate message out there because right now it seems like there’s a little bit of inaccuracy floating around or a little bit of grandstanding and we’ve got to stand up for ourselves or there are a lot of us are going to be in danger.
Mike McAllen: Yes you know, it’s interesting you said that because I had – there’s an Oakland fireman that lives two doors down from me and I was out chatting with him the other day and he was saying – I hope I didn’t talk about this already but he said, “Oh, when banks come to you and wanted to do events, do you like tell them oh no, no?” you know, I don’t do that. And it was funny to hear that and I sure gave him an earful. I was telling him, wait a minute, that’s not how it is and you know, totally. And he walked away from there like wow, I didn’t even think of that, you know that. So it is good to get of your little silo of people and start sharing this stuff with other people because they don’t you know, he walked away with a total different outlook on the whole thing, you know. So …
Jon Trask: I’ve had the same conversation with some friends of mine where I’ve sort of explained what I do finally a little better for the first time, you know, because it always seems really cool to people, you know. Oh, you go to these different cities and you know, you go to these nice resorts. Yes and we work hard.
Mike McAllen: Yes, yes.
Jon Trask: You know, it’s not a vacation, it’s 12, 16, 18-hour day sometimes, you know.
Mike McAllen: The airport and then a ballroom and then you get to visit your room (every) …
Jon Trask: And I mean …
Mike McAllen: (inaudible 00:23:43) a quick shower and iron some clothes and get go out back down.
Jon Trask: Yes. It sounds really cool. Oh, you’re going here and you’re going there and you get to travel, yes. It’s fun. I mean, no denying. I like going to different cities and I enjoy that but let nobody mistake that there’s not a huge element of work involved in both putting these conferences on and attending them.
Mike McAllen: Right, right. I know. It’s been interesting.
Jon Trask: So all right. Well and don’t forget to comment on the website and the e-mail list and that e-mail address is [email protected] and yes, that’s it. Okay so Jon, thank you so much again and we’ll talk again next week, huh?
Jon Trask: Thank you and have a good week.
Mike McAllen: Okay. Bye-bye.
Jon Trask: Bye.
Female: We appreciate and thank you for listening to the Meetings Podcast. You can find Mike McAllen at d72.c4e.myftpupload.com, John Trask at alliantevents.com and Tom Hillmer at creativegroupinc.com. The Meetings Podcast theme music comes from the Delgado Brothers which can be found at delgadobrothers.com. Special thanks to riptidegraphics.com for the audio editing of this podcast.