Sharing experience

Panel discussion about the new forces shaping the decision to in-house or outsource during the PCMA CIC in Niagara Falls

By Barbara Siqueira 

Technological convergence, social media, education on-demand, and new legislations about pharmaceutical sponsorship in medical meetings have been affecting the decision to either in-house or outsource meeting planning services.


This is a trending topic and was the subject of debate by distinguished panellists Daniel Lalonde, Executive Director at Health Technology Assessment International (HTAi), Christina Mills, Congress & Meetings Manager at World Federation of Hemophilia, and Gail Brathwaite, Meeting Manager at Endress Hauser.


Adriana Spitteler acted as a presenter and mediator and brought valuable points on the pros and cons of each decision. “Process control is a frequent reason why Meeting Planners decide to do in-house. However, a transparent discussion to address needs and concerns, a detailed project management plan to define task division, and a communication guideline can help to overcome this issue”.


A budget sample comparing the estimate costs in hiring extra staff with just outsourcing a housing bureau brought to light the hidden costs when deciding to organise accommodation in-house. “Hiring extra staff and training time are some of the hidden costs when choosing in-house. It is recommended to calculate ROI - return on investment - to compare scenarios”.


In addition to accommodation management best practices, Christina Mills shared valuable tips when signing a contract with hotels or venues. “We are adding specifics liability clauses in case of terrorism, and natural disasters that can affect our Congress.”


By the end of the panel, attendees were sharing their experiences on contracts and clauses, and also past experience. There are still diverse opinions on the decision to in-house or outsource as many forces are influencing the results.




Client success story about housing management and strategies at the ICCA Congress 2017 in Prague

By Barbara Siqueira 


Site inspection in 90 hotels in one week, handling a fake conference website and replying to more than 900 delegate queries in the 2 months before the Congress were some of the topics discussed about housing management and strategies used for the 21st International AIDS 2016 in Durban, South Africa.


Nadine Spitteler, the Operations Manager at A111, shared this successful client case and its challenges with accommodation management strategies at the UK/Ireland Chapter Meeting during the ICCA Congress 2017 in Prague.


“It was the second time the event was held in Durban which means the negotiation was tough. We started negotiating almost two years prior and reviewed more than 55 hotel contracts carefully to ensure favourable clauses”, Nadine mentioned during her presentation.


Nadine also covered useful tips on room blocks and overall strategies as well as their effect on the conference budget. As this is a hot topic many questions began popping up, such as “Why conferences still offer accommodation management instead of leaving it to delegates to make their own arrangements?”


She explained how customer services are important to bring back and increase the number of participants, how housing services play a big role as another source of revenue stream, and the risks of not having pre-blocked rooms for a larger conference; “You can’t take the risk of leaving your participants without accommodation, especially if another large event is taking place at the same time. If you do, it could affect your registration for years to come”, Nadine said.


The attendees of the UK/Ireland Chapter Meeting walked away with significant insights into the subject matter. 

Three new perspectives you should consider when deciding on a local or international conference organizer company

By Barbara Siqueira 


Meeting planners are often facing the eternal question: should I work with a local or international professional organizer (PCO)? Making any choice leads us to pro and cons. We have decided to offer insights to help with your decision. Let’s start by debunking some common myths.


1) Local has better contacts so I can get better deals

Not really. Local PCOs have many local connections, can get around easily, and as they are doing business in the area, they might get good deals.  On the other hand, they might select someone they are personally connected with due to their relationship, instead of selecting the best solution, which an international PCO would do.

In addition, the world has become Global and international PCOs with extensive experience worldwide can support equally and more. What really matters is understanding the conference needs and the structure, being solution driven, and having active connections in the market. A good international PCO usually attends renowned trade shows such as IMEX America / IMEX Frankfurt and PCMA Convening Leaders.  How your PCO works is critical.  Also, many PCOs team up with a local Destination Management Company (DMC) and provide equal support as the core Local PCO. Here we see a perfect combination - international PCO and local DMC.


