You’ve worked for months on your upcoming meeting, planning every detail from large to small. Yet, there is only one of you to make sure that the many simultaneous events go off without a glitch.
That is why you need a team of professional travel directors to help oversee your event’s food and beverage, hospitality desk, transportation, rooms, activities, meetings and executives. Experienced travel directors help handle all of the details, leaving you time to focus on the big picture and your clients.
Competent travel directors are an extension of the meeting planner and can manage the most intricate details of today’s complicated programs. Travel directors can coordinate your group and manage your budget, as well as handle the following areas:
The program lead travel director is the main on-site contact among planners, clients and vendors. This director typically oversees and delegates all of the tasks for a meeting, including scheduling travel staff to cover all program areas, such as meetings, transportation and activities. The lead travel director follows up on all billing, sees the big picture and helps his or her fellow travel directors coordinate their various areas.
The transportation travel director coordinates transportation for attendees. He updates arrivals and departures, bag pulls and transfers to and from events and advises hotel staff and destination management companies (DMCs) of changes. The transportation director determines the size of vehicle needed and whether a change should be made to a particular transfer. This director also generates program materials such as departure notices for attendees.
Food and Beverage
The food and beverage (F&B) travel director is an integral part of what makes or breaks a particular event. This director manages the details of every meal function, from knowing how early the venue will pre-set an event to the dietary needs of each participant. This director collects banquet checks and makes sure every event is billed according to specs.
The rooms travel director works hand-in-hand with the hotel rooming coordinator, housekeeping and the front desk. This director knows the hotel occupancy for program dates and makes sure that rooms are ready for check in based on participant arrival times. They also ensure that rooms are cleaned based on program meeting times and are billed according to the signed hotel contract.
From the day participants arrive until the day they depart the desk travel directors are the face of the program. They assist guests throughout the meeting, providing welcome materials and answering overall program questions such as “When does the noon shuttle really depart?” These directors learn about the hotel, the surrounding areas and the program itinerary so that they are a well-informed source of information for attendees.
Executive/VIP travel directors basically run a program within a program. They manage the day-to-day itineraries for a pre-selected group of special attendees, from speakers and company executives to entertainers. They allow travel directors to focus solely on the meeting or program content.
The activities travel director works closely with the DMC, the transportation director and any additional venues such as golf courses or spas. The activities director manages all attendee appointments, tours and tee times, relaying changes to the necessary counterparts and advising the group of special requirements such as attire.
The meetings travel director is responsible for the successful setup, execution and breakdown of meeting rooms. She makes sure in advance that the meeting space is set according to program needs. The meetings director ensures the room is refreshed between sessions and program materials are collected. She also updates fellow staff if the meeting is running early or behind schedule.
Even the best meeting planners cannot anticipate all events that could disrupt a program – from a rainstorm during an outdoor event to airline workers going on strike. This makes it essential to have travel directors on site to handle these situations and resolve them so efficiently that that program attendees believe the program operated without a flaw.
Travel directors are constantly in contact with you, each other, the hotel and venues involved in the program as well as the participants, and they are able to provide instantaneous feedback and solutions to improve even the best-laid plans.
Kim Korhonen is the general manager of Chicago-based Executive Travel Directors (ETD), which has been providing on-site meeting management domestically and abroad for 24 years. ETD constantly recruits and builds its database of experienced travel directors, many of whom spend more than 200 days each year on the road. For more information, visit www.traveldirectors.com.