5 common event planning mistakes

Posted 3 days, 3 hours ago @

prickly situation

Events are stories; live, and in real time.

What’s more, events have no delete button. As an event planner, you are certainly in the limelight, when things go right and when things go wrong. It’s no wonder that Forbes has ranked event planning as among the most stressful jobs out there.

Whether it’s a corporate function, a global festival, a product launch campaign or a private wedding, the delicate balancing act of a meticulous logistics operation, clear content strategy, as well as cosmic alignment is quite an undertaking.

Then there’s the unfortunate reality that event planning is largely related to Murphy’s Law.

To try to get ahead of the curve, we at Eventos Barcelona have identified five event industry pain points, and proposed touch points to resolve any event planning mistakes.

Pain point 1: Lost the plot

A typical event planning blunder is to get caught up in trivialities, and to forget the story line altogether. While free drinks, a sunny day and a beautiful venue are mainly happenstance event takeaways, the real sweet spot for having the event in the first place is to create some sort of impact.

Content messaging, whether it’s a simple tagline, mission or vision statement, is the basis of clear and concise event strategy.

What’s more, this has become an industry demand in the experiential economy. With Millennials now driving the experience economy and opting for experiences over products, the space to create meaningful event narratives is essential.

Touch point: Content messaging: The messaging of the event should start with the onset of the guest journey; the invite, pre-event app, even the sense of arrival, and then resonate right up to the post-event survey or net promoter score. Anchoring the messaging and then creating a list of content platforms will ensure the message sticks.

Pain point 2: Budget

Breaking the budget is pretty much a deal breaker. It’s so easy to do, that it’s so important to get it right. Hidden fees including taxes, permits, flight changes, even traffic jams and finding alternate routes, can quickly snowball into a whole list of expenses.

Touchpoint: The only real advice here is to have a margin of around 15 percent.

Pain point 3: Lack of cultural sensitivity

Lack of cultural sensitivity is one of the biggest shortfalls for a global events series; from a strategic as well as activation standpoint.

I have recently been involved in the LinkedIn Talent Awards global launch program, with an event series planned for the Middle East, South America and parts of Europe. The careful attention to cultural nuances was essential.

While the rollout plan and decision to launch in a particular city is typically linked to the brand’s overarching strategy, a simple blip such as not considering Ramadan, Passover or an important public holiday can lead to a disaster.

From an activation standpoint, this can be amplified further, with a lack of attention to catering, toilet segregation and temperature regulation of the facilities, amongst other factors.

Touch point: Get local experts on the ground to check all aspects of your event, from the rollout dates, to the food preparations and logistical setup.

Pain point 4: Technology

Technology can both enable and disable your event. From Slido to Crowd Compass and Zerista, these wizardry apps can certainly create a seamless event experience. However, guests fumbling around on their phones logging into event apps, instead of engaging in the event itself, or scanners unable to read tickets because of heat or humidity, can quickly disable the situation.

Touch point: Test everything as it would be on the day needed, from the perspective of the guest. Imagine the guest entering the space, bumping into friends, then looking for the sign to download the app. All those steps can interfere with what you might imagine as a foolproof plan. Also, using one operating system can certainly help the flow.

Pain point 5: Timing

The biggest caveat, of course, is the time crunch. While budgets can be in place, sharp and concise messaging implemented, technology fully rehearsed and holidays considered, the biggest tipping point for any event is timing. From the crucial few seconds of an opening act to over roasting the main course, timing is everything, and there’s no going back.

Touch point: Make a critical path timeline. Make sure every detail is covered in that, including all imaginary scenarios that can disrupt that path such as a short circuit, a traffic jam or a fast oven. The best event planners out there have truly mastered a critical path.

The post 5 common event planning mistakes appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Beyond the usual in the latest Professional Development Guide

Posted 2 weeks, 3 days ago @

In addition to the usual resources we assemble twice a year to aid your career growth—scholarships, no/low-cost online education and live events—this edition of the Plan Your Meetings Professional Development Guide offers insight to some revolutionary and very important education opportunities for meeting and event professionals, whether students, young professionals or veterans.

A major development that’s finally taking shape this year: U.S.-based master’s degree programs in event management. Indeed, this high-level education boosts not only your professional standing but that of the meeting and event profession at large. To learn more about the course offered by New York University’s Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, launching in September, we spoke with academic director Lynn Minnaert (“The Birth of an Event Management Master’s Program”).

PYM2019Spring-coverEarlier this year, I had the opportunity to experience the three-day Event Design Certificate Program in Las Vegas. This highly focused process uses the #EventCanvas to map out the behavior changes you seek in affect in your attendees and stakeholders and determine how to make this change a reality. (Spoiler: I went in a skeptic and came out an evangelist.) This course was so much more than I expected, and I cannot recommend it enough!

Unlike most of the resources provided herein, neither the master’s nor event design programs are free—but that just means you need to utilize our scholarship resources we’ve assembled in the Professional Development Guide. It’s exciting to envision an industry made up of professionals who have been through these programs.

Career expert Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, also returns in this edition with a new column offering advice on “Shifting Gears: Making a Change Mid-Career.” And rest assured, elsewhere in this Professional Development Guide, you’ll find more of the updated essential goodness you’ve come to expect, including a free embedded webinar from the MPI Academy (“Five Keys to Cultivating Strong Partner Relationships”).

P.S. Don’t miss free education opportunities at Plan Your Meetings live events throughout North America—see future dates and register.

