#PlannersAre… Perfect Hosts

So far we have explored all the skills required for planning and organizing a succesful event. But your job is not done yet. At the event itself you might be more important than the CEO of you client company because you have been their most important contact person during the past weeks. It is your responsibility that the event continues smoothly. You have to be the perfect host.

Blog Holland Meeting Planners Hosts

Care for attendees

Attendees will approach you with all their questions and they will ask a lot of your attention. During the event you are not only the planner but also the host who takes care of them.

“I am present at every meeting I have planned to make sure that everything goes off without a hitch. I’m the housekeeper, who checks if the venue is perfectly clean and if all items are where they belong. I receive and welcome the guests, tell them where they bedrooms are and when the programme starts.” (Carmen Gonsalves)

“Planners are mothers (and fathers) as we sew on buttons, apply bandages, buy panty hoses, hand out Kleenex and know where the bathrooms are.” (Gail Martinson)

Support the team

The meeting owner and staff will rely on you during the meeting and expects that you have everything under control. Don’t let them down.

“We are essentially an arm of the hospitality industry. I’ve served as a former Director of Meetings ‘right hand man’, a disabled attendee’s transportation assistant, a facilitator’s sounding board, and even an exhibitor’s table staffer while they had to tend to an emergency! In each of these roles I had to go above my daily duties as a planner and give them the attention and care they needed at that time.” (Kendra McMurray, @Meeting_Pro)

Blog Holland Meeting Planners keep smiling

Keep smiling

Whatever goes wrong – while everyone else is allowed to freak out, you are not. You will keep calm and put out the fire. A good dose of humor is helpful.

“If you have to deliver bad news, a sense of humor is helpful. For example: your outdoor luncheon is moved indoors because of rain; the hotel runs out of your entree, a guest is put into a King room, but has brought his/her family along and had requested a 2 bedded room….a little levity goes a long way to lightening people up, calming them down, giving them a little perspective on the situation, while you attempt to rectify it.” (Beth Cooper-Zobott)

Please tell me what you think!

Can you tell us a story from your work as a planner that underline your hospitality? And what other skills do you have? Leave a comment or send a tweet with the hashtag #PlannersAre. Let’s show the industry how broad the capacities of a meeting planner are.

Finally I want to thank Carmen Gonsalves, Gail Martinson, Kendra McMurray and Beth Cooper-Zobott for their valuable input.

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#PlannersAre… Designers

If you have followed my previous posts, you will understand by now that planning a meeting demands all you attention and energy. But whatever kind of meeting you plan, it is more than simply coordinating the logistics. A meeting needs more than a venue with chairs and food to become an experience. It is up to you to create that experience. Or in other words:

“Planners are the key person who puts all the key ingredients or details of the recipe or meeting plan together to create the perfect dish or meeting.”           (Michele Shephard)

Blog Holland Meeting Planners Spyglass

It starts with listening…

When a client talks to a meeting planner for the first time he will have more or less an idea about the kind of event he wants. As Janna Bouwman told us in one of my previous posts this idea often turns out to be a mere vision. If there is no meeting designer who takes this task, it will be up to the planner to design the meeting the client has in mind.

“I have worked with a client who is in his 60’s now and has been with the organization for 30 years. The event I did for him is now in its 25th year.
The client kept saying, ‘We need more people to attend!’or ‘We need younger leaders to attend!’  He didn’t really have a plan how to do that, so I implemented and pushed through a strategy.

If we want to meet the younger audience we have to consider where they are: we meet them on their smartphones, social media and online.  So that was the route I had to take. The invitation was emailed to them using magazine flip technology. I created  a Facebook event page and an event hashtag. Registration was offered by a mobile app, which also included a conference map and schedule and a QR code for the conference. I also hired a photographer that within hours of a session had photos posted online for all attendees to view, share or print. 

The photos were a huge success with nearly 10,000 hits a day for 15 days following the conference with only 350 attendees.  The feedback from the guests were ‘this conference feels fresh.’ ‘The younger crowd brings an excitement and freshness to the discussions.’ By listening to my client and then establishing the path, goals and objectives and then to implement and achieve it throughout every aspect of the conference, he became the rockstar and I have a contract for the following year.” (Janna Bowman, @JDuckEvents)

Please tell me what you think!

Can you tell us a story from your work as a planner that underline your design skills? And what other skills do you have? Leave a comment or send a tweet with the hashtag #PlannersAre. Let’s show the industry how broad the capacities of a meeting planner are.

Finally I want to thank Janna Bowman, Michele Shephard and Carmen Gonsalves for their valuable input.

