Once again Event Planners have made the CareerCast list of being in one of the most-stressful jobs in the country. Good to see that we’ve dropped from 5th to 8th place in 2015. I must admit though that the stresses we face as planners pale in comparison to firefighters, military personnel and police offers who claim the top spots. After all, events rarely involve life or death situations. Stresses are mostly caused by deadlines, unrealistic expectations and a wide variety of needs and grievances by hundreds, if not thousands of attendees. It is human nature to become less service oriented when stressed, and with this in mind we’re taking a look at the top tips for event and meeting planners to insure we provide excellent customer service under pressure to our event attendees.
Attending events is second nature to some and stressful to others. Walking into a strange location and meeting new people can be a daunting experience. Combine that with insecurities about parking, finding the venue, check-in lines; the arrival alone can become a frustrating experience.
It is key that event and meeting planners alleviate as many of these possible stresses in advance so that attendees arrives in as positive a mindset as possible. Proactively answer as many questions in advance in your confirmation materials, on your website, in email blasts and social media. The arrival experience and onsite experience should be as clear as possible. If you do this, you will also get less attendees coming to you with basic onsite questions, allowing you to focus on other tasks.
Walk through the whole event at the venue from start to finish from the attendee’s perspective. Take note of directions, possible issues, restroom locations, valet service and all other issues that may impact their experience. Develop your information, signage and other materials around your walkthrough observations.
Communicate clearly in advance, during and after the event. Leave nothing up to interpretation. Insure that all event staff and volunteers are educated on the event and empowered to take action.
Learn more about preventing event check-in frustration.
As event and meeting planners we have all experienced unhappy attendees. Regardless if the grievance is justified or not, planners must address complaints immediately and skillfully. It is key that we listen and understand what the participant is sharing. Think of yourself in this situation. When you have an issue, don’t you want to be heard? Isn’t it exceedingly annoying when the person you want to speak with tells you to come back or call back later? The first thing to do to is to listen and acknowledge the issue, and it is key that you empower all of your team members to do this.
At times you cannot easily have a discussion, especially at a live event. When this happens step away, find a quiet place to have a conversation. At many of the events we have planned we implemented an issue room or corner. This is hospitality room or nook near the registration area where any and all issues can be handled. Listening and asking questions will prove to the attendee that you are giving them your full attention. It will also allow you to get all of the facts.
In our many years of event and meeting planning we learned that a large percentage of attendees just want to be heard and receive a sincere apology. It is key however for event planners to take all of the complaints received from attendees, review and explore what steps should be taken to avoid similar issues at future events.
Five steps to manage event attendee complaints.
It is not enough to inform and listen; customer service is acting on questions, issues and concerns. Service with a smile is easier said than done, especially in stressful situations. Acting is hospitality, “Hospitality goes far beyond making sure someone is greeted when they walk in your door, or making sure the snacks are good, or making sure all the staff is following the rules of "5 & 10" and "open palms." It isn't always something that you can touch or see. Hospitality is a way of life,” shares Daniel Duran, event planner for the Arizona Charter Schools Association.
To learn more about incorporating hospitality at your events listen to “The secret to unforgettable events.”
ADD YOUR VOICE
What are your tips to provide excellent customer service to attendees? Add them in the comment section below.