The post Beyond the usual in the latest Professional Development Guide appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

6 tech-savvy solutions to meeting obstacles

Posted 3 weeks, 1 day ago @

hurdles obstacles

Meetings are necessary. We have to have them to move business forward, make decisions, plan projects and communicate with cross-functional teams. They are an intrinsic business component.

But what is not a given is an effective meeting. We all want them, want to be in them and want to host them. But often, we are faced with meetings that are either poorly managed, unnecessary or a huge time suck.

How much time do you spend in meetings? I’ll bet it’s more than you think.

I average about four or five planned meetings per week, about an hour each. For half of those meetings I am the lead, so I spend an additional hour per meeting preparing each week. The other half, I typically have to be reasonably prepared for which requires research, brushing up on current topics etc., so that I can pitch in when needed—so let’s say 30 minutes per. In addition to planned meetings, there are typically one to three impromptu meetings that pop up on my calendar each week, that I do not prepare for due to lack of information or timing. Add in a couple of group Skype chats and phone calls and I’m looking at about 15 hours of a 40-hour work week spent in meetings, which I’ll admittedly say is on the low side. I can easily double that for a few co-workers who work with different teams or with customers. But still that’s more than 30 percent of my time spent in or preparing for meetings.

I’m sure you can relate.

Taking Back Control of Your Meetings

Job growth in the meeting and event planning sectors is expected to grow at a rate of 11 percent from 2016 to 2026. And that’s because our work lives are intertwined with meetings, so instead of just accepting the status quo, let’s change it, one meeting, one meeting participant, one meeting manager at a time.

We wanted to face common meeting obstacles and challenges head-on and provide solutions to help overcome them. We see you, unproductive meetings, and we are coming for you.

Obstacle No. 1: No agenda, or lack of a clear agenda

Yes, the subject of the meeting is likely clear, the who, when and where. But not always the why.

SOLUTION: Set agendas, topics or even a bulleted list of talking points to help attendees be on the same page and prepare for an upcoming meeting. This way, when all are present at the table, you eliminate the haziness. It even helps to summarize the objectives one more time before you get started.

RELATED STORY: 10 tips for clock-wise agendas

Obstacle No. 2: Changing priorities and schedules

This can be mitigated, but not always avoided. In our fast-paced environments and customer-centric worlds, priorities can and will change. A key person may no longer be able to attend the meeting and only give you a 30-minute heads up. While it’s important to stay focused and push through, if key persons are not available then you will likely need to find a new time or place.

SOLUTION: Luckily, advanced software tools help you edit meetings on the fly, especially when it comes to mobile meeting management tools, where you can manage your meetings and be sensitive of other team members while you’re on-the-go.

Obstacle No. 3: People show up late or get lost

Back-to-back meetings exist. And meetings often go over the allotted time, causing schedules to get disrupted or pushed back. Also, with sprawling corporate campuses, there are too many rooms and locations to keep track of that occasionally people get lost or confused on their way to the dedicated meeting space, resulting in late arrivals which causes meetings to not start on time or having to repeat information.

SOLUTION: The only way around this, other than a printed map of your offices, is to leverage new technology that has embedded functionality for way-finding. With this type of immersive functionality, your meeting attendees can literally find their way to each and every meeting room with turn-by-turn directions that cut across buildings and even floors. Knowing where they need to be and how to get there will hopefully ensure your attendees are prompt. If not, notification reminders 10 minutes before the meeting help.

Obstacle No. 4: Meeting room overload

On the other hand, sometimes there just aren’t enough places and spaces to meet, or the chosen meeting room gets double booked. And as we just mentioned, meetings often go over time, and when you’re supposed to take over a room at the time you booked it for, there’s a chance the meeting previously in that room needs another 15 minutes and they aren’t willing to budge.

SOLUTION: Looks like you’re going to have to find a new space or new time. Mobile apps with built-in functionality to edit meetings at a moment’s notice keeps all participants in the loop. That way if you do have to change locations, calendars will automatically be updated with time and/or location so those that haven’t arrived yet will be synced up. Another great tool to use is advanced meeting room booking capabilities like finding a conference room based on your meetings parameters: by capacity, proximity and, of course, availability. 

RELATED STORY: #EventCanvas FTW!

Obstacle No. 5: No follow through

The worst outcome from a meeting is lack of action. This tends to cause additional meetings to be scheduled to review what was talked about in the former meeting.

SOLUTION: To ensure that your meeting was not only efficient but also effective, be sure to always end your meetings with clear action items, follow-ups and to-dos. This should be given to specific individuals or even teams and have expectations of delivery associated with them. Better yet, get verbal buy-in before leaving the room.

group feedbackObstacle No. 6: Lack of input

As I’ve experienced before, sometimes you’re the meeting leader, sometimes you’re a participant (or even unknowing participant) and sometimes you’re an observer. Regardless of what people think their role is, collaboration is the key ingredient for any meeting. You need to have thinkers and doers in the room to help solve challenges or push tasks through. But do the people in the meeting know that? Are they prepared?

SOLUTION: In addition to a documented agenda, it also helps to have open communication channels for collaboration to progress a meeting forward. You, as the project owner or meeting manager, need to develop strong collaboration before, during and after to keep meetings focused, productive and innovative.

RELATED STORY: The 33 skills meeting and event planners need to succeed

The toughest part about being responsible for meetings is ensuring you’re not wasting anyone’s time, including your own. These common challenges in the workplace are ever present but can be overcome—you just have to embrace tools, technology and a personal dedication to ensure that you’re creating and delivering a team experience that moves business and productivity forward. It’s no easy task, but someone’s got to do it!

