Making Yourself More Valuable to the Client

Have you ever been asked to bus the tables at an event you’re working, empty the trash cans, or load boxes into a client’s car?  I have.  Was it in the job description?  Of course not, at least not for the Onsite Meeting Planner that was needed for that particular med-pharma group, but I did it anyway and I’m betting you would too.  Why?  Because as planners there’s an unwritten rule that comes with the territory – “other jobs as needed”.  Let’s face it, we are the warrior worker bees that – assuming you have the right attitude and physical ability – will do whatever it takes to get the job done.  We planners are oh-so-satisfied when the job is completed and the client gives us a hearty handshake or meaningful hug and says, “You were awesome! I hope to be able to work with you on our next event!” That’s when we have a ‘Sally Field moment’ as our sub-conscious gushes, “They like me!  They REALLY LIKE ME!” And many times it’s those small bits of acknowledgment that keeps us going long after the show-time of the daily work world ends.  But how can we keep those accolades coming time and time again?  By proving your value to each and every client, no matter what they ask of you.  (Oh, and bonus points if you do it with a smile and some enthusiasm.) You hear a lot of people asking ‘what’s your secret sauce for that success?’ now and honestly, I don’t think there’s any secret to providing good service! As temporary onsite meeting planners, we have so...

Vendor Relationships and Responsiveness

Spring is upon us! Well, almost. With 2016 well underway, people have returned from the long mental checkout of the holidays and are fully back in the swing of things. That means events, events, and more events. The routine of once-again refreshing the vendor list and inserting photographer tab A into event slot B is back up and running. What makes a trusted planner is the track record of great events they’ve put on, but dig deeper, and it’s the vendors who are the parts who create the sum. People remember specifics from events…the decor, the food, the music, the knick-knacks, the gaudy outfits, the great speeches. All of these components have someone behind the curtain, and chances are, you’ve used them in a repeat capacity since they’ve been reliable, well-received and on-point. While most people focus on the vendor’s duty to keep the planner happy so they stay on the vendor list, the responsibility of the planner to keep the vendor happy is very much underestimated. Dig deeper into the vendor-planner relationship and a specific trouble point crops up over and over again – responsiveness. Too often, a planner doesn’t get up to date feedback from a client, and therefore leaves the vendor hanging out to dry. This lack of communication and real-time feedback puts the vendor in a bad place, and makes it difficult for them to commit to an event. In worst cases, this state of limbo forces them to lose out on other jobs as they wait for answers that never show up on time. Therefore, in order to keep vendors happy and keep your...

The Importance of Memorable Events

Event planners from all walks of life are often given a straightforward task: “Make this event great!” As if you were planning on making it a catastrophe. This directive is issued from the top, either from internal leadership or the head of client organizations, and is the one and only thing that you’ll be judged by when it’s all said and done. But what does it really mean? Greatness in the event space is defined by many as a smooth, crisp operation where everything goes according to plan. The shuttle busses don’t break down. A hurricane doesn’t force a last minute site relocation. The tuna tartar doesn’t cause a salmonella outbreak amongst the Australian delegation. But what event planners define as success, attendees and clients define as minimum expectations. Of course the food will be great. Of course everything will run smoothly. These are their baselines. And they will not wow them, nor help them define the event as great. So, what will? Great memories based on unique moments. This is the time to break out the goodie bag of unique vendors, unique venues, creative applications and user-friendly systems that will make each attendee feel like a king and queen. Who do you know in the area that can make these people sing, dance and laugh in a way they never have before? What app developers can put something together that will make each person feel like Steve Jobs – with the ability to change everything with the click of a button? You have these folks in your rolodex – now it’s time to use them. Don’t be afraid...

What to Expect When Your Venue is a Restaurant

If you’re new to temporary or On Site Management (OSM) work, you might think that working a few hours at a dinner program in a fancy restaurant is an easy-peasy assignment.  And sometimes they can be, but other times, watch out!  When you work a number of these programs you’re bound to experience all kinds of interesting ‘happenings’, and sometimes the challenges will be a test for even the most experienced planners. So, what can you expect if you’re a new OSM and/or this is your first restaurant-venue assignment?  Here are a few tips that will help you towards a successful program in what might be new territory for you as a planner: 1)      Upon arrival, clarify the name of your group as it’s listed at the front check-in which may be by the pharmaceutical name or by the drug or other identifiers.  This is important because many times there are multiple medical programs going on in these popular restaurants and attendees get confused right along with the wait staff.  This is also important for you at registration to reconfirm what session you have.  I’ve actually had guests sign in, sit down, commence eating before they realized they were at the wrong lecture! 2)      Understand that restaurant function space is not as user-friendly as hotels, but you have to work with what you get.  When you walk into the room, check the site lines for AV as well as traffic flow for servers and move tables accordingly making sure to work with restaurant staff as you do so.  Because of limited space, there are normally undesirable seats so do...

Great Storytelling to Grow Your Business

A steady stream of clients is the lifeblood of any event planner’s business. Most event professionals go to great pains to ensure they have a crisp website, strong SEO presence and a robust network of referrals that keep things flowing. But that’s only one part of the equation, and it often overlooks a critical component – clients buy you as much as your business. When you’re in front of people at a networking event, or during a face to face prospect meeting, one key above all others will ensure they’re hooked on the story of you and become personally invested in you as their event planner. Here are the best ways to ensure your origin story becomes a hit with your prospects: 1) Begin with the relatable story of your past life. No, not the past life when you were the 14th century Queen of England. The life you had before you started your event planning business. Most of your prospects have a similar job to this one and would love to follow their dreams as you have. Hook them on your journey. 2) Talk about the “A-Ha” Moment. That inspiration moment in time when you decided it was time to take the plunge – what inspired you to do it, how you knew it was the moment. People become attached to pure emotion, especially when it comes from a place of inspiration. 3) Reinforce your Decision. Talk about how it was the best decision of your life, and how you wouldn’t change a thing if given the opportunity. When people know you love what you do, they know...

Medical Meetings: Compliance and Transparency, and NPIs, Oh My!

By now, most of us on the planning side are aware of the sweeping changes that took place in the management of medical meetings since the passage of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act (PPSA), aka “The Sunshine Act.” Since 2009, small steps have been taken to put guidelines in place for enforcement, but as of August 2013, it got serious. That was the start date for the first reporting period of all gifts and payments greater than $10 made to physicians and hospitals by pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. What does this mean to planners? Well, for starters, now we’ve all become compliance monitors, right? But do you even know what that means? Because there are so many terms thrown around at each medical meeting we manage, I thought it might be beneficial to provide a brief cheat sheet of frequently used terminology that we are now seeing on our paperwork. Think of this as your “Cliff’s Notes” version of compliance communications! So here goes: Physician Payments Sunshine Act (PPSA). The PPSA officially began in August 2013. In its simplest form, PPSA is meant to discourage improper influences by the pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing industry over research activities that could compromise the integrity of patient health care. Think of this as the pharmaceutical industry policing themselves in lieu of the government taking over this job. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). As the repository for all the medical reports that are now being generated, CMS is responsible for public postings. Compliance and Compliance Officers. In its simplest form, compliance means obeying the guidelines set forth by the PPSA. Compliance...