Cool Online Resources To Help Meeting Planners

In the same way that the universe is continually expanding (or so I am told), I am compelled to continually add to and expand my web site’s Libraries. It’s a force of nature. Found two very interesting ones…

Micebook.com. Yes, that is its name, and for those of you snickering about it, MICE stands for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events. At least that is what I think it stands for since everyone seems to have a different answer for the C and E… but close enough for jazz.

The site is positioned as a “Supplier Relationship Management” tool (SRM). Now when someone says SRM you can nod like you know what they are talking about in the same way I nod when someone says CRM and I have no idea what they are talking about. The good news is this is a tool to manage the supply base, except Micebook keeps the contact details up to date for everyone. And the site is FREE to Meeting Planners.

Event planners can use MICEBOOK to search for CVBs, hotels, venues, DMCs, airlines, representation companies and an ever-growing database of other Meeting, Incentive, Conference and Exposition suppliers.  At the moment there are about 4000 global suppliers. It keeps growing.

I asked CEO Chetan Shah how positioning is determined when a planner does a broad search for a supplier in a particular destination. Do the highest paying vendors get the best positions? The answer… No. The order they appear is related to how many event planners have saved them as a “favourite” (and I spelled favorite with a “u” because the company is HQ’d in London and for some reason they put an extra “u” in for no apparent reason).

When I was in graduate school (impressed?), they made us read a small book called How to Lie with Statistics. Besides making me never trust anything anyone says, ever, it taught me how data can be skewed in just about any direction one wants. The point being, if you have a small sample of planners choosing favorites, the positioning near the top may not mean that they are the best supplier, only that the limited universe choosing favorites knows about them (or are their cousins).

At the moment there are only about 1000 planners registered (the site is new), but Mr. Shah says they expect that number to grow exponentially. Presumably the positioning of suppliers will change as more planners enter the system and will eventually become broad enough to eliminate the “relatives” factor.

You can even earn rewards for adding unlisted suppliers to MICEBOOK. The site folks vet them, and for every profile that becomes a paying member of MICEBOOK, you earn $25USD. (Wheels turning).

Next… livenation.com

Yes, yes, I know everyone knows about LiveNation and that they manage like a million (over 100) really cool venues around the country… but did you know about this “secret url"? http://specialevents.livenation.com/contact-rfp

Ah ha. You just learned something. Want to have an event in some iconic venue (I consider San Francisco’s The Fillmore my equivalent to the Vatican) or at any House of Blues or the Hollywood Palladium or Irving Plaza in NYC, or SF’s Masonic Auditorium or all of the other really cool places they manage? Fill out the rfp on-line for any one venue OR… use it to search multiple venues like… all at once.

They also have “people” you can work with for Entertainment and Production, Food and Beverage, Themed Events, Private Concerts and a bunch of other stuff for which meeting and event planners like to have “people”.

OK… that’s it for the moment, but I will keep adding as we go, along with the other Subject blogs and Resource Libraries.

When I told a friend that this month’s editorial would be about recommending cool online resources, she said, “Aren’t you afraid of giving away all your secrets?” My response… Combine the Internet of things with Google’s algorithms, add in a tech-savvy generation of buyers armed (and seemingly connected to) powerful hand-held smart devices… and so (other than anything that appears after Page One of a Google search), there are no secrets.
 
On the other hand, there is now so much information out there, it is almost impossible to tell who is good and who is not. Travel Advisor and Yelp may be good for individual experiences, but a) groups are different and b) I don’t know anyone who actually writes those reviews anyway. Why should I trust the crowd if I don’t even like the crowd?
 
I digress.  That’s kind of what I do for group stuff… vet the suppliers and vendors and then recommend them to meeting planners who don’t have the time to wade through it all. It’s the relationship thing (if you’re into that).
 
So these “Cool OnLine Resources” are no secret unless you did not know about them already. Check them out (since they are cool). And of course, all this info gets posted on our web site and in our Library Archives. We’ll keep adding as we go so that we, too, will remain a very “cool on-line resource” for All Things Meetings. And I am not anonymous. You can actually talk to me.
 