And when all else fails…donuts!

The post 6 tech-savvy solutions to meeting obstacles appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Lack of planning won’t avert an emergency

May 20th, 2019 @

helicopter emergency

Flashback to Fall 2001, post-9/11, event organizers everywhere were clamoring for information on how to create an emergency preparedness/crisis communication plan. In just a few short months, the horror of 9/11 faded and other issues bubbled to the surface, as some plans were finalized, others halted midstream and yet others never started.

Fast forward to Las Vegas, October 2017, where, in the matter of 10 minutes, a gunman using 23 weapons fired more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition aimed at country music festival goers, killing 58 and injuring more than 800.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), more than 60 percent of Americans are neither prepared nor practicing for disasters of any kind, be they natural or manmade. Certainly, event facilities and other public places, including hotels, have developed emergency plans. According to Reuters (Sept. 20, 2016), almost 80 percent of school districts nationwide have plans to prevent, control and help in the event of multiple kinds of emergencies, including active-shooter incidents.

Event organizers and other meeting professionals have a duty of care to ensure the safety and security of event participants. If you are among those who have yet to begin the planning process, start today. Start small and work up so you don’t become overwhelmed. Make your plan a living document that is constantly refreshed and rehearsed so it is an effective tool when emergencies happen.

RELATED STORY: Event safety tips from a meteorologist

Begin by Googling “emergency preparedness,” “crisis communications” and similar phrases—that will provide you with a plethora of samples, templates and guidelines. FEMA, OSHA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security also have materials you can implement immediately, including online classes that are free.

The process of creating an executable plan is not necessarily simple, but taking it one step at a time, you will become comfortable with creating this plan for your events.

Research and analysis are your first stop on the way to building a plan. Where is your event being held and when? Research the area for any potential threats—natural and manmade—to your event. The likelihood of an earthquake in Louisiana would be low as a threat potential, while a hurricane would be high. Is there political unrest in the city where your event will be held?

Risk management is defined as the identification, evaluation, analysis, mitigation, communication and monitoring of risks. In other words, what can go wrong, how can it go wrong and what can be done about it before it does?

4 phases of risk management

Risk management has four phases, and this is where analysis steps in. Plan for the most credible, worst-case scenarios. Start small and work up (slip and fall, medical emergency, strikes, boycotts, civil unrest, tornadoes, floods, bomb or terrorist threats/assaults and power/technology disruptions to name just a few).

Once you identify your most credible possibilities, determine what you will do to reduce or eliminate risk to life and property. Mitigation also includes various types of insurance your event may have that offers additional protections. (See image below.)

Prioritizing risks is part of your assessment process. Using a grid (example below) rank each risk to the event from insignificant to catastrophic.

Creating a risk probability chart provides a useful framework for deciding what risks need your consideration. When a risk is considered low impact and low probability, you can often ignore it. On the other end of the spectrum, a high-impact/high-probability risk is critically important.

Responding to an emergency also means a well-developed, rehearsed crisis communication plan. The U.S. government offers an excellent, detailed plan that you can adapt as your own. Download it.

The Essential Guide to Safety and Security: Best Practices for Meeting and Event Planning 2018 is free for MPI members, $49 for non-members and will coach you every step of the way.

The final phase, recovery, assumes the incident does not render the event unrecoverable and deals with the ability to restore the event after the crisis has passes. Consider, for example, bond trader Cantor Fitzgerald who occupied the top floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Because the company had a plan in place, and even though they lost 658 employees on 9/11/2001, they were able to immediately shift their functions to their Connecticut and London offices, where surviving traders began settling trades by telephone. Operations were resumed in two days, partly with the help of backups, software and computer systems.

Once you have conducted research and analysis, begin the planning process in six steps.

  1. Formulate a collaborative planning team
  2. Understand the situation
  3. Determine goals and objectives
  4. Develop the plan; identify courses of action
  5. Prepare the plan; obtain review and approval
  6. Implement the plan, rehearse it, maintain it and revise it

The safety and security of participants are the prime responsibility of the organization during an emergency. As situations develop and parameters of operability shift, organizations must provide a safe and secure environment for attendees, vendors and staff.

RELATED STORY: 8 essential event security details

And while you are in a risk-management frame of mind, why not also consider creating a plan for yourself and your loved ones.

Planning for protection

I asked a friend and colleague, Eric Rozenberg of Event Business Formula, for his views since he emigrated to the U.S. from Belgium for his family’s safety and security due to the explosion of antisemitism in Europe. In his words, “In an environment where danger exists, you cannot deny the reality to move. Lead, follow or get out of the way.” Eric went on to say that incidents can happen anywhere and at any time: “Preparedness is an attitude we must live by. Prepare your children without stressing them.” Keep a positive attitude. Even though Eric’s daughter was in school at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and is safe, Eric’s attitude is that “despite the Parkland event, the U.S. is the greatest country in the world. Whether for business or for family, prepare yourselves and your family to defend themselves mentally and physically.” Rozenberg’s daughters were trained in Krav Maga (a form of self-defense and physical training first developed by the Israeli Defense Force) on the use of reflective responses to threatening situations. The first thing taught by Krav Maga is if you CAN run, run.”

Eric concludes that “preparedness is a mindset to enjoy life and be prepared. Prepare by training your brain muscle.” Sound advice for business and personal plans.

