by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Mice Net : August 2008
bidding to win STORY BY miles clarke Bid managers are the unsung heroes of the conference industry, as miles Clarke discovers. Y ou know you’re up against it while bidding for a major convention and your competitor rolls in Nelson Mandela to spruik for their city. Life for those who bid for conference business is rarely a walk in the park. And unfortunately the only time their work is acknowledged is when a major piece of meetings business is won, although that is often not even the case. Invariably the venue or city and sometimes even government is applauded for their efforts. Says head of the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre’s bid team, Alison Gardiner (pictured above), it often feels as if the bid manager is living in a parallel universe. Bid managers have the responsibility of facilitating the hundreds of strands of information that comprise a competitive bid to secure a meeting to their city that might be three to seven years away. It’s a nerve-wracking business because of the large stakes involved, and a process often akin to that of winning an Olympic Games – without the supporting budget. It’s their task to gather together the necessary support from the host association, local and state government, develop strategy and then implement it to a fixed timetable. They often have to go through national rounds of selection where the various Australian cities will vie against one another for the right to bid for the event. Sabotage, underhanded business practice and good old-fashioned back- stabbing are not unknown in this cut-throat business. “We use the term ‘herding cats’ a lot in this business and it certainly helps to be something of an adrenalin junkie,” says Ms Gardiner, an MBA graduate and qualified interpreter in French and Spanish. “One of the bigger challenges is that we have firm deadlines to gather proposals and budgets and it certainly becomes stressful when deadlines are missed. It’s then a matter of taking a deep breath and pressing on. “Especially with scientific meetings, the people who are in decision- 8 mice.net making positions on the host association are invariably highly busy in their professions and we need to work around this.” The job requires a high level of intuition with regard to the politics that invariably infests the national and international associations. With bids for conferences attracting, say, 1500 delegates, it’s not uncommon for the bid to cost anywhere between $30,000 and $50,000, with larger conferences sometimes running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars and no guarantee of success. Costs include flying and accommodating site inspections for organisers (usually in business-class), the preparation of bid documents, corporate videos, sending bid team members overseas to lobby at related conferences, hosting functions, and thank you gifts. “We obviously need to look really closely at the bid as sometimes we’re being included in a shortlist simply for appearances when the event has already been given to a city. “We sometimes will walk away from a bid when it’s clear there is no level playing field.” She says the scientific association members are particularly partial to the hospitality extended during the bidding process. For the bidding team, the most challenging scenario is when there is a general assembly election for a bidding city. This is where sometimes up to 250 office bearers have a vote and the bid team are in a situation akin to the Olympic Games where a large number of individuals need to the canvassed, and voting blocs identified. “We have procedures with primary and secondary voters and it’s my job to understand how this all works,” Ms Gardiner says. “We need to be aware of how one city might be played off by another and be wise to being manipulated. These days national and international associations are very aware of the economic value their event is to a city and often it is a case of ‘show us the money!’. “In many of the Asian countries, there are huge financial incentives