Contact Us | 1-866-488-4474 |

RIP Filipe - Meetings Industry Mourns the Loss of Montreal DMC Operator

The meeting planning community lost a favourite son this past week with the sudden passing of Filipe Nepomuceno, President/Owner of Altima Concept, a Montreal Destination Management Company (DMC).

I came to know Filipe in 2010 when I spoke at the MPI Montreal Chapter Biennial Conference, Convivium, at the Chateau Cartier in Gatineau. (That's Filipe in the argyle sweater in the picture I snapped for this Convivium blog).

Though I did not know him well, Filipe was a likeable fellow and we shared both a love of the meetings industry, and an entrepreneurial obsession. We kept in touch ever since, chatting a few times a year about business and life in general.

I saw Filipe again just five days before his death, at the Ignite Business Expo.  He looked great, and he was his usually friendly, outgoing self.  We hugged and he was telling me he would be re-doing his company website soon.  I offered to help when he was ready.

The sad news of his demise came to me from a mutual friend, Roni Feldman, also a DMC owner in Toronto. I truly believe Filipe personified Abraham Lincoln's words, "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."

On behalf of the Canadian meetings community, our deepest condolences to the Nepomuceno family.  Donations may be made to the Quebec Heart & Stroke Foundation.  Rest in peace, Filipe.

As for the rest of us on this Canada Day long weekend, take time to smell the flowers and enjoy life with your loved ones.  Because it may be over before you know it.

Are YOUR Sales Reps this lazy?

Being a member of a number of meetings industry associations, I am often at the receiving end of solicitation activities by hotels, CVBs and other meetings industry suppliers.

Depending on their approach if they call me, I use the opportunity to teach a lesson or two.  First I make sure they ask for my permission to continue  the call before telling me all about their facility or service.  (Recognizing that a call is ALWAYS an interruption and asking for permission is one early lesson we teach everyone who works here at Greenfield).

Often I also point out to the salesperson that they should have looked up our company website or my profile on LinkedIn prior to making the call. That usually would tell them that we are not a site selection or meeting planning company.

Only once did a very astute salesperson call me, saying that she HAD looked at our website.  She added that she realized that we likely don't plan meetings for clients, but did we have our own offsite meetings?  Not THAT person was a crackerjack!

But I do have a problem when people send "cold" solicitation email. This isn't even a promotion or a special offer. It's an individual taking time to write a self-centered "all about me" email about how centrally located and wonderful their facility is. Do meeting planners really respond to these messages?

I received TWO of these in the last few weeks.  I deleted the names of the originators and their employers so as not to further incriminate the guilty. Have a read:
Good Morning, (what, no personalization?)
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the XXXXXXXXXX, a state of the art facility within the downtown core, steps to the XXXXXXXXXX,, amazing views of the XXXXXXXXXX,, and one block from the XXXXXXXXXX, with shops, restaurants and trendsetting bars. Should you be seeking out a prime facility and location to host your next event , the XXXXXXXXXX, is the facility to consider. Our Ballroom has incredible views of the downtown core, with floor to ceiling windows it is truly a wonderful backdrop to any event. We have function rooms to accommodate the largest of conferences, to the most intimate of meetings, with breakout rooms to complement.
With Christmas only a few months away, several dates are still available for your Company party, let us do all the planning for you!I would be pleased to provide you with a site visit of our facility, as well as arrange for a menu tasting should you wish.  I welcome the opportunity of hosting your future events, making the XXXXXXXXXX,your venue of choice.Kindest Regards,XXXXXX
What's worse, our company has done work for this facility, and I'm sure their Director of Sales would have a conniption if she saw how this person is selling!  Here is the second one:
Dear Mrs. Wagner, (at least this one is personalized!)
I am writing this letter to introduce myself.  My name is XXXXXXX and I am the Sales Manager at the XXXXXXXXXXXX.
The XXXXXXXXXXXX is a full service catering facility.  We host a variety of both social and corporate events each year.  We have numerous meeting rooms on site which can easily accommodate a boardroom meeting of 10 people or a gala for 800 guests.  Please visit our website www.XXXXXX to view our menu options or if you’d prefer I would be pleased to send you a copy.  I could also create a custom menu that suits your entertaining needs if our menus to not meet your needs.
We also provide off-site catering services at either your office or any location of your choice.  Our offsite events range from continental breakfasts, working lunches and corporate receptions.
Our professional staff are the heart of our business, we pride ourselves on being flexible and working closely with our clients.  You can book with confidence and assurance knowing that every detail of your event will be taken care of.
The  is located at XXXXXXXXXXXX.  I would be happy to arrange a personal tour our newly renovated facility and discuss the many possibilities of servicing your group’s requirements.
I would like to learn more about your business, I’d welcome you to email me or call me at my coordinates below.
Kind regards,
What's ironic is that I actually had a phone meeting with this person only three months ago, when she was with another facility.  When I replied to her email and pointed this out she admitted that only then did she remember my name and company! I bet she won't do very well in this job either…

Both of these messages show that these salespeople are lazy.  They don't want to bother with building a relationship.  Both messages are all about the seller, and nothing focuses on the recipient and what he or she might need.  There is no creativity in either approach.  And the similarity between the two emails (highlighting of sentence in a different colour, "Kind regards," etc.) almost make me think these two people attended the same very bad sales training workshop!  (Yet these were from two different suppliers, competitors, to boot!).

