A cry for equity to meeting industry leaders

June 9th, 2020 @

I haven’t written a post here in a while as I wanted to wait until I had something important to say. Today is the day.

Protestors across North America and the world are calling out for justice and equity. Police chiefs and country leaders, such as Canada’s Prime Minister, have joined them with supportive words. Some have even taken the knee. From the CEOs of Ben and Jerry’s to Salesforce to Canadian bank executives, there has been a call for racial equity.

The main focus has been to demand equity and fair treatment in policing and the social justice system, but this is just one VERY large and sharp tip of the iceberg. Let’s hope that this rallying cry is not just “the flavor of the month.” It must be followed by real and meaningful change.

Let’s take a hard look at the meeting and event industry. The lack of equity has been glaring. Black and visible minority professionals are missing from:

  • panels
  • podiums
  • leadership positions
  • planning committees
  • breakout sessions facilitation
  • lists of top industry professionals

By contrast, white professionals with less experience have no problem making those lists and receiving accolades. I addressed this glaring omission four years ago in “The Invisible Minorities of the Meeting and Event Industry.” These lists are important because out of sight is out of mind when it’s time to hire speakers, breakout session facilitators and planners.

It’s interesting that when paid engagements are available, black keynote speakers and breakout session facilitators are invisible. When it’s the time to speak for free, suddenly we glow in the dark.

For example, why is it that, despite the fact that I have blogged for major industry portals since 2011 and managed the largest group for event and meeting industry professionals, I am only ever invited to speak for free at industry conferences and events?

This is nothing personal. That is why organizations such as the National Coalition of Black Meeting Planners, founded in 1983, and recognition ceremonies like Best in Black Awards exist.

As a black facilitator, speaker, and, at times, event planner, the temptation is to remain silent. To speak up means being labeled a troublemaker or an angry black woman and reducing one’s opportunities even further.

No matter what the cost, the time for silence is over for those of us who have been at the receiving end of exclusion.

At this juncture, the worst thing that organizations in our industry could do is issue a call for equity. For the most part, it would be hypocritical, and the words would ring hollow. There are, of course, some exceptions. I started to list a few organizations that have been role models but, if I do, I will leave some of them out.

This is a season to keep mouths closed, listen, learn, reflect and strategize. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau role modeled this a few days ago. He paused and reflected before he spoke. His silence was heard around the world and it added potency to his words.

or

Pause, listen, learn, reflect and strategize in collaboration with black industry professionals, not in a vacuum. These should not be “pick your brain for free” sessions either. Black industry professionals deserve to be compensated properly for any consulting and expertise that they provide.

When mouths are finally opened it should be to apologize and unveil a concrete plan for reparations. Reparations is a heavy word but when individuals have been excluded and their earning potential has been significantly reduced regardless of merit or competence, it’s the appropriate word.

Talk is cheap. Organizations that want to make a meaningful contribution must word their words carefully and then be sure that they are ready to put their money where their mouth is.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

6 ways to wrap your events in color

December 17th, 2018 @

girl many colors

Every year, Pantone, the global authority on color, releases its color of the year. For 2019, the color of the year is Living Coral, a soothing yet vibrant hue that brings to mind natural environments and comfort.

There are many strategies event planners can use to infuse color into events. Some favorites include linen, tableware, lighting, backdrops, handouts, clothing for hosts and hostesses and graphics. Living Coral presents an opportunity to kick things up a notch and play with the themes and props the color suggests.

RELATED STORY: From brown to green: Changing the environmental color of your meetings

1. Showcase your theme through color

A tropical theme is a natural fit for Living Coral. Décor can include shells with coral hues, starfish and even goldfish. Small fish bowls with coral-colored goldfish make interesting centerpieces.

Garden and forest themes are also a perfect way to reflect Living Coral.

2. Floral arrangements

Living Coral can also be found naturally in flowers and shrubs. Roses come to mind, but the color can also be found in dainty hypericum, snapdragons, hibiscus, peonies, carnations, magnolia, marigolds and blossoming quince branches.

3. Berries

Inedible berries can be used as part of the décor. Examples include coralberry, honeysuckle and American bittersweet. While they have a vibrant color, if children will be attending your event, don’t use them even in décor.