The post Lack of planning won’t avert an emergency appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

#EventCanvas FTW!

May 13th, 2019 @

EventCanvas-scroll

For three days at the tail end of February, I joined a couple of dozen meeting professionals—all either from Caesars Entertainment or invited by that organization—in a window-filled room beside the High Roller in Las Vegas to learn how to plan with the #EventCanvas.

I walked in curious and skeptical—my base approach to most things. Not a fan of boring social ice breakers, this gathering with, primarily, strangers proved early on to be different, with compelling approaches to inter-personal communication and brainstorming. I drew a cartoon character I created as a child to represent me. This segued into a brief, unexpectedly personal discussion about the character’s origins and suddenly these strangers knew me better than many people I see daily.

Once I realized how significantly different this introduction was compared to, well, every instance of professional education in which I’ve participated, my natural skeptic shell began to soften. “I still don’t totally understand how these Dutch guys are going to use some sort of formula and graphical charts to suss out the best and most appropriate event goals,” I thought…but benefit of the doubt was starting to be supplanted by successful first-person experiences.

The “Dutch guys” referenced are Roel Frissen and Ruud Janssen, creators of the #EventCanvas methodology and this Event Design program—the goal of which, for most, is to earn the CED designation.

RELATED STORY: The effects of meeting space design

Introductions aside, we learn the bones of the process, marveling as Frissen and Janssen transform a large paper scroll taped to the floor into a visual event roadmap. Each step for each of the various stakeholders is right there, complete with directional arrows, illustrations representing actions, locations and desired behavioral changes—and more. Then we boarded a cabin on the High Roller for each participant to pitch an event—real or hypothetical. Two were selected and would be the armature around which our work for the coming days would revolve.

The very full Day 1 came to a close around 5 p.m., yet there was still some uncertainty in my mind about how this whole thing could work.

“Trust the process,” Frissen told me as we chatted while packing up for the day.

Rather than become overwhelmed with questions and lingering elements I didn’t yet thoroughly understand, I metaphorically threw my arms in the air and resigned to the fact that in the morning, I’d be closer to my goal of complete understanding.

EventCanvas

Day 2 was incredibly busy in smaller groups. Having selected the two events to design, the room was split into two groups—one for each event—and then those groups were further split into smaller factions, each tasked with plotting the event experience for specific stakeholders.

At one point, we were all instructed to split up into pairs to prototype ideas. I felt confident about the activity until speaking with my partner—she understood our task to be something different. Seeking clarity from Frissen, my partner seemed reassured; I was now confused. The task was to just last a few minutes, so I again metaphorically threw my arms in the air and we got down to business. As our group reconvened, it sounded as though each pair had a slightly different understanding of what we were tasked with achieving prior to going over our mental output together. Before my mind completed the thought, “Oh crap, we wasted those prototyping minutes,” a connection was made. All the parts were somehow coming together. One pair discussed a specific event component and their thoughts about it…suddenly the misdirected prototyping I’d done fit it! Yes, I got excited because the seemingly disparate pieces were coming together. Quickly. This all seemed much more than serendipity. When Frissen walked by to ask how we were doing, I surely acted like a school kid who finally understood a pesky algebra formula.

The level of detail can be overwhelming if you focus on the vast expanse of everything needed to structure a successful event and, of course, the prospect of mapping it out in two days. Dedicating set amounts of time to focus on each of the countless tasks involved in planning an event, and then moving on in an orderly fashion to the next task, indeed seemed to resolve the anxiety of too much. This process certainly saves time, as well as stress, in the long run—but don’t get me wrong, this was a long, mentally exhausting day. Longer than Day 1. The progress was evidenced by the oversized Post-it-covered sheets labelled “Empathy Map” and “Prototyping Area” covering the walls and windows in the meeting room, hallway and outdoor patio.

RELATED STORY: 7 ways to flex your creative muscles

Participant chat over dinner at Mr. Chow revealed the need for some cognitive rest prior to the upcoming, concluding day. I was becoming slap happy.

After some coffee/tea, the activity began swiftly on Day 3, each group picking up right where it had left off. Day by day, more ah-ha moments manifested, sometimes seemingly out of the blue. More clarity and more exhaustion. By that afternoon, we’d created thorough Event Canvases for two very different events, including video walkthroughs shared on WhatsApp to explain the desired—and anticipated—event experience for each of the stakeholders. “How would you like the behavior of so-and-so to change once the event is over, and how will you accomplish that? Well, it’s all (or mostly) right here!”

Having gone through the process, I realized that my feelings/instincts of curiosity and skepticism formed a significant piece of my Entering Behavior—the “baggage” or notions that I brought into the Event Design experience—and it’s likely that the event facilitators had mapped out the possibility of a participant coming into this program with these exact thoughts. After three days of active education, I walked out of this experience—my Exiting Behavior—wowed and converted from skeptic to evangelist. I recognized this same sort of change in some other participants—that shining ah-ha clarity in the eyes is a giveaway. As I think back, I’m still unsure how exactly that transformation happened, but I’m a now unquestionably a believer in the formulas established by Frissen and Janssen—the #EventCanvas process is an effective blend of structure and freedom.

 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a skeptic, the Event Design Certificate program will fundamentally—and positively—alter your planning process. Learn more as the number of Event Design certificate programs is growing, and they’re taking place all over the world!

The post #EventCanvas FTW! appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

#EventCanvas FTW!

