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10 Strictly business.

Overview

The meetings, conventions, and expositions business and the long-term health-care industry have both become increasingly important in recent years. The meetings, conventions, and expositions business has grown to keep up with the demands of businesses and associations, and the long-term health-care industry has expanded to meet the needs of a population that's growing older. Just as specific sectors of the hospitality industry focus on, for instance, restaurants and hotels, other sectors specialize in meetings, conventions, and expositions and in long-term health care.

In this chapter, you'll read about the meetings, conventions, and expositions business--why it has grown, what effect it has on local economies, and who works in it. And you'll learn about different kinds of residential health-care facilities for older people, facilities that depend heavily on hospitality services. Although meetings and residential health care are not necessarily related to each other, foodservice and lodging play a vital role in their operations.

Objectives

When you have completed this chapter, you should be able to:

(1) Identify two factors that distinguish meetings, conventions, and expositions from other hospitality industry segments.

(2) Discuss the role of the meeting planner with respect to the planning, organization, and execution of an event.

(3) Tell how a working relationship with the local convention and visitor bureau can enhance a meeting, convention, or exposition.

(4) Explain how the hospitality industry relates to long-term residential health care.

* MEETINGS, CONVENTIONS, AND EXPOSITIONS

Just three short decades ago, the business of meetings, conventions, and expositions was not much of a business at all. In fact most meetings were secondary aspects, almost afterthoughts, of the hospitality industry. The meetings business, however, has come into its own. Today, meetings, conventions, and expositions are serious business--generating about $37.4 billion in 1995.

HOW MEETINGS, CONVENTIONS, AND EXPOSITIONS DIFFER FROM ONE ANOTHER

This chapter will frequently use the term meetings business (or meetings industry) as shorthand for "the meetings, conventions, and expositions business." However, sometimes it is necessary to refer to meetings, conventions, and expositions separately, so it's important to know how they differ from one another. The differences are subtle but distinct.

* A meeting is a gathering of people for a common purpose. Meetings come in all sizes and varieties and include training sessions for employees, required business meetings, motivational seminars, and religious gatherings.

* A convention differs from a meeting, not in size, but in the objective of the group. A convention is a group of delegates or members who assemble to accomplish a specific goal. The goal may be civil, social, political, or economic. Probably the best known examples of conventions with political goals are the Democratic and Republican conventions that meet every four years to nominate the candidates for president. Conventions are also held for the purpose of exchanging ideas, views, and information of mutual interest within the group.

* An exposition is a large exhibition in which the presentation is the main attraction as well as source of revenue for an exhibitor. Trade shows, shows geared to a certain industry, fall into the category of expositions. So do auto and home improvement shows, which, unlike most trade shows, are open to the public.

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HOW MEETINGS, CONVENTIONS, AND EXPOSITIONS DIFFER FROM OTHER HOSPITALITY AREAS

Two major distinctions separate the meetings business into its own specialized classification within the hospitality industry. One is the size of the group. The second is the function of the group.

Although the size of a meeting, convention, or exposition can vary--from a handful of delegates to thousands of registrants--the exact number (whether 2 or 200,000) is not the primary distinguishing factor. As a whole, meetings, conventions, and expositions are groups utilizing convention hotels and facilities. They often reserve space months, even years, in advance and negotiate package deals that may include rooms, meals, events, local tours, and entertainment. Therefore, the number of participants, the group's needs, its length of stay, and the number of meetings and conventions scheduled are all determinants of "size."

Second, it is the function of the group that also distinguishes meetings, conventions, and expositions from other aspects of the industry. These groups have very specific, defined purposes and agendas (for example, planning policy, exchanging ideas, presenting services) with decisive outcomes in mind. Business, leisure, and other hospitality travelers and guests have more general purposes (for example, sightseeing or finding a place to stay between business appointments).

A MAJOR AND GROWING SOURCE OF HOSPITALITY REVENUE

Conventions, meetings, and expositions are a major and growing enterprise, not just for the people who work in the business but also for the communities that reap the economic benefits of such meetings. Up to now, however, there has been no way to measure the exact size of the convention business. Some estimates indicate that meetings and conventions increased fourfold in the years between 1980 and 1989, with a full 43 percent increase just from 1987 to 1990. (1) In 1992, the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus (IACVB) employed Deloitte & Youche, a multinational public accounting and consulting firm, to determine a straightforward and statistically valid measure of the economic impact that conventions have on the average city.

Between June 1992 and June 1993, seventy-three cities were the subject of a study involving more than five hundred events worldwide. (See Figure 10-1 for a breakdown of the different types of meetings.) Deloitte & Touche analyzed responses from more than 17,000 meeting delegates, associations, exhibitors, and exposition service contractors before it reached its final conclusions. According to the survey: (2)

* professional and trade associations held 45 percent of conventions;

* 61 percent of the events were international, national, or regional;

* delegates spent an average of $638 for an average stay of 3.48 days;

* out-of-town delegates spent an average of $763, eight times more than local delegates, who spent an average of $93;

* 46 percent of delegate expenditure went to overnight lodging; and

* spending has increased 52 percent from 1985 to 1993.

Certainly, no one who works within the industry would argue with the proposition that the growth and significance of this portion of the hospitality industry has been remarkable. Joseph R. McGrath, chairman of the IACVB, sums it up nicely: "The results of this year-long study clearly reflect the substantial economic impact of these events." (3)

PRIMARY REASONS FOR GROWTH

No one factor caused the growth of the meetings industry. A number of factors are responsible, but explosive growth in information and easy availability of airline travel head the list.

INFORMATION. Perhaps, the primary reason for growth in the industry lies in the major reason people hold meetings, conventions, and expositions: to communicate information. People attend meetings, conventions, and expositions to exchange ideas and knowledge. In the last thirty years, availability of information has exploded. Computers have made it possible to gather, manipulate, and disseminate a wealth of information on every conceivable subject. Certainly, no one can keep up with all that information. In fact, most people can't keep up with the information in their own field. They attend meetings, conventions, and expositions to learn what's happening in their field, to describe what they are doing, and to trade ideas. This is as true for the hair stylist as it is for the scientist. As more information has become available over the years, it has become necessary to hold more meetings, conventions, and expositions to keep pace.

