Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Posts Tagged ‘meetings’

Events remain a powerful marketing tool

Posted by thecastlegroup on April 2, 2010

At Castle, we’ve always started with the premise that a great event needs to be built from and reinforce the corporate message.

We’ve been fortunate that through all the various economic climates of the past 14 years, our clients continue to believe in the power of events and incentives.

This article, while cautious, also points to the optimism for the events industry.

Events are powerful.

Whether a global sales meeting, 6,000-person convention, 50-person executive meeting, or high achievers travel incentive, there are many ways to reward, motivate and engage staff.

Face time, hand shakes, real in-person conversation, collaborative events — these work for a reason, and these factors continue to fuel our events business.

Keep meeting.

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Meeting planners on the rise

Posted by thecastlegroup on January 14, 2010

U.S. News & World Report names meeting planners as one of 50 top careers for 2010:

We couldn’t agree more!

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The Incentive is Not Fear

Posted by thecastlegroup on October 16, 2009


Travel is dead! Incentive programs are dead! Stay in the office and work! Keep your head down!

We heard these proclamations following 9/11 and the economic crash at the beginning of this decade. But you know what? Our clients kept their event programs, continued to travel and stayed the course with incentives.

Fast forward to the fall of 2008. The beginning of this latest recession echoed the same fearful statements we heard nearly 10 years ago. And our clients continue to stay the course with their programs. Our incentive clients are traveling to Mexico, New York, Spain and other destinations. Our corporate meeting and event clients are heading to New Orleans, Florida, Boston. The point is, they refuse to be swayed by the negative sentiment that AIG and others put on the industry because they believe in the value of their programs – and the ROI proves that their programs work. They work to drive revenue, foster collaboration, meet face-to-face and reward hard-working employees. They also work to stimulate the economy by hosting goal-focused events in various destinations.

As businesses mark the one-year anniversary of the current economic crisis, decision-makers who are still in “scared” mode must ask themselves a simple question: Are we ready to shift from cost management mode to growth mode?

A new study by research firm Oxford Economics addresses these issues and makes a very strong case for the power of business travel.

The study finds that for every dollar invested in business travel, businesses benefit from an average $12.50 in increased revenue and $3.80 in new profits. Where else can companies find that kind of return? Likewise, the data shows that a 10 percent increase in business travel spending will increase U.S. GDP by between 1.5 and 2.8 percent. We need that, right?

According to the study, a sure way to limit business growth potential is to indiscriminately cut corporate travel. For instance, executives who were surveyed estimated that 28 percent of their business is lost without in-person meetings. Working backwards is not the answer.

Claims that virtual meetings and teleconferences are a good substitute for in-person meetings turn out to be off the mark. Eighty-five percent of corporate executives perceive web meetings and teleconferences to be less effective than in-person meetings with prospective customers, and 63 percent believe virtual meetings to be less effective than in-person meetings with current customers.

Finally, the study contradicts the rhetoric we have heard that describes incentive travel for top employees as wasteful junkets. In fact, according to the research, companies would have to pay those employees eight percent more per year to achieve the same level of motivation. Thus, according to the research, incentive trips are often a cost-saving measure. We would go so far as to say incentive trips are economy-stimulating measures.

Best of all, the study helps answer the question: How do you attach an ROI to a sales trip, a trade show or an award to a high-performing employee? 

Travel is alive! Incentive programs work! Get on the road and see your customers, teams and partners! Lift your head up! Our clients are succeeding – we work with the biggest brands in the world on their global events, corporate meetings and incentive programs, so we see this success on a firsthand basis – because they remain committed to sound business practices that work to generate revenue, sell products and services, motivate and reward high-performing staff, and spend smartly on programs that work.

We’re happy to share more about our programs if you’d like to learn how meetings, events and incentive programs can work for your organization. And we want to hear how these valuable marketing vehicles have worked for you.

Read an executive summary of The Return on Investment of U.S. Business Travel here.

And read the full study here.

Finally, here’s a great SlideShare presentation, courtesy of US Travel Association: Business Travel ROI Study:

(Thanks to my friends and partners at the U.S. Travel Association and, as well as the great research team at Oxford Economics, for this invaluable piece of research.)

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Meetings on Sale

Posted by thecastlegroup on June 24, 2009

We may be in a recession, but this economic downturn also means great savings for your meetings and events. The importance of face-to-face meetings is undeniable; coupled with the valuable savings now available makes this a time to make the most of your meeting dollars.
Great deals are everywhere. Hotels and convention centers are more willing to negotiate than ever before. Not only are group room rates lower, but in addition, we’ve been able to secure items for our clients such as free internet usage, deep discounts on food/beverage and audio-visual services, waived resort fees, rebates and greatly reduced attrition and cancellation fees. 
President Obama also recognizes the value of meetings. The 44th president recently backed a promotion where, in Washington D.C., planners receive incentives such as 44 percent off convention center rental fees, a 44-minute reception with 44-cent beer and wine, 44 meal options priced at $44 each, 44 free tabletop exhibits and a free drawing at 4:44 p.m. each day of the conference, among other concessions. 

This year, consider hosting your annual meeting or event at a previously untouchable five-star resort at three-star prices. Bottom line: it’s time to make a deal.
In related travel industry news, the U.S. Travel Association is lobbying hard to pass the Travel Promotion Act (PDF). If passed, a new board would govern destination marketing efforts aimed at increasing international visitation to the U.S.
Keep America Meeting

Finally, Keep America Meeting is an organization working with both the public and private sectors to promote the value of meetings. Follow them on Twitter or explore all their materials and efforts here. There are tools to help spread the word about the value of meetings, a petition to encourage legislators to publicly support meetings and events, and more.
And, as always, let us know how we can enhance your meetings, events, conferences and incentive programs.

