When Christy joined the meetings industry 27 years ago, event planning was a concept more than a recognized profession. In the ensuing two and a half decades, she has proudly participated in its evolution. In 2001 she founded Strategic Meetings & Events, which produces mid to large scale corporate events worldwide. Christy is a nationally recognized, award-winning strategic planner and entrepreneur, has a private coaching practice and has taught strategic planning at the college level for the last ten years. Read all of Christy's "Get Strategic" blog posts for CEN here.
This is Why Planners Need to Get Strategic
A potential new client called me the other day asking for help planning a large meeting in conjunction with a much larger citywide event. When we received the initial inquiry, we were guardedly optimistic that this was a solid piece of new business. We prepared for the call, outlining who would handle what aspects of the conversation, establishing a flow for follow up questions and doing some preliminary research on the citywide, the client and possible venues.
Within literally sixty seconds after our small talk ended, we knew that we had a familiar and frustrating problem on our hands. Here’s a recap of the conversation:
Christy: “Would you start by telling us why you are holding this event?
Reply: “Sure. As you know, there’s a huge citywide in town so we need to be there.”
Christy: “Understood, but in terms of the event you are hosting, what’s the purpose?
Reply: “We want to have a party.”
Christy: “Is this to promote your brand, launch a new product, attract new clients, reward top clients, hand out samples, improve brand recognition?
Reply: “Our CEO loved the party we threw last year so we are doing it again this year.”
And on and on it goes. Unfortunately, this aimless event had a huge budget, a very green planner in charge and a high-profile audience to attract, which translates to a lot of money spent on an event with no goal by a person who isn’t yet qualified to be doing his/her job.
This is what used to make me want to quit my job and join the circus. (Who doesn’t want to be a member of the flying Wallendas?) Now I end these calls inspired and more intent than ever to help the event industry and its dedicated professionals to evolve into a more sophisticated form of planner; specifically, strategic planners.
To do this, we must come together as an industry and form a common goal, expand our shared vocabulary, better understand how to measure ROI and demonstrate an event’s value to an organization’s bottom line and to clearly articulate the pivotal role we play in making it all happen. Without this change, we will continue to combat rampant misconceptions around what we do, why events are held and the skills we bring to the table. Our talents will be equated to that of party and wedding planners, and our potential will go largely untapped.
By banding together and becoming strategic in our professional vision, brand and goals, we will set the stage to change the way we are perceived, meetings are held and the place we hold in their creation.
Intrigued? Ready for a change? Follow me on Twitter: @SMEChristy, read more at strategic.events/resources and contact me at: Christy.email@example.com. It’s time we took our future in our hands.