2) Local offers cheaper services and yet excellent services


Here are the magical words that many meeting planners don’t like to say out loud: “I am looking for a cheap option as I have a tight budget.” Instead of thinking of costs, think of efficient cost solutions. An international PCO has worked in different destinations, experienced many challenges around the world, so most likely they will find an effective solution to reduce costs and suit the conference needs. 


3) Supporting local business


Some destinations, especially from developing countries, have the requirement to support local business. It’s a legitimate request as tourism and the MICE industry represent a great portion of a country's GDP.   When using a local PCO there could be a problem with trusting their experience with large meetings. Or they might not have enough expertise to handle different requests from international delegates.  Let’s think it over by bringing the famous tale of two brothers fighting over an orange, which says: “instead of splitting the orange in half, understand the other's needs. It turns out that the first brother wanted to make orange juice. So all he needed was the pulp of the orange. The other brother was preparing a recipe that required only the skin of the orange.

 Taking this popular tale that is often used to illustrate the difference between positions, we can bring to this scenario of Local or International PCO.

So instead of contracting the local PCO for the whole event, hire the international PCO and they will subcontract locals for logistical support for the meeting. 


An international conference rotating around the world has many challenges that an experienced international PCO can meet quickly. You don’t have to discard any locals but focus on your meeting needs with what the PCO can offer.


The magic words are “Solution Driven meets International Experience”.

Make sure that the professional conference organizer can provide this to you so that you are on the right path.











An overview of the 54TH ICCA Congress in Buenos Aires

By Barbara Siqueira


   The 54th ICCA Congress took place 1-4 November in Buenos Aires, Argentina and has achieved a record of attendance for any ICCA Congress in the Americas. Giving a picture of these numbers, it has registered 769 delegates, from 66 countries.  This means another slight increase in comparison with the previous North American congress in Victoria, BC Canada received 734 participants in 2008.

    Throughout the years, the ICCA Congress brings together an educational programme specifically for that years’ Congress, vast array of associations, external experts and ICCA members who are featuring new methods and advanced initiatives worldwide.

   You might be asking: So now what? This year, ICCA Congress introduced new from to enhance the Business Exchange. A selection of qualified delegates is exchanging detailed information about key international events in rounds tables to share best practice and professional experience.

   Networking matters. Attending a Congress rise an intrinsic desire to meet people who are capable of truly help your business. However, it has been challenging to create an effective activity to meet this aspiration and the Business Exchange came to fulfill this need of delegates.


Technology improvements: version three of ICCA’s Big Data tool


   Marco Van Itterzon, Research Director of ICCA has announced three improvements of the Big Data tool platform: the first enhancement tool aims to identify “champions” who plays an important role in the bidding process to attract business to a destination. The second improvement tool is “autocomplete”. When members are researching for an actual profile in the ICCA Database and want to discover who is their “active champion” they just need to click on the subject line of the lead and the tool will automatically provide champion information. “You just have to seat back and enjoying what the tool does the work for you” said Marco Van Itterzon.

  The third tool called “Find Sponsor”. This tool came out after a researching among the members asking them to point out their needs: to find potential Sponsors. Therefore the tool offers a similar process as finding a champion. Just fill in the location, what you are looking to achieve and it will show up a list of sponsors based on their past, present and future business.




    The 54th ICCA Congress recognises the excellence and outstanding achievements of organizations in their effort to market their destination or a product.

     In 2015, Halifax Convention Center has won as the Best Marketing Award. Best Marketing Award Chairman of the judging panel Patrick Delaney (SoolNua) declared: “Halifax had a very creative solution to a very real challenge: How to promote and sell a product that did not exist? They did so in a very novel and creative way, engaging with their customers and achieving significant results. They communicated their project in a simple and clear manner, with coherent messages.”


A111 Power of Conference: Keep in the loop of the Meeting Industry


   Adriana Spitteler, Director of A111 and member of ICCA was attending the 54th ICCA Congress. She believes that attending Meeting Industry Congress is a powerful way to keep inform about the latest news and network, the key tool to keep up with the changing social, political, and technical MICE industry environment.


