By Hugh McCullen
Let’s face it: planning meetings and employee training events can be tedious and time consuming. That’s why sometimes it makes more sense to pass the baton and let someone else manage tasks, freeing you to focus on growing your business. The only problem? It’s not always easy to know how to select a meeting planner. How do you spot a good one? What should you be looking for and why? To help answer these questions, here’s a look at some of the top skills to seek in meeting planning services to see if they’ll work for your business needs.
Just as you’d verify references on a new hire, so too should you ask to talk with past clients before hiring a meeting planning service. Then, when you talk to previous clients, find out what they have liked and/or disliked, and talk to more than one reference to get a fuller sense of knowing what to expect.
Look for a meeting planner who listens to your desires and needs and makes those the goal of the event. Rather than just taking a general, formulaic approach to every meeting, the right meeting planning service will fully customize everything to you. You should be able to make special requests like particular accommodations for group size, accessibility requirements, food options, etc.
Many problems can be avoided through clear communication, so find a meeting planner that you know will communicate with you throughout the planning process. While of course you want to be able to entrust the plans to the meeting planning services team, you also want to be aware of changes, plans and expectations as they’re being formed.
Will the meeting planner help you find an instructor when one is needed? Can you count on the planner to oversee material management? Will somebody be on site at the event to provide administrative support? What about guest accommodations, travel and ground transport — will someone be handling that for you? All these little conveniences can make a big difference to how smoothly your meeting runs, so don’t overlook them.
Find out what kind of registration system the meeting planning services company uses and what features that system provides. Many online registration systems can integrate different parts of the event to streamline the process for registrants.
Strong Negotiation Skills
The company that manages your meeting plans will likely have to deal with various vendors, from the facility to the caterer if there is one, and each of these vendors will have a contract. With that in mind, look for a meeting planner who knows how to negotiate and get the best possible rates and features.
When it comes to planning business events and meetings, details and logistics are more important than you might think — and that’s exactly why finding a talented meeting planner is so important. To avoid frustrating your team members and making your operations less efficient, entrust your meetings to professionals you can count on by finding those professionals who meet the qualifications above. With the right preparations, a meeting can go from annoying to successful, fostering collaboration, communication and productivity among your team.