Today let’s take a step back and look at the basics of the industry with a quick guide on the incredibly crucial meeting planner, what they do, and why you need one!
Meeting planners work across many industries, from medical, insurance and government to nonprofit, corporate and trade associations. They specialize in planning conferences, corporate trainings, continuing education meetings, team building exercises, board meetings and incentive trips. From initial venue sourcing, to room setup, F&B, A-Z planning, attendee management, and on site management, the incredibly invaluable meeting planner can make event planning seamless and elevate your attendee experience. They are the playmakers of the meeting and conference world.
WHAT DO MEETING PLANNERS DO?
Like a juggler at a carnival, meeting planners have numerous balls in the air at any given time. They will coordinate every detail of an event from the initial vision, budget & strategy, to the venue & site selection, to running the event from A-Z. Their overall goal is to help clients host a successful, efficient, and stress-free event. They can handle as little or as much of the event planning, as a business would like. Companies often have individuals already on staff to handle the event content & speaking portion of the event but need help on the logistics and planning for the event. Meeting planners can jump in and plan the entire event, so the client can focus on what they are good at, like being a dentist, lawyer, etc.
WHY ARE MEETING PLANNERS HELPFUL?
Hiring a professional meeting planner, like SweetPea™ is extremely helpful because a good planner can ease the stress of planning any event and save a client loads of money in the process. Meeting planners have working relationships with venues and vendors that allow them to achieve better deals and concessions than someone with no prior relationship. Considering site selection and hotel contracting, a good meeting planner will save you significant money through the contracting process. A great contract up front will save you tons of money, time and reduce headache in the future. Hotels have a way of sneaking in extra costs to any venue contract. A good meeting planner will help you spot these erroneous clauses and help put more money in your pocket. They are worth their weight in gold for this alone!
They also have the experience to know when & where to target cost cutting and efficiency, and where to put extra money to provide attendees a better experience. Going even further, meeting planners have the knowledge to know where, when and what can go wrong, and the experience to prevent problems or fix them when they arise. Meeting planners save you time and reduce anxiety. You don’t have to worry about coordinating every last minute detail so you can take the time to actually enjoy your meeting or event with zero stress.
WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR IN A MEETING PLANNER?
The first step is finding a meeting planner who or meeting planning firm that specializes in meeting and corporate event planning. Even though event planning can feel very similar regardless of the industry your company specializes in, you wouldn’t want a wedding planner to handle your corporate retreat or vice versa. You want a meeting planner who has years of experience and the client recommendations to prove it. They must be organized, thoughtful, with strong attention to detail, good listeners and go-getters. A good meeting and event planner will have a CMP or Certified Meeting Professional certification. While it is not required to be a meeting planner, it is a good indicator that they have extensive experience and have met the high standards of the CMP.
The most experienced planners also have the best relationships with area hotels, conference centers and other vendors. They have the experience to get you the best deals and make recommendations that fit into your event budget. Also, be sure to choose a meeting planner who puts you at ease. Select someone who makes you feel comfortable and instills confidence that your event goals will be met from beginning to end.
An excellent meeting planner is also good at managing finances; strategic planning, project management, risk management, and can handle the high pressure and often-stressful planning environment. A good meeting planner will act in a professional manner from the first meeting with the client to the follow-up after the conclusion of the event. You want a meeting planner who will fight for your interests with the hotel and every vendor of the event.
An additional item to consider when looking for a meeting planner is their location. It isn’t necessary to find a meeting planner in your specific location, even though companies often think they need someone local to plan the event. Most planning and coordination can be done remote via phone or email with no problem. SweetPea™ has clients across the country and our team sources venues, plans meetings, and executes events wherever they are needed.
In closing, meeting planners and meeting planning companies come in all shapes and sizes but they should all have one thing in common: a focused & dedicated striving for meeting success with the experience and expertise to match. At SweetPea™ Meetings & Events, our meeting planners excel in meeting our client’s goals, reducing their stress, and saving money. We are really good at what we do! How can we help?