  In case you couldn’t attend to the 54th ICCA Congress, be prepared to go the 55TH ICCA Congress in Kuching, Malaysia from 12-16 November 2016.


Accommodation service for your meeting: Contracting at the right time

By Barbara Siqueira 

           Frequent questions that many associations and event planners ask themselves are: How far in advance should I book hotel rooms for my Conference? / Why should I develop an agreement with a housing bureau if my conference is 2 years from now?

      A rule of thumb, Professional Conference Organizers (PCO) recommend making reservations at hotels two to three years in advance for groups of less than 1,000 and three to five years for groups of 1,200 or more.

         If these periods of time scare you, here are some reasons to plan ahead.  This is similar in a way to how a doctor practices.


   Diagnosis: organizing a history of your previous meeting


    A doctor needs to investigate and create a diagnosis before prescribing any medication. This is not so different from room-blocked management. Understanding the hotel’s and the delegation’s patterns is a valuable tool.

     A PCO will compile a document that matches the behavioral patterns of your delegates in previous meetings with the hotels. This document will contain an analysis of timing, seasonality, transient demand, arrival/departure, rooms to space ratio, food and beverage history, outlet usage, potential increment revenue, value of account to hotel or chain, risk, etc.


 Prescription: Establish and calculate the number of rooms 


     Once the diagnosis is completed, a PCO can start a room block procedure. An accurate assessment of the number of rooms relies on variables such as destination, tourism appeal, holiday times close to the meeting, season, program format and even how many activities at night the conference has. These factors can alter the number of rooms needed. For example, one might assume/it is likely that for a destination that has a tourism appeal delegates will bring family.


   Administration of medicine: Conference host city


The city where the congress will take place is crucial element for blocking the number of rooms. A site selection takes place long before attendees begin making hotel reservations and it is a relevant factor in determining attendance number.

Another component that counts is a geographical area. The area of the country where you hold your meeting can greatly influence how attendees will arrive and depart. Your participants will need an extra night or day depending on changes in timezone.

Furthermore, accessibility is other element part of destination. As the name suggested itself to you as accessibility refers to numbers of direct flights for international meetings. So if your next Conference will take place where the majority of flights have connections, this would change de room conditions. 

Administration of medicine II: Proper mix of Hotels

Offering a mix of hotels gives your delegates an opportunity to match their personal and professional needs. It’s important to have the right diversity of hotels including a variety of rates, name brands, locations, and even leisure options.


As well as these previous activities it is also required to negotiate, analyze and sign contracts with each hotel it has been chosen.


You might be concerned if your conference is happening in 2 years and you haven’t started any of these steps. A111 can be your perfect partner because we will do it all for you.

#meetingindustry #conferencehousing #housingservices #internationalconference  


5,558 Conference attendees travelling to Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; July 19 - 22, 2015: the 8th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2015) was held. 5,558 delegates travelled to Vancouver from 117 countries. A111 Power of Conference Service Ltd., the local agent in Vancouver, was in charge of handling all accommodation needs for the conference.

Our fundamental service involves acquiring suitable hotels with the right conditions and a fair price range for any conference. We aim to accommodate the varying budgets and accommodation expectations of conference delegates by offering everything, from suites in high quality hotels across the street from the conference venue, to dorm beds in hostels, and everything in between. Ensuring delegates have a suitable place to stay during the conference is our priority.

The process begins before the location is chosen and ends a month after the completion of the conference. Room blocks in Vancouver were contracted in 2012, starting with hotel meetings to explain the matrix of price ranges and number of rooms required. Adriana Spitteler - current director of A111 - worked closely together with Richard Yore former director of Sales, Meetings and Conventions at Tourism Vancouver to form partnerships with the hotels well in advance.

Managing room blocks in 25 hotels in down town Vancouver as well as properties near the airport, we successfully sold over 2000 rooms for this conference.