AIRLINES. Another major reason for growth in the meetings business is accessibility to air travel. In 1970, the airlines introduced the 747 jumbo-jet, and for the first time large numbers of people could travel from one point to another--no matter how far--quickly and efficiently. Since that time, no destination has been considered "off limits" for the meetings industry, which, in turn, has made national and even international meetings, conventions, and expositions possible.

At about this same time, one of the biggest changes between the airline and the meetings business took place--the formation of a trade association called Meeting Planners International (MPI). MPI formed a task force to retain similar privileges of free passage for meeting planners that the major carriers offered travel agents. (4) In the wake of rising fuel costs, the airlines were more than willing to accommodate this new and growing business as a way to increase their passenger load--and their profits.

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Besides the introduction of the jumbo jet, the deregulation of the airline industry in the early 1980s also directly affected the meetings business. Deregulation stimulated price wars between airlines, and airfares plummeted, making travel to and from meetings, conventions, and expositions more affordable. As a result, the airlines began catering specifically to the meetings business by offering package deals and negotiated fares.

Recently, however, the struggling airline industry changed its policy. Airlines pulled back on special deals, putting planners in the position of demanding--sometimes without success--reduced fares and other perks for meeting attendees. Now, though, things are changing again in the other direction.

OTHER INFLUENCES

As the meetings business grew, other businesses, organizations, and jobs grew to meet its needs, and in turn they made it easier for the meetings business to grow. Specifically, the growth of the lodging industry, convention centers, convention bureaus, conference centers, meetings technology, and the jobs of meeting planner and ground suppliers (5) spurred on and were spurred by the expanding meetings business.

LODGING EXPANSION. How has the meetings business affected the lodging industry? To answer that question, it is important to understand the lodging industry in a "before and after" context. "In 1966, group business was a tiny percentage of the total picture for hotels, motels, and resorts," says Mike Leven, at that time president of Days Inns of America (and now president of the Holiday Inn Franchise Group). "In some hotels, group business may account for as much as 80 or 90 percent of bookings." (6)

As a result of the exceptional increase in the number of meetings and in the tremendous growth in the size of meetings, hotels had to accommodate by becoming physically larger. Consequently, hoteliers of all sizes have adapted their services to a variety of clientele, while increasing their profits on this growing segment. Chains such as Sheraton, Hilton, and Hyatt, and later, the Radisson, Omni, and Marriott, cornered the market. Today, these facilities continue to book the majority of the hotel meetings business.

CONVENTION CENTERS. There is another growing niche serving the changing needs of the industry: the convention center. During the past twenty-five years, convention centers have been synonymous with lodging industry expansion. Space, accessibility, and storage facilities have made convention centers a one-stop arena for meetings, conventions, and expositions.

"The days are over when a meeting planner was handed a key to the exhibit hall and told to turn out the lights when he left," says Dan Graveline, director of the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. (7) Convention centers and convention hotels (hotels that include lodging with exhibit and meeting facilities) are now all-inclusive places that have moved beyond the old four-walls, a floor, and a ceiling concept of accommodation.

The Coliseum in New York City was probably the first convention center built to accommodate groups of varying size. Completed in 1958, the Coliseum offered flexibility: soundproof movable walls to subdivide large areas, designated registration areas, a variety of lighting options, and truck ramps to the lower exposition floors. Now, hundreds of cities around the world boast their own convention centers.

Because of the convention center boom of the last decade or so, many have argued that the market has reached total saturation. Just the same, building continued into the mid-1990s. In the Midwest, existing convention centers in Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis, Indiana, added space to expand their facilities. The Greater Columbus Convention Center doubled in size, adding 216,000 square feet of exhibit space and a 31,000 square-foot lobby area. The Indiana Convention Center and Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis added a 36,000-square-foot ballroom and 22,050 square feet of flexible meeting space. In 1997, McCormick Place in Chicago dedicated a $675 million addition, making a total of 2.2 million square feet for the entire facility. Cleveland, Ohio, boasts a new center, the Cleveland State Convocation Center, which offers seating for 15,000.

CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAUS. Yet another factor affecting the meeting business is the relationship between meeting planners and convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs). According to the IACVB, a convention and visitors bureau is a not-for-profit umbrella organization that represents a city or urban area in soliciting and serving all types of travelers to that city or area--whether they visit for business, pleasure, or both. In other words, a CVB has three primary purposes:

* encourage groups to hold meetings, conventions, and expositions in the city or area the CVB represents;

* assist groups with meeting preparations and offer services during the course of the convention, exposition, or meeting; and

* encourage tourists to visit and enjoy the historical, cultural, and recreational opportunities that the city has to offer.

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In the late nineteenth century, a group of Detroit businessmen sent a full-time salesman on the road to bring conventions to their city. They unknowingly launched a phenomenon that has resulted in billions of dollars of revenue for convention-holding cities. In 1896, after pounding the pavement alone for a year, the Detroit salesman became so successful that he was able to hire a secretary, which marked the birth of the first CVB. By the early 1900s, convention bureaus began popping up all across the United States in such cities as Cleveland, Atlantic City, St. Louis, Denver, and Louisville. By 1914, the convention bureaus teamed up to form the International Association of Convention Bureaus (IACB). (It wasn't until 1974 that "& Visitor" was added to the association's name to reflect the expanded scope of member activity in the leisure and travel industry and the promotion of tourism.) Still, even with the presence of CVBs, far less than 100,000 meetings were being held nationwide in 1980. By 1990, though, that number jumped to more than 350,000. (8)

Now the IACVB has four hundred member bureaus in thirty countries offering association and corporate meeting planners a wide variety of advisory and administrative services. CVBs worldwide orient visitors to host cities, act as liaisons between suppliers and meeting planners, and offer convention and meeting management services. CVBs are indispensable in that they attract meetings, conventions, and expositions that might otherwise never be interested in a particular city or region. The following case study illustrates just how valuable a local CVB's input was for a convention held in Kerrville, Texas.