#PlannersAre… Lawyers and Politicians

In my previous blogposts we have explored the organizational and communicative skills of meeting planners. But if you want to survive as a meeting planner you need more. Planner, meeting owner and suppliers often have conflicting priorities and as a good planner you also need to keep the attendees in mind. If you want to reach the best result, namely, a succesful meeting, you will have to negotiate with all stakeholders – and you have to be good.

ally

Dealing with suppliers

The demand for hotel services has steadily increased these past few years, tilting the negotiating leverage in favor of suppliers rather than meeting planners. The planner would need a strong will and good negotiation skills to achieve a nice deal for a meeting.

“Most of the times you will need to dicuss with the supplier about what services they will offer and at what price. Of course, we both want to struck a good deal, but I also have to keep my budget in mind. Therefore I always contact several suppliers so that I can compare their offers and get an idea about the prices I have to expect. A second offer can also be a great weapon during the negotiations”
(Carmen Gosalves)

I’m a big believer in creating partnerships with the sales managers I do business with and, whenever possible, I like to go back to them for my future meetings. Once a sales manager has earned my trust and delivered on their promises to me, that relationship is very valuable and one I’m not willing to risk by trying to force concessions or unrealistic demands on the property
(Paula Rigling)

Difficult meeting owners

 “I had a client I would label as my ‘worry wad’. I would provide her with extensive updates, spreadsheets, and production schedules. You name it she had it. But like clock work the day of her meeting or event she would freak out in a panic. I would get to the venue to set up and she would be there giving direction. It was so distracting.”
(Dafrine Jones-Forbes)

The meeting owner might have demands you cannot realize or which prevent him from reaching his goals for the meeting. Sometimes it seems completely impossible to satisfy the client. You need a lot of self-confidence to deal with such difficult clients and a smart communication strategy to convince them of your own plans.

Obama tough talk

You are the boss!

You are the planner, who coordinates everything and knows what is best for the meeting. Therefore you should be able to have the final say!

“I am a city wide event planner. I’m a negotiator, as I try to break down the walls of jealousy between the cities, and teach them to work together. I stand between the city associations and their merchants, becoming their advocate. I am the liaison between the merchants and their potential customers.”
(Pamela Gressett)

Please tell me what you think!

Can you tell us examples from your work as a planner that underline your negotiation skills? And what other skills do you have? Leave a comment or send a tweet with the hashtag #PlannersAre. Let’s show the industry how broad the capacities of a meeting planner are.

Finally I want to thank Carmen Gonsalves, Dafrine Jones-Forbes and Pamela Gressett for their valuable input!

 

#PlannersAre… Communication Professionals

In my last blogpost we have explored the impressive organizational skills of meeting planners. A succesful corporate event requires not only perfect logistics but also efficient communication between the meeting owner, suppliers, staff and visitors. As a meeting planner you must be able to relate their very different needs.

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Revealing the vision

“More often than not, I have clients approach me that ‘want an event’. When I was first starting I ‘planned an event’ that was logistically sound, but the client came back and said that the event failed. After that, I realized I had to take more initiative and listen to what the client was not saying and create/establish the vision and establish the course and objectives for the event so that it was successful in the clients eyes.”  (Janna Bowman, @JDuckEvents)

Before you start planning a meeting you need to figure out the purposes of the meeting owner. It can be pretty tough to get the good answers for all your questions because often the meeting owner has not thought about them himself.

Managing suppliers and staff

The venue, the caterer, speakers, the repairman… everyone will contact you about anything that has to do with the meeting. You know what’s next on the task list. You know what will happen next and when. You know who is in charge for what. Since nobody but you will keep track of the whole event you need to be most important contact person for everyone.

Multi-tasking Business Woman

Writing, publishing, branding

“When I started in event planning, I never would have imagined how much writing I would do, nor would I consider it something on my job description.  But I have found that every invitation, every program booklet and printed piece, every press release, every welcome letter from the President, presentation remarks, speeches and every website/registration site contains text. Text which tells the story, conveys the vision, and states the objectives and reason for the publication/website –marketing.”  (Janna Bowman, @JDuckEvents)

“As a meeting planner you become the face of  your organization and brand.”    (Kendra McMurray, @Meeting_Pro)

Many planners have the additional task to invite attendees and promote the event. Next to the writing attendees will contact you before the event  and you will follow them up after. Your external communication influences the success of the event and the your company’s image.

Please tell me what you think

Can you tell us examples from your work as a planner that underline your communicative skills? And what other skills do you have? Leave a comment or send a tweet with the hashtag #PlannersAre. Let’s show the industry how broad the capacities of a meeting planner are.

Finally, I want to thank Carmen Gonsalves, Kendra McMurray and Janna Bowman for their valuable input.