May 13th, 2019 @

EventCanvas-scroll

For three days at the tail end of February, I joined a couple of dozen meeting professionals—all either from Caesars Entertainment or invited by that organization—in a window-filled room beside the High Roller in Las Vegas to learn how to plan with the #EventCanvas.

I walked in curious and skeptical—my base approach to most things. Not a fan of boring social ice breakers, this gathering with, primarily, strangers proved early on to be different, with compelling approaches to inter-personal communication and brainstorming. I drew a cartoon character I created as a child to represent me. This segued into a brief, unexpectedly personal discussion about the character’s origins and suddenly these strangers knew me better than many people I see daily.

Once I realized how significantly different this introduction was compared to, well, every instance of professional education in which I’ve participated, my natural skeptic shell began to soften. “I still don’t totally understand how these Dutch guys are going to use some sort of formula and graphical charts to suss out the best and most appropriate event goals,” I thought…but benefit of the doubt was starting to be supplanted by successful first-person experiences.

The “Dutch guys” referenced are Roel Frissen and Ruud Janssen, creators of the #EventCanvas methodology and this Event Design program—the goal of which, for most, is to earn the CED designation.

RELATED STORY: The effects of meeting space design

Introductions aside, we learn the bones of the process, marveling as Frissen and Janssen transform a large paper scroll taped to the floor into a visual event roadmap. Each step for each of the various stakeholders is right there, complete with directional arrows, illustrations representing actions, locations and desired behavioral changes—and more. Then we boarded a cabin on the High Roller for each participant to pitch an event—real or hypothetical. Two were selected and would be the armature around which our work for the coming days would revolve.

The very full Day 1 came to a close around 5 p.m., yet there was still some uncertainty in my mind about how this whole thing could work.

“Trust the process,” Frissen told me as we chatted while packing up for the day.

Rather than become overwhelmed with questions and lingering elements I didn’t yet thoroughly understand, I metaphorically threw my arms in the air and resigned to the fact that in the morning, I’d be closer to my goal of complete understanding.

EventCanvas

Day 2 was incredibly busy in smaller groups. Having selected the two events to design, the room was split into two groups—one for each event—and then those groups were further split into smaller factions, each tasked with plotting the event experience for specific stakeholders.

At one point, we were all instructed to split up into pairs to prototype ideas. I felt confident about the activity until speaking with my partner—she understood our task to be something different. Seeking clarity from Frissen, my partner seemed reassured; I was now confused. The task was to just last a few minutes, so I again metaphorically threw my arms in the air and we got down to business. As our group reconvened, it sounded as though each pair had a slightly different understanding of what we were tasked with achieving prior to going over our mental output together. Before my mind completed the thought, “Oh crap, we wasted those prototyping minutes,” a connection was made. All the parts were somehow coming together. One pair discussed a specific event component and their thoughts about it…suddenly the misdirected prototyping I’d done fit it! Yes, I got excited because the seemingly disparate pieces were coming together. Quickly. This all seemed much more than serendipity. When Frissen walked by to ask how we were doing, I surely acted like a school kid who finally understood a pesky algebra formula.

The level of detail can be overwhelming if you focus on the vast expanse of everything needed to structure a successful event and, of course, the prospect of mapping it out in two days. Dedicating set amounts of time to focus on each of the countless tasks involved in planning an event, and then moving on in an orderly fashion to the next task, indeed seemed to resolve the anxiety of too much. This process certainly saves time, as well as stress, in the long run—but don’t get me wrong, this was a long, mentally exhausting day. Longer than Day 1. The progress was evidenced by the oversized Post-it-covered sheets labelled “Empathy Map” and “Prototyping Area” covering the walls and windows in the meeting room, hallway and outdoor patio.

RELATED STORY: 7 ways to flex your creative muscles

Participant chat over dinner at Mr. Chow revealed the need for some cognitive rest prior to the upcoming, concluding day. I was becoming slap happy.

After some coffee/tea, the activity began swiftly on Day 3, each group picking up right where it had left off. Day by day, more ah-ha moments manifested, sometimes seemingly out of the blue. More clarity and more exhaustion. By that afternoon, we’d created thorough Event Canvases for two very different events, including video walkthroughs shared on WhatsApp to explain the desired—and anticipated—event experience for each of the stakeholders. “How would you like the behavior of so-and-so to change once the event is over, and how will you accomplish that? Well, it’s all (or mostly) right here!”

Having gone through the process, I realized that my feelings/instincts of curiosity and skepticism formed a significant piece of my Entering Behavior—the “baggage” or notions that I brought into the Event Design experience—and it’s likely that the event facilitators had mapped out the possibility of a participant coming into this program with these exact thoughts. After three days of active education, I walked out of this experience—my Exiting Behavior—wowed and converted from skeptic to evangelist. I recognized this same sort of change in some other participants—that shining ah-ha clarity in the eyes is a giveaway. As I think back, I’m still unsure how exactly that transformation happened, but I’m a now unquestionably a believer in the formulas established by Frissen and Janssen—the #EventCanvas process is an effective blend of structure and freedom.

 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a skeptic, the Event Design Certificate program will fundamentally—and positively—alter your planning process. Learn more as the number of Event Design certificate programs is growing, and they’re taking place all over the world!

The post #EventCanvas FTW! appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

The subtle power of mentorship

April 8th, 2019 @

mentorship

When I was the newly hired president of Burger King USA, I worked for the late and legendary restaurateur, Norman Brinker. I was in Norman’s office one afternoon after he had seen a memo that I had written to one of our senior leaders. I was noticeably thorough and prescriptive in terms of laying out the course of action, to which Norman offered an alternate approach.