Depending on whether or not they are edible, berries can be used as garnishes, for flavoring and ingredient for sauces and desserts. Edible berries that come in coral hues include Nanking cherries, pin cherries and Evan cherries (that have a tart flavor).

RELATED STORY: What color is your meeting?

4. Desserts

Experienced pastry chefs can create cakes, pastries, puddings and other desserts in just about any color or shape. Even if your theme is not tropical, here is a simple way to make Living Coral come alive for desserts.

5. 3D projection mapping

3D projection mapping can transform any event venue and transport event guests to just about any environment. The setting, colors and hues are under your control. This projection created by Paint Sculpting, incorporates coral hues.

knobbed conch

6. Educate

Living Coral is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about the need to protect and preserve nature. Around the world, coral reefs are in danger. So are conchs. The inner hue of conch shells is Living Coral, but it is now illegal to harvest conch shells in the U.S. and other destinations. Vivid photos on the wall, projected images or ceramic shells incorporated into the centerpieces can work just as well.

If you use ceramic shells or goldfish as centerpieces, you can auction them off and donate the funds to a charity like the Coral Reef Alliance or the Bahamas National Trust, which seeks to protect Queen Conch.

Pantone’s Fall 2018/Winter 2019 Color Palette

If you are looking for other colors to incorporate into events, Pantone’s Fall 2018/Winter 2019 color palette includes:

  • Classic Color Palette: Sargasso Sea, Tofu, Almond Buff, Quiet Gray, Meerkat
  • Autumn 2018/Winter 2019 Top 12 Color Palette: Red Pear, Valiant Poppy, Nebulas Blue, Ceylon Yellow, Martini Olive, Russet Orange, Ultra Violet, Crocus Petal, Mellow Rose, Limelight, Quetzal Green, Pink Peacock

It’s interesting that a number of colors continue the nature theme suggested by the Color of the Year.

RELATED STORY: Creating memorable events focusing on the peak and end

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Category : Blog and Industry News

#MeToo and the implications for the meeting industry

October 5th, 2018 @

MeToo

Friday, Oct. 5, marks the one-year anniversary of what has been dubbed the #MeToo movement. It’s been a rocky year. Viewing #MeToo and the implications for the meeting industry, there are a number of aspects of our professional lives that require scrutiny:

  • The emphasis on appearance in hiring.
  • The use of “booth babes” at trade shows.
  • The vulnerability of hotel housekeeping staff to sexual harassment and assault.
  • The excessive consumption of alcohol at some trade shows and corporate events.
  • The pressure on women to wear revealing attire when working at or hostessing certain events.

RELATED STORY: Alcohol at events & Duty of Care

It is significant that the day after this anniversary, there’s likely to be a crucial vote in the U.S. Senate involving an aspiring Supreme Court Justice and cases of alleged sexual misconduct. What will be the fallout from the testimonies of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh before the U.S. Senate?

Clearly, thorough background checks need to be conducted during the hiring process. One controversial aspect of the Judge Kavanaugh case is that his actions as a minor have been scrutinized and tried in the court of public opinion. It is a slippery slope when organizations start digging into the behavior of individuals when they were minors. In Canada, where I am based, this would never have been permitted. With few exceptions, there are strict publication bans on:

  • Information about offenses or alleged offenses committed when someone is a minor.
  • The names of complainants in sexual assault cases.

Even in jurisdictions where these bans are not in effect, trial by media should be avoided.

Another area of concern is any practice that would involve hiring private investigators to interview former classmates and colleagues. This would open the door to hiring decisions based on rumor, gossip and innuendo.

ethics

Best practices need to include the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. There have been a number of instances in which individuals have been immediately fired as the result of allegations. A fairer approach would be to have individuals placed on suspension with pay while an investigation is completed. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, a decision can be made about the appropriate course of action.

RELATED STORY: Discriminatory laws & the impact on meetings

Any allegations of sexual assault should immediately be referred to local law enforcement for investigation, rather than reported to the media. Statutes of limitation can be short in some jurisdictions, so delays could result in fewer options for complainants. Also, while there are many who believe that women should automatically be believed, there have been instances in which false allegations have been made. Investigation should always precede publication. All organizations within the industry need to ensure that they provide:

  • Clear channels for employees to report incidents involving sexual harassment, misconduct and assault.
  • An investigation process that ensures due process for those who are accused and the protection of complainants from punitive action.