Each year the Regional Publishers Association (RPA) holds an annual convention for its members. Seminars, nationally known speakers, roundtable discussions, information exchange, and, of course, sight-seeing are on the agenda for the week-long conference, which travels from host city to host city across the country.

In 1991, RPA members Texas Highways and Texas Parks & Wildlife teamed up to host the annual convention. Although Texas Highways and Texas Parks & Wildlife are located in Austin, both magazines focus on the entire state of Texas. The challenge: To host an informative, fun-filled conference while proudly showcasing their diverse, and very large, state.

The designated conference planner began by noting some nearby tourist attractions, namely the Alamo and the RiverWalk in San Antonio. Then, the planner contacted the local CVBs. In conjunction with the meeting planner, the CVB in Kerrville, Texas, developed an itinerary that included sight-seeing, shopping, theme dinners, and recreation.

From the beginning, the CVB made its presence known to the group. A representative of the CVB was on hand to welcome the one hundred international guests and to offer assistance to the group. Later in the week, CVB staffers served a fried chicken lunch at one of the local parks, wrangled a "Texas lobster" (a crayfish) for a practical joke, and arranged for a group of singing cowboys to perform at a sunrise breakfast. The conference was a huge hit, in no small part due to the local CVB.

The task of the CVB is not an easy one. There are unusual requests to fulfill, demands to be met, and schedules to adhere to. Like other segments of the hospitality industry, convention and visitors bureaus face much competition within their segment of the hospitality industry. They, too, must compete regionally, nationally, and internationally for hospitality dollars.

This, however, can be a distinct advantage for the meeting planner. While most CVBs can recommend suppliers, secure hotels, and act as a liaison between a group and the community, they also can provide the meeting planner with materials, tour arrangements, and on-site assistance.

Simply, put, CVBs work for the visitors and meeting planners, as well as for the city--at no cost. (Some are funded solely by membership fees, and others are funded through varying combinations of membership fees, state taxes, and local taxes.) It is important to remember that the meeting planner is the "organizer" and that the CVB is the "assistant." CVBs help visitors learn more about the host city and its area attractions. At the same time, they also help the planner make the best possible use of all the services and facilities the city has to offer.

CONFERENCE CENTERS. The continued evolution of conference centers has also been greatly influenced by the incredible growth of the meetings business. Formerly, conference centers were usually sparse rooms, barren of everything except chairs and necessary audiovisual equipment. The fitness boom in the 1970s, however, hit even this part of the industry. No longer were conference participants content to sit for hours and hours with no diversion. Conference centers jumped on the fitness bandwagon and began designing their centers to be more resort-oriented. With recreational and physical exercise facilities available, conference centers now cater to even broader audiences.

And they no longer cater to them just on land. Floating conference centers --conference centers aboard ships--are a recent development. Ships are fitted with meeting rooms and auditoriums and offer such technical amenities as closed-circuit television and videoconferencing. Airport meeting rooms are another variation on the theme. American Airlines, for example, provides nineteen conference rooms at O'Hare International Airport.

Not all conference centers are available to the public. Some are owned by corporations and are used only by these corporations. Others, however, are owned by corporations that use the facilities but also rent them out. And still others, owned by universities, are accessible to the public. In fact, Columbia University established the first conference center, Arden House, in Harriman, New York, in 1950.

INCREASED USE OF TECHNOLOGY. The electronics revolution of the last few years has given the meetings and convention industry maximum flexibility with respect to meeting presentations. Videos, 360-degree projection techniques, multi-image presentations, computers, and unique sound systems have all become commonplace. Technological advancements within the industry have opened up a world of different ways to communicate that make meetings, conferences, and conventions more interesting to attend and easier to arrange.

Video Technology. Before the mid-1970s, the term "video" was virtually nonexistent. With the advent of such technology as the video projector, video has now become synonymous with the meetings business. There are video-enhanced speakers, multi-image video walls, instant replay, and "live projection." (Live projection is similar to what is now commonly seen at concerts--a close-up of the speaker is projected onto a large video screen, bringing the audience "closer" to the speaker and facilitating a more personal interaction.)

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Teleconferencing. In the 1980s, technology advanced beyond video into teleconferencing. Satellites, commonly used to beam news coverage worldwide, made it possible to link separate groups and speakers. In 1980, Holiday Inn broadcast the first national teleconference, linking two thousand participants in thirty-three meeting sites. Many feared that teleconferencing would replace the need for meeting and convention services altogether. Fortunately for the industry, however, this fear has not been realized--people still feel the need to meet in person.

Computers. Computers are used in virtually every aspect of the meetings business--including reservations, meeting workshops, and demonstrations. For example, a computerized information network enables CVBs to exchange impotent demographic and historical information on potential meeting sites with other CVBs worldwide. The IACVB utilizes a system called CINET (convention information network). The systems contains information on nearly 20,000 meetings and more than 9,400 organizations. Nearly 24,000 future bookings are recorded, as well as approximately 38,000 meeting histories, half of which are for groups that use less than 200 rooms on a peak night. Each year IACVB subscribers add over 1,500 meetings to the database.

Clearly technology is an indispensable part of the meetings business. Videoconferencing, computer applications, and other technology will continue to advance as quickly as the technological innovations will allow.

MEETING PLANNERS. The role of the meeting planner (which will be discussed in detail later in the chapter) began to evolve about twenty years ago and has progressed as the meetings industry has grown. The meeting professional plans and organizes the details that make the meeting, convention, or exposition operate smoothly.

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Certainly no event is produced single-handedly. But without the support of the many planners within the industry, the growth and success experienced by the meetings industry would have come more slowly.

GROUND SUPPLIERS. Finally, the arrival of ground suppliers in the 1970s (those who handle details on tours, transportation, sight-seeing, banquets, and hotel registration) began a significant change within the industry. While ground suppliers were primarily "shuttle operators" in the first few years of their existence, they have grown into program planners offering, for example, special events for spouses of meeting participants, on-site sports tournaments, and motivational speakers. (Meeting planners also can perform these functions.)

