IACC Accreditation Adds Up to Value and Customer Satisfaction
By Dianne Pepe Director of Group Sales, Millennium Broadway Hotel, New York | October 21, 2012
Do we make too much of accreditation? Based on TV advertising and grocery store labels, it seems like everything is "certified" something. What does a "certified pre-owned" automobile mean anyway? That it's guaranteed to be used? Seems like that would be pretty obvious from checking the mileage.
But if almost everything we buy or use comes with some kind of accreditation or claim to be special, how do you separate the valuable from the frivolous? (Did you know there's a website for useless and meaningless certifications; you can become a certified small talk conversationalist or ham sandwich maker.)
The serious answer to what makes an accreditation valuable, at least in our business, is customer satisfaction; to be more specific, an ability to surprise and reward customers by exceeding their expectations. At the Millennium Broadway Hotel New York, an accreditation we value highly is the International Association of Conference Centers, or IACC.
Since 1981, IACC has encouraged hotels and conference centers to meet a strict and demanding set of quality standards for facilities and service in order to earn the association's accreditation. What we find at the Millennium Broadway Hotel New York – and I'm sure it's true for the other approximately 300 IACC members around the world – is that this certification, symbolizing the standards that we are required to meet, helps drive business, including new and diversified business, and promotes customer trust and loyalty. It does so because the product that IACC membership demands is understood by meeting planners and the end user, meeting attendees, as delivering outstanding value. More on that in a minute.
There is no doubt that IACC standards are challenging and for many hotels may require significant changes, even reconstruction. You must have dedicated, single-use conference space that is set apart from accommodations and leisure areas like restaurants and bars. A hotel must generate a minimum of 60 percent of revenue from meetings and conferences. There must be at least one conference room of 1,000 square feet minimum and at least three other rooms with no moveable walls. In the case of multi-day conferences, conference rooms must be dedicated entirely to the group using them so that nothing has to be moved in or out between sessions.
Conference rooms must be equipped with ergonomically-designed chairs, tables with hard, non-glare writing surfaces and privacy screens, for the comfort and ease of female attendees, tackable walls and good sound-proofing. The meeting spaces must have in-room lighting control, including the ability to shut out external light if desired, individual climate controls, advanced telecommunications, modern AV capabilities, and high-speed internet access. Guest rooms must be "business-friendly," with desks, telephone lines, simultaneous internet connectivity and appropriate seating and lighting. (If you are interested, the IACC website can provide all the detailed specifications for qualifying facilities.
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