Here is an example of what has been done in the film and television industry.

The #MeToo movement began in the U.S. but the fallout is global. It is time for our industry to review current policies, practices and procedures to ensure that best practices are identified and followed. This won’t be easy, but it is necessary.

RELATED MATERIAL: MPI’s Principles of Professionalism

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Category : Blog and Industry News

7 ways to flex your creative muscles

September 17th, 2018 @

brain creativity arts

Now that Labor Day has passed, and summer is drawing to a close, event and meeting planners are settling back into their routines. With the return of students to classes, it’s time for event industry professionals to devote quality time to reflecting on their own professional development—and creativity is such an important competency when planning meetings, events and conferences. For this reason, one area of focus should be tapping into your creativity.

Are people born creative? Can people learn to be creative? There has been considerable debate about this. One thing is certain: It is possible to flex your creative muscles by using a range of strategies. Pick one or more that appeals to you.

1. Self-study

Workbooks and books can be very beneficial. For example, Julia’ Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity and It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond combine weekly reading with daily journaling, exercises and artist dates. This gentle approach can gradually help readers unlock their blocked creativity. There are even groups on Facebook where people share their journey and learn from each other.

2. Improvisation workshops

Improv involves responding with spontaneity through a range of exercises and situations. The dynamic at play is very similar to the environment in which event and meeting planners operate daily. Through improv, you’ll learn how to spin on a dime and develop greater comfort in responding to curves that are thrown your way without panicking.

3. Explore the culinary arts

Catering and menu planning are such an important part of meeting conferences and events that it makes sense for event professionals to explore the culinary arts. Whether it’s a semester long course at a community program or a series of one-day workshops, the skills that are acquired will have immediate benefits. The possibilities are endless. Select form grilling, baking, cake decorating, pastry making and more.

RELATED STORY: 2018 culinary trends showcase ethnic cuisine and fun

4. Try your hand at the visual arts

Select something that appeals to you. Whether it’s drawing, painting, pottery or sculpture, honing your creative skills will spill over into your work in the event and meeting industry. You don’t have to be naturally gifted to explore the visual arts. For example, a museum in Toronto regularly offers a course called “Drawing for Those who Can’t.”

violin play music5. Learn to play a musical instrument

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to play the piano, guitar or drums, there is no time like the present to get started. Select an approach that is compatible with your learning style. Group classes, private lessons and workshops are available in most locations.

RELATED STORY: All aboard for inspiration: Travel your way to creativity

6. Put on your dancing shoes

Music and movement have a way of freeing people up. So, take your pick from salsa, reggae, line dancing, ballroom and even capoeira (Brazilian non-contact martial arts through music).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8xxgFpK-NM

7. Set up a creativity corner in your home or office

Assemble sketch pads, adult coloring books, colored pencils, drawing pencils, poetry books, Bristol board, scissors, magazines, tape, glue, music, candles and flowers to create a space to explore your creativity when you and, if it’s at work, your co-workers need a break. The next time you have to come up with a theme for an event, create a mind map or treasure map using photos and text. It requires no skill to cut and paste photos on a Bristol board and this process can transform your brainstorming.

RELATED STORY: 8 signs that your work-life balance is looking good

These are just a few ideas. Any of these strategies will help you approach your work with greater creativity. Brainstorm and come up with seven more tactics to flex your creativity before selecting what appeals to you.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

10 lessons for creating social media videos

June 11th, 2018 @

Ever since LinkedIn and Facebook introduced their native apps, social media experts have been encouraging people to upload videos. There has been a lot of hype about it. It sounds like the magic bullet…the next big thing.

I’m always skeptical about following fads and the “flavor of the month.” Far too often, results have not turned out to be as promised. So, I started experimenting with uploading some of my existing videos using the native app to see if they gained traction. The results were mixed. After much reluctance, I recently started shooting and uploading new videos.

As of this writing, I’ve uploaded four videos. I shot nine but only six were usable and were far from perfect. What the experts fail to tell you is that shooting videos is not simply a matter of grabbing your camera or mobile and pressing record. In fact, the technical aspects can make or break your video.