ECONOMIC IMPACT: AN EXAMPLE

Obviously, each of the factors just discussed plays an important part in the meetings industry. The best way to determine their cumulative effect is by looking at the economic impact of conventions, meetings, and expositions on a city or region. Figure 10-2 details average spending on a per delegate basis.

The Minneapolis Convention Center serves as an example of how conventions (and meetings and expositions) translate to revenue, as well as goodwill, generated for a community. The Minneapolis Convention Center, which opened in December 1989, brought more than 27,000 people to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area with the Lion's Club International Convention in July 1993. Of these people, about 9,000 were from other countries. All these visitors directly affected the economy of the host community and surrounding areas with revenue generated from lodging, food, beverage, shopping, and transportation services.

Industry experts agree that the meetings business can open doors for all segments of local and state economies. Convention centers give host cities a springboard that launches them into the regional and national marketplace with opportunities to meet with trade people from around the world, showcase their cities, and, of course, generate revenue.

In addition, such centers create hundreds of jobs and generate billions of dollars in tax revenues. For this reason, convention centers have been called "economic machines." In Minneapolis, as a result of the bookings and commitments of its convention center, a projected $23 million in tax revenues

Industry experts agree that the meetings business can open doors for all segments of local and state economies. Convention centers give host cities a springboard that launches them into the regional and national marketplace with opportunities to meet with trade people from around the world, showcase their cities, and, of course, generate revenue.

In addition, such centers create hundreds of jobs and generate billions of dollars in tax revenues. For this reason, convention centers have been called "economic machines." In Minneapolis, as a result of the bookings and commitments of its convention center, a projected $23 million in tax revenues will be generated by 1998. The hospitality and tourism industry (including meetings and conventions) is second only to health care as Minnesota's top industry; and in some parts of the state, such as Bloomington, hospitality is second to none. In Washington, D.C., another popular convention and vacation area, tourism and hospitality are a close second only to the federal government.

Tom Getzke, associate director of the St. Paul Convention and Visitors Bureau says, "Just as industrial parks were big in the '60s and '70s, the visitors and convention industry is big today. Bigger. It's a very clean industry, and it will be the number one industry in the world by the year 2000." (9)

THE REGIONAL CONNECTION

Many existing convention centers have expanded to accommodate groups and tap into the regional market. For example, Kansas City, Missouri, expanded its H. Roe Bartle Hall Convention Center. The $130 million expansion offers the largest contiguous column-free exhibition space in the nation and brings the total square footage to nearly 400,000 square feet, 55 meeting rooms, a 2,400-seat fine arts theatre, and an area that seats more than 1,000 people.

In addition, regional meetings have an advantage of being able to cater easily to smaller groups, and travel expenses can be limited. This is good news to many corporations, since 80 percent of the meetings business consists of corporate conferences that usually involve fewer than one hundred people. (10)

THE INTERNATIONAL MEETINGS BUSINESS

People hold meetings, conventions, and expositions in foreign countries for a number of reasons. Airplanes have made it easy to attend meetings in other countries. The locations are usually interesting and sometimes exotic. Many businesses are multinational and may choose to host a meeting in any number of countries in which they do business. And international meetings sometimes cost much less than comparable national meetings.

China is an interesting case in point. Hoping to attract tourists, China built--and built--hotels during the 1980s to overcome a shortage of good accommodations. A combination of a drastic drop in tourism after the shootings in Tiananmen Square in June 1989 and too many hotels now makes China a bargain destination. For example, the cost of renting the new Shaanxi History Museum in Xi'an (a large city with interesting tourist attractions, more than 7,000 hotel rooms, and an international airport) for a meeting for 300 people is $200 a day. As a result, people are again finding their way to China. Beijing alone averages one major international meeting every three days. (11)

In general, the meetings business is big business worldwide, with huge, elaborate meeting centers in Paris, Birmingham (England), Amsterdam, Frankfort, and other places. In fact, the Equip'Hotel Trade Show in Paris is about twice as big as the National Restaurant Show in Chicago, which is currently the largest trade show in the United States.

COMPETITION WITHIN THE INDUSTRY

National, regional, and international meetings have made the business of conventions, meetings, and expositions an increasingly competitive environment. Formerly, the limited number of sites and accommodations meant that competition was limited to a few major players. Now, however, competitors flood the field. According to some experts, competition has increased an average of 300 percent in the past several years. This is good news for the meeting planner--increased competition means full service and more amenities for their meeting or convention.

Some argue that without such offerings, convention centers will have a difficult time luring groups to their facilities. Joseph Psuik, acting executive director of Denver's Colorado Convention Center, said, "These amenities are really becoming necessities to those of us in the business. Without them, we're just another face in the crowd." (12) According to a recent study, the average convention center loses $1.5 million a year. (13) As you can see, major stakes are involved, millions in fact, making it crucial for convention centers to compete actively.

PLANNING, ORGANIZATION, AND EXECUTION

In its early years, the meetings business suffered growing pains. Many people had no idea of the amount of effort and knowledge required to plan, organize, and execute events. The perception was, and oftentimes still is, that meeting planners are "party-givers." Not so. In one short generation, the field has transformed itself into its own area of specialization.

THE ROLE OF THE MEETING PLANNER. The expanded role of the meeting planner has been one of the most significant developments within the industry. In the beginning, meeting planners merely set dates and picked site locations, leaving the rest of the conference details up to the hotel or other meeting place. As the industry matured, the role of the meeting planner expanded. Meeting planners now:

* select the site for the meeting, convention, or exposition;

* reserve meeting space;

* reserve hotel rooms;

* reserve audiovisual and other equipment;

* arrange for food and beverages;

* organize guest registration; arrange for name tags and handouts;

* plan programs for participants and their guests;

* work with exhibitors and lecturers;

* make floor plans;

* arrange for security;

* arrange for transportation;

* troubleshoot unforeseen problems; and

* evaluate the meeting, convention, or exposition after it's over.

Each of these jobs entails tens of other jobs. And they all require maintaining careful records, adhering to a schedule, and working within a budget. Because meeting planners do so much, some people believe a more appropriate job title would be "meeting manager."