“I saw your memo to so-and-so and have a thought for you,” he said. “Next time, why don’t you just focus on the objective and leave how he gets there up to him?”

He continued, “Two things will happen: one, you’ll find out how smart he is or ain’t, and two, he might just come up with some new ideas you hadn’t thought of.”

That moment 36 years ago has shaped the way I’ve operated ever since, particularly when it comes to mentoring. While many mislabel mentorship as giving advice, there’s much more to it.

Rethinking the role of the mentor

The principle Norman Brinker instilled in the story above—both as a mentor to me and in my mentorship to others—is that it’s not so much about giving direction. A mentee still thinks and acts on their own, just with the advantage of having a mentor’s wisdom from which to draw. Mentoring means listening, observing, asking and sharing—not guiding or supervising.

Confidence through critical thinking

Let’s say you’re faced with a difficult choice; a mentor, in this situation, will serve as a sounding board. Oftentimes, we don’t know what we think until we hear what we say. You might go into the conversation asking for your mentor’s advice, but once they’ve shared their opinion, you’ll likely carry the discussion the rest of the way. By thinking aloud, you are building confidence in your own decision.

RELATED STORY: Dive into the free Professional Development Guide

Structured mentorship

Mentorship is one of the most underutilized means of passing knowledge between levels and generations of management within an organization. When I talk about structured mentorship, I’m likening it to matchmaking—which is something we do in our Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) and Meeting and Event Management Master’s Programs at San Diego State University. Every student is matched with a mentor based on what they’re trying to accomplish in their personal and professional growth; in many cases, mentors are HTM master’s alumni.

Creating structured mentorship in a corporate setting will naturally involve guidelines and protocol that can at times make the initiative itself feel rigid. But when you match the right people, they usually don’t need much to work with and will figure it out for themselves—yet another nod to the story I told to start this article—with minimal structure required.

RELATED STORY: The how, where and why of networking

coaching

Layers of valuable input

A few years ago, I was mentoring a senior executive who wanted to earn consideration for becoming the successor to the soon-to-retire CEO. True to everything I’ve shared thus far, I gave him a template (rather than a roadmap) for developing his own plan of how he was going to get where he wanted to go. When the document reached a point that we both believed it was well-defined and ready to present, he took it to the CEO.

“I can help you do this,” the CEO said, essentially becoming another mentor in the executive’s journey.

I share this as an example of how mentorship can build from one person to the next—especially in the corporate world, where it has the ability to replace authority with collaboration. “Learning from” and “working alongside” are much more fruitful for everyone than “reporting to.” Mentees in our master’s programs often find the experience so intellectually stimulating that they seek to pay it forward and become mentors to subsequent cohorts.

RELATED STORY: A mentor Thanksgiving

A two-way street

The most rewarding aspect of mentorship boils down to building meaningful relationships and learning from one another. I can tell you from my experiences that I have gained just as much insight and introspect from any and every one of my mentees as they have gained from me—and I know my own mentors connect with the same outlook. Everyone has both wisdom to gain and wisdom to share.

San Diego State University partnered with MPI to create the first-ever meeting and event management master’s degree program. Learn more and start the application process now!

The post The subtle power of mentorship appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

10 engaging tips to boost meeting participation

April 1st, 2019 @

customer experience

It’s time for meetings to evolve.

Meetings are a benchmark of how efficient your company is and also how organized your team is under pressure. It’s easy to forget that meetings are an important element of the customer experience (CX), since they’re just, well…boring.

You could have the best website in the world, incredible brand design and a variety of innovative experiences to offer, but these are not the only elements of CX you should be focusing on. If your in-person business meetings do not garner engagement, your customers will be less than impressed. In today’s hyper-competitive market, you absolutely must wow your potential customers if you want to strike a deal or cement a partnership.

As a leader, you must consistently drive effective communication. Meetings must be deliberate and intentional—your organizational rhythm should value purpose over habit and effectiveness over efficiency.” – Chris Fussell

Meetings are a huge contributor to successful communication, but they’re not easy to plan or manage. Consider that following a detailed agenda and starting on time can reduce meeting times up to 80 percent; unfortunately, only 37 percent of U.S. meetings use agendas. Improving your team’s performance in this arena is worth the hassle.

So how do you make good things happen during meetings? How do you streamline the meeting engagement process to ensure customers have a memorable experience?

We’ve prepared a list of tips and tricks to guide you.

1. Do your homework

This one should be obvious. You only have a small window of time available to make your point—don’t waste it. Are you about to share unnecessary information? Will your customers walk away enlightened or ready for a nap?

Do all necessary research on the prospect and/or industry beforehand, so that your meeting time can be an asset that validates your clients’ trip to your offices. One recommended exercise for understanding a potential customer’s profile is to complete a SWOT analysis. Yes, just like in your college marketing class.

RELATED STORY: Design relevant, engaging experiences

2. Know your audience

Who are you talking to? What have they achieved and what problems are they having? What are their likes and dislikes? How many times have they met with your department or organization before and what were the results?
This relates to the previous point about doing your homework, but it’s also a separate step because you’re using the information to personalize the experience. If you already know some details about the customer (do they like to golf, their alma mater, major industry conferences they’ve recently attended, etc.) it makes it easier to choose a talking point and make casual conversation transition into business discussion.

