From the past experience of GlobeSpan Meeting Planners' founders, small- to mid-sized companies that are not located in major metropolitan areas (i.e suburbs, smaller cities, rural areas) are not primary targets for other event planning companies and hotel/resort chains, and in general, are more receptive to solicitation. Therefore, these areas will be targeted.
Additionally, strategically focusing on companies who have not been represented by meeting planning firms or utilized meeting planning search firms in the past should bring us new clients.
Those who have a need for event planning services are companies with a lack of hotel/resort/destination knowledge, no on-site meeting planner, and/or no time to concentrate on site search details.
Some potential client profiles are as follows:
In the corporate segment, internal corporate meeting decision makers range from designated meeting planners, to administrative assistants, to company presidents. These potential customers are planning corporate group (10 or more rooms) meetings which range from small board to national sales meetings and can range from one to several hundred meetings per year. The corporate window for event planning can be as little as one month to as long as several years.
Incentive planners are a subgroup of the the corporate segment specializing in reward-based high-end group travel. Again, the decision makers can vary from office to office. They plan group incentive trips to, generally, resort destinations which can range from the top ten company executives to several hundred sales personnel. Typically, the window for incentive travel is between three months and one year due to the "qualification" imposed by the company on the personnel to attend the meetings (i.e. meeting sales quotas, hitting budget, etc.).
Associations, according to their by-laws, must typically have a specific number of meetings per year. Thus, the association planner's calander is set years in advance. Usually, an association will have a few board meetings and one or more large conventions/trade shows per year. The potential customer is typically an on-site meeting planner, the executive director or the entire board.
This market segment, sometimes referred to by its acronym SMERF, represents events which are planned by designated individuals who may be somewhat unfamiliar with meeting planning, such as social committee members, military personnel, teachers, pastors, or fraternal organization officers. This market segment's meetings are typically mid-range to low budgeted events (usually due to the diverse economic status of the members and the need to avoid excluding any attendees due to costs).
GlobeSpan is a meeting planning resource firm. Third party companies, as they are commonly referred to by hotels and resorts, consist of firms who represent a small group of specific hotels/resorts, and mega meeting/incentive "houses," which provide full services including airfare, housing, and on-site program administration, as well as large and small site search firms.
Due to the strategic alliance with HelmsBriscoe, GlobeSpan Meeting Planners, Inc. will be instantly recognizable to meeting professionals as part of the hospitality industry's largest and finest meeting and conference resource firm. We will have the challenge of establishing ourselves with customers as a "client advocate," not a hotel/resort representative, and separate ourselves from the mega-firms by the quality of personal service we offer.
The business presence in the third party portion of the meeting industry breaks down largely as follows:
National Representation Firms
Advantage: These companies associate themselves with a small number of properties and are able to sell them in detail to the client. They are often very attentive about their properties and can offer solutions nearly instantly with this understanding of the limited number of properties.
Disadvantage: These companies have retainer agreements with specific hotels nationwide and represent only those firms to the potential client. The client does not have the advantage of objectivity with these companies because they are paid by the hotel. Additionally, many times a client may be offered specific properties on their list that "come close" to the client's needs and that property is not a correct fit for the program. These firms do not act as a client advocate, but a hotel/resort advocate.
Mega Meeting/Incentive Houses
Advantage: These companies offer full service, from airfare to post-program follow-up, and offer the leverage and buying power of a large company because they have "preferred" vendors with whom they do large volume.
Disadvantage: These companies are so large, they offer very little "custom" service for the client. Timely follow-up is always a concern when utilizing a very large company. The client will have many contacts for different services within the company. These companies often advocate the "preferred" vendors with whom they do more business than the actual client.
National Site Search Firms
Advantage: These companies offer a time saving service to the client and are able to research any hotel/resort worldwide.
Disadvantage: Many of these firms have become so large that the individual sales contact does not even remember which program from which client he/she may be working on at a given time. A resort may follow-up to propose a better offer for the customer, and the sales contact does not have the time or care to do any more than provide the initial information to the client. These companies are limited to site searches and can offer no other event planning assistance/value to the client.
