Upcoming ACOM Event Calendar

April 2010

April 15, 2010
Planner Panel: What a Planner Needs from Their CSM

May 2010

May 20, 2010
Social Media 101: How Do I Get Started?

June 2010

Set The Standard

August 2010

August 19, 2010
Contracts: What CSMs Need to Know About Their Company’s Contracts and the Re-Negotiations that are Taking Place in Today’s Economy

September 2010

National Celebrate Services Day!
September 16, 2010

September 16, 2010
Planner Panel – Creative Services: What Creative Ideas has Services Done for You in the Past? What Would You Like to See Services be more Creative with?

October 2010

October 21, 2010
Social Media for Attendance Building

November 2010

Idea Network
November 18, 2010
Managing Your Boss

January 2011

Annual Conference
January 7-9, 2011
Westin Casuarina
Las Vegas, Nevada

Increasing Awareness Of Transportation Options In Your City

By: ACOM Member, Karen Kelly, Director of Destination Services, Savannah Area CVB

While the sales team worries about how to get the group to Savannah, the services team is often left with the logistics of getting them around town. Of course there are many enviable cities with properties large enough to house a convention center and enough rooms for the entire meeting, as well as enough restaurants and shops to ensure you never actually have to experience the city you’re in.

For those of us with different situations, such as Savannah and Portland with a river running between our convention center and the majority of our hotels, we have to be a little more creative. Whether by light rail, ferry or bus, we manage to get everyone from point A to point B, but that doesn’t mean we don’t run into a few obstacles along the way.

The most important and often the most difficult part of providing transportation is informing the attendees that it exists. Even the smartest people might walk past large, boldly colored signs three times while wondering how they find out what bus route they belong on. Putting together a transportation plan, with the assistance of the convention program and approval of the meeting planner ahead of time is the first step to a smooth process on-site. Getting this information to attendees prior to their arrival in your destination is the next step - anywhere you can put this before attendees show up and ask “where do I go?” is a good start.

  • Include it in the program
  • Offer to create and/or send, from your office, an e-blast to all attendees
  • Post on the conference website

Step three is signage. We all know how to welcome groups in the airport, at the hotel, throughout downtown, but informing them of something, making them read past their group name and logo, is a slightly different challenge. Make sure whatever you do, it’s repetitive.

  • Flyers to be handed to individuals as they check in AND set in stacks on tables in the hotel lobbies and trade center
  • Large boards depicting a map of the area and any and all transportation being provided
  • Sandwich boards outside of the trade center listing color coded routes, if used

Now you probably think we have everything under control, right? Not so fast! A very important step 4 is communication. Make sure everyone involved, hotels, trade center, bus drivers, light rail engineer, ferry captains, has one person’s personal cell phone. In Savannah, that’s the CSM at the CVB. Me! I have answered calls at 6am, and 11pm, and 9am on a Saturday morning. I’d rather, and I’m sure you’d rather, hear about anything going on from my contact in the city than from the irate meeting planner who heard it from an angry attendee. Setting the communication in place isn’t enough – you have to follow up. Haven’t heard anything good or bad? Don’t assume it’s good, call your main contact at the trade center or transportation company and make sure there are no hiccups.

Even with the best preparation, we all know that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong while your most important clients are in town. So be prepared for the fog, traffic accident, etc. by having a backup plan in place. A large part of this is the communication plan above, but knowing what to do at that “uh-oh” moment is important too.

Finally, have a re-cap session with your client. In Savannah, we redid a few aspects of our transportation signage when a client reamed us in a post-con. It’s worth suffering through that to make everything better not only for that group the following year, but all future clients.

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