Editorial Board   Guest Author

Ms. Scholar

Debi Scholar

President, The Scholar Consulting Group

Debi Scholar, author of SMM: The Strategy Quick Reference Guide, offers guidance to Fortune 1000 and mid-size companies on issues surrounding supply chain and expense management categories, including airlines, hotels, meetings, ground transportation, corporate card programs, and travel management companies. Before founding her own consultancy in 2010, Ms. Scholar was with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for 13 years. In her last position there, she was Lead for consulting with clients on Travel and Entertainment Expenses. She also held positions as the Meetings and Group Travel Director, and eSupport and Training Director. Ms. Scholar is acknowledged nationally for groundbreaking efforts in shaping the Strategic Meetings Management (SMM) industry and integrating Travel and Meetings teams with Procurement. She is also an expert in driving virtual meeting adoption, both to reduce T&E costs and complement face-to-face events. In 2002, she became the first Meeting Director to include virtual meetings under her direction. Among her industry activities, Ms. Scholar was a trustee of the GBTA Foundation and was co-chair of the association's Groups & Meetings Committee for four years. To advance the SMM industry, Scholar has created a host of innovative tools and resources for travel and meetings professionals, and she supplies the industry with numerous publications via her blog (http://www.teplus.net). In 2010, Corporate & Incentive Travel magazine recognized Ms. Scholar as one of four of SMM's “Movers and Shakers,” and, in 2008, the publication named her one of the “Top 20 Changemakers” who influenced the meetings management industry. Business Travel News also named her “Best Meeting Practitioner” in 2007. Her many professional designations include: UPenn/Wharton Aresty Executive Education/Global Business Travel Association (NBTA) Global Leadership Professional (GLP); Meeting Professionals International Certificate in Meetings Management (CMM); Convention Industry Council Certified Meeting Professional (CMP); GBTA Corporate Travel Expert (CTE); Six Sigma Green Belt and Chauncey Certified Technical Trainer (CTT).

Ms. Scholar can be contacted at 908-304-4954 or debi@debischolar.com

Coming up in September 2019...

Hotel Group Meetings: Uncommon Destinations

The last few years have been good to the Hotel Group Meetings industry and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. Planners are brimming with confidence due to an expanding economy and increased job creation, which typically results in a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are trying to outdo themselves to satisfy the high expectations of their clients. One notable trend is to integrate unusual settings into the meeting experience, hosting groups at local zoos, aquariums, museums, event centers, or other outdoor facilities. The goal is to embrace uncommon destinations, rather than a typical hotel conference room, so that meetings can be memorable, unique and stimulating. This is also part of another trend which is to support all things local - from hosting events at landmark city venues; to catering through local restaurants, food trucks and microbreweries; to hosting off-site excursions like agri-tours, athletic events or scenic 5k routes. However, though the setting might be spectacular, there are still some bedrock components that must be provided to ensure a successful meeting. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi is still one of the most requested services. Planners have to make sure that a comprehensive communication infrastructure is in place so clients can easily connect - and stay connected - to the network throughout the entire meeting experience. Also, technology tools can be used to streamline the booking, registration, and check-in process, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) materials can be utilized to ensure seamless access to conference events. There are also numerous software tools that encourage audience participation, as well as integrating polls, Q&A, surveys and games into speakers' presentations. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.