Meeting planners can work directly for hotels, associations, or corporations, or they can be independent, hiring their services out to different organizations. Their responsibilities may vary somewhat from the list above, depending on the organization they work for. In general, though, the job of all meeting planners is to make and oversee arrangements to ensure that things run smoothly.

PLANNERS' ASSOCIATIONS. The first issue (June 1966) of the trade magazine Meetings & Conventions contained no mention of an association of meeting planners. Twenty years ago, only a handful of such associations existed, and they drew little consideration or attention from the industry. Even ten years ago, the largest and most influential of all meeting planner associations, Meeting Planners International (MPI), had only 300 members. Now MPI boasts more than 14,500 members. Another major industry organization--Professional Convention Managers Association (PCMA)--began as an association of medical meeting planners. PCMA has grown into an industry-wide association similar to MPI. Such associations provide a vehicle for their members to share and help each other as well as offering education.

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EDUCATION AND CERTIFICATION. Hundreds of schools across the country offer college programs in hospitality, tourism, and meeting planning. Individual associations such as MPI, PCMA, and ASAE (American Society of Association Executives), as well as such organizations as the IACVB, offer advanced management certification education programs. Taking courses in the hospitality field and getting practical experience through summer or after-school jobs is probably the best way to prepare for getting a job as a meeting planner. Taking postgraduate courses is an excellent way to keep up with new trends and innovations and to move up in the field.

OTHERS MOVE INTO THE FIELD

Studying to become a meeting planner is the most direct way to become one, but not the only way. In search of new career opportunities, executive secretaries and hotel staff who have experience arranging meetings, conventions, and expositions are entering the field. The transition to the job of meeting planner is a fairly natural one for them since they already have some knowledge of the business.

In addition, since airline deregulation has resulted in a significant decrease in ticket revenue, travel agents have had to find other means to compete in the workforce, and many are expanding their existing jobs by adding meeting planning. This allows agents to collect commissions not only on airfares, but on hotel reservations and other hospitality services. This trend is expected to continue as airlines continue to experience difficulties.

WORKING WITH EXHIBITORS. Along with convention and visitors bureaus, exhibitors are probably the most important organizations meeting planners work with. Exhibitors are businesses that promote goods or services in a particular setting. Exhibitors use meetings, conventions, and especially expositions to showcase their products, often utilizing booth space, sponsorship opportunities, and networking within the group to achieve their goals. Expositions are exhibits and are thriving. More than 10,000 expositions a year attract more than 77 million visitors and generate billions of dollars. (14) As underwriters for receptions, banquets, and other costly items, exhibitors are an integral part of the planning process.

SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS: MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED

The introduction of the Americans with Disabilities Act brought the special needs of the physically challenged to the industry's attention. Arranging for special needs--such as interpreters, translators, and readers--is now common for meeting planners and other hospitality professionals. In addition, elevators with Braille floor numbers on the buttons, elevators with buttons set low so that people in wheelchairs can reach them, ramps for wheelchairs, and restroom signs in Braille make the facilities themselves easier to negotiate.

* HOSPITALITY FUNCTIONS AND LONG-TERM RESIDENTIAL HEALTH CARE

Just as the needs of people with disabilities must be met, so do the needs of the elderly population, who make up approximately 8.5 percent of the total population in the United States. Retirement communities and health-care facilities for older people encompass a specialized segment of the hospitality industry offering careers with hospitality functions, such as management, food preparation, housekeeping, and engineering.

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LONG-TERM HEALTH CARE

With the increase in average life expectancy combined with the aging of the baby boom generation, long-term health-care management is gaining importance. Although long-term health-care management has existed since the late nineteenth century, the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935 began a new era for this aspect of the industry. Small, private, for-profit nursing homes began operating in this country, and a number of federally funded grant and loan programs began offering aid to long-term care facilities. When the Medicare program (a federal program that pays certain medical expenses for people age 65 and older and for some disabled people) and Medicaid program (a federal program that helps pay medical expenses for those who earn less than a specified amount of money) were tacked onto the Social Security Act in 1965, inspection standards, licensing, and other regulations were imposed upon this industry. Combined, these changes dramatically affected the hospitality professional's role, And as future regulations are imposed, such laws will continue to affect these professions.

TYPES OF HEALTH-CARE FACILITIES. Long-term health-care facilities include extended-care centers, intermediate-care centers, resident-care centers, and lifecare communities. Extended-care centers offer intensive, round-the-clock nursing care under a physician's direction and may include the services of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, aides, and orderlies. Such facilities are entitled to Medicare and Medicaid payments and are subject to regulations and guidelines under these programs. Intermediate-care centers offer assistance to persons incapable of living independently and provide only basic nursing care combined with social and lodging services. Medicaid support is available for this type of care while Medicare is not. Resident-care centers provide regular nursing care and some social services to primarily mentally challenged individuals (of any age) in a residential environment.

Lifecare communities are long-term health-care facilities that cater to both dependent and independent older adults. Residents in lifecare communities most often pay a substantial entry fee and a monthly maintenance or rental fee for nursing, social, and lodging services. They may begin living at the community in a totally independent setting and then move to an assisted-living arrangement if needed. Finally, when health concerns necessitate, they are able to move into a skilled nursing facility within the community. Lifecare communities are a new segment of the health-care industry. Today, thousands of people (most over 75) live in more than eight hundred such settings in the United States. By the year 2000, the number of these communities is likely to double. (15) The term lifecare has become a catch-all phrase for independent living for the senior set. The independence that life-care communities offer is, perhaps, the most important factor contributing to the growth of this industry segment.

