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Why being a meeting planner is so great July 6, 2011

Filed under: Event and Meeting Tips — attract2engage @ 6:27 pm

I absolutely love this article in the latest edition of  “Connect” magazine.  I have shared it with my Twitter followers as well as my LinkedIn groups, so I am posting it here so I will always remember why I am in this profession. I love it so much I am linking it with my Twitter page in case anyone missed it!

10 Reasons to Love Your Job

By Christine Born

All around, it’s been a rough couple of years. Tight budgets (more than ever), sensitivity and constraints about appearing overly extravagant (if only), travel problems (what next?), and the pressures of learning new technologies (Facebook’s new messaging system, anyone?). But it’s a new year with the excitement of a fresh start, despite only slightly brighter predictions. We’re an imaginative, can-do group—always ready to welcome the next new idea. We adapt. We make the most of what we have. And we have a lot. Here are reasons enough to love being a meeting planner…

1. We know how to party.

OK, we call it convening, assembling, networking, learning, sharing, etc., but we know how to pull it off, from the perfect invitation to the grand finale. We make it happen, weaving together the business and the socializing into a seamless whole, often with some memorable surprises thrown in. We may not have the budget to pull off three-dimensional mirror invitations with eggplant-colored velvet envelopes like those that went out to 1,300 guests invited to the New Year’s opening of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas (at more than $100 a pop), but we can sure borrow creatively and, hey, even the Cosmopolitan sent backup electronic invitations. You have to love being part of an industry that includes over-the-top openings.

2. Scars are tattoos with better stories.

Actually, that saying is written on a baseball cap from the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina that I bought for my husband after he finished another solo kayaking trip down the Nantahala River, successfully navigating the final stacks without a spill. It’s a tough thing to do. It’s the scary moment when families on the rental rafts grit themselves for the big, final set of rapids, leading to a fast and furious climax that may leave one of them flailing in the water, needing a rescue. When it’s over, there may be a few bruises, but there will surely be stories to tell and memories to relive.

We often navigate rough waters. A more familiar saying among meeting planners is “making lemonade out of lemons.” No matter how much we plan ahead, no matter how many details we arrange ahead of time, there are bound to be some scary moments and some spills. What we do with them is what matters in the end. How we make it right, how we rescue the situation, how we satisfy our attendees, how we shape the stories that will be told after the event is over.

3. We get to meet celebrities, sort of.

In 2010, we introduced our Marketplace attendees to a talented musician and storyteller from Nashville. Billy Kirsch is not a household name (yet), but he’s a terrific songwriter (for some famous names), plays a mean keyboard and can get any group, no matter how tone-deaf or self-conscious, up and singing. They also met Bruce Turkel, an author who writes about branding and marketing, and a speaker who plays the harmonica to help get his message across. In 2009, Marketplace general session speaker Andrew Young, former U.N. ambassador, politician, pastor and civil rights activist, made the case that meeting planners play an important role as ambassadors, bringing people of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds together. Speakers, trainers, hoteliers, destination managers, suppliers, attendees—they may not be national media celebrities, but they are talented and they rock our world.

4. Site visits broaden our horizons.

Sure they’re exhausting. You’re bused, walked, led from place to place, from early in the morning to late at night with hardly a break to change shoes. You eat more than you want to, even if it is all delicious. You’re not sure you’ll remember everything when you get back; it’s been such a whirlwind. On the other hand, you got into this business because you like to travel and you’ve seen so many places you never would have otherwise. You’ve developed more resources, learned first-hand what will work (or won’t) for your convention and you’ve become even more valuable to your organization as a result. Who knew the Palm Springs Convention Center had such a great view in the general reception area and was so easy to get around? Or that Milwaukee had all those crowd-pleasing spaces like the Harley-Davidson Museum and historic breweries for tasting events? Or that Providence has all those classic Italian restaurants your group will love to try when in town for the conference? You can build a memorable event from what you’ve learned by experience, with the assistance of all those people you met on your site visit.