First up… PeerSpace.com
 
Think of it as “AirBnB” for private event spaces but with lots of added value stuff thrown in. It’s a simple concept (now that someone thought of it). Want to have a private event in a cool venue in (for now) San Francisco, Los Angeles and soon to be New York City (and then the world)?
 
Go to their web site and create a free account (and say I sent you), and you can browse through their entire inventory of cool places, or use one of their many filters… and once you find something you can connect directly with the venue OR… you can chat with one of the PeerSpace people and they’ll help you find what you need. And they are nice too. I use these guys a lot.

And I should mention… it’s not just for “events” in the “let’s have a party” mode. Their staff works closely with their users to help them book space and plan for all kinds of activities, from client meetings and team off-sites to product launch events, photo shoots, executive retreats and all of those other “events that need space things” that I decided not to mention.

An important note… the way they make their money. The venue pays PS most of the finder’s fee…so that’s good… but you pay PeerSpace a fee equivalent to 5% of the venue rental. For example…if the venue charges you $1000, you pay the venue $1k and PeerSpace $50. If the venue charges $300 an hour, you pay that to the venue plus $15 an hour to PeerSpace. And like that.

Yes…it’s money. But you just saved yourself time and found some places you never would have found on your own. Click Here

Next up… LuxuryVIPSuites.com
 
You’re a meeting and event planner. The boss says… “I want to entertain our 25 best customers at the next big game. Want one of those VIP suites. Set that up.” And you say OK… and then stare at your computer screen trying to figure out what to do next.

The answer? Go to LuxuryVIPSuites.com (makes sense). They just happen to be the main supplier of luxury suites at all sporting events and concerts in North America. And they are also really nice (at least to me, so far).

Important - They are NOT just another ticket broker. Truth be told, in a world of over 10,000 ticket brokers, nearly every suite purchased from a broker is coming from LuxuryVIPsuites. LVS is contracted with corporations and private suite owners who have long term contracts with the venue. They are the source! Hey… I can get it for you wholesale! (Just kidding). 
 
Anyway…good deals. And I say good deals assuming you understand that VIP Luxury Suites at major sporting events are not what you would call… cheap… but considering the ROI one gets from hanging out for a few hours with your top customers… worth it. Visit their web site… Click Here
 
Oh…this is an editorial and these guys have not paid me anything to say all of this about them. I chose it because I like them… but they said… tell your readers that if they mention All Things Meetings when they buy something, they’ll get a special gift. I have no idea what that is, and like I said, this is an editorial so you don’t have to say anything you don’t want to say. Just saying.

And finally (for today)… SFPDV.com
 
I get asked all the time… hey, can you recommend a restaurant in San Francisco with a private room that can seat x number of people on such and such a date? Easy question. Dilemma: It takes a lot of time to figure out what matches the client’s demographic and budget, and then find out what’s available. (Unlike many places in the world), SF restaurants usually don’t pay finders fees or commissions… (don’t get me started). What is the solution to the “lots of time for no money” dilemma? If I can’t convince my clients the benefits of having an exclusive event in a really cool private venue so they can theme it, choose the perfect menu… and all of the other things I say to them, then I recommend my clients go directly… and here’s why…

San Francisco Private Dining Venues is free search engine and RFP platform for event planners to locate the best possible venue for their private dining needs. Venues range from fun and casual to fine dining with lots of choices in between. You can submit an RFP on the web site and choose which restaurants should receive it. It’s actually pretty cool. Click Here

That’s it for the moment… but we’ll keep building the Library. Tell every meeting planner you know to visit the site and share their ideas (and click on everything :) 

Next month we'll be talking about Theme Parties … or whatever other random idea pops into my head between now and then.

Please share your "Most Wow" Team Building experience, or your recommendation for the "Coolest On-Line Resource" with us (and everyone) on the Blog on our new site (so we can all check it out).