Furthermore, we were very pleased to be able to offer competitive conference rates to our delegates. July is peak tourism season in Vancouver and the majority of hotels were charging well above $300.00 per night. Booking through the official housing agency ensured delegates had access to affordable accommodation and were able to remain within their budgets.

We believe that people coming together and meeting in person is the most powerful and efficient way of communication. Building bridges and allowing people from all walks of life to come together to share their work to a large audience, exchange ideas, and find solutions is extremely rewarding and is the key element to any conference.

We are already working hard on the upcoming International AIDS Conference taking place in Durban, South Africa in 2016. Due to the large number of delegates expected to attend, we highly recommend booking your accommodation early for this conference. Keep your eyes peeled and consult for further information.

You can find out more about this year’s conference by clicking here or visiting the conference website

Do you want the same high quality, dedicated service for your next event? Contact us! We look forward to finding out about your event and seeing how we can best help you.

See you in Durban!

Behind the scenes: Accommodation service at the IAS 2015

By Barbara Siqueira 

Have you ever asked why recording the behind the scenes activity of films is so important?


In the film industry, people document the behind the scenes commotion including makeup, set design, lighting as well as cast and crew interviews.


Besides it’s effectiveness as a marketing tool, behind the scenes footage and stills can give us a chance to understand the formidable production value of a work and realize how little things are able to make the film an astonishing piece of art.


This week, we have decided to use the same techniques of behind the scenes in films to reveal how it is relevant from a strategic point of view to have a Professional Conference Organizer (PCO) for your accommodation service.


The Plot


Summer in Vancouver, a prestigious scientific society, an International conference to be organized. A gathering of 6,000 delegates from across the globe. Everyone wants a memorable and valuable experience for all involved.

Scientists, clinicians, public health experts, community leaders, media professionals and renowned laboratory brands must find a hotel to attend this meeting.  This place must be able to meet their personal needs. Vancouver’s accommodation is in high season. Participants don’t have much free time to look for hotels.

The Production


Pre-conference events: 

- A111 answered more then 30 daily e-mails; in total 1,000 over 6 months..

- A111 dealt with 5,000 changes and new requests such as trip extensions, cancellations, name corrections, room exchanges, etc.

- A111 made themselves available for participants to contact them 20 hours/day in Europe and North America;

- A111 helped ~2,200 delegates (or groups) to find a Hotel to meet their particular needs;

- A111 sent 1,000 emails to 25 different Hotels;

- A111 negotiated prices and special requests with 25 Hotels;

- A111 helped people from 5 continents: Africa, Asia, Australia/Oceania, Europe, Americas (North, Central and South);

- A111 spoke with participants from 193 countries;


Do these numbers impress you? The Behind the scenes of IAS 2015 reveals what kinds of work are involved in accommodation services.  Now, you are able to measure how crucial it is to have a company like A111 as your partner.

#accomodationservice #pco #meetingconventions #miceindustry #conventionorganizer #housingbureau  

Get to Know about the 8th IAS Conference, in Vancouver Canada in 2015

By Barbara Siqueira 

From 19-22 July 2015, the 8th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention took place at the Vancouver Convention Center in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 

The International AIDS Society (IAS) is the world’s largest association of HIV professionals, with members from more than 180 countries. IAS organizes one of the most prestigious and the largest conferences on any global health or development issue. 

A111 was the official and exclusive housing bureau for the IAS Conference. Our dedicated and inspired team ensured a successful and smooth accommodation service for 5,500 delegates from across the globe. 

You might ask: Why was this Conference so valuable?


 Substantial partnership    

            The University of British Columbia (UBC) –AIDS division is based at St. Paul’s Hospital, Providence Health Care. Canada is a leader in HIV science/. In particular, the implementation of prevention strategies and research surrounding antiretroviral therapy.  

            The local Co-chair is Dr. Julio Montaner, who leads B.C’s Center for Excellence in HIV/AIDS pioneering the highly active antiretroviral Treatment (HAART) and the model of Treatment as Prevention (TasP).

