Wednesday, September 5, 2007

My ADME Silent Auction Experience

So often, in the spirit of charity…and personal enjoyment…I purchase exciting weekend packages at industry silent auctions, only to have them expire before I get the opportunity to enjoy them. This one sounded different….2 nights at the Ritz Carlton, airport transfers, show tickets with transportation to the newest Cirque Show, The Beatles, LOVE, and dinner with transportation to Smith & Wollensky. As I inserted a rather large figure to the bottom of the “Las Vegas Package” form at the ADME silent auction in Palm Springs, I vowed to take advantage of this mini vacation before the expiration date brought with it another disappointment. At home, I filed the envelope containing all the goodies neatly away; as I do all the others, in a desk drawer at my home office.

I don’t know if it was the daily emails and telephone calls from my ADME friends and board members or the conspicuous blank pages on my calendar over the long Labor Day holiday weekend that jarred my memory of the ADME silent auction purchase. Whatever it was, I pulled the envelope from the drawer to have another look.

Here it is, Monday, August 27….can we really make this happen by Friday? My first call was to the hotel. The woman who answered the phone at the Ritz Carlton in Lake Las Vegas sounded as excited as I was that we were coming to Las Vegas. After a short time on hold, she returned to tell me we were confirmed on the Club Level. Now for the flight….a quick call to Southwest Airlines and we were booked on a direct flight from Nashville to Las Vegas. Even though we were flying out in 3 days and over a holiday weekend, the fare was so low; it didn’t make sense to use points. With my flight in place and a hotel confirmation, I felt confident that even if the rest of the package fell short….we were going to have a great spa weekend in Las Vegas.

My third call was to AWG Destination Management in Las Vegas, the DMC who organized the package donated to the ADME silent auction. Time was of the essence, so I left a message in the voicemails of both Alan and Alene Waxler. Although I was sure they could arrange for my transportation, getting the tickets to The Beatles LOVE, on such short notice, might be challenging….and it was. Their operations manager, Laura Devine, was just that….DIVINE. She kept me updated every step of the way and ultimately came through with tickets which were waiting for me at Will Call. As a DMC, I knew the hoops she had to jump through to make this happen and can hear the excitement in her voice when she delivered the news.

Although I know it’s not the first time, I must say it’s been such a long time since I was on the receiving end and actually experienced what it felt like to be one of those “incentive program attendees” who we all work with so often. All I had to do was show up and a car was waiting to take me on my next excursion, which I knew was flawlessly arranged by my destination management company.

I’ve learned two things from this experience:
1. No matter how expensive the silent auction package may seem at the time, it’s well worth the investment….if you use it.
2. By sharing my first hand experience as not only the provider, but the receiver of destination management services, I can convince any client how important it is to use a DMC.

Rhonda Marko, CMP, CMM, DMCP
President & CEO
Destination Nashville

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