The needs of professional organizations vary greatly by trade, location, size and demands. Our diverse expertise and tool set means we adapt to meet every need, whether it is a changing strategic vision or a new immediate challenge. Simply put, we are creative problem solvers.
Negotiated Expensive AV Costs in Chicago
For an annual meeting held in Chicago, the union labor rules are extensive. They require a minimum number of hours and certain tasks can only be performed by certain people. As a result, we needed an electrician, projectionist, video engineer, and other skilled workers — instead of a single AV tech as we typically hire for conferences of that size. Our initial bid from the in-house AV company was roughly $310,000 for a 5-day meeting while our budget was $65,000. Through a lot of negotiations, we were able to bring down the AV costs to $85,000. It was still over budget, but the initial budget ended up being unrealistic with the union labor laws. Through our tough negotiating skills, we saved our client $225,000.
Cleared Crippling Debt
AMBD was hired on to be the association managers for a medical association. This association came to us from poor executive management. The executive director had accrued countless useless contracts with vendors, and charge hotel attrition on their American Express credit card. The debt alone with this association was daunting. Within the first year, we had dissolved 10 contracts with vendors from expensive phones and printers to excess labor. We were able to save the association money and pay off their debts within that year time. Unfortunately, the hardest part was not the debt, but the poor management and leadership had left a sour taste with board members, exhibitors, speakers, and other key stakeholders. Our company prides our self on the transparency of the checkbook and expenses as well as our relationships and communications with speakers and vendors.
Reversed Hefty Group Lodging Deposit Requirement
For an annual meeting being held at a university, the housing contract required that the total cost of the rooms be pre-paid by the Association, in the amount of $58,000. Additionally, the university was not equipped to accept individual reservations and charge individual credit cards. For their meeting space, the Association was responsible to pre-pay it, in the amount of $11,000.
From our perspective, paying $11,000 for the meeting space could cover the housing reservations as well. After working up the chain of command of the university's conference services department, the Director agreed that the $11,000 could cover both the meeting space and the housing. In addition, based on the university's undeveloped booking capabilities, it was agreed that we would book and charge lodging through our registration software and provide a rooming list of names and credit card numbers to the university at 60 days and 30 days out from the conference start date.
Re-Planned a Canceled Meeting
After a year of planning and one year before the conference, the property decided to cancel the entire meeting contract and leave us to decide what to do with the meeting that had been announced and advertised for some months. With careful negotiations, we were able to find another set of dates that worked for the resort and reinstate the conference with those dates.
We negotiated for lower attrition rates, discounted rates on the most popular room types, rebate on condos, a hosted reception by the resort, comp meeting room rental, and pipe and drape provided at no cost as compensation for the cancellation.
We were able to successfully negotiate for almost $20,000 in savings for the conference and successfully marketed the new set of dates resulting in better-than-expected attendance despite the cancellation and change of dates.
Controlled Costs on Substantial Food & Beverage and AV Contracts
A client who has been doing regular conferences twice a year at the same resort for many years got the banquet prices for their summer meeting which were much higher than the winter meeting. The price increases had averaged 5% between each meeting. This increase was 7% - 125% increases with an average of 32% increase. We compiled a history of pricing and average increases to use in negotiations with the resort. We came to the agreement of a standard 5% increase between each conference and they dropped the pricing for the summer conference down to where it should have been resulting in a savings of $5000.
By adding a group discount with a code that can be entered during online registration and the discount applied automatically, we increased attendance by 70 – 100 people per meeting.
Reduced Workshop Costs
This highly specialized conference features hands-on workshops involving real-life scenarios in the world of emergency medicine. One 8-hour workshop features 8 stations with procedure demonstrations using ultrasound machines, other medical equipment and live models. Each station is equipped with linens for the models. The hotel’s initial housekeeping charges came in at $450/day. We were able to negotiate the cost down to $200/day.
Lowered Hotel Attrition
We had a long-term client stop holding their meeting for 4 years and then decide to pick it back up. They worked with a different meeting planner to contract with hotels in Hawaii for 3 years in advance. The first year they started their meeting back up, they didn’t meet their contracted hotel attrition and ended up paying roughly $70,000 in attrition charges to the hotel. At that point they hired our company to help them with the following year meeting planning and hotel management. Our company worked very hard at calling and emailing every attendee to book their lodging at the host hotel. We were able to meet the attrition or so we thought until after the meeting when the hotel informed us that we were a couple room nights shy. The hotel had also taken a few bookings before we were contracted, one was cancelled with the hotel directly within 30 days and the hotel had violated their cancellation policy outlined in the contract. We informed them of this, and they reversed the attrition charges.
The following year with the same client, the client did have to pay attrition charges to the hotel. The hotel rate was high for the area and the number of rooms was unrealistic. Good hotel contracting is so important! Even though the client was faced with attrition charges we were able to save them money from our negotiating skills with the hotel. First, we were able to lower peak nights and add pre and post nights to the contract since the original contract didn’t have any. This saved the client $41,000. We were then able to change the hotel room contract from a per night attrition to cumulative, which saved the client $15,800. The group ended up paying $108,000 in attrition but we did everything in our power to help lower the costs substantially.
Tools & Resources
Our biggest tools and resources are our team members. With years of experience and knowledge under their belts, we are sure to help any client meet and exceed their expectations. Check out our team bios on The People page for more information on each of us.
AMBD utilizes many different digital and old-fashioned tools to assist in task completion. Our team utilizes cloud-based documents and task timelines through Office 365 SharePoint and Google Docs. We set up a marketing calendar specific to each client’s plan as well as association or meeting tasks throughout the year. Detailed lists are an important tool to keep all team members moving in the same direction and on the same page. Shared documents between all involved parties ensure integrity and transparency.
For association management, we can conform to your already-established platform, but our current favorite is Your Membership. We can track members, funds, store items, build website pages easily and keep committee pages up-to-date and specific to those who need them. Keeping all documents organized and accessible in the group pages have enhanced our ability to keep volunteer committee members on track and provide them with all the tools they need in one place.
For our meeting management, we utilize Aventri for our registration platform. The online program is customizable, easy to use both for our team and for the attendees, and provides ample reports to be emailed or sent via a live link to our clients. Aventri allows us to book registrants, take meal counts, add optional additional fee items such as workshops, manage hotel reservations and provide simple communication with automated emails including invoices, receipts, hotel confirmations, etc.
For meeting mobile apps, we have a couple up our sleeves that we would recommend based on your needs.