My recommendation is that some things are best left to professionals. If you can hire a professional videographer or engage a talented film student, do it. If that’s not in your budget, then a DIY approach is what you’ll have to use.

I’m an actress, so I am already comfortable on camera. Many people aren’t. I’ve even produced a couple of videos for clients, written the scripts and done some of the voice-overs.

When I am on a TV, movie or commercial set, there are always professionals to handle set design, sound, lighting and the shoot. There are also hair stylists and make-up artists. After the shoot, professional editors work their magic.

I’ve never had an interest in the technical aspects of making movies or shooting videos. But when you’re using a DIY approach to creating video content, it’s important to master the basics. It can be a steep learning curve, and I’m still learning. Here is what I have learned, so far, from the school of hard knocks.

1. Prepare to go on camera

Here are a couple of really quick tips based on my experience on-camera and in training hundreds of corporate professionals in presentation skills.

  • Keep it brief. Two to four minutes is best. Any longer than that and people will tune out.
  • Never write out or memorize your script
  • Put a few keywords on a large index card in large print to remind you of what you want to say. Post this where you can see it or have someone hold it. (A flip chart is even better.)
  • Rehearse, but don’t over-rehearse. Your deliver must be natural. Rehearse in a whisper so that you don’t get locked into patterns.

2. Make sure you look great

  • Get your hair and make-up done professionally if you need help.
  • Bring powder for the shine.
  • Bring two or three tops so that you can shoot more than one video at a time. Make at least one outfit a business suit. For the other outfits, select colors that pop.

3. Scout locations in advance and pick the right location

Whether it’s indoor or outdoor, it must be free of noise and distractions. This isn’t always easy. That is why film and video companies have location scouts. Fortunately, some libraries and community centres have rooms that you can use for free. Make sure the room is furnished and not a relatively empty space. (See lesson No. 6 for the rationale.)

I recently attempted to shoot outside of my apartment building. A neighbor in one of the apartments overlooking the courtyard was coughing loudly and intermittently.

This brings us to our next point.

4. Always have a back-up

Even in a remote location like a lake, there can be cars passing by, dogs barking or children coming out to play. You don’t always have control.

Last week, I found what looked like the perfect location by a pond. As soon as I popped out of the car, I heard the motor running for the water pump. As I type this, a neighbour has just powered up landscaping equipment outside, near my office.

You need to have the option of driving a few blocks to go to a park, garden or greenhouse until the noise has stopped.

5. Select the right background

I’m not talking about going out and buying backdrops, although that would be helpful. When you’re deciding where to shoot, make sure that it’s a wide background with some height to it. If the person operating the camera is not a professional, they are going to have a tough time zooming to crop and frame you properly. The result is that you could end up with distracting objects in the frame. A wide backdrop is more forgiving.

6. Keep it steady

It can take a long time to get the technical details right. Many takes may be required if the person on camera is inexperienced and they’re making mistakes. If someone is holding the camera, their arms will get tired. It is also likely that they won’t be able to keep the camera steady the whole time. Save yourself the trouble. Get or borrow a tripod.

7. Shed the right light on it

This is very important, especially for people of color like me.

Even on a bright and sunny day with the shades drawn up on two large windows, there wasn’t enough light in my office for me to shoot. It took a long time of fiddling with lamps in order to get enough lighting.

 As soon as you can afford it, invest in a ring light. Have the person being videotaped (on camera) sit facing the window. Set the camera on a tripod in front of the window and put the ring light around the camera. Make sure the person on camera is close enough to the light so that the light shines on them. If that is not enough you may need to invest in an LED panel light.

8. Sounding off about sound

Sound can make or break your video.

I learned this the hard way. Frustrated with trying to get the lighting right and a wide enough wall to prevent framing problems, I ventured into a couple of hallways. They were big and bright—and the videos looked great. After I uploaded them to LinkedIn, I received feedback that there was echo. I never noticed it.

Echo happens when a room or space is almost empty and the sound bounces off the walls. The solution is to always select a location that has furniture and, if necessary, bring in pillows and blankets to cushion the sound. It is also important to use an external microphone. Apparently, even if you invest in an excellent DSLR camera, the internal mic may not be enough. Check out “Improve Your Audio: How to Reduce Echo in Your Video” for more recommendations.

