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 2020...

Hotel Group Meetings: Demand vs. Supply

It is a great time for hotel group meetings. It is expected that once again this sector will grow by 5-10% in 2020, partly due to the increasing value of in-person group meetings. Because people now spend so much time in front of their screens, face-to-face interactions have become a more treasured commodity in our modern world. Plus, the use of social media reinforces the value of engagement, discussion, conversation, and networking - all areas where group meetings shine. Despite this rosy outlook, there is a concern that demand for meetings far exceeds the supply of suitable venues and hotels. There are very few "big box" properties with 500-plus rooms and extensive conference facilities being built, and this shortage of inventory could pose a serious challenge for meeting planners. In addition to location concerns, the role of the meeting planner has also evolved significantly. Planners are no longer just meeting coordinators - they are de facto travel agents. Cultural interactions, local dining, experiential travel, and team-building activities are all now a part of their meeting mix. Plus, they have to cater to evolving tastes. Millennials are insisting on healthier venues and activities, and to meet their demands, hotels are making yoga breaks, fresh-pressed juices, plant-based diets, state-of-the-art gyms, and locally-sourced menus available. Millennials are also insisting that meeting venues practice Corporate Social Responsibility, which means upholding sustainable and ethical values; investment in the local community; health and well-being of employees; and general business practices that reflect being good citizens of the planet. Finally, there is a growing trend to merge meetings with other local events, such as music festivals, sporting events, and cultural attractions. The December Hotel Business Review will report on issues relevant to group meetings and will document what some hotels are doing to support this part of their operations.