PCMACONVENE.ORG OCTOBER 2017 PCMA CONVENE 7
Going to Mexico
“I have a large program booked in Los
Cabos [Mexico] for January 2018. The
U.S. State Department has issued a
travel warning for the region, and I
have some concerned attendees,” Ferrell
Heeter, owner of Ferrell Ventures, wrote
to the PCMA Catalyst forum. “I am curious to know how other meeting planners
deal with these situations?”
Having done many meetings
throughout Latin America, including various
meetings in Mexico, what we always
suggest to colleagues is not to necessarily ignore the travel warning, but to go
with a local source for something more
accurate. Talk to the DMC or hotel you
are working with in Cabo and bring up
the concerns. Ask them to provide you
with some more insights about what is
happening on the ground.
The State Department issues travel
warnings for many locations, but they
do it in such an overarching, generic
way that it frightens people and does
not necessarily give a detailed perspective. It’s up to you to do the research to
find out if things are okay. If you read
the warning, you will see it can be a very
generic statement without any real context. In fact, if you swap out the location
or destination for any other, it would
read the same — it lacks real specificity.
The State Department currently even
has a “Europe Travel Alert,” which
pretty much covers the entire continent,
but they recommend going to individual
embassy or consulate websites for more
details in each country.
These travel warnings can be useful
in many locations, and also play a role
for how the U.S. government permits
the movement of U.S. government personnel in certain destinations. Interestingly enough, there are even countries
that have turned the tables on the U.S.
and issued travel warnings of their own,
warning against travel to the U.S. There
are a lot of politics involved.
Bottom line, do your due diligence
as close to the source as possible. Work
with local service providers that understand your concerns, and reach out to
fellow PCMA or other industry association members in Cabo to get their point
of view on the situation.
If a situation becomes a big concern
for your participants, you can even
set up a “Travel FAQ” page on your
meeting’s website and respond to any
questions or concerns there. If you are
confident in the destination you are
doing your meeting in and your client is
as well, then you should display this, so
the attendees can feel confident, too.
Eli Gorin, CMP, CMM, Chief Operating Officer,
FHTdirect/Far Horizons Tourism Inc.
Treat or Trick?
Lisa Simpson, senior director of meetings
and events for the American Staffing
Association, was testing the waters when
she wrote to the PCMA Catalyst forum
to ask participants if they had ever held a
meeting over Halloween, and if so, what
the feedback had been from attendees
and exhibitors. Simpson was looking at
dates in a preferred city that would cause
the first peak night of her meeting to fall
on Oct. 31.
Our event is over Halloween most years,
depending on how the weeks fall. This
year our opening show day falls on
Halloween. People show up, regardless
of the fact it is on Halloween. However,
we do hear some grumbling about it,
and sometimes people with young kids
work their travel around the holiday.
Personally, I am a little bummed to
miss my three-year-old on Halloween
Liz Goad, CMP, Director of Events
and Meetings, Automotive Aftermarket
We are doing a Halloween meeting for
the first time this year, and I will say,
the concessions ended up being great.
There has been a handful of feedback
that this was an inconsiderate choice;
however, attendance is up 25 percent as
we pull into the last two months before
the meeting. Take that as you will.
Rachel Dillion, CMP, Senior Director of
Meetings and Education, Sentergroup
A group I used to work with would host
a council meeting over Halloween every
year. As you can imagine, we had lots of
grumbling about these meeting dates,
but every year, everyone would always
attend if they liked it or not.
Even after seeing this in action, I
would still not recommend dates over
a widely celebrated holiday. At the end
of the day, in my opinion, it is not worth
upsetting attendees over a holiday that
is much enjoyed, especially for those
with younger children they want to see
experiencing the day.
I know how amazing those rates can
be over the Halloween week/weekend,
so it is a tough call.
Kari Messenger, CMP, Meetings Manager,
Association Management Center
‘The State Department issues travel warnings
for many locations, but they do it in such an
overarching, generic way that it frightens people
and does not give a detailed perspective.’