9. Get the right equipment

Perhaps this point should have been covered first, but it was important to set the stage so that it is clear why this equipment is needed.

The basics

  • A digital SLR camera (DSLR) with an external port for a microphone and horseshoe for a light
  • A tripod
  • A ring light
  • A panel light (optional)

I have what is considered to be a good camera—Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ70 (16.1 MP). It has a powerful zoom and it has been fabulous for shooting photos for blog posts over the past seven years. Echo was a problem in some of my videos, so I was advised to get an external microphone. Unfortunately, a quick trip to the camera shop revealed that there is no port for an external mic.

Sometimes you can pick up gently used or even new equipment online at affordable prices. Some libraries and universities have equipment that you can borrow.

If you have no option but to shoot using your phone or tablet, rest assured, ring lights and panel lights are also available for mobile devices. Here are some tips for creating content with mobile devices.

10. Get help

If you are using a DIY approach, get help. Get a film student to help you and/or team up with other event professionals in your area to share equipment together, shoot videos and learn from each other. Here are some tips for helping things go smoothly when you get together.

What challenges are you facing in creating LinkedIn videos?

Join the conversation on LinkedIn and follow #socialmediaSOS on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for video tips.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Out of commission: Future of planner business models

May 9th, 2018 @

Over the last few months, there has been a lot of controversy about commissions in the meeting and event industry. Not only did Marriott International make a decision to claw commissions back to 7 percent in North America, the chain also established a two-tier system with major players such as Maritz and HPN Global still receiving 10 percent commission. In March, Hilton announced plans to follow suit. It’s a sticky situation.

searching for value
(CC) JD HANCOCK

Now that the shock has worn off, it’s time for event planners to carefully weigh their options—cool heads must prevail. It is important to leave emotion out of it and make sound business decisions. So, what are the options for event planners who are experiencing a shortfall in income due to the policy change by these hotel companies?

One option is to book with hotel chains that offer higher commissions. This is problematic for a number or reasons and, at best, a temporary solution. If event planners bypass Marriott and Hilton properties, that flies in the face of the stance the industry has always taken. Event planners have always maintained that they make venue recommendations based on the needs of the client, not due to commissions or personal incentives. To bypass these chains brings that stance into question. Industry veteran Joan Eisenstodt has always expressed concern about the ethics of commissions especially when they are undisclosed and maintained that the commission model is unsustainable.

Many are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Has Marriott set a precedent? Perhaps, as Hilton has shown. Will other hoteliers follow this lead and, one by one, reduce or eventually eliminate commissions? Travel Weekly reported that some hotel chains such as Preferred Hotels & Resorts and a few independent hotels like Eden Roc and Nobu in Miami Beach designed promotions to court event planners by offering commissions of up to 12 percent. Is this likely to continue?

The writing is on the wall. At this juncture, it would be wise to learn from the travel industry. Many travel agencies that were dependent on commissions eventually went out of business when airlines eliminated or significantly reduced commissions. Based on the events that unfolded in the travel industry, it is likely that hotels will eventually wipe out commissions.

It is becoming increasingly clear that event planners would be wise to revisit their business models and gradually wean themselves off commissions. This won’t be easy. Even event planners who levy fees for their services have factored commissions into income projections and adjusted their rates accordingly. Clients have not been paying for the full value of event planning services as these have been partially underwritten by commissions. It will be challenging for them to perceive the full value of services that have always been subsidized. While a sudden and drastic increase event planning fees will surely result in the loss of business, over time, these adjustments must be made. To do otherwise is sure suicide.

How long will it take for hotels to fully eliminate commissions? One year? Two years? Certainly not five. In Jamaica, we have an expression: “When your head is in a lion’s mouth, you have to take it out…slowly.” Slow and steady wins the race. The time to make adjustments is now.

