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 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.
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.