So, hotel and CVB Directors of Sales do your sales people do this?  Maybe it's time to check.

A Surefire Way to Show Your Hotel is NOT that Service-Oriented

I have a pet peeve.  I find it terribly offensive when I call a hotel, CVB or meeting venue sales department and I am asked, "May I ask what this is regarding?"

I get that many Directors of Sales & Marketing don't really sell much these days. They have to sit in endless meetings, generally spend much of their time doing administration and sales management, and seldom speak with planners.  And they field lots of calls from ad sales reps and other suppliers!

But to have a Sales Cordinator screen calls and ask, "What is this regarding?" is truly lacking guest focus and finesse. What if I was a big time planner with a gazillion room nights wanting to speak to the head honcho?

The sentiment could be completely different if the Sales Coordinator said, "I am so sorry but (Name withheld) is in a meeting right now. How may I help you?"

When the former scenario happened to me last week, I put on my most polite tone and answered, "I am calling (Name withheld) because he asked me to send him a proposal about the business opportunity. I am simply calling to follow up with him."  Yes, I am a potential supplier to this facility, but it did not feel very good to be treated this way.

By all means have your support staff answer your phone and screen your calls. But make sure they are doing it in a way that is inviting and helpful for callers, otherwise you risk alienating potential partners and you may even end up in a blog...

#Eventprofs: Suppliers Frustrated at Planner No-Shows

Last week Greenfield Services hosted a Meetings Industry Supplier Summit, in conjunction with Canada Meet Week, in Toronto.

The purpose was to bring together senior sales executives from hotels, CVBs and other venues, to talk about issues that everyone seems to suffer about in silence... from the difficulty to get planners to show up at events and dealing with no-shows, to ethics and the increasing influence of third-parties in the site selection process.

Because Greenfield Services works with suppliers and planners, we felt uniquely positioned to facilitate the discussion.  Since many salespeople are afraid of publicly putting their foot down, for fear of pushing planners into the arms of their competition, we offered to write about the outcomes too! This post is the first, and it focuses on what is a problem for almost everyone we spoke to: high attrition at promotional or client appreciation events.

This happens when planners RSVP and either cancel at the very last minute (i.e. within the window for the food and beverage guarantee) or simply do not turn up.

The anecdotal evidence is shocking.  This week alone there were many events taking place in Toronto around the Ignite Business Expo and Canada Meet Week.  We learned of one destination marketing organization having half of their guests no-show for their appreciation dinner (at a nice, high-end eatery) while a DMC with 80 RSVPs reported only 14 people actually showed up at the event!

Before anyone thinks this is an isolated situation during a busy week, American meeting planner Joan Eisenstodt wrote about the same problem last fall, Dear Industry Partners: I apologize.

So what is the answer?  Some suppliers suggested maintaining and sharing a blacklist of planners who chronically no-show (or say they have business to be invited to an event -- but that's a different story altogether).  Others boldly declared we should start invoicing guests when they don't show up.

While these might deter to a point, they are perhaps less conducive to building understanding between buyers and sellers.  There are no silver bullets, but what we need is more people speaking up and the creation of more honest dialogue between suppliers and planners -- who after all probably don't want the same thing to happen to them for their events.

We're compiling a list of best practices, from both suppliers and planners, that collectively could help alleviate the problem.  We invite you to add your suggestions in comments below and we'll publish the list by the middle of this week!

Update:  Thank you for your responses!  We're happy to provide this free PDF with all the wonderful suggestions we've received: 16 Tips to Minimize No-Shows at Client Events.

Falling Off the Saddle with Content Marketing

Rider falling off his horse
Producing regular, quality content for your blog or website is no easy task. It's like riding on horseback; it's something you have to keep "on top of," and every once in a while life -- that fickle beast -- will make your jump over hurdles and cause you to fall out of the saddle…

This is precisely what happened to me recently. This blog did not see a post from me in the last four weeks!  It's as if the Tweetchat I had with Jenise Fryatt on April 29 jinxed me…
I was giving tips on keeping up with production for content marketing, and here I am, falling off my horse!

At least you all know I am human…

So here are my tips to get back in the saddle:

Don't beat yourself up. If you have a regular following, most people will be forgiving if you have not communicated for a few weeks. Besides, berating yourself will not help you start being productive again.

Explain yourself. Perhaps the lapse in production was as a result of your hotel being extremely busy, your DMO being host to a mega event, or something else that took you away.  In my case, it's been a combination of factors: the redesign of our website, the investigation of new technology for our calling team and the preparation for one of the largest projects we have ever handled, to-date!

If you can, use the reason(s) for your inactivity to get back in the game.  The reasons why I did not find enough time to contribute to my blog have given me LOTS of topics to write about.  More posts will follow about all of the above events, I assure you!  Hopefully you kept notes or maintained a list of topic ideas during your busy period. So when the worst is over, grab a few lines and start writing! The action itself will make you feel better and you can build up a list of articles to get you ahead.

Keep your eye on the prize.  Producing regular, value-oriented content on your blog and website is key to maintaining visibility in the eyes of search engines and Internet-focused meeting and event planners. Missing a few weeks isn't catastrophic.  But as soon as you can, get back on that horse!