With economic recovery plodding along over the past four years, what is giving businesses the biggest return on investment (ROI) with meetings today? We asked five experts in their fields for a thought on what works in the 2011 marketplace.

Delivering on ROI, MPI, Jim Fausel

Jim Fausel, president and COO, meetGCA

“The best business meeting practices from the past, still apply today. To say that meeting ROI initiatives are any fundamentally different detracts from the sole purpose of meetings — to engage others for information sharing, thought-provoking exchanges and reaping productive outcomes. Ten years ago those fundamentals still applied and were the cornerstone of why organizations and people decided to meet. Although we’ve seen many changes in the past several years in terms of technology and the fine-tuning of why meetings occur and the objectives necessary to achieve meeting success, businesses still should realize that focusing on engaging in meetings with their stakeholders is paramount to the bottom-line of the organization. It’s the human connections and the relationships garnered that matter. Whether it’s for a one-on-one business meeting or a conference of many attendees, continuing to provide stimulating content for the attendees will ensure ROI.”

Delivering on ROI, MPI, Tara Thain

Tara Thain, director of sales, SuperShuttle

“In regard to best practices, we keep it simple. We build a relationship with the client or individual traveler to ensure their transportation needs are met. Through technology and social media, we provide information to our customers regarding our reliable services. For groups and conventions, we provide documents to help them determine their transportation needs, such as proposals, service agreements, manifest arrangements. Educate your customer on your services + Provide the appropriate documents and options to your customer = Have their trust and repeat business.”

Delivering on ROI, MPI, Karolyn Kiburz

Karolyn Kiburz, president, Meetings and Concierges Source, LLC

“Formerly, it was evaluating if the guests enjoyed the conference, had a good experience, etc. (Now it’s) measuring the value of education, and how they are implementing it once they return to the workplace. They need to have their time/money translate into dollars for them once they get back to the office. Networking events are also key as so much business is done during that time. It used to be ‘have a cocktail and relax’ events. Now it’s ‘who can I meet to help me in my business and how can I help them’ events.

Pam Williams, meetings development manager, Visit Mesa:

“Providing good service and valuable resources has meant the most to our clients in the past. What’s important today are unique venues that set the stage to deliver savings and ROI. Additionally, we are working on programs to assist in promoting our clients meetings and events through social networking efforts and event landing pages that list opportunities and discounts for their attendees.”

Stephanie Wynn, principal executive, Eventify:

“Prior to 2008, business leaders in the meetings community use to be a little more lenient and flexible with business practices that delivered ROI. I think ROI was more of a goal and something of an after-thought, but since the economic decline, it’s become more of a way of life. Supplier quotes, client pricing, meetings packages, etc., used to be geared towards goodwill or with the thought that if you gave a little in terms of negotiation, it would lead to repeat business or brand loyalty. That’s no longer the case today. Today, suppliers, planners, clients, employees, and employers alike are asking what delivers ROI before planning or servicing even commences. Simply using the same tactic across the board will not work. Each case is unique and needs to be tailored to the organization or client’s needs. Things have become more streamlined, products have been eliminated, packages reduced, incentives have gone away, bare bones is the new norm. I wouldn’t say that today’s practices work — they are only temporary fixes to address the current economic climate.”

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