Neil Cramer: November 2015
Way back in the pre-internet Stone Age, every neighborhood had a “Mom and Pop” Travel Agency where you had to go to get information (remember brochures?) about a destination or hotel (or anything). There were giant Hotel & Travel indexes filled with ads and listings for every hotel in the world, plus continually updated OAG books with airline schedules. The walls were covered with posters from Cruise Lines.
As you waited for the agent to confirm whatever it is you needed to do, you sat there as they stared into an airline reservation system computer (requiring special training), typed a lot of unintelligible code, muttered under their breath, and then called an airline and waited on hold (forever) to confirm your reservation while telling you about some “fam trip” cruise they had just been on and how much they ate and drank. Meanwhile, you flipped through brochures.
The internet comes along… an airline ticket and a hotel room becomes a commodity… and boom... the mom-and-pops disappear. Left standing were the huge corporate agencies and the very high-end “carriage-trade” agencies, but for the rest of us, buying a ticket, booking a hotel room or a cruise, or renting a car, became, like gas stations, self-serve. And yes, I miss the days when some guy would fill my tank, check my oil and wash my windows. But I don’t really miss sitting in a travel agency… but I digress…
Booking groups was always a little different since there are so many details to consider, points-of-sale, meeting specs, and all the blah-blah that goes into meeting planning. Expertise and relationships with suppliers was still required.
It’s taken a while for the technology to catch up, but now, at least for the basic stuff, you can do most things yourself, on-line, and the answer to just about every question in the universe is .0002 seconds away. (Note – the big, complicated stuff still requires someone knowing what they are doing).
On the other hand, there is now so much information out there, it is almost impossible to tell who is good and who is not. Travel Advisor and Yelp may be good for individual experiences, but a) groups are different and b) I don’t know anyone who actually writes those reviews anyway. Why should I trust the crowd if I don’t even like the crowd?
That’s kind of what I do for group stuff… vet the suppliers and vendors and then recommend them to meeting planners who don’t have the time to wade through it all. It’s the relationship thing (if you’re into that). But I digress…
Here are some “Cool On-Line Resources” that are no secret unless you did not know about them already. Check them out (since they are cool).
Neil Cramer, President AllThingsMeetings.com, started his career working for full-service meeting and incentive planning companies back in 1976, learned the ropes, and moved up the ladder to become an Account Executive, managing events world-wide. He switched to the hotel side of the business in 1985 as a Resort Director of Sales, eventually becoming a hotel General Manager. He started his own consulting and event management company in 2001 and has assisted hundreds of companies in finding the best sites and vendors for their meetings, incentives, retreats, conferences, trade-shows, events, team-building (and whatever else you can think of), as well as providing full-service event management when needed. Most recently he has entered the blogosphere and shares his 40 years of experience and industry relationships with an ever-growing following of meeting planners
WHAT MUSIC YOU ARE REALLY LOVING RIGHT NOW?
There is so much, but for some reason I have been listening to Bob Schneider's studio version of "Montgomery" over and over while editing my photographs.
WHAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE?
Every morning… small triple shot soy latte with just two pumps of vanilla at Peets Coffee.
Listen to Podcast Interview with Neil Cramer and learn what makes him tick.
WHAT BOOK IS CURRENTLY ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND?
I was a voracious reader for my whole life… literature, fiction, history, science, philosophy, religion... everything. Must have read thousands of books. Then about 5 years ago I just stopped. Not sure why. If I do pick up a book it tends to be either about neuroscience or photography, as the two are linked together for me.
IF YOU WERE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND, WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU COULD NOT LIVE WITHOUT?
A hot shower every morning.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE WEBSITES AND/OR APS?
Don't have a favorite. Just find what I need when I need… but I do check several news sites throughout the day to see how big the fonts are on the headlines. If it's really big I will read it.