Veteran Planners Offer Meeting Planning Advice at FICP

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Three industry pros offered meeting planning advice at this FICP session.

During a session on “Meeting Planning’s Past, Present and Future” at FICP’s Annual Conference November 4 to 7 in Orlando, three industry veterans—Debbie Moran, CMP, vice president, conference & meeting services, Prudential; Sara Parker, vice president-regional events manager, Bank of America Merrill Lynch; and Wayne Robinson, CMP, CMM, assistant vice president, FM Global—shared meeting planning advice on everything from work-life balance to site inspections.

Here are a few pieces of meeting planning advice from these three financial industry pros to an audience that included many young planners and suppliers:

It’s All About Service

All three planners only do site inspections when a property is pretty much a sure bet. However, they have changed their minds because of one reason—service. One planner actually booked the hotel next door. What matters is what you can’t see in online photos or glossy brochures.

Procurement & Legal

There were mixed opinions about bringing procurement and legal into the actual discussions with hotels but overall agreement that they need to be an ongoing part of the process.

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is your choice. Everyone seemed to agree that planners need to put their phones down at a reasonable hour and resign themselves to the fact that the emails and calls would just have to wait until the morning.

Purposeful Tech

Using technology for technology’s sake is pointless. Parker mentioned holograms, which might be exciting—but what are they actually contributing to the goals of the meeting?

Pick Up the Phone!

Everyone, both the panelists and the audience, agreed that negotiations get to a place where they require a phone call. Period. Audience member Isabel Mahon, director of sales incentive/insurance at Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, North America, mentioned an attrition situation with one client that, as soon as she got on the phone and better understood deadlines and timeframes, she was able to accommodate. Sometimes you need to communicate live to understand the nuances of the situation.

Read more about FICP’s Annual Conference here.



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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.