The post Out of commission: Future of planner business models appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Out of commission: Future of planner business models

May 9th, 2018 @

Over the last few months, there has been a lot of controversy about commissions in the meeting and event industry. Not only did Marriott International make a decision to claw commissions back to 7 percent in North America, the chain also established a two-tier system with major players such as Maritz and HPN Global still receiving 10 percent commission. In March, Hilton announced plans to follow suit. It’s a sticky situation.

searching for value
(CC) JD HANCOCK

Now that the shock has worn off, it’s time for event planners to carefully weigh their options—cool heads must prevail. It is important to leave emotion out of it and make sound business decisions. So, what are the options for event planners who are experiencing a shortfall in income due to the policy change by these hotel companies?

One option is to book with hotel chains that offer higher commissions. This is problematic for a number or reasons and, at best, a temporary solution. If event planners bypass Marriott and Hilton properties, that flies in the face of the stance the industry has always taken. Event planners have always maintained that they make venue recommendations based on the needs of the client, not due to commissions or personal incentives. To bypass these chains brings that stance into question. Industry veteran Joan Eisenstodt has always expressed concern about the ethics of commissions especially when they are undisclosed and maintained that the commission model is unsustainable.

Many are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Has Marriott set a precedent? Perhaps, as Hilton has shown. Will other hoteliers follow this lead and, one by one, reduce or eventually eliminate commissions? Travel Weekly reported that some hotel chains such as Preferred Hotels & Resorts and a few independent hotels like Eden Roc and Nobu in Miami Beach designed promotions to court event planners by offering commissions of up to 12 percent. Is this likely to continue?

The writing is on the wall. At this juncture, it would be wise to learn from the travel industry. Many travel agencies that were dependent on commissions eventually went out of business when airlines eliminated or significantly reduced commissions. Based on the events that unfolded in the travel industry, it is likely that hotels will eventually wipe out commissions.

It is becoming increasingly clear that event planners would be wise to revisit their business models and gradually wean themselves off commissions. This won’t be easy. Even event planners who levy fees for their services have factored commissions into income projections and adjusted their rates accordingly. Clients have not been paying for the full value of event planning services as these have been partially underwritten by commissions. It will be challenging for them to perceive the full value of services that have always been subsidized. While a sudden and drastic increase event planning fees will surely result in the loss of business, over time, these adjustments must be made. To do otherwise is sure suicide.

How long will it take for hotels to fully eliminate commissions? One year? Two years? Certainly not five. In Jamaica, we have an expression: “When your head is in a lion’s mouth, you have to take it out…slowly.” Slow and steady wins the race. The time to make adjustments is now.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

9 strategies for last-minute event planning

April 9th, 2018 @

Last minute event planning is a bad idea for so many reasons.

  • It’s tougher to find venues.
  • The client’s preferred venue will likely be booked.
  • Clients will end up paying more for hotels, resorts and airfare.
  • Planning at the last minute increases the likelihood of errors.
  • In the rush to plan, important details may be overlooked.
last minute
(CC) Faliq Idrus

The pressure that accompanies last-minute event planning and its twin, last-minute changes, contribute to making event planning one of the most stressful professions. (Unfortunately, event coordinator made Careercast’s most stressful jobs list again. It’s number 5 for 2018.)

Trying to educate clients about why they should plan events with more lead time hasn’t worked. (I’ve written a number of blog posts to convince organizations to change their approach—and I’m not the only one.)

Clearly, no one is listening. So, to preserve their own health and sanity, event industry professionals need to try a different approach.

1. Reach out to regular clients proactively and let them know of some options that may meet their requirements.

This may encourage earlier bookings.

2. Say “no.”

All the money in the world is not worth it if it takes a toll on your health and disrupts your family life.

3. Manage expectations and set boundaries.

This is a message that needs to be conveyed more often. It’s important to be flexible and provide exceptional client service, but there have to be boundaries.

This is important. I don’t recall who said it but it’s sound advice: “A lack of planning on your part doesn’t constitute an emergency on mine.”

If a client has left a booking until the last minute, it doesn’t mean that you should work all night and every weekend until the event in order to achieve the impossible. This flies in the face of current practices in the industry. It is intended to encourage event planners to carefully consider which assignments they accept and which ones they bypass.

4. Identify what is realistic.

Internal corporate event planners usually don’t have the option of saying no. As an internal planner, it’s all about compromise. Identify what’s realistic. Review the client’s expectations and be candid about what is and isn’t possible within the allotted time. Do your best to come to a workable and more manageable agreement.