HOSPITALITY CORPORATIONS AND LIFECARE COMMUNITIES. Lifecare facilities require the services of foodservice and lodging personnel. Large hospitality corporations such as Hyatt Hotels, Marriott Corporation, Food Dimensions, Inc., and Morrison Custom Management are developing and contracting the management of lifecare communities. (16) Senior Living Services is a rapidly expanding division of the Marriott company with approximately 150 such communities. If the growth rate of the Marriott division continues, it will own the largest group of lifecare communities in the United States. Hyatt Hotels also has entered the field, introducing its Classic Residence at locations across the United States. The anticipated growth of these residences is four to five new facilities annually. At the Classic Residences, patrons contract for breakfast each day and an additional twenty-five to thirty main meals each month. Additional food may be purchased a la carte. (17)

With the continued expansion of large corporations into the health-care field, the dynamics of the hospitality industry could dramatically shift. This could mean a decrease in independent operations since large hotel and hospitality chains have an advantage over independent facilities: they can apply economies-of-scale principles in operating and managing health-care centers. For example, chains can buy food in large enough quantities to demand and get a substantial discount in prices. Also, the growth of the hospitality industry, expansion of lifecare alliances, and the increasing population of seniors will yield many new opportunities for hospitality professionals.

Summary

* A meeting is a gathering of people for a common purpose. A convention is a group of delegates or members who come together to accomplish a specific goal. An exposition is a large exhibit.

* Two distinguishing factors separate meetings, conventions, and expositions into their own segment of the hospitality industry--size and function.

* The meetings business is a growing source of hospitality revenues.

* Factors attributing to the success and growth of the meetings business include the need to keep up with an expanding information base and the introduction of jumbo jets.

* Innovations that have enhanced the meetings business include video technology, teleconferencing, and computers.

* Meeting planners plan, organize, and execute events.

* The most important organizations meeting planners work with are convention and visitors bureaus, travel agencies, and exhibitors.

* Long-term health care is a specialized segment of the hospitality industry, offering careers with hospitality functions, such as managers, food preparers, and housekeepers.

* Extended-care centers offer intensive, round-the-clock nursing care; inter-mediatecare centers offer social and lodging services, but provide only basic nursing care for individuals who cannot maintain wholly independent lives; and resident-care centers offer basic medical and nursing services in a residential setting to individuals of any age.

* Lifecare communities allow residents to move from living arrangements offering a totally independent lifestyle to arrangements offering 24-hour skilled nursing care.

Check Your Knowledge

1. How do meetings, conventions, and expositions differ from one another?

2. How have meetings, conventions, and expositions affected state and local economies?

3. What are the two main factors that have affected the growth of the meetings business in the past thirty years?

4. List six things a meeting planner does.

5. How do extended, intermediate, and resident health-care facilities differ from one another?

Apply Your Skills

Use the following information to fill in the worksheet below.

* You are arranging a four-day meeting (three nights of lodging) for three hundred people.

* Twenty people are bringing spouses, who are not going to the meeting but will be attending the banquet.

* To save on expenses, sixteen participants are sharing rooms (two participants per room).

* Double rooms cost $65 a day.

* Single rooms cost $50 a day.

* Each banquet table can accommodate eighteen guests.

* Cost of the banquet to meeting participants is $15 per person.

* Cost of the banquet to spouses is $20 per person.

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What Do You Think?

1. A company that runs a chain of clothing stores has narrowed its choice of meeting places to your hotel and a hotel near the airport. What would you say to the company to convince it that your hotel has a better location? What would you say to the company if you represented the other hotel?

2. During Desert Storm, the use of teleconferencing increased substantially. Why do you think that occurred?

3. Imagine you are a consultant who has been asked to evaluate the need for a convention center in your city. Knowing that the average convention center loses $1.5 million a year, what arguments would you use to advocate construction of a new facility?

4. Meeting planners are finding it more difficult to obtain group discounts for airline tickets. Do you think the airlines should continue to give the discounts?

5. Your career path has taken you into the area of long-term health-care management. What challenges do you feel will most likely affect this industry by the year 2005?

Case Study

You have just opened your own independent meeting planning service in your hometown. Your first client is a group of fifty people who are specifically interested in a week-long conference in your area. They have never held a meeting before and are looking to you for guidance. In addition, the nearest CVB is located 200 miles away.

1. How will a CVB 200 miles away be able to assist you?

2. What local sources of information may be able to assist you with your meeting?

3. How much should you rely on your own judgment as opposed to working strictly within parameters set by your client?

4. A number of people who are coming to your meeting are bringing their families. However, family-oriented activities in your area are limited. What alternatives would you suggest?

INDUSTRY INSIGHTS ENVIRONMENT

Environmentally Friendly Meetings

Protecting the environment is everybody's business. So it's not surprising that it's part of the meetings business too. The people who plan meetings are introducing small changes that can make a big difference in the world.

Here are a few things meeting planners are doing:

* checking with convention centers and hotels when choosing a convention site to see if they have a recycling program;

* putting recycling bins in areas such as lobbies and meeting rooms, where people are likely to be drinking or eating;

* printing handouts and other written material on recycled paper;

* making sure that foodservice operators use ceramic dishes and metal utensils, instead of paper and plastic dinnerware; and

* arranging for meeting-goers who travel by plane to share rides to and from the airport.

Meeting planners are even giving thought to the foods that will be served. David Phillips, director of operations for the Virginia Association of Realtors, underscores this point: "At our last conference, we served Ben & Jerry's Rainforest Crunch ice cream for dessert. It contains nuts from Brazil, and is part of Ben & Jerry's effort to help save the rain forest by showing that trees can be used for nuts, not lumber. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the ice cream goes to this cause." (1)

(1) "Green to the Extreme," Meetings & Conventions (March 1,1993): 126.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF ... A MEETING PLANNER

In a small cafe in a quaint Midwestern town, two young women stand, briefcases in hand, talking animatedly, leaving change for their cups of tea. As they leave, they are interrupted by an older man who bids them good morning and wishes them luck planning their party. "Actually," they respond, "we are planning a week-long international conference for two hundred people."

Not surprisingly, many people, like the gentleman in the scenario above, mistake meeting planning for "party-giving," but the meeting planner has a clearly defined and very important purpose: the meeting planner has total responsibility for planning and conducting the meeting, as well as coordinating and directing all activities toward the successful operation of the meeting. (1)

From Los Angeles to Chicago and from Peoria to Baton Rouge, meeting planners across the country invest thousands of hours each year doing just that--planning meetings. No single day is like any other in this position. Meetings are planned months, even years, in advance--making the life of a meeting planner a hectic, albeit exciting, one.

