In a group discussion, the NCC team of veteran government meeting planners focused on ways meeting planners with the federal government could help ease the process. The team agreed that for government meeting planners, there are more hoops to jump through and tighter guidelines to follow than most non-government meeting planners, but all groups deserve face-to-face interaction.
1. Complete Meeting Packages – The government sales team recommends facilities that offer all inclusive pricing packages. Typically, most properties with complete meeting packages (CMP) are conference centers recognized by the International Association of Conference Centers; this is intended so the planner can focus on content for their meeting rather than micromanage the logistics. “Most complete meeting packages allow planners to have flexibility with space needs like breakout space and meeting rooms and there are no room rental fees,” says Melissa Allen, a government sales manager at NCC, “this feature gives planners the most value for their package.”
2. GSA Schedule – “Choose a venue on the GSA schedule,” advises Margo Palmer, one of NCC’s senior government sales managers, “You’ll eliminate a lot of time, extensive processes and market research by choosing a venue already on GSA.” The GSA schedule has done a lot of the leg work for planners. In fact, the venues listed on the GSA schedule put forth all the groundwork to qualify and be listed on the schedule, thus also simplifying the process for planners; the new category for easy meeting shopping is listed under the SIN number, 599-99.
3. Government pricing - Venues that offer government pricing all year long and always offer government prices with no black-out dates means they’re interested in your best interests as a group, and as a long-term customer. “Choose a property that wants all your meetings,” Allen states, “Not just the meetings that are large in size or fit into the pattern.”
5. Seasoned sales managers – The government sales team all agreed, working with a venue that is staffed with seasoned government sales managers makes all the difference for the planning process. This experienced sales person is knows the importance of building a long-term relationship between the planner and the venue. A seasoned government sales manager is often someone who knows the federal rules and regulations and can be your coach through the process.
Keeping these five factors front of mind will make for a more productive planning process. Tips like choosing a venue on the GSA schedule and in a metro-accessible location will allow government meeting planners the ability to concentrate their energies on designing meetings that focus on bringing everyone together and delivering successful results.
The National Conference Center (NCC), located in Northern Virginia 12 miles from Dulles International Airport and 35 miles from Washington, D.C., is one of the largest and most comprehensive conference centers in the nation. With 917 guest rooms and over 250,000 square feet of meeting space, NCC has become a hub for productive meetings and is on the GSA schedule. NCC is also home to West Belmont Place, Northern Virginia’s largest ballroom with 16,500 square feet for holding an elegant wedding or accommodating a large trade show or special event. For information call 800-640-2684 or visit www.conferencecenter.com, or www.westbelmontplace.com.
The National Conference Center is managed by ARAMARK Conference Centers. ARAMARK is a leader in professional services, providing award-winning food services, facilities management, and uniform and career apparel to health care institutions, universities and school districts, stadiums and arenas, and businesses around the world. In FORTUNE magazine's 2009 list of "World's Most Admired Companies," ARAMARK was ranked number one in its industry, consistently ranking since 1998 as one of the top three most admired companies in its industry as evaluated by peers and analysts. ARAMARK seeks to responsibly address issues that matter to its clients, customers, employees and communities by focusing on employee advocacy, environmental stewardship, health and wellness, and community involvement. Headquartered in Philadelphia, ARAMARK has approximately 260,000 employees serving clients in 22 countries. Learn more at the company's Web site, www.aramark.com.