Small Site Search Firms
Advantage: These companies can offer good customer service and timely follow-up to the client.
Disadvantage: These companies are so small and independent, most do not have the knowledge to offer the correct assistance to the client. Additionally, they do not have any leverage/buying power with hotels/resorts and lack a network of associates to offer any other information than what is presented by the hotel/resort salesperson to the clients.
As previously mentioned, the Professional Convention Management Association reports a rising trend to use third-party services. Planners are choosing that route for various reasons. They are finding that mergers within the hotel/resort industry are creating a more profit and less service-oriented business climate. Third-party planning companies are chosen to provide expert advice/recommendations. Overall, in the competitive atmosphere of third-party companies, there are several reasons why certain companies are chosen over others:
GlobeSpan's competitors include:
Note: All competitors names have been removed for confidentiality.
Prospecting is the key to success. We must consistently bring in new customers to use our site selection service and who we can potentially upsell our other alliance services. To increase the success of prospecting, we must create targeted lists which fit the criteria of a future client. These lists will be compiled utilizing resources available to GlobeSpan Meeting Planners including, but not limited to, the Official Meeting Planners Guide, Meeting Planners International Directory, Executive Women International Resources, etc.
After ascertaining a potential customer by prospecting, we must follow though with efficient site recommendations based on the exact client needs, and always remember to upsell the additional client services to add value to our services for the client and increase possible revenues.
The growth potential in the meetings industry is strong. Currently, over $100 billion is spent annually on meetings, according to MeetingNews. In a study by Deloitte & Touche, conventions, expositions, meetings and incentive travel is listed as the twenty-second largest contributor to the gross national product. This spending is expected to grow between 2.9-4.2% per year, according to the Convention Liaison Council.
All indicators seem to predict growth within the meeting planning industry. In the Convene Magazine 8th Annual Market Survey, 89% of meeting professionals reported flat or increased meeting attendance expected for 1999 versus 1998. Likewise, PriceWaterhouseCoopers reported that upscale and full-convention hotels recorded over 70% occupancy in 1999, versus the average of 64.5% occupancy reported in 1997.
Growth within the corporate, association, incentive and SMERF market segments are conservatively estimated to grow at a rate of three percent, two percent, and three percent, and remain flat, respectively over the next few years.
Our target potential clients have a need for assistance in meeting planning/hotel/resort/destination expertise. They are looking for no-cost time saving options to allow them to prioritize other company tasks for which they are responsible. They have a need for a "silent" partner (GlobeSpan Meeting Planners) which will make them "look" better to their company. They range from secretarial level to company president and have the same information gathering and time-saving needs for different reasons. Those employees responsible for meeting planning want you to communicate with them on their terms. They require whichever mode of communication is most comfortable for their busy schedule, including email, fax, telephone, cellular telephone, messaging, and paging options. They want buying power with hotels/resorts, preferential treatment with their dates/patterns, knowledge of all destinations worldwide, and efficiency in the presentation of site search findings.
Within the target marketing segments, corporate, association, incentive, and social/military/educational/religious/fraternal (SMERF), the following situations may exist, creating a need for the services offered by GlobeSpan:
The market for site selection firms is growing as companies are utilizing outside providers for event planning services instead of paying permanent in-house employees. According to the 1999 American Society of Association Executives and Professional Convention Management Association's Housing Trends Study, there is a rising trend toward utilizing third party services--from 47% in 1997, to an estimated 61% by 2001. They are looking for external cost-effective ways to plan company meetings, and incentives and customer events.
More meetings are being planned by key corporate industries, such as the pharmaceutical, medical, automotive, financial, high technology and e-commerce industries, largely due to the success of these industries in the current bullish economy. Thus, a need to outsource some of the work associated with that increase. Additionally, associations are seeing an increase across the board in membership participation making industry meetings larger and more complex.