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International Association of Conference Centers
Focus Groups Reveal Key Planner Insights
( St. Louis, 4 April 2007 ) -  At a recent focus group sponsored by the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) at the Summit Executive Centre in Chicago, ten meeting professionals confirmed that planners face busier and more demanding schedules with rising prices and little increase in budgets. This necessitates an extreme focus on delivering value for the money spent on meetings. As facilitator Mike Fahner pointed out, "they are looking for relationships with a property that will help them deliver better value to them as well as an exceptional level of service to their attendees."
 
More Demands and a Focus on Delivering Value
According to the ten professionals, they rely upon conference centers for reliable technology and production. There was universal agreement that the right technology is increasingly important at a facility, but, at a conference center, they not only have the technology, but there is knowledgeable staff who know what they are doing.
 
Objectives are Key
The professionals revealed that they seek an environment of continuous learning and they demand that meetings have maximum impact and allow participants to connect with other people. "There needs to be a memorable and compelling experience associated with any meeting," stated one of the Chicago-based participants. According to Fahner, "When asked about their decision-making process and how they choose a venue, they agreed that the old adage of location, location, location is no more. Location now comes in third after the objectives and content of the meeting."

Seal of Approval
This panel represents the fourth in an ongoing series of focus groups designed to solicit the impressions of meeting professionals about their roles and responsibilities; industry trends; technology; and the capabilities of properties where they hold their meetings. Consistent among planners was the feeling that they want to know if a property is IACC approved. "Conference centers are particularly great for inexperienced, part-time planners", commented one planner who elaborated that "knowing that a property is a part of IACC will help seal the deal in her decision-making process." Uniformly at all four focus groups, participants indicated that IACC affiliation is an important factor in their selection of a conference center. 
 
Partnerships 
In both New York and Chicago, professionals indicated that at IACC-approved properties, they maintain stronger relationships with the Conference Planning Department. They have also come to expect IACC properties to provide a comfort level significantly better than at other meeting facilities. Professional planners want to establish a solid partnership and a higher trust level with staff at a facility, which frees them up to concentrate on the content of their meeting. Conference centers have figure that out.
 
According to IACC North America's President, Neil Pompan, (CFO of EMCVenues) this series of focus groups will continue: in an effort to better understand the demands of today's professional Meeting Planner, IACC will continue to conduct similar focus groups in major cities throughout the United States in order to better serve their needs and to continue to provide the IACC member properties with the tools they need to provide an exceptional meeting experience.
 
Celebrating its Silver Anniversary, the International Association of Conference Centers, founded in 1981, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting understanding and awareness of the conference center industry. Active members meet a set of stringent Universal Criteria and agree to a Code of Ethics. Currently, the association includes approximately 400 members from the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, France, England, The Netherlands, Germany and Japan. For more information, visit the website at www.iacconline.org.

Contact:

James M. Mahon
Global Director of Marketing
and Public Relations
914 548 5835
JMahon@IACConline.org

 

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Also See: The International Association of Conference Centers of North America Elect New Officers; Neil Pompan Elected President / October 2006
IACC's Seal of Approval Provides Conference Center Hotels that Extra Something; Provides Meeting Planners with an Up-front Statement of Quality / November 2006

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