3. Sentiment should lead the way

When you’re having a one-on-one conversation with someone and you hit on a touchy subject, you can usually tell right away from their body language. In that moment we generally assess how to continue, maybe steering away from the touchy subject if it’s not important.

You should do exactly the same during a meeting. Successful meeting management is about steering conversations based on real-time sentiment and feedback. Get your attendees involved by using tools like surveys and polls. Pose a question and then discuss the answers, in the moment, to gauge the temperature of the room. Then, use the information you gain to influence the rest of the meeting.

4. Enlist some help but return the favor

Your guest speakers agreed to help by giving their time and sharing their insights. In return, make things as easy for them as possible.

Collect post-meeting feedback and then share this information with your subject matter experts. This should help them fine-tune what trends or topics they touched on and how they can improve the overall experience.

Having a speaker’s bureau is incredibly helpful. It allows you to view which exec or subject-matter expert is most knowledgeable on a particular topic and also helps you identify new speakers and opportunities.

RELATED STORY: 33 skills meeting and event planners need to succeed

5. Be a thought leader

Establishing company executives as thought leaders in your organization and within the industry makes them more relatable to customers. It also positions them as subject matter experts, building clout for your organization. For attendees, the meeting becomes a much more exciting prospect, akin to meeting a celebrity.

Execs can assert their thought leadership with published content and blogs, social media, webinars, speaking engagements and similar events. It goes without saying but this should be done continuously outside of regular meetings or conferences.

6. Preparation is key

We’ve already told you to do your homework. However, don’t just aim to come prepared yourself; you should also focus on preparing anyone who will attend the meeting, including other team members and customers.

Make this happen by sharing the agenda and any support documents ahead of time. This way attendees can even get involved beforehand by making topic suggestions for the meeting agenda, or by proposing important materials they’d like to bring to the discussion.

7. Real-time notifications

Forty-nine percent of people multitask by doing unrelated work during meetings. Keep them focused by sharing targeted insights and updates before, during and after the meeting. The best way to go about it is through real-time notifications and alerts.

Start every meeting on the right foot. Ensure that if the room or time changes, your attendees know right away and have clear instructions on next steps. Send out initial details to serve as a primer for what you’ll be talking about, as this will gear them for more participation.

By the end of 2019, more than 50 percent of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience improvements. The technology behind real-time notifications and dynamic alerts is nothing short of innovative.

8. Acknowledge contributions

So, you held the meeting and saw that everyone was engaged? Excellent! Now, make them feel appreciated with a proper follow-up in-person.

Plan to take a few moments at the end of every meeting or discussion to acknowledge contributions. Who was a top participant? Who proposed a remarkable idea that no one else thought of?

Even just a little praise can go a long way toward building lasting relationships.

9. Save time for feedback

All meeting managers hope to collect insightful, actionable feedback from an event. After all, it’s one of the reasons for having a discussion in the first place.

But is there enough time to do it? More importantly, can attendees deliver feedback in an easy, convenient way?

To make it happen, consider using tech tools such as automated reminders, quick one-click satisfaction surveys or even voice dictation. Find ways to improve the feedback process and cut down on excess noise. This will conserve time for you and your team, while affording attendees ample time to share all their thoughts.

RELATED STORY: Traits of great meeting planners

10. Following up after the event

It’s a good idea to gauge interest and collect feedback during the event, but there must also be a follow-up after everyone has gone their separate ways.

Show attendees their contributions were worthwhile by following up on their suggestions. Send personalized messages or notifications that keep engagement going post-meeting; this is your chance to prove that customer comments were taken into account by your team.

Don’t forget to tie up those loose ends—they matter.

Meetings are vital to customer experience

It’s easy to forget that meetings are a part of your CX, simply because they happen so frequently. In addition, most people—even customers—have been desensitized to their shortcomings.

But you can use these tips to step up your game, boost engagement and build long-lasting relationships with whoever you decide to meet in-person.

The post 10 engaging tips to boost meeting participation appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Industry trends from WEC

March 25th, 2019 @

trendsDuring MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC) in Indianapolis last year, SocialTables Founder Dan Berger explored a variety of current and upcoming trends impacting the meeting and event industry. The following edited excerpt covers a few of his topics—but keep on reading to watch the entire presentation here for free!

Commissions

The industry we’re in is changing in front of our eyes. The hospitality powerhouses are going after the industry’s third rail: commission. We’ve seen, just in the last few weeks, pretty much the three largest hotel groups with a thousand plus hotels in their portfolio, cut commissions by 30 percent. At the same time, we’ve seen some chains increase their commissions.

Red Lion just went from 10 percent to 11 percent on group commissions. So, they’re seeing an opportunity, it’s really interesting to see that. Also, other chains have renewed their commitments to third parties. Hotels themselves have been investing in direct booking technologies, so they’re saying we don’t need these third parties necessarily, because we can take that money we’re paying for booking and invest it in technology or invest it in our own sales force.

RELATED STORY: Out of commission: Future of planner business models

Consolidation

On the buyer side, American Express GBT, just bought the sixth-largest demand side planning group. On the vendor side, PSVA bought Hargrove, they’re a GES kind of competitor. And on the tech side, Cvent just announced another acquisition of QuickMobile. So, they bought Matthews CrowdCompass, a few years ago and they just bought QuickMobile because they wanna make sure that they have a stranglehold on the mobile application category.