Vast Network

            The meeting gathered about 6,000 delegates from across the globe, among them scientists, clinicician, public health experts, and community leaders.


           IAS 2015 examined the latest scientific developments in HIV-related research and explored how such developments can be realistically applied.   



       A111 celebrates a long-term partnership with IAS by improving the participants experience, offering assistance for their registration and accommodation.  We are a proud to help IAS accomplish the best possible scientific and educational programme to advance HIV research.


To find more about the 8th IAS Conference, please click on this link:


photo: Marcus Rose/ IAS copyright  

#businessmeeting #conference #miceindustry #annualmeeting #accommodationservice #housingservice #eventmanagement #pco



Effective ways to strengthen your network ties after attending Conferences

By Barbara Siqueira

Initially you are excited about attending the next conference, after reading about the speakers, their topics, and the city where the conference will take place.

 At the moment you started talking with your friends, family or co-workers about this, you will begin to hear: “This is great! You are going to have many opportunities to network and it will be helpful for your career (or project / or scientific research).”

Things can become more intense when you realize how much money you or your company paid for this conference. So, you start browsing some networking tips. You learned and you did it. Back home, after the conference, with lots of business cards, new contacts on Linkedin and follow up emails. But after several months, you entirely lose contact. Here are some strategic points to change this game:

1)   Build a list of goals pre-conference

Build a list of goals answering these questions: Whom do you want to meet? Why is this person important for your work? What do you need to learn or to share? Why do you want to attend this meeting? Future job opportunities or improve your research with new ideas?

Now, you are going to speak with people that can truly make a difference in your goals. In this way, you are going to make meaningful connections.


2)   Find things in common

Having something in common with a person is one of the most effective ways to maintain a relationship. After attending a conference you are going have good reasons to keep in contact with someone. Also, during the meeting you can vary between business and personal conversation and this can strength a relation. People are more willing to recommend and do business with someone they can trust and have a valid rapport.


3)   Listen actively

Do you listen or merely wait to talk? Good listening involves paying close attention to what is said, asking the other party how they feel about their work and why they are attending this convention. Focus on this.  The common mistake in a conversation is to be thinking about what you are going to say instead of listening. You will be able to know more about the person and increase the potential to maintain active communication later.


  4) Write notes 

Chances are you will forget the details of conversations especially in the Conventions environment.  Therefore you need to write notes. During the conference take some time before go to sleep to write down the following: whom you have met, their names, interests, emails and how they are related to your goals. This valuable data will help you to remain in contact.


5)   Be bold when talking about your interests

Being relevant and highlighting your professional interests is going to help you for future contacts. Showing your passion is a good way to make others become an advocate for your cause. When someone you have met reads about your “cause” they may be more likely to send an email, or recommend you in case of a new opportunity.

Now, let’s go back to you

Send us your success or failure stories that might teach or help others. A111 is excited to hear from you.


#businessmeeting #conference #miceindustry #annualmeeting #accommodationservice #housingservice #eventmanagement 

How keep your health during business travels ?

By Barbara Siqueira

Browsing on the Internet, it’s easy to find articles with tips and tricks on how to maintain health while travelling for conventions or meetings. However, none of them highlight a key element before taking all mentioned steps: PLANNING. . Almost all pre-travel tips you find are related with choosing your accommodation wisely.  Here are the most popular ones:

1) Exercise daily or “stay active”

Book a Hotel that has a fitness center, or at least a connection to a nearby fitness center. Take one hour to do some exercise.

2) Rest and sleep
It is a common mistake to disregard hotel quality because you only intend to sleep. However it is absolutely necessary to have a comfortable, soft and clean bed to rest in to be prepared for the next day.

3) Eat well
Many hotels have incredible room service, restaurants, and variety of healthy breakfast options. If you are too tired to go out for dinner in town, staying in a good hotel is crucial for this.

4) Meditate
Meditation is highly beneficial in many ways see (read more about it).  Choose a place to stay that has a serene area appropriate for contemplation, perhaps with a view.