5. We are gourmands.

We get to sample the latest, tastiest and often prettiest offerings from top chefs and caterers. On any given day, we might have a tasting at the new hotel restaurant or be treated to a presentation of a creative break from the convention center catering team. Yes, the downside can be an added 10 pounds—but you’ll know the best spa to go to or you might get it for free with your site visit. One of the latest twists? At Hyatt’s Midtown Manhattan Andaz hotel, guests enter an open kitchen when they leave the elevators to a separate banquet floor for their event. They can grab a cocktail while they watch and talk to a chef about a dish he’s preparing. “You’ll see this make its way around the world,” Bill Paley, one of the hotel’s designers from famed design firm Tony Chi and Associates, told USA Today. Of course, you also could wind up with more than you bargained for, as in one very special (so I was told) evening that included a 10-course raw dinner from a top sushi chef that left me with an aquarium in my stomach all night.

6. We get great exercise.

There is nothing like running from one end to the other of a 150,000-sq.-ft. exhibit hall upwards of 12 hours a day for days on end for taking off any extra pounds gained when sampling food. Of course, there’s also the walk back to your room at the far end of the hall away from the elevator. And then there’s the walk to the offsite event space—the one that seemed close and easily walkable when you first visited. You’ll also need a wardrobe of shoes—practical shoes or shoes that seemed practical until you walked and stood on the concrete floor for hours.

7. With one big meeting, you contribute to the local economy.

Meetings and events are responsible for 15 percent of all travel-related spending, create nearly $40 billion in tax revenue at the federal, state and local level, and generate more than 1 million jobs, according to Meeting Professionals International. Doesn’t that make you feel good about what you do? Industry experts project that without the jobs generated by meetings, events and incentive travel, the current unemployment rate would be even higher and cost the average American household an additional $136 in taxes annually. “The hospitality industry has more jobs than the automobile industry,” said Don Reynolds, a financial analyst, at a 2009 MPI conference, where he encouraged those in the industry to “push back” within their organizations and the business community about the importance of face-to-face meetings.

Miami estimates the economic impact of small meetings (30 to 700) scheduled from Jan. 3 to Jan. 13 this year at around $1.5 million. One of Atlanta’s biggest convention customers is Primerica, part of Citigroup Inc., and its biennial convention brings between 40,000 and 55,000 people to the city, with an economic impact estimated at $55 million. Some of the services and business that benefit from meetings include …

airport transportation…hotel rooms…concierge, doormen, room service…catering, restaurants, bars, service people…office supply stores…hardware stores…movie rentals…gift shops…

8. We’re great networkers.

We meet on the plane, at the registration booths, during sessions, during meals, over cocktails, on site visits. We show off our latest event on Facebook and YouTube. We stay in touch as we move from one organization or hotel or city to another (changing places has always been endemic in this business).

9. Sometimes everything works perfectly.

There were no Icelandic volcano eruptions to force you to redo travel arrangements for your international attendees. No surprise winter storms to force you to cancel your annual convention. No swine flu or H1N1 (what was that anyway?), though everyone likes the Purell hand sanitizer dispensers. No speakers who didn’t show—in fact, no speakers who got angry because the lunch audience was noisy and wouldn’t stop texting. No complaints about the food, or the food service. The hotel bill was ready for you, complete and accurate. Wow!

10. The best part. It’s over.

For now.


You can find more articles like this on It’s a great magazine. I subscribe to this publication because of “Connect Marketplace”. Have you heard of it? It happens every year. This year will be the 3rd annual “Connect” and I hear its getting bigger and bigger. This year it will be held in Chhicago on August 25th-27th. I will definitely be in attendance looking forward to meeting fellow planners and mingling with hoteliers and CVB’s (and live out reason #8). Thanks for taking the time to read this, I hope it gave you a slight push to get out there and be that super-hero meeting planner we all have inside of us!



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