Prices will increase due to consolidation, as more hotels consolidate, as more hotel chains buy out one another, as more private equity firms buy hotel operators, you’re gonna have prices continue to increase because there’ll be less competition, so prices will only go up. Some chains will drop commissions for group business even further, I think that 7 percent is only the beginning, I think they would ideally like to get to a much lower number. But did you know that actually, hotels charge commission if a corporate chain gives a group lead to a hotel property? They charge them commissions sometimes, much lower than 10 percent, but corporate charges commission for leads they source, and that’s sometimes around 4 percent.

I think some chains will double down on the third-party relationships and say, “You know what, my money is more worthwhile going to a third party to outsource all my group business, as opposed to me investing in my own marketing strategy,” so that might happen too. This is something that we haven’t seen yet, but I think private equity, the really big players when it comes to money, will start moving into the events industry and I think we’ll see consolidation happening with event planning firms.

RELATED STORY: Third-party procurement can cost you your commission

market movement

So, we’ve seen that happening in the DMC world, right? Allied PRA, and other DMCs have purchased small DMCs and consolidated, that hasn’t happened in catering so much because catering is super local, but I think it can happen in event planning firms. So, when you have somebody’s wedding and event planning company, somebody’s meeting planning profession, they can buy that, that’s happened in doctor’s offices, when you go to doctor’s offices, it’s most likely owned by a group of financial investors, not just by the doctor anymore.

So, all this means that there will be seismic shifts to our industry’s structure. Generally speaking, when seismic shifts happen, they happen because of business model shifts, not because of other things. So, we’re seeing the business model shift, where different people are caring more about the money than they used to.

Disruptors

New ways to travel are changing behavior. [Referencing chart] Airbnb is much cheaper than a hotel, so it’s not surprising that it’s competitive, and it’s not just competitive in the United States, it’s competitive all around the world.

By the end of this year, we should see over 50 million Airbnb listings. So, the way you think about it, that’s 50 million additional sleeping room in the world, right? When just 10 years ago, that supply, that sleeping room supply wasn’t available.

And then we’re also seeing another interesting trend: luxury managed departments. There’s a company called Sonder and they essentially do Airbnb, but they actually take the lease, so they’ll lease the apartment, give you a hotel like experience in an apartment. So, more and more interesting business models are coming online, creating more inventory.

RELATED STORY: Contract trends: What’s old may be new again

So, what does that mean for meetings and events? Well, I think one thing that it means is that remote destinations will compete with traditional ones, you’ll suddenly be able to go to a city that had didn’t have the number of sleep rooms that you needed, but now it does because it has another 100,000 sleeping rooms, thanks to home sharing. And home sharing will add inventory in every corner of the globe, so you can have meetings in places you didn’t think about having them before.

Berger covers a number of additional, important subjects related to industry trends—including a lot of tech elements, such as AI, AR, blockchain, virtual experiences, etc. Watch the entire session—for free!—below.

Loved this content? Don’t miss this year’s WEC, DATE in Toronto. Register and learn more!

The post Industry trends from WEC appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Do you have backup?

March 18th, 2019 @

saved in the cloud

In early journalism school, I was taught the importance of a good headline. Hopefully this was a good headline to get you interested.

What back up or spares do you think of when you read the headline?

What backups do I need as a presenter?

It is so embarrassing to spend time on a presentation that you can’t present. The audience has expectations, and you spent a great deal of time and/or money creating your support graphics.

The laptop freezes, the projector is out of focus, the sound is garbled. Has this happened to you? I attended such a meeting this morning.

If I were to depend on any tool for an important purpose, I would always have a backup.

Backups every presenter should have before presenting to an audience

First, always have a power supply for your laptop. Running on batteries is risky when not “backed up” with a power supply.

presentation

Next, insure that your laptop is in “presentation mode.” Apple and Windows both have options you can select to avoid pop ups, notifications and those untimely updates when in presentation mode.

Carry two backups of your PowerPoint with you at all times.

The first backup should be on a thumb drive. That will allow you, should you have a computer failure, to quickly switch to someone else’s computer for your presentation. A true PowerPoint backup has the fonts and characters necessary for the design.

The second backup is so simple it just hit me this morning while I was attending an event. Back up your presentation on your phone. If all else fails, you can refer to the phone copy so you don’t have to stop and fiddle with a backup laptop, restarting yours or other interruptions and what typically is a limited opportunity.

What else should I backup?

Always carry a backup “clicker” to advance your graphics. There are issues with RF and Bluetooth clickers that mostly relate to distance and line-of-sight. Test your clicker in advance from everywhere in the room. Find the dead spots so you can avoid them.

If you are counting on a projector provided by others, enquire about the connections necessary. You may also need backup “dongles” allowing you to connect to the projector. Spare dongles and cables are also prudent.

If you are providing the projector, you should have a new backup lamp.

When you are presenting with sound on video, you should also have backup audio cables and adapters—don’t depend on the venue to provide these.

Technical rehearsal

Finally, you want to do a technical rehearsal well in advance of the doors opening for your presentation. Run the projector and your laptop through the entire presentation before the audience arrives.

Assuming any venue is prepared for you to just walk in and plug in without advance preparation and sufficient backup is a disservice to you and to your audience.

Of course, you want to ensure that you and the presentation can both be seen and heard from the worst seat in the audience.

  • Is the bottom of the screen at least 5.5 feet from the floor?
  • Are the chairs set behind columns or other obstructions?
  • Is there ambient light that may distract from your image controlled?

In the presentation I saw this morning the presenter lost at least 50 percent of the allotted time due to a lack of backup options.

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Category : Blog and Industry News