As an external planner, it may mean that you lose the business. Is it better to lose business or sacrifice your health?

Pinpoint the tasks that need to be completed and identify joint accountabilities. I can’t take credit for it. Alan Weiss came up with the concept. My tweak is that one should never be afraid to reverse-delegate time-consuming tasks when faced with a last-minute booking.

5. Create templates for all aspects of event planning from supplier requests to catering.

Work with the client to quickly fill in the blanks.

6. Marshall additional resources and charge the client accordingly.

If you need to hire extra help, say so. Let the client know what that will cost. If they don’t want to pay it, move on.

7. Charge a premium.

Planning a last-minute event should be considered a premium service. Whether your premium is 5% or 10%, it conveys your value and may encourage clients to book earlier.

8. Ensure that you are paid in advance.

Some clients book at the last minute and then indicate that they can’t pay until well after the event. In this situation, you’re setting yourself up. I have had colleagues accept last-minute bookings and agree to a late payment schedule. They’ve jumped through hoops, burned the candle at both ends and ended up not getting paid or receiving less than the agreed upon amount. Rushing to plan an event at the last minute increases the likelihood that the client won’t be satisfied. They could push back on rates or delay your payment.

9. Build in downtime to re-charge after the event.

Rushing to plan a last-minute event is stressful. For this reason, it is important for event planners to build recovery time into their schedules. Identify the strategies that work for you and apply them regularly.

A radical change in mindset

This is radical thinking in an industry that places a premium on service, however, stress and burnout among event planners is at crisis levels. Radical surgery and a change of mindset are necessary.

Both Stephen Covey and Dr. Phil McGraw have said that we treat people how to treat us by what we tolerate. By failing to set boundaries, the abuse will continue and event coordinator will continue to make the list of most stressful careers alongside enlisted personnel and firefighters, year after year. We can keep burning out our have the courage to work with our clients to make the changes that are needed to ensure the health and welfare of event and meeting planners.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

B2B social media algorithm woes and changes ahead

March 8th, 2018 @

It’s no secret. The organic distribution of social media post, especially by brands, has plummeted. It’s about to get worse.

(CC) Esther Vargas

LinkedIn

LinkedIn Publisher posts hardly receive any distribution. Since LinkedIn removed groups from the main site navigations and turned off almost all group notifications, the majority of LinkedIn Groups have become virtual ghost towns. In some groups, announcements are no longer working so it isn’t possible for group owners to contact members and let them know about great group content.

As a result, even when group owners and managers work really hard, it’s tough to get engagement going.

LinkedIn has driven support to the Home feed. Yet, status updates also have little organic reach unless other members like and comment on them.

LinkedIn has promised to improve the prominence of groups in its user interface but, in the meantime, here are some strategies to try.

  • Use text-only posts. Include photos and distribution of content will be limited.
  • Don’t include links in your opening content. All platforms want to keep members on their platform. Anything that is perceived as click bait will have limited distribution.
  • If you post a video, upload it using LinkedIn’s native app. The mp4 format work best. You can adjust the settings on your camera to shoot mp4s or download your YouTube videos in mp4 format and then upload them to LinkedIn (or Facebook).
  • Team up. Form alliances with business colleagues. Make them aware of your status updates so that they can comment on content which interests them. It is extremely important to comment during the first hour after posting.

Facebook

Facebook announced that it will be giving priority to distributing content when friends and family “like” or comment on it. Company and brand pages are going to find their reach even more constricted. So, short of annoying your relatives and friends with business content, what’s a company to do?

  • Pay to play. Purchase ads or pay to boost the distribution of Facebook posts.
  • Team up. Form alliances with business colleagues. Make them aware of what you are posting so that they can like and comment on content that interests them.
  • Share content from your group pages to relevant groups. Use a key question or two to stimulate discussion. Caution: Make sure the content you share is non-promotional and relevant or you could be booted from the group.
  • If you post videos, upload them directly to Facebook. Mp4 files work best.

Twitter

If you think your re-tweets have declined, you’re not imaging it. Twitter announced wholesale changes to their algorithm on its engineering blog almost two years ago. Based on the content to which Twitter gives priority.