5) Find time to relax
Implicit in relaxation is time management. Rushing unnecessarily causes stress, which, over time, can have serious health consequences (read more about it). Therefore, organize your day carefully to include all the networking, education and sightseeing you desire.  If you are in a new city assume that everything will take 20-30min longer than you are used to. Also, staying in a Hotel close to the Convention center or meeting venue can be helpful.  Book early to secure your space.   Naturally, try to be close to tourist attractions or transit.

The easiest way to follow all of these steps is to delegate the arrangements to a company specialized in housing services.  Planning, organization and research is time-consuming and small errors can have highly inconvenient consequences.  By hiring an expert, such as A111, you everyone will be happier, healthier and more efficient.

We can make sure your conference is pleasant and memorable by giving specialized services and helping you make smart choices. 

#meetingplanning #conference #businesstravel

5 tips for specifying your hotel needs

Looking for ways to ensure you receive a hotel room to your liking? Add some additional information to your accommodation booking and your housing bureau / hotel reservation management agency will be happy to pass it on to the hotel.

1) Join loyalty programs. These days having status with hotels will get you more for your accommodation booking than hacking airline points. Some programs make it relatively easy for you to gain rewards, like the Hyatt Gold Passport which requires only five eligible nights to reach platinum status or the Fairmont President’s Club which grants free wi-fi.

2) Book your accommodation early so special requests can be taken care of in advance and everything is ready for your stay during the conference.

3) Take a selfie. Many hotels are offering special perks to people who photograph themselves and share the images of the hotel and conference on social media.

4) Be nice. This piece of advice can work in almost any situation. Instead of demanding a specific accommodation feature and complaining about something that went wrong, turn on your charm.

5) Be specific. Be it a room with a view, a suite, a quiet room, or a room close to the fire exit, if you know what you want, ask for it when making your accommodation booking. The more specific the request, the easier it will be for your housing bureau / hotel reservation management agency to take action on your behalf. There are many ways to specify details to ensure your stay will be unique and meet your needs during the conference.


#accommodation #housing-bureau #conferences 

You read

... "the housing bureau is just trying to sell their rooms. I can book as short notice as I like!"

In the world of & friends it seems we can book any time, short notice and get great low rates!

So when you read on a conference website the advise to book your accommodation early it sounds like the housing bureau just wants to sell you things. And anyway, rates for conference are always so high. I can do better elsewhere, booking directly and later.

Let's look at a couple of things.

Rooms are different from t-shirts

While large volume orders decrease items per price if you are producing a t-shirt, per price item on 10'000 will me much lower than if you produce 10. In a city with finite number of hotel rooms large demand does not mean prices down. It actually creates the opposite effect. When hotels hear "Conference" multiple $ singes appear in their eyes.

Compression in the city = high prices from hotels.

A (large) conference coming to town usual means an increased demand for a short period of time. After all; people need to sleep somewhere. Furthermore usually everyone wants to be close. So by default, hotels will try to get more for their rooms, because they know they can. YOU want to sleep somewhere; don't you?

Before making the assumption it is all just a sleazy sales attempt; do your research and find answers to the following questions:

1) Is it tourism season? - yes it is. --> Book your accommodation early!
2) Is something else going on at the same time? e.g. concerts, fairs other conferences? - yes it is. --> Book your accommodation early!
3) Is this a large conference I am attending with lots of people coming from all over the world? - yes it is. --> Book your accommodation early!

We are currently working on a conference in a tourist destination. July is high season here and hotels are more than full. With even less rooms available the few rooms left go at a premium price.

Yea, truth is, as an official housing bureau I do want to sell the rooms. It took a lot of effort, sweat, tears and wicket negation skills to secure enough rooms at a decent rate. Process often starts years before the conference takes place.

While we live in world where all decisions are postponed till later, short notice and last minute trips and accommodation are booked. You may not only not get to choose what you want. The question will be, is there anything left?

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