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Needless to say, to be able to plan meetings years ahead, meeting planners must be extremely well organized. Meeting planners must also be innovative and confident, able to handle emergencies (which inevitably arise) without worry to anyone else. And they must be people-oriented and willing to "go the extra mile." For example, one meeting planner overseeing a conference in Ohio overheard a conference visitor who hailed from Arizona wishing aloud for a particular fast-food hamburger not found in the Western part of the United States. While the visitor was in a seminar, the meeting planner secretly made a trip to the drive-through restaurant and left a sackful of the burgers for the guest. A good meeting planner will do everything possible to ensure a guest's enjoyment of the event.

On a typical day, a meeting planner is likely to negotiate with hotels, meet with caterers, arrange for speakers, and deal with other suppliers, getting the best service at the least cost. (2) And let's not forget attending to other details such as room arrangements, audiovisual needs, decorations, exhibitions, transportation ... the list is endless.

The position of meeting planner is relatively new and is, therefore, still evolving. Before the 1980s, most companies had no concept of meeting planning--"just pick a location and set a date," was the order of the day. On the horizon of a new century with ever-changing needs and increasing technology, the field of meeting planning is expected to explode. This, of course, means that opportunities abound for meeting planners, making this one of the most exciting, available positions in the industry.

(1) David R. Jedziewski, The Complete Guide for the Meeting Planner (Cincinnati: South-Western Publishing Co., 1991), 318.

(2) Lola Butcher, "Hold Tight to Your Yellow Legal Pads! It's Time Again to Meet About Meetings," Kansas City Business Journal (February 15, 1991): 19.

INDUSTRY INSIGHTS LAW & ETHICS

Informing of Destination Health Risks

Reports about a mysterious virus or a health hazard that stemmed from drinking water appear in the news frequently. Do meeting planners and others have an ethical, if not legal, obligation to inform visitors about such health risks?

Financial losses could be great if people chose to cancel their trip after they were informed. Such losses would be felt dearly by hotels, restaurants, airlines ,and meeting places and by all the people who work with them. Add to that the cost of informing potential visitors and the stigma associated with the disease the city will have to endure for months, and the losses compound. Should such costs determine whether or not people are warned of the potential risks? On the one hand, it's likely that the problem may be successfully dealt with by the time the event takes place, and informing visitors would create an unnecessary scare.

On the other hand, shouldn't people have the right to make their own decisions about the health risks they will face? Being informed about a disease allows a person to take precautions, for example, by getting appropriate vaccines; using bottled water, even for tooth-brushing; or understanding that feeding cute little prairie dogs might result in a bite that could be harmful.

BUSINESS PROFILE LOEWS ANATOLE HOTEL

City within a City

Billed as the largest, most complete convention hotel in America's Southwest, the Loews Anatole Hotel in Dallas boasts 1,620 guest rooms, 18 restaurants and lounges, 13 shops, 58 meeting rooms, 4 major ballrooms, a state-of-the-art health and fitness facility, and a 7-acre park. World-class easily describes the Loews Anatole Hotel.

Even more impressive than its size is the hotel's extensive private art collection of more than one thousand pieces, some of which date back to the second century B.C.E. Known as the Anatole Collection, it is the largest private collection of fine art ever permanently displayed in a hotel and includes nine original Picasso lithographs and one of the largest known pieces of Wedgwood china.

A city within a city, the Loews Anatole Hotel is situated on a 45-acre site. Guest rooms and suites, which vary in amenities and accommodations, are decorated in eighteenth-century style. Seven presidential suites occupy 3,400 square feet and offer the ultimate in comfort and privacy.

The Loews Anatole Hotel is a convention hotel of superlatives--among the biggest, the best, and the finest. Its $12 million world-class health and fitness club was ranked as one of the top 10 fitness facilities in the United States by FITNESS magazine. Covering 82,000 square feet, the Verandah Club includes:

* six outdoor tennis courts;

* eight racquetball courts;

* an indoor and an outdoor swimming pool;

* an indoor and an outdoor jogging track;

* an aerobics studio;

* a full court gymnasium;

* steam, sauna, and massage rooms; and

* a full-service salon with tanning rooms.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

If that weren't enough, guests are treated to an exciting array of shops and restaurants. The shops at the Loews Anatole Hotel offer everything from Texas souvenirs to Italian ceramics to Western apparel. Dining facilities offer a variety of cuisines, including Tex-Mex, hear t-healthy cooking, Mediterranean fare, and a Chinese restaurant that requires coat and tie.

The Loews Anatole Hotel has also been consistently recognized as one of Corporate Meetings and Incentives magazine's 10 Best Hotels for Excellence in Meeting Services. Also, it has achieved awards of excellence from numerous magazines, including Meetings and Conventions, Successful Meetings, and Medical Meetings magazines.

INDUSTRY INSIGHTS BUSINESS INNOVATION

Assisted-Living Centers

In the area of business innovations, few ideas seem to show as much promise as assisted-living housing, a relatively common concept in Europe that is now catching on in the United States. Assisted-living offers a much needed bridge between retirement homes and full-service nursing homes. For those individuals who do not yet require round-the-clock skilled nursing care, but who cannot maintain wholly independent lives, assisted-living facilities offer a comfortable and cost-effective alternative.

In most assisted-living facilities, residents are offered either a private or semiprivate room, which includes refrigerator and sink in a residential setting. Community areas include living rooms, a cafeteria, and a full kitchen for those who wish to prepare their own meals. Most assisted-living facilities offer limited nursing care but maintain a staff that is licensed both to bathe residents and to dispense medications as needed.

DevelopMed Associates, an Ohio-based assisted living provider, operates several assisted-living facilities. One of Develop Med's principals, Richard Slager, noted, "We saw at the (conventional nursing) homes we had 30 percent to 50 percent of the residents who were inappropriately placed." William Eggbeer, vice president of marketing for Manor Healthcare Corp. of Maryland, one of the nation's largest nursing home companies, states, "Our sense is assisted living is growing 8 percent a year versus 1 percent or 2 percent a year for skilled nursing homes." (1)

With lower staffing costs and increased interest in the assisted-living concept, assisted-living facilities will most likely continue to flourish. This will present new challenges for those in the hospitality industry who will be called upon to provide a variety of services to the facilities.

