When we asked experienced planners what advice they could share with new event and meeting professionals joining our industry, the responses flooded in. Our first post highlighted helpful advice. As more feedback poured in we found that the advice was valuable to all planners, so we’re thrilled to share more of it with you.
Yolanda Caldwell, Senior Strategist with Meetings & Special Events recommends that you take the time to establish a system or framework, giving you the ability to provide great service.
Ryan Helgeson advises to put yourself in your attendees’ shoes when figuring out event logistics. Troubleshoot from there. It's like a big brainstorming session and it will help you to see barriers before they become a reality.
Cara Tracy, CMP, CMM wants you to get and put everything in writing. She does most of her communications with vendors, etc. via email so there is a "paper trail." She shares that if a conversation happens during a site inspection or sales call, send an email recapping what was discussed and save it. Set a "rule" in your Outlook or other email program to send a copy of emails sent and received for a particular vendor to a folder so you don't have to remember to do it, and you can easily access it at a later time.
Denice Gigoux, Director of National Sales at Destination Hotels and Resorts suggest that planners should be as detailed as possible with the venue RFP process. The more detailed you can be the better your results will be when receiving responses.
Mason Harris, National Speaker, Author, Entrepreneur, Manager, Motivator, Advertising, Marketing and Sales Professional recommend you learn the art of "persuasion"! Why? Rejection is a common occurrence. Competitors are always after your clients. Clients and vendors both want more for less. Superior persuasion skills enable communication, problem solving, and agreement. In this industry, you can't afford to be taken for granted by others.
For Stephanie Carroll, Meetings and Events Manager at American National Standards Institute the client is always king or queen. Always remember that "no, it cannot be done" is never the answer to a request. Try to figure out a way to realistically fulfill each request that you receive.
As with the above advice, Diane Watanabe, CMP, Senior Meetings & Events Planner at CSP Business Media advises to always ask questions. The answers may surprise you. And if the answer is no, ask the question another way and explain what you want to accomplish in greater detail. There may be alternate solutions.
Jacques Cornell, photographer suggests talking with your suppliers. Build relationships. Find out where they can be flexible. Understand why they price things the way they do. And, seek suggestions from them about how you and they can work together to maximize the value of their services and make life easier for them, you, and your attendees. Many suppliers take pride in offering more than just a standardized commodity. Tap into their creativity and you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Bob Cherny at Paradise Show and Design advises to not be afraid to ask the tough questions. Is the room available or is it double booked? Who else is in the venue? Will the performer's technical support double the cost of the act? Do the neighbors call the police if the party goes past 9:00 p.m.? Can you get the scenery through the kitchen to the ballroom? How much does the venue charge for power? Do I need to submit my floor plan to the fire marshal? There are hundreds of questions like these that if not asked could doom your event. Do not be afraid to ask them of your venues, your vendors and your clients.
Rich Matthes, Principal Product Manager at OnDemand, Newmarket International, Inc. adds that when it comes to event execution first impressions can really set the tone for an event. It is important to get this right!
“Join an industry association and participate as a volunteer to make the most of the experience. Our peers are a wealth of knowledge,” shares Cynthia Beaudin, Coordinator, Special Events at Canada Foundation for Innovation.
Liz Piacentini, CMP, Director of Sales and Marketing at Goodman Speakers Bureau shares: “As you participate in industry educational programs, such as an area MPI or PCMA meeting, save the documentation showing the session topic and confirmation of your attendance. Should you choose to become a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), you will need to demonstrate that you've completed 25 clock hours of continuing education. You'll be kicking yourself for not having the supporting paperwork to submit with your application, confirming your participation and the domain of knowledge the session represented.”
Emily S. Mathews, CMP, an Award-Winning Certified Event Planner and Sales Manager at the McAllen Convention and Visitors Bureau shares: “Wear flats ladies. You CAN find cute ones. Don't get permanent foot damage from heels.”
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