We wear many hats in today’s world, don’t we? We are simultaneously mothers, husbands, teammates, students, and best friends forever. This is no less true in our professional lives, and even more common in the meeting professional’s world, where meeting planning responsibilities fall into the hands of people where “meeting planner” is not their full time job.
They could be an office manager or an executive assistant, or a vice president organizing an event for their specific functional area. Regardless of how they end up in these situations, it’s imperative that you accurately gauge the level of experience and depth of understanding of the meeting professional they are working with, in order to step into the very areas where the planner needs the most support.
For the non-meeting planner, have them answer the following five Ws to help them understand their internal customer’s expectations, prioritize meeting needs, and therefore, narrow down venue options:
Define the reason for the meeting. What is the number one goal that the meeting is intended to achieve? Answering this "W" should set the tone for any decision the planner has to make.
Define the type of event. What are the required components of the event? As this will greatly influence the kind of space available to the planner, you need a clear picture of how everything can (or cannot) come together and advise your client accordingly.
Looking at it from two levels, pay attention first to why the planner has chosen a particular geographic region or city. Second, ask about the kind of venues or what kind of environment they would consider. Always take into account the internal influences, perhaps from leadership or finance, that impact the ultimate decision.
It’s obvious that event dates are one of the most important factors that affect the meeting planning process. Be transparent and helpful by advising your clients about other events going on at the same time, space availability at their desired venues, and other insider knowledge that only you command.
Imagine the event from the eyes of the attendees. You know that the meeting planner on a site inspection may often be treated differently than what event attendees ultimately experience. You also understand that a planner can get pulled into a million different distractions and sales pitches throughout the process. Help them stay focused by continuously circling back to questions that clarify the event from an attendee’s perspective.
As always, you can also direct them to resources where the meeting pros go, like the Convention Industry Council (CIC), Meeting Professionals International (MPI), American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), and Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) websites.
In the end, always recommend that regardless of where they take their meetings, they enlist the local DMO as a free resource, as they are still the best, first point of contact to help them find the best fit for any size meeting. Your DMO, and others like you all the world over, have a comprehensive view of your destinations, local expertise, and in-market relationships, as well as a range of services that will set the non-meeting planner for success each and every time.
Go here to access and share a recorded webinar on this subject with your non-meeting planner.