Watching the Taxpayer DIME

One area getting bipartisan support in Congress is the oversight of federal spending on travel. Two recently introduced bills look to curb ethics violations in terms of travel spending.

It's been over seven years since Congress looked this closely at federal travel following the excessive costs associated with a GSA conference in Las Vegas. This renewed look is in response to the high profile travel scandals of senior administration officials including Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke, former Veterans Affairs Department Secretary David Shulkin, and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Scott Pruitt.

The 2019 Taxpayers Don't Incur Meaningless Expenses (Taxpayers DIME) Act would require federal agencies to report to Congress each quarter on the travel of any senior official on government aircraft. Bill sponsor, Rep. Tom O'Halleran said, "We must hold our government leaders to the highest standards, and with so many high-profile ethics violations in the past years, it is clear we have failed to do that. No matter who controls Congress or the White House, we have to hold everyone accountable."

Another bill looks beyond senior officials, ensuring that all federal employees traveling are spending taxpayer dollars at facilities that have proven to have ethical practices. It specifically encourages employees to stay in hotels that have taken action to reduce human trafficking on their premises. To do this, GSA would create a list of hotels that have taken proven steps to train their workforce to recognize and report human trafficking.

So what does this mean for event planners and attendees?

When planning events, keep in mind that government attendees will have to abide by these rules and keep the locations easily accessible by commercial travel options. Look at policies of hotels and venues around how they educate staff on human trafficking (and other social issues) and choose those that have defined plans and programs in place. For attendees, it's more important than ever to fully investigate and vet travel plans and expenses to ensure that there are no violations, or even perceived violations, of ethical standards.

Let us know your thoughts on this pending legislation and how you ensure compliance with federal travel regulations. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Pay-As-You-Learn

You are likely familiar with the pay-as-you-go model of cloud computing. The idea is to charge for technology services much like utilities are billed. Users are billed for only the computing resources they use as opposed to paying a flat license fee to own and use the software or service. This model has proven to be more cost effective for organizations with inconsistent needs in terms of computing and storage power, allowing them to scale their use up or down as the work demands. Now, this same idea is making its way into the training and event space.

A survey of healthcare professionals found more than three-quarters of respondents would only participate in a meeting that could show a good return on their investment of time and money. Measuring that ROI can be tricky, but attendees across all industries tend to look to events that provide: Continue reading

Take a Seat, But Which One?

Organizing seating at events has traditionally been a pretty straight forward endeavor. It seems the biggest challenge has been to get people to sit up front as opposed to hiding in the back. Generally speaking, planners have had to decide if they want event seating in one of the following arrangement styles:

  • Classroom - Tables in front of chairs arranged in rows. Optimal for events that require note taking.
  • Table rounds - Round tables, generally seating 6 - 12 people based on the table size. Rounds are ideal for events with food service, but often cause half the attendees to have to turn their seats around to see speakers.
  • Theater - Rows of chairs.

Today, as events are looking to be more interactive and inclusive, many organizers are looking beyond basic seating arrangements, and finding news ways for people to inhabit traditional meeting spaces.

Knowing one size does not fit all, the Corporate Event Marketing Association set up seating zones at their recent conference. These zones included: Continue reading

New DC Event Spaces for the New Year

It's always a good practice to reflect on what's working and what can be improved as we draw closer to closing out another calendar year. Today, we wanted to take a look at some of the newer event space options in Washington, DC.

While the place you hold your event surely is not as important as the content you provide, it can have a big impact on the experience and anticipation for the event. Old stand-by locations are great as they are familiar to attendees - they know how to get there, where to park, and where the best outlets are for charging devices. But if you are looking to attract a different type of attendee or launching a completely new event or format, it might make sense to sweeten the interest by holding it in a new and creative location. Continue reading

The Real Scoop on Virtual Events

With fall upon us and colder weather coming, our "hibernation" instinct kicks in and people start to stay in more. But even if you are ensconced in layers of blankets with a pumpkin latte in hand, you can still grow your professional knowledge base. Virtual events have been growing in popularity among event planners and attendees alike. In the government market specifically, over 60% of federal employees surveyed reported attending one or more webinars in the past year. 46% of government marketers surveyed are planning on investing in webinars in the coming year.

The allure of virtual events is cost and time savings. With no physical venue to rent and no need to travel, both planners and attendees save money as well as time. These virtual meetings run the spectrum from basic webinar-type presentations of power point slides, to interactive video demos, to fully immersive virtual worlds with online tradeshow booths that include the ability to chat with exhibitors. But no matter the format, all virtual events share a key challenge - how to engage and keep the attention of attendees who are in an environment full of distractions. Meeting this challenge requires commitments on the part of attendees and event planners. Continue reading