It’s No Secret, Confidentiality is a Serious Issue

As Meeting Planners and On-Site Managers our clients trust us with a lot of information, much of which can be considered confidential. Sometimes exposing even the most benign fact could betray a company’s sensitive intelligence. So whether you’re officially bound by a Confidentiality Agreement or not, here are some tips on keeping your clients’ information safe and secure. Shhhh… You’re at a cocktail party schmoozing with an acquaintance, or sitting on a train and your phone rings, or meeting a friend for dinner and you begin to tell them all about your day; “I managed the ABC Pharmaceutical dinner meeting last night and only 3 attendees showed up. It’s for a new drug due to be approved by the FDA in 6 months that’s going to cure the latest medical disease. Oh, and by the way, the speaker, Dr. So-and-so, was so boring that all the attendees fell asleep! Good thing, because the LCD projector broke down in the middle of the presentation. And then the sales representative showed up late and was so rude to me. If only the client wasn’t so disorganized, everything would have turned out so much better!” None of this may seem confidential, but in the hands of a competitor, it could be just the intelligence they were looking for to get ahead of your client. It’s not up to you to determine what IS or what IS NOT confidential. So, as they say; “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Same goes for your meetings. “What happens at your meetings, stays at your meetings.” You never know who may overhear you, or who...

5 Interviewing Tips for Hiring Meeting Planners for your Small Event Planning Business

As an Independent Meeting Planner you may find one day that you simply can’t handle all the work yourself and so you may consider hiring a meeting planner to help you. Here are some tips to make the right connection for a lasting and successful employment. 1) Philosophy. I know you’re thinking that meeting planning skills should be at the top of this list, but that’s the least of your worries. Hiring someone with your same philosophy is key. Does the candidate share your definition of what you feel the role of a meeting planner is? Thinking event planning means organizing fun parties with unlimited budgets when your clients are all non-profits who have strict budgets and are holding their events at the local middle-of-the-road hotel may cause some disappointment down the line…for both of you. Where does your meeting planning candidate stand on this and is it in line with your thinking (and clientele)? 2) Work Ethic. Do you want a meeting planner who won’t work a minute past 5pm? Or do you want someone who will take ownership of their work and do whatever it takes to get the job done focusing on flawless events and client satisfaction? Ask for examples of times your prospective employee has gone above and beyond what was expected of them and watch for non-verbal cues and body language to show whether they were excited or annoyed by the interruption to their lives. 3) Values. Are you fair and ethical? If so, then you’ll want a meeting planner who shares your value system. When your new meeting planner is faced with a...

When All Eyes Are On You!

As ‘planners for hire’, with each new job assignment we all get asked to do a wide variety of things.  Duties can range from both major and minor meeting planning responsibilities to bonafide “you want me to do what?” tasks.  For some, being asked to make public announcements or introduce a speaker could be a game changer, you know, the point at which you draw the line and say, “Who, me?  I’m just the planner!”  But even on temporary jobs you might be called upon to get up in front of the group to say a few words.  Most of the time it’s reading scripted material, but on more than one occasion I’ve been called upon to make housekeeping notes without having any, well, actual notes.    And, as you probably already know, you’re either comfortable on stage or have a terrifying fear of same!  If you’re someone who would rather retreat to the kitchen and start washing all the attendees’ dishes by hand than have to introduce the evening’s speaker, then here are a few basic tips to help you prepare for that one day when ‘it’ might happen to you: 1)      Try not to be intimidated by your audience.  No matter who they are, most likely you will never see any of them again, so treat this part of your assignment as free on-the-job training and muster the strength to do the best job you can.  Also don’t view this as if you’re the entertainment – just be yourself and do the best you can. 2)      Read and reread the scripted material as soon as you get a...

6 Reasons NOT to Become an On-Site Meeting Manager

There’s a crowd at the Registration Desk and they’re getting restless.  You’ve got someone squawking about being registered yet they’re not on the list, the Banquet Manager is trying to get your attention to tell you they’ve run out of broccoli, and the LCD projector for some reason isn’t displaying the presentation despite the fact it worked just a minute ago.  Ugh!  What do you do?!  As they say, if you can’t take the heat, then get out of the kitchen!  Before you think it’s a breeze and anyone can do it, think again… 1)      Calm, cool, and collected.  If you can’t remain calm, even under the most stressful situations, this job is not for you.  You are being counted on to be the voice of reason and if you can’t keep a level head about you when things go wrong, then you may want to consider a different profession. 2)      Problem-solver.  You’ll be presented with a problem and all eyes are on you… what are you going to do?  It’s up to you to be able to apply common sense, define the problem, collect relevant data, establish the facts, and draw valid conclusions… and then do something about it!  If you get all frazzled when presented with a problem and don’t know what to do, then this job isn’t for you. 3)      Leadership skills.  If you’re the On-Site Manager in charge, then people are relying on YOU to lead them, give direction, and proactively get the job done according to the client’s expectations.  If you’re a follower and expect others to tell you what to do, then this...

5 Ways to Avoid Bad Service at an Event Meal

You’re managing an event with a lunch or dinner and you’re seeing guests looking around and there are no servers to be found. What do you do? When it comes to having your guests receive a flawless meal at your event, you can do a little prep-work before the meal starts to alleviate possible dinner interruptions. Make sure there are enough servers per guests. Each server has a lot to do and they can’t always be on the floor. Making sure you have enough wait staff is important so you don’t have huge gaps in service. If you are having passed canapés, passed wine, and a plated dinner, you should have 1 server per every 8-12 guests depending on table size. With every 6-8 servers, you should have a supervisor or captain. The servers are keeping an eye on the individual guests and the captain should be scanning the room for any problems with service. If the meal is a buffet, there should be 1 server per 3 chafing dishes and 1 server per 2-3 tables, depending on size, to clear plates, refill beverages and fulfill their guest’s requests. Have a short meeting with the staff just prior to the meal to delegate sections and duties. Be clear as to how many servers are to pass canapés and wine, which servers are to man the buffet, who will be the table servers, etc. You are the On-Site Manager and you should know where your staff is at all times. The meeting will also give you the opportunity to ensure the wait staff are all in uniform and have a clean, neat...

5 Keys to Exceptional Customer Service

We’ve all heard the old adage, “The customer is always right.”  But what, exactly, is good customer service?  Meeting Planners don’t have to wait until something goes wrong to keep up good relations with our clients.  And a little goes a long way. Communication – Keeping your clients informed and updated on a regular basis can ease your clients’ concerns and lets them know they are important to you.  Be proactive – don’t wait for your client to ask.  When a client sends an email, respond within minutes, even if it’s just to say that you got their message and will get back to them later with an answer.  And promptly return phone calls.  No one wants to be left hanging wondering if they were heard. Under Promise, Over Deliver – Don’t overstate your services… you run the risk of falling short of your clients’ expectations.  Always try to give them a little more than what they expect. Keep Your Word – If you say you’re going to do something, do it.  And if you say you’re going to do it by a certain day or time, make sure you deliver it by that day or time.  Better to tell a client you will get it to them later, and send it early, than to be late. Listen – Show a genuine interest in your clients and their events.  Never let your clients feel like their business isn’t appreciated, no matter how small the account is.  When talking on the phone, sit up straight, smile, and carefully listen to what the client is trying to tell you.  Open your...