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Bueller? Meetings? Bueller?

Posted by thecastlegroup on June 23, 2009

Ben Stein weighs in passionately and intelligently on the need for companies to keep meeting programs intact, and the goverment’s impact on the meetings industry and need to responsibly support it. Click here to see Stein on CBS News on a segment called “Obama’s Travels.”

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Limitless possibilities

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 27, 2009

Live by the sword, die by the sword. Maybe that’s too extreme when considering pay limits on executive compensation, but America is built on a free enterprise system, and ultimately that same system will help us rise out of this economic morass we are in.


What’s the root issue here? Greed. Our corporate ecosystem has evolved into one that demands profits and efficiencies now. Long-term growth receives lip service; the advent of day trading, easy information access and do-it-now tools have empowered not just our executives to make decisions in the now, but allows all our citizens to act similarly.


Certainly there are long-term thinkers out there. And this recession seems to be re-instilling “classic” American values into the corporate world. Conservatism rules the day. But even that thinking seems misplaced. Is the world expecting to revert back to an “Ozzie and Harriet” or “Happy Days” world? Dad home for dinner, Mom and kids happily living the American dream, surrounded by friendly neighbors and a built-in sense of community?


The world has changed; societal shifts make that vision impractical. Life is still expensive. If one is fortunate enough to remain employed, paying the bills is not much easier, even with dropping prices and lower consumer spending. People are saving out of fear and necessity. For those out of work, the barriers are significantly higher.


So back to the root issue: if the government wants to change the behavior of corporate America and its executive force, it needs to reward fiscally responsible goal-setting, define ethical pursuit of profits, and promote — not dethrone — those executives with the intelligence, resources and ambition to reshape the economy.


The meetings and incentive industry, under fierce attack due to short-sighted moves by AIG and others, represents an ideal place for executives to turn to in order to re-seed the economy. Develop programs that drive intelligent revenue creation, reward innovation and stimulate the economy.


America is not about limits. Rather, it’s about limitless possibilities. Our best executives have the power to explore those possibilities and help America reemerge as an economic leader.

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U.S. Travel offers toolkit for meetings industry

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 5, 2009

The links below take you to some U.S. Travel’s meetings industry toolkit elements. Highlights include:


Business travel creates 2.4 million American jobs, $240 billion in spending and $39 billion in tax revenue. The meetings and events component of business travel is responsible for nearly 15 percent of all travel in the United States, drives $101 billion in spending, generates one million jobs and creates $16 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state and local levels.

Meetings, events and incentives are essential tools for companies to strengthen business relationships; align and educate employees and customers; and reward business performance. Members of Congress share this practice when convening their annual retreats at resorts outside Washington, DC


Talking points:

Value of meetings:

Letter to elected officials:


Lend your voice to this effort. Meetings build community, and community is necessary to survive challenging times.

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Local impact from events industry fallout

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 5, 2009

Never mind the national “discussion” over the current state of meetings and incentives, now the impact is being felt locally, and local press is getting interested. Let’s see if the “in my backyard” effect drives positive change.

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Incentive travel’s white knight?

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 3, 2009

As the government comes down on TARP-funded companies for their incentive programs, U.S. Travel (the former TIA) has issued a set of responses on behalf of the meeting industry. The organization has done a really terrific job inserting commentary into the media and changing the focus from TARP companies gone wild to the real value of incentive programs. 

I know Castle has a vested interest in the success of the industry, but is it really so hard to understand that a well-executed incentive or meeting actually drives business, leading to revenue which then stimulates the economy? 


Read below for a sample of recent media coverage on the issues and the impact on the meetings industry:




Hawaii hotelier asks Obama for an important favor

Pacific Business News

By Jim George

March 2, 2009


Gibson understands that the incentive-travel pot is an easy target for corporate executives struggling to balance budgets. What he doesn’t understand is why the national media and government at large continue to give travel to Hawaii a negative connotation.


“There’s a perception problem,” he says.


It’s Time To Fight AIG Effect

Hotels Magazine

By Jeff Weinstein

March 1, 2009 


It all started when insurance industry giant American International Group (AIG) was blasted by Congress last fall for spending US$440,000 on an executive retreat at the St. Regis Resort, Monarch Beach, in California after being bailed out with taxpayer money. Now this event has become a symbol of excess and greed, in many ways forcing meeting planners and corporate executives to find other solutions, and other venues, to conduct business.


MPI Launches New Web Resource To Emphasise The Value of Meetings in Crisis Time       

Focus on Travel News

By Ozgur Tore    

March 2, 2009 


MPI is also part of a coalition of organizations including American Hotel and Lodging Association, Destination Marketing Association International, International Association of Exhibitions and Events, National Business Travel Association, Maritz Travel, Professional Convention Management Association, SITE (Society of Incentive & Travel Executives) and U.S. Travel Association that also emerged to unify the industry behind a common message to regulators and media.,english/


Travel Leaders Shows How to Travel in a Tough Economy

Travel Agent

March 2, 2009 


“As one of America’s largest industries, travel and tourism is the vital lifeblood that courses through our nation’s veins. Continued corporate and leisure travel strongly contributes to a healthier economy,” stated Block. “While we can appreciate and understand why many individuals may be reconsidering their travel plans, our Travel Leaders nationally are advising their clients on the most effective ways to stretch their dollars for maximum value.”

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