(1) Christopher Amatos, "Assisted Living Offers Options," Columbus Dispatch, May 17 1993.

PERSONAL PROFILE J. WILLARD "BILL" MARRIOTT

Marketing Genius

In 1927, J. Willard "Bill" Marriott founded a root beer stand in Washington, D.C. That root beer stand was the beginning of an ascent in the lodging and foodservice business which eventually elevated him to industry leader and a millionaire one hundred times over.

Born on a farm in Settlement, Utah, in September, 1900, Marriott was the second of eight children. It was on the farm that Marriott learned about responsibility and hard work. At the tender age of 13, Marriott took his first venture into the business arena--as a lettuce farmer--renting land from his father and later turning over the season's profits (a whopping $2,000) to him.

When he was 19, Marriott did missionary work for the Mormon church, spending two years in Connecticut and Vermont. He then enrolled in Weber Junior College, in Utah, in 1921. With a voracious appetite for education, Marriott continued his schooling at the University of Utah, financing his own education and sending money home to the family. He did this by selling woolen underwear to lumberjacks, managing a bookstore, teaching high school English, and doing various and sundry other odd jobs.

When he met his wife-to-be, Alice "Allie" Sheets, Marriott 's business sense kicked in. With borrowed and saved money and the aid of a partner, Hugh W. Colton, Marriott purchased the A & W root beer franchise for Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Maryland; and Richmond, Virginia. He opened his nine-seat root beer stand the day Charles Lindbergh successfully flew the Atlantic.

Marriott found the root beer business good but worried that when summer's heat turned to winter's cold, a frosty mug of root beer wouldn't sell as easily. Adding food to his menu was a natural progression, and in spite of A & W's regulations against it, Marriott set out to accomplish what he'd planned. Obtaining special permission from the A & W corporate office, he added food and renamed his stand the Hot Shoppe.

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The Hot Shoppe concept caught on, and several more stores opened, including the first drive-in restaurant on the East Coast. By the time he was 30, Bill Marriott was a millionaire. He was not, however, content with business as usual, and he had a gift for recognizing needs in the marketplace that he could help fill. When he learned that his customers were buying food from his restaurants to take on airplane trips, he saw the need for airline catering. In 1937, he ventured into supplying airlines with food and founded the airline catering industry.

In 1953, Marriott took one-third of the Hot Shoppe's stock public--selling out the offer in just two hours of trading. In 1953, he entered the institutional foodservice business, contracting to provide food to American University and Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C. And in 1957, he opened the first of many Marriott lodgings, the Twin Bridges Marriott Motor Hotel.

In the 1960s, Marriott named his son as his successor, and in 1972, Bill Jr. took over as chief executive officer of the Marriott Corporation. By the mid-1980s the Marriott Corporation boasted annual sales in excess of $3 billion and had expanded into many arenas including resorts, cruise ships, fast food, and senior living communities.

Bill Marriott was a man whose faith, determination, and family guided his life and work. In the summer of 1985, Marriott died as he lived--among family.

Endnotes

(1) International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, "Delegate Meeting Survey History," supplement to International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus Information Packet (December 1993).

(2) 1993 Convention Income Survey (Champaign, Ill.: International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, 1993).

(3) International Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus, <http://www.iacvb.org/members.iacvb.html>, 1998.

(4) Mike Maynard, "An Industry Comes of Age: Airlines," Meetings & Conventions (June 1986): 53.

(5) Mel Hosansky, "An Industry Comes of Age: Associations," Meetings & Conventions (June 1986): 50-52.

(6) Linn Varney, "An Industry Comes of Age: Hotels," Meetings & Conventions (June 1986): 54.

(7) Barbara Korth, "An Industry Comes of Age: Convention Bureaus," Meetings & Conventions (June 1986): 56-57.

(8) Edwin McDowell, "Shorter Meetings on Short Notice Are the Rule," New York Times, February 9, 1992, 10 F.

(9) Kansas City Convention and Visitors Bureau, <http://kcmo.org/conv/home.htm>, 1997.

(10) McDowell, "Shorter Meetings on Short Notice Are the Rule."

(11) Susan Crystal, "China: The Next Great Destination?" Meetings & Conventions (October 1992): 67-75.

(12) Meeting News, October 6, 1997.

(13) David Migdal, "From Dining to Day Care," Meetings & Conventions (June 1986): 73.

(14) Exposition Industry Economic Report, 1993.

(15) Bosselman, "Long-Term Health Care Management," 514.

(16) Bosselman, "Long-Term Health Care Management," 515.

(17) Bosselman, "Long-Term Health Care Management," 515.
Figure 10-1 Percentage breakdown of event by type

Management Meetings         42%
Training and Education      22%
Other                       16%
Sales Meetings              13%
Professional/Technical       7%

Source: Meeting News (October 20, 1997).

Note: Table made from pie chart.

Figure 10-2 Breakdown of direct spending and employment
opportunities as related to conventions, expositions,
and meetings.

Recipients of Direct Spending Related to Conventions, Expositions,
and Meetings

Hotels & other meeting places    32.5%
Air transportation               23.3%
Restaurants                      12.1%
Ground transportation             8.7%
Business services                 6.6%
Other                            16.8%

Note: Table made from bar graph.

Direct Employment Impact by Industry Segment

Conventions and Expositions        63.1%
Other                               4.3%
Meetings                           32.6%

Source: CLC Economic Impact Survey. <http:www.pcma.org>

Note: Table made from pie chart.
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Title Annotation:Part 4 SPECIALIZED SEGMENTS OF THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY
Author:Chon, Kye-Sung, "Kaye"; Sparrowe, Raymond T.
Publication:Welcome to Hospitality, An Introduction, 2nd ed.
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Words:9367
Previous Article:Part 4 Specialized segments of the hospitality industry.
Next Article:11 Leisure activities and hospitality.
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