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 IACC Press Release  Press 



Contact: James M. Mahon
Company: EMCVenues
Phone: 914 699 4725
Fax: 914 699 4725

WESTCHESTER, NY (January 12, 2004) -- EMCVenues

At a recent Customer Focus Group in Orlando, Florida, 20 conference center customers unanimously agreed that they want to see tougher standards imposed on conference centers in order to maintain their edge over traditional hotels.

The group was gathered by EMCVenues to solicit their input on varying topics from the CMP (Complete Meeting Package) to contract negotiations and budget analysis review as well as the future of IACC. The majority expressed their strong preference for conference center venues; many expressed the desire to see the Independent Association of Conferences & Conventions (IACC) impose more stringent criteria for its member centers.

The Complete Meeting Package, long considered a mainstay of the conference center industry, has been diluted by hotels over the years in order to attract meeting planners looking to simplify their meeting planning process. Expressing the sentiment that there seems to be less consistency among conference centers in general, a strong and united voice among these customers said they want a real Complete Meeting Package.

EMCVenues is an innovative, independent national sales organization that provides direct sales and marketing support for more than 50 high-end conference centers, the majority of which are endorsed by IACC. EMCVenues, in conjunction with their conference partners, offers special value-added Signature items into the CMP, guaranteeing to add value for the planner. The CMP offered through EMCVenues surpasses those standards set by IACC. EMCVenues promised not to “nickel and dime” the customer. They guarantee that the invoice will be accurate and simple – and there will be no unexpected surcharges or surprises. In fact, EMCVenues reviews every bill before it is sent to the customer to ensure the quality and accuracy.

Among the attendees at the first annual Customer Speak-out was Geoff Lawson, President of IACC North America, who supported the call for stricter criteria. “The third-party inspection initiative will begin early in 2004 and we expect 25% of the membership to undergo a thorough inspection process in 2004 to evaluate a property's compliance with IACC's 31 established standards.”

Jody Wallace, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for EMCVenues welcomed the audience and offered, “This is an exciting opportunity for us to find out how we can partner with you, not only to deliver, but to become more effective at making you more effective. Make history with us! We are here to make a difference, to change outcomes, and to make our organizations better than before.” We want to take what's already out there – and make it better.”

The forum was about “Customer Delight”. Said Jody Wallace, "Satisfaction isn't going to get you anything. You must consistently exceed expectations, consistently deliver to a higher standard that customers expect. Their loyalty translates to delight. Many of you are very satisfied, but in five years, what will make you delighted? Your standards have changed over the last decade, so have standards for meetings have changed as well."

Among the guests participating in the Customer Speak out were meeting planners from Merrill Lynch, Bechtel Engineering, Wells Fargo, Johnson & Johnson, ITW, Turner Construction, Walgreen Health Initiatives, Philip Morris, and Black + Decker.

Prior to the Customer Speak Out, EMCVenues held its first Advisory Council Meeting attended by EMCVenues representing key conference center companies such as Doral Conference Centers, Destinations Hotels, Sodexho Conferencing, JPMorganChase and several independents in key conference destinations such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Tempe, and Portland, Oregon.

Prior to the meeting in Florida, the questions were also provided to 150 other meeting planners who were unable to attend the meeting. Their input, along with the information gathered form the Speak Out will form the basis of the EMCVenues goals for 2004…and beyond.

A Sample of the topics discussed and the responses:

Do you currently use conference centers?
The overwhelming response was a strong preference to hold a meeting at a conference center. In fact, the decision is often solidified when it is an IACC conference center. Most agreed that a conference center is an “operating mentality”; that it is more than “a chair”. The Complete Meeting Package is a definite reason for booking a meeting. But it needs to really be inclusive. They expressed an interest in knowing more about the IACC standards and criteria. IACC = no worries.

How can we better maximize your time and efficiency to allow you to focus on the content of your meeting?

The most frequent response was for EMCVenues to handle all the little stuff so they can concentrate on the bigger things associated with planning and conducting a meeting. They expressed a strong desire to work through one point for contact throughout the meeting. They prefer to work with one point of contact for multiple location needs. They need a quick response to an electronic RFP. They want fairer contracts with a minimum of negotiations and faster turnaround with concession agreements. They need a Conference Planning Manager who is readily available to them during their meeting. They want quick decisions.

What does the CMP package of the future include or not include?

The CMP needs to evolve as the Planner's needs continue to evolve. It needs to be a work in progress. It needs to be really Complete. They do not appreciate the nickel and dime approach when they get their invoice. It should include high-speed Internet access. They would genuinely appreciate it if they didn't have to ask for things…they want to know it would be included in the CMP.

These and other topics were discussed in detail at the first Customer Speak-out. The EMCVenues Team is currently developing an Action Plan to address each issue and act upon each point. Responding to popular demand, a series of similar regional Speak-out sessions is scheduled in 2004 in key destination and gateway cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Washington DC, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The next Annual Speak-out is scheduled in July at Pacific Palms Conference Resort in Industry Hills, California, just outside Los Angeles.


EMCVenues is a division of Thayer Lodging Group and is dedicated to providing meeting planners and training professionals with a consistent experience in key conference destinations, eliminating all risk while maximizing time and energy spent on meeting objectives…with one call. Through a professional representation of the client's interests and EMCVenues' conference center alliances, we demonstrate responsiveness and ethical practices at all times. As an organization, we offer value-added solutions to meet the daily challenges of our clients and partners. For additional information, contact Jody Wallace, VP Sales & Marketing (732 899.5006) or visit our website at

© 2004 IACC North America
211 Main St. Suite 314, Chelmsford, MA 01824