#Planners are… Researchers

So far we have explored many skills and functions of the meeting planner and I have to admit that I was really impressed by everything I have learned. But besides organizational, communicative and negotiation skills you need more. Knowledge, for example. Since you are the first contact person, all questions concerning the event will be directed to you. As a good planner, you will always have the answer.

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Walking information desk

Beside research for a proper destination and venue you need to explore the surroundings of your location. Your attendees will ask you for the way.

“Attendees often ask me questions like ‘Where is the next bus stop?’, ‘What is the fastest way to the city center?’ or ‘Do you know a good pub/restaurant around here?’. I always try explore my chosen destination to collect facts that might turn out useful for the attendees, like bus stops, train schedules, clubs, bars,supermarkets…”  (anomynous)

“I often have to plan international meetings with many international guests. This often turns out to become a study of foreign cultures and habits. How do I receive Russian visitors? What food do the Japanese prefer? And how can I make sure that my Spanish guests will be on time?”  (anomynous)

Technology

Of course, even the the meeting planner can’t know everything. In this case you have to find out.

“My clients are typically non-profits, which fall slightly under the “up with technology” in their company, much less their evnets. So in order to push and integrate updated features, it has fallen on me to either know and do, or know and oversee or not know and be willing to try. Among the things I have done are registration sites and databases, webpage design, social media, audio-visual requirements… shall I go on?” (Janna Bowman, @JDuckEvents)

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Discover

“I know a lot of planners use 3rd parties to source their meetings and research venues but for me, that’s not only the fun part but it’s the most important part.  During the data gathering and research phase for any event, it’s during this process you make the most connections and build the most relationships.

Outside of site research, we have to find the most cost effective ways to do business.  We are often tasks with finding assessing the best registration software, discovering new methods of attendee engagement, accessing the most sustainable supplies, securing the most inspiring speaker and integrating latest technology to meet the needs of the clients and/or attendees.  We pride ourselves on being creative so it only makes sense that we actually enjoy staying up nights researching.” (Kendra McMurray, @Meeting_Pro)

Please tell me what you think!

Can you tell us examples from your work as a planner that underline your overall expertise? 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 Gosalves, Janna Bowman and Kendra McMurray for their valuable input.

#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)

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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… 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.