  • Tweet regularly.
  • Include images or videos.
  • In your settings, enable “See Best Tweet First” and ask your connections to do this too.
  • Team up with others so that they can re-tweet or reply to content that they find to be of interest.

General advice

Cross-posting can be an effective strategy if used sparingly. For example, a few days after you post a status update on LinkedIn, compose a Facebook page or a tweet and link to it. You can also link to status updates in LinkedIn and Facebook groups as long as you set the context and prepare a quote to stimulate discussion.

No social media platform remains static. It’s important to keep abreast of changes and adjust how you use each channel. One thing is certain: Never be at the mercy of any platform. Instead, as you build your network and groups, give your connections opportunities to join your e-list. E-lists have their own issues but at least you will have the opportunity to stay in touch with your network if your favorite social media channel pulls the plug or makes wholesale changes that impact your brand’s visibility.

The post B2B social media algorithm woes and changes ahead appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

2018 culinary trends showcase ethnic cuisine and fun

February 12th, 2018 @

Now that the festive season is over, event and meeting planners have shifted their focus to creating exciting events for 2018. Careful attention to the culinary aspects of events is a sure-fire strategy for kicking things up a notch.

Fortunately, the National Restaurant Association and Trend Hunter have released their annual trend reports so there are many ideas to inspire event planners.

National Restaurant Association emphasizes ethnic cuisine

The National Restaurant Association surveyed 700 professional chefs who are members of the American Culinary Federation. This year, three of the 10 food trends highlighted ethnic influences.

  • Traditional ethnic-inspired breakfast dishes
  • Authentic ethnic cuisine
  • Ethnic spices

This will please participants who are drawn from increasingly diverse backgrounds.

After you have introduced participants to ethnic inspired dishes through appetizers, amuse-bouches and dinner entrees, try some breakfast dishes. Whether its French crepes, Mexican burritos or Jamaican ackee and salt fish, don’t be afraid to experiment.

Other trends that were uncovered by the National Restaurant Association included:

  • Affordable new cuts of meat. That’s great news for event planners who have been given the challenge of stretching their budgets. Some cuts to consider include oyster steak, Vegas Strip and Merlot.
  • Home-made condiments. What a unique way to spice up your menu.
  • “Street” food influences. Dishes inspired by street food add a new twist to culinary fare. Many of them have ethnic influences. Whether it’s dumplings, kebobs or tempura, bring it on.
  • Sustainable seafood. Health conscious participants who want to play a role in preserving the environment will appreciate the effort required to serve sustainable seafood. Fortunately, there are companies that specialize in delivering the catch of the day to just about any destination.

Access the full What’s Hot Top 10 Foods for 2018 report

Trend Hunter adds a touch of whimsy

Trend Hunter offers a free version of its 2018 Trend Report that highlights a number of food and beverage trends. The report can also be customized to fit the needs of various event industry professionals.

This year, there are a number of trends that add a touch of whimsy and fun to culinary fare.

  • Color-changing blended beverages like Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino
  • Blackened Ice Cream Burgers
  • Colorful, photo-worthy food with an emphasis on aesthetic appeal (e.g. technicolor grilled sandwiches, tie-dyed pancakes, rainbow burger buns, rainbow sushi)
  • Artisanal suites and snacks including, artistic hand-made chocolates, gourmet popsicles, exclusive eclairs, experimental gelato incorporating unusual flavor combinations
  • Interactive experiences like digital cooking tables, interactive drinking games
  • Alcoholic juice bars—healthy cocktails which substitute vegetable juices for sugary mixers

Speaking of color

Since color plays such an important role in Trend Hunter’s picks, remember that the Pantone Color of the Year for 2018 is Ultra Violet 18-3838. It emphasizes inventiveness and imagination.

Look for opportunities to incorporate this color and other colors from the Pantone Institutes’ 2018 palette into tablescapes and even dishes.

Avoid a flavor-of-the-month approach

While trend reports are a great source of inspiration, never fall into the flavor-of-the-month trap. It is tedious for participants to encounter the same dishes and approaches at one event after another. For example, at one point sliders, which were initially popular, were overused to the point that participants became bored with them.

Carefully consider your audience and the demographic profile of participants when planning your catering.

The post 2018 culinary